The magic of Museum Hack

Exclusivity, irreverence, subversiveness, social media, education-through-entertainment – these are all ingredients of the real-life potion helping Museum Hack to create on point museum experiences for millennials.

Ethan Angelica, tour guide and head of VIP Partnerships, was one of the keynotes at the NAI’s international conference, held in Wellington in April this year. He said Museum Hack looks to “re-imagine the adult museum experience for 21-35 year olds” – and they’re killing it, currently sitting at #8 of 559 tours in New York City on TripAdvisor.

Not only a third-party tour provider at a bunch of museums in Chicago, NYC, San Francisco and Washington DC, Museum Hack also work directly with museums around the world to pimp their visitor experiences. This helps to attract the young and hip – sadly, a group often missing from museum demographics, but one with massive potential as brand advocates in the digital sphere.

Instead of trying to get a millenial audience to fit any of the pre-determined (and often old-school) museum experiences, Museum Hack smash the mould. It helps that they’re pretty damn cool themselves and that they speak the same language as their audience. This voice isn’t contrived – which, in a pretty cynical world, is all kinds of refreshing.

Their style of engagement provides millenials with the opportunity for “active participation in the creation of the meaning of their experience”. That reminds me of the ‘choose your own adventure style books’ I was obsessed with as a kid – I would regularly read them over and over until I’d tried out as many options as I could. So, it’s probably not surprising that I love the idea of bringing this sort of storytelling into museums.

Not only does the story have to be good, but it needs to be able to evolve, welcome audience participation and use the language of the audience. This idea – using the same verbal shorthand as your audience to spin an interesting yarn – is something that heaps of institutions could (and probably should) try, particularly those looking to bring in a younger, edgier demographic who want something just for them.

If you’re a museum professional, or really just anyone looking for fresh ways to connect with your audience, I’d recommend signing up to the Museum Hack news updates. It’s an interesting mix of news, think pieces and social round-ups. Not spammy in the slightest, and always good for a welcome dose of quirk.

Note on image: It’s not as random as it looks, I swear. Taken in Island Bay during my NAI conference field trip, on which Ethan was my bus buddy. And there’s a shark on it, so of course I was going to use it somewhere!

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