Big data and analytics: what we’ve learned so far

Professional Forum
Angie Judge, Dexibit, New Zealand, Robert Stein, American Alliance of Musuems, USA, Melissa Firth, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand

Raising visitation, deepening engagement, improving investment outcomes – becoming a core discipline in the museum, big data and analytics is impacting crucial museum outcomes. As much a cultural change as a technological challenge, this strategic imperative is driving a substantial shift for the cultural sector, from gut feel to data driven decisions. Successful transformation with big data and analytics ultimately navigates a delicate balance to achieve museum wide takeup and appropriate use and application of insight. Ultimately, this endeavor aids the museum’s understanding of individual nuanced and dynamic visitor behavior.

That’s been the experience at museums paving the way, such as the Cooper Hewitt, Dallas Museum of Art and Te Papa. At Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, the launch of an innovative interactive pen brought about a deluge of generated visitor data with hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions of collected objects, prompting explorations into data warehousing and visualization to develop a deeper understanding of its visitors. The Dallas Museum of Art’s DMA Friends program pioneered a visitor loyalty program that generated data the DMA’s staff used to hone a successful visitor experience and outreach. Finally, at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, embarking on a multi-year complete exhibition renewal program, alongside a full scale digital transformation, it was obvious there was a need to began to a data driven culture to understand opportunities for onsite and online visitor experience development and continuous improvement.

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Robert Stein, American Alliance of Museums, USA, Bruce Wyman, USD Design | MACH Consulting, USA
April 2014

The Data Won’t Save Us
Micah Walter, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
November 2015

Data Warehousing and Building Analytics at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
Micah Walter, Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum
April 2016