Hint: It’s not seeing exhibits or performances. That is a distant second.
In our attempt to provide educational and inspiring programs, organizations may be overlooking their role as facilitators of shared experiences. Check out this Know Your Own Bone Fast Facts video for the run-down.
As it turns out, with > what.
This doesn’t mean that our exhibits, programs, and performances are unimportant! But it does mean that organizations may be better able to engage audiences by realizing that who people are with is often more important than what they see when they visit a cultural organization such as a museum, performing arts organization, science center, historic site, aquarium, zoo, etc.
Check out this data from IMPACTS. This information comes from the National Awareness, Attitudes and Usage Study, which is an ongoing data set with 98,000 responses and counting.
You’ll notice that “time with friends and family” is more than twice as valued as the best thing about a visit to a cultural organization than “seeing/interacting with exhibits/programs.” In the data world, that is a huge difference. Heck, in any comparative world, that is a huge difference! And, in fact, “interacting with staff/volunteers/performers” is just behind seeing exhibits and performances, further underscoring the importance of interaction and connection with people.
In today’s world, cultural organizations are especially valuable hubs for connection and interaction, not only with onsite content but with one another.
Our “stuff” is important. Knowing that we are places of connection may be just as – if not more – important. When armed with this information, cultural organizations may be better able to create programs that harness the power of with > what.
Isn’t it interesting that in our age of glowing screens and new technologies, it is the areas of the visitation experience that underscore “real life connection” that are increasingly the most important?