Thursday, March 31, 2011


As an exhibitor I was manning the booth for much of the Tennessee Association of Museums conference. I heard the indefatigable Ken Mayes (AMSE) keeping everyone up to date on web tools (The Online Visitor) and  I did get to the session on millennials (The Next Generation of Visitors: Creating Museum Experiences  that Connect with Younger Audiences by Lori Cagan of Tombras Group  and Sylvia Martin from A Different View). As part of the presentation we had three millennials adding their insights. Millennials are broadly defined as the generation born in the mid 70’s to 2000.

Regarding technology, it’s no surprise that this group is heavily into communication. I had the experience as a younger man of living abroad, pre-internet. I sent and received letters and monthly made a phone call on the public telephone in the high street. This generation gets stressed by not being connected 24-7. And most of the connection - social media, texting, chatting - is mobile. They access the web through a phone screen.

At the end of the session the panelists were asked what museums could do to make themselves more engaging to Millennials. All three answered with the word interactive. They felt that museums should come to them, to engage them through changing, and participatory content. This is a group that wants to be involved, but perhaps is less into self exploration than reaction – they are getting a lot of calls on their attention!

The PBS special digital media  pointed to the work museums are doing as places of experimental learning. There really is no limit to what can be achieved. Stories Past is working on projects involving mixed media, social interactions and gaming. It’s a fun time to be working in this area.

How Millennial are you? Try the Pew Research Quiz. Is Millennial an age range, or a state of mind?

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