Research makes museums better at engaging the visitors

A grant of DKK 20 million from Nordea-fonden and VELUX FONDEN for five Danish universities and thirteen Danish museums will give them the possibility to join forces to examine how the Danes will benefit more from the museums' dissemination of Danish cultural heritage.

Comprehensive grants from the public and from the major Danish foundations have over the last fifteen years given the museums the opportunity to develop new forms of communication to enrich the museum experience and to engage new groups of visitors. However, the museums still know very little about how the new apps, games and digital installations actually works for their visitors. The new project may provide the answers to this from questions such as:

  • Which dilemmas have the Danish museums experienced past and present in balancing knowledge and experience in their dissemination?
     
  • Who will actually be engaged with the museums new communication forms?
     
  • What does user involvement mean in relation to e.g. learning, community and quality of life?

The answers to questions like these will make Danish museums better at engaging the users who will then strengthen their cultural vision, insight, their social and democratic community and thereby our collective quality of life.

“At The Natural History Museum, we are working intensively on the development of online learning tools targeted pupils and secondary school students across the country. We are concerned with optimizing the development process and the research in this project is essential for this work. It is unique that scientists are involved intensively in the project and thereby helping with the development processes. It allows us to test ideas and approaches along the way and to ensure that the experience and knowledge acquired has more substance and thus greater value for all the Danish museums,” says Pernille Hjort, Head of Public Engagement at The Natural History Museum of Denmark.

“The Danish Castle Center has developed a completely new digital presentation to make medieval castles and kings a more relevant and contemporary concept in Denmark today. Our participation in the new project makes it possible to examine whether the digital solution actually improves our knowledge of how we create a sense of community between the modern visitor and the people who lived 600 years ago,” says director Keld Møller Hansen, Museum Southeast Denmark.

It is the first time both nationally and internationally, that so many universities and museums collaborate to design, test and evaluate new forms of communication in museums and even more so on a sound historical basis. This background makes the project answers very substantial. The answers are also usable because small and large museums from across the country participate – there may be large differences in the museums´ resources and visitor numbers.

Two of the major Danish foundations that provide very significant support to the Danish museums finance the project together with the involved universities and museums.

“The project will give a big boost to all of the many different communication efforts that all museums and attractions work hard on daily. It will make the institutions stronger and better at engaging even more people in our society, history and culture. In this way, a visit at the museum can become a more attractive option for more people,” says Henrik Lehmann Andersen, CEO of Nordea-fonden.

Director Ane Hendriksen, VELUX FONDEN says, “For many years, we have supported human science research at universities. Recently, we have expanded this with a museum programme, where the aim is to strengthen the cooperation between university researchers and museum researchers and communicators to ensure that human science research reach a broader public. This project will be a powerful statement for the museum programme. It will develop new theoretical and practical knowledge about the museums´ dissemination to the benefit of both the projects in the museum programme, all Danish museums and not least the Danish population. It is gratifying that the project will be a cooperation between the five universities and the entire thirteen museums.”

Facts

  • The museums: National Aquarium Denmark, Den Blå Planet, The Danish Castle Centre, The Danish Museum of Rock Music, Den Gamle By, Experimentarium City, Fjord & Bælt, Forsorgsmuseet, Limfjordsmuseet, Naturama, Randers Museum of Art, The Skovgaard Museum, The Natural History Museum of Denmark and Aalborg Historiske Museum.
     
  • The universities: The University of Copenhagen, Roskilde University, The University of Southern Denmark, Aalborg University and Aarhus University
     
  • The project has a total budget of DKK 42.000.000. Professor, Dr. Phil. Kirsten Drotner, University of Southern Denmark is project mamager