How 7 Museums Used Data Analytics to Fix Real Problems

Learn how data analytics can improve your museum.

What would your museum look like if it were data driven? What type of insights can be revealed to museum professionals — if we use institutional and operational data in innovative ways?

In recent years, data analytics has been used at museums to create solutions for longstanding issues such as developing sustainable revenue streams and attracting new audiences.


Our top seven examples of data-driven museum decisions

#7— The Norman Rockwell Museum — Stockbridge, Massachusetts 
Most Recent Annual Budget — $7M
Data Analytics Provider — DigiWorks

Challenge — Sales were highly seasonal and audience was aging.
Proposal — Increase second-time purchasers and diversify audience.
Results — Analyzed all of Norman Rockwell Museum transactional data and used data trends to highlight items that match customer-spending patterns. Resulted in increasing second-time purchasers by 150 percent.

#6 — The History Colorado Center — Denver, Colorado
Most Recent Annual Budget — $14M
Data Analytics Provider — IBM Big Data Analytics

Challenge — Struggling to attract and engage new visitors.
Proposal — Identify patterns of visitor interests to target and serve diverse audiences.
Results — Analyzed data from admissions, programs, merchandise, food, and membership sales to understand consumer trends. Reports showed that more than 40 percent of visitors are families and the Center quickly revamped its marketing, educational programs, exhibits and membership plans to match the data results.

#5 — Reina Sofia Museum — Madrid, Spain
Most Recent Annual Budget — €33M / $38M
Data Analytics Provider — Synergic Partners

Challenge — Understand tourist visitation trends for a special Picasso exhibit.
Proposal — Analyze internal visitor statistics to better understand tourist trends.
Results — The study showed that 680,000 people visited the exhibit from 189 countries, with an average of 4,800 daily visitors. Over 60% of the visitors were from abroad and among them the most common countries of origin were Italy (17% of the total), France (11%), Germany (7%), the US (7%), Great Britain (5.6%), Japan (1.4%) and Portugal (1.3%).

#4 — The Spencer Museum of Art — Lawrence, Kansas
Most Recent Annual Budget — NA (University of Kansas museum)
Data Analytics Provider — University data scientist

Challenge — Connecting artist location data to over 45,000 objects.
Proposal — Create a program that lists the artists’ past residences and the location of where the art was created.
Results — Curators used it to plan an exhibition and the program identified items not easily found using the current database interface.

#3 — The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — Washington, D.C.
Most Recent Annual Budget — $238M
Data Analytics Provider — Booz Allen Hamilton

Challenge — Assess new initiative dedicated to monitoring ongoing state-sponsored violence.
Proposal — Validate the initiative with a data analysis approach.
Results — The algorithms developed were able to predict where this kind of violence is most likely to occur 1–2 years into the future.

#2 — The Art Institute of Chicago — Chicago, Illinois
Most Recent Annual Budget — $348M
Data Analytics Provider — Staff data scientist

Challenge — Increasing revenue through paid attendance ticket sales.
Proposal — Leverage museum-floor beacons to track visitor pathways and time spent in specific galleries.
Results — Promoted the galleries with high visitor engagement to increase paid attendance from $14.8 million in 2015 to a projected $19.9 million the following fiscal year.

#1 — The Fenimore Art Museum — Cooperstown, NY
Most Recent Annual Budget — $14M
Data Analytics Provider — TravelSee

We made our own list! But hey, it’s not without good reason.

Challenge — Understanding the relationship between advertising channels (radio, tv, digital and print) and ticket sales during a major exhibit run.
Proposal — Compare geographical ad purchases with ticket zip codes
Results — Increased attendance in top 10 visitor zip codes through a recommendation to focus on radio ads.


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