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People can support museums in two ways: by helping to stimulate visits and by supporting them in general…how well can you support? Part 1

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By Philip Gebu

The National Museum has been renovated and according to projected plans it’s expected that 150,000 tourists will visit the museum yearly. Beginning plans to achieve this all important goal, it was expected that news of the event launch would have been posted on the various Ghana Museums and Monument Board websites. I visited two of their websites namely. www.ghanamuseums.org and there was no news of the launch and all the beautiful speeches delivered at the launch. The website still had information dating back to 2015 on its website. I also visited www.gmmb.gov.gh which looked more current yet the news of the launch of the National museum is yet to be posted. They had information dating back to 2020. Marketing our tourism in this age of information technology will indeed mean that we remain current in delivery information on government website. Tourists both local and international visiting these sites and not getting the relevant information may not encourage them to visit the said attraction and that could be a stumbling block in achieving our goals.

The National Museum was opened on the 5th of March 1957 and this is the first major renovation it has experienced. Whiles a step in the right direction, we must encourage visitors to see the National Museum and there are some important facts we all need to know in our bid to making the museum that preferred tourist destination here in Ghana.  A research was carried out by Van Riel Patricia Heijndijk as to why people love art museum. The findings were very interesting and revealing and could be important to the stake holders marketing our museums. The study revolved around 18 of the most famous art museums in the world covering 10 countries.

In 2017, a new study – implemented by the same entities – was done in 10 countries and reveals a similar result. Museums are evaluated on average at 79 on a 0 to 100 scale, while companies worldwide only score 64.2. The core questions they focused on in this study were; 1. What is the magic behind this high degree of admiration? 2.  What can companies learn from museums when it comes to reputation management?

Which art museums were studied?

18 art museums partly based on their annual visitor numbers. The most visited art museums appear to be concentrated in the Western world, although Asia and Latin America are rapidly developing attractive museums too. That is why they have also added the top museums from Asia and Latin America. In addition, again to avoid an over focus on Europe and the USA, they decided to study a maximum of three art museums per country. All museums have been measured in their home country and in nine other countries in which they have selected one or more art museums. The following museums and countries were selected:

1 Musée du Louvre, Paris 2. British Museum, London 3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 4. National Gallery, London 5. Vatican Museums, Vatican City 6. Tate Modern, London 7. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. 8. Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris 9. State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg 10. Musée d’Orsay, Paris 11. Reina Sofia, Madrid 12. Museum of Modern Art, New York 13. Museo del Prado, Madrid 14. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam 15. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam 16. National Art Center, Tokyo 17. Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro 18. Shanghai Museum, Shanghai * Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_visited_art_museums Brazil China France Italy Japan Netherlands Russia Spain UK USA

Who did they ask?

The survey was done online by approaching a sample of museum visitors and non-visitors in each of the 10 countries. The core of the questionnaire was aimed at the regular museum visitors. Nearly 12,000 people were interviewed: 5,065 non-museum visitors and 6,419 museum visitors participated. Each of the 18 art museums had to be rated by at least 150 respondents from its home country and by 50 respondents from any other country who are familiar with the museum. Non-visitors differ from visitors as they are often 45 to 64 years old, with a low income and/or a medium degree of education. In contrast to what many may believe, museum visitors are not especially frequent among a certain age group, nor income category. However, the stereotype that museum visitors are predominantly higher educated is confirmed in this study and appears to be a global phenomenon.

How did we measure reputation?

The overall reputation (Pulse) is driven by seven elements that people take into consideration when they assess an organisation regarding its past and expected future performance. These seven drivers of reputation are: products and services, innovative capacity, workplace, governance, citizenship, leadership and financial performance. Each driver is measured by several attributes that provide the assessments of respondents on a detailed level. For ‘products and services’ for example, the following attributes were used: attractive collection, collection distinguishes itself from other museums, skilled employees, and inspiring collection. A similar translation has been applied for all other drivers of reputation. Finally, the RepTrak® model measures behavioural intentions. The standard statements here were (again) translated into the context of the museum world. These behavioural intentions are shown on the right side of Pulse.

People love art museums

Most people have a high degree of appreciation for museums. Even the majority of the people that did not visit a museum in the past three years have a favourable impression about museums. They classify them as reliable, honest and fun. Only 21 per cent of the non-visitors express negative associations about art museums. As can be expected, visitors are extremely positive. Visitors rate an art museum on average at 79. Compared with the worldwide average score of 64.2 for corporations, this is a stellar high score. Yet, there are some criticasters too: 15 per cent of the respondents have given a museum a reputation score below 60. They are mostly from China and Brazil rather than from Western countries, but do not differ in other demographic characteristics. The average score for all museums in Brazil (74) and China (70.4) is substantially lower than the average score in France (84), the USA (83.2) and Italy (82.4). Please note that all scores have been culturally adjusted, implying that in countries that tend to be more positive on average, the scores are decreased and the other way around.

Gap between appreciation at home and abroad

The reputation of museums differs not only from continent to continent. As can be expected, museums have a higher reputation among people from their own country than from other countries, due to feelings of patriotism. This is certainly true for the Russian Hermitage and the British Museum which are evaluated much higher in their own country than in the nine countries abroad. However, this is not true for all museums in the study. For example, the Shanghai Museum and the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil receive higher evaluations abroad than within their own country.

Museums are loved, but do they get support?

 People can support museums in two ways: by helping to stimulate visits and by supporting them in general, for example through donations. The study results show that relatively large museums are often supported in terms of more visits, but when it comes to supporting a museum in general, people are more willing to help the relatively smaller museums.

History sometimes matters

European museums on average score more positively than USA and especially Asian and Latin-American museums. This is partly because of the heritage that these museums can boost on. The largest and most-visited museum in the world, the Musée du Louvre in France, started in the 17th century, the Russian Hermitage in the 18th century and the Dutch Rijksmuseum in the early 19th century. The Shanghai Museum opened its doors only in 1952 and Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil even only in 1986. The top American art museum were created in between the starting phase of art museums in Europe and in Asia. The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) started in 1872, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York in 1929, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC only in 1941. Having had centuries to build a track record in collecting, protecting and showing an impressive collection naturally does impact your reputation, even outside of the country you’re based in. Still, some new entrants appear to be evaluated sky high in 10 countries. This is especially true for the Van Gogh Museum (opened in 1973), which is number 2 worldwide. The same can be said about the Musée d’Orsay (1986) with 80.6 and also Tate Modern (2000) that appear to be evaluated very high on the drivers of reputation. In other words, a long-lasting track record matters, but a new kid on the block can move up swiftly if you have an appealing collection that is well-managed, and if you are seen as contributing to society in a relevant way.

Philip Gebu is a Tourism Lecturer. He is the C.E.O of FoReal Destinations Ltd, a Tourism Destinations Management and Marketing Company based in Ghana and with partners in many other countries. Please contact Philip with your comments and suggestions. Write to forealdestinations@gmail.com / info@forealdestinations.com. Visit our website at www.forealdestinations.com or call or WhatsApp +233(0)244295901/0264295901.Visist our social media sites Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: FoReal Destinations.

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