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Contemporary art curating news and views from Michelle Kasprzak and team

Marketing the Museum

Posted by Michelle Kasprzak • Friday, September 29. 2006 • Category: Musings

Seth Godin is a marketing guru who has published numerous books and has an excellent blog. I'm not a marketer nor a businessperson with a product to sell, but I read his blog anyways because I find the underlying psychology of marketing to be quite interesting. In the end, it's all about how people relate to people, a topic that should interest anyone who has to interact with people on a daily basis (which is probably 99% of us).

Usually the content on his blog is relevant to me on this fundamental level of human psychology, not as a curator or arts administrator directly. In one of his recent posts, however, Godin has some direct critiques for curators at museums:


I think in every single case, what keeps museums from being remarkable:

a. the curators think the item on display is the whole thing. As a result, they slack off and do less than they should in creating an overall story

b. they assume that visitors are focused, interested and smart. They are rarely any of the three. As a result, the visit tends to be a glossed over one, not a deep one or a transcendent one

c. science museums in particular almost beg people NOT to think.

I can't remember the last time a museum visit made my cry, made me sad or made me angry (except at the fact that they don't try hard enough).


Definitely some food for thought in there, though probably echoes of criticisms we are all well aware of. Godin wraps the post by saying:

The takeaway for me is that in fact the issues of storytelling and remarkability and respect are universal, whether you're a non-profit or a job-seeker. It's all people, all the time.


This is true, and why it is relevant for curators and arts administrators to look to other disciplines, like marketing, for new approaches from time to time.
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