3.5K and counting. That’s how many tweets #wam15 generated in the past week.

For those following the Twitter feeds or the actual conferences, that was a lot to take in – but we’re here to help! Here are the 10 big ideas that were discussed at WAM this year.


  1. Museums need a moonshot.

Museums have trouble proving it, but they’re essential to our society. They have the power to create social dialogue, increase education rates, and level the inequality field. In order to do that, they just have to remind themselves that they have a purpose and set out on a mission to reinject meaning into their everyday activities.

Talk by Robert SteinIllustration 2


  1. Big data shouldn’t be a scary word.

How do you rate a museum experience? How do you get to really know your visitors? By finding the right thermometers, that’s how. Through its Friends programe, the Dallas Museum of Arts has found a way to collect new and accurate data from its audience while giving back something to their visitors in exchange. Other museums have started using connected objects and I-Beacons, giving their audience an augmented visit experience and collecting knowledge about the visitors’ relation to the artworks.  All of the data collected can help institutions understand what their audiences expect from them, get to know their public better, and offer an improved visit of the museum.

Talks by Robert Stein and Micah Walter – Workshop by Kaspar Auzarejs-AuzersIllustration 5


  1. Look for your audience in the right places.

Museum audiences are growing more international everyday. In order to connect with these new audiences, institutions need to adapt to new cultures and the channels of communication that they bring. Don’t be afraid to go look for your audience in foreign places and adapt your language to them – it might take a lot of trial and error, like the Palace of Versailles on We Chat, but it will help you welcome your audiences better.

Talk by Elise AlbenqueIllustration 4


  1. What if the right app was… no app?

Although museums are all scrambling to set up the perfect phone and tablet apps, these tools are not always necessary. Not only are they expensive, hard to set up and quickly outdated, they’re often filled with unnecessary content and take up a lot of space on their users’ devices. Turns out most visitors only use these apps for very practical details such as opening times and calendars of the events. If you don’t want your app to be the first thing users delete on their iphones, keep it simple and focused on what your users really need.

Talk by Sree SreenivasanIllustration 11


  1. Digital is not the opposite of physical

There’s no worry to be had: in no way does the digital experience of a museum replace the physical presence of the art. Digital platforms play two roles: they are gateways into the museum, giving audiences the desire and the impulse to visit institutions, and they are a way of introducing audiences to what is usually hidden from them (like the life of a museum after hours or the curation process).

Panel by Thibaut Thomas, featuring @ajakubowicz, @arambartholl, @attiliaff, @kuannyc – read the Storify hereIllustration 10


  1. Museums are stuffed, not stuffy.

A lot of museums have chosen to interact with their audience through a new kind of content, using humor and just the right dose of self-mockery. In no way do those interactions degrade the institutions: on the contrary, they encourage an open dialogue with visitors and encourage deeper interactions. Be spontaneous, generous, open, and fearless!

Talks by Melanie Leroy-Terquem and Sree SreenivasanIllustration 8


  1. You will fail on social media.

And that’s ok. Everyone messes up a tweet here or there, and when you publish 3000 a day, they can go unnoticed. Moreover, you can minimize the failures you will make by accepting that your team communicates better on some platforms than others. Choose your channels well and focus your efforts on quality, not quantity.

Talks by Sree SreenivasanIllustration 7


  1. 3D printing isn’t the future anymore

It’s become the present. Allowing audiences to print, touch and play around with the artworks is creating a new relationship with museum collections. Instead of placing visitors in a passive and contemplative role, 3D printing gives them an active place and encourages to engage with the artworks and curate their visit themselves.

Talk by Chris Michaels, Workshop by Nikolaos ManiatisIllustration 9


  1. Tell stories. More stories.

Museum websites shouldn’t have to be all about practical details and event calendars. The example of Van Gogh Museum’s new website shows that digital storytelling is possible within the website and actually helps visitors preparing the visit. Focusing the website on the artist’s personal life, creating original and engaging content to reflect the way the museum is thought out increased visitor engagement, duration of the navigation time and conversion rates.

For the Warsaw Museum, the new website retracing the history of Warsaw opened up a whole new realm of possibilities. Combining powerful storytelling, efficient design and immersive experiences allowed for new and compelling ways to reach the museum’s audience and tell its story like never before. In these two examples, the precise and exclusive content used made the difference. Be unique if you want your story to be so!

Talks by Edith Shreurs and the Warsaw Museum UprisingIllustration 3


  1. We’ve been organizing all wrong


The way museums manage their communication departments is about to change. Traditional organization just doesn’t cut it anymore for communication departments in large institutions – the hierarchy system we’ve known until now doesn’t fit the speed and reactivity that social media demands. The social media managing can be managed by smaller teams or spread throughout the museum, each department handling a content channel that fits their activity best.

For more information about fragmented community management, you can read our previous article about Instagram at the Palace of Versailles here.Illustration 6


We Are Museums – June 1-2nd 2015, Jewish Museum Berlin

Presentations can be found here