Stay connected to your visitors while your museum is closed, for free.

Photo by Gabe Rebra

With the global outbreak of COVID-19, amongst the hardest hit are museums. The coronavirus has undoubtedly put incredible strains on already stringent budgets and staff members, especially for those who are highly dependent on visitorship to drive revenue. This is heartbreaking. Museums are the custodians of our important histories, and the source of inspiration for so many. We all need to band together and protect them during this time.

Many of our friends who work in museums have told us that they are being bombarded with emails from companies offering services at “discounts”(but is it really discounted?) or with big, predatory strings attached. What museums don’t need right now is a sales pitch.

Museums need free, rapidly deployable solutions that can allow them to respond to this crisis by providing digital and virtual engagement. Digital transformations that would typically take years, now need to be done in a few days.

That’s why we aren’t making a sales pitch — we have decided to provide museums with a free access to build their very own web app. No strings attached. If you’re reading this and you work at a museum, you are welcome to use our platform entirely for free. This isn’t an exclusive offer, it isn’t an exploding offer, nor does it come with fine print. If you need a digital solution for engagement, and you want to be able to launch it immediately, you are welcome to join Gesso at no cost.

There’s good reason to be optimistic. Museums are an incredibly rich repository of amazing stories, through their collections of objects. There’s no reason that just because we can’t physically visit, that the stories shall cease to be told. We all know that there is a very eager audience looking for this type of enriching content online, from their homes. This is the perfect time to start a podcast, bring collections online to keep them accessible, and start cross institution collaborations that keep your visitor base hungry for more when the doors open back up. We’re here to help.

If you don’t want access to Gesso, but you do want advice on how to produce content in house on a shoestring budget, please feel free to send us an email for a quick consult. Here are some tips on producing audio content. We’ll share with you how we’ve helped the New Museum, amongst others, to provide their visitors with great audio content in house at no additional cost.

I imagine you have some questions as you’re reading this. Here are some answers:

How quick is it really? Your institution can have its very own digital solution in about a day. That’s the time frame in which we built digital solutions for the New Museum, International Center of Photography and Pollock-Krasner House.

What does it look like? Here’s the New Museum web app. You can host virtual walkthrough videos, podcasts or the trusty object-based audio guides all with your institution’s branding. This content also appears on our iOS and Android apps for your visitors to use for free.

How are there no strings? As a member of NEW INC, which is supported by the Knight Foundation, we’ve been prototyping and building technology solutions specifically for museums to digitally engage their visitors. Our software is now built, and we want to contribute in the ways we know best to keep an incredibly vital industry afloat and enable them to continue strengthening the communities around them. We need this now, more than ever.

Can I use this to help drive donations or membership? Yes! We have links and pop ups that you can turn on with those types of notifications to drive your visitors to contribute. No, we don’t charge or take a fee as a percentage of those options.

How do we get our content on the platform? We have two quick forms that you fill out on our website. If you already have digital images, text or even audio, the entire process takes about a day.

How do I get in touch if I have questions? Email me at Henna@gesso.app.