Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Are Trump Voters Museum-Goers?

Are the people running museums really the best people to reach out to Trump voters as potential museum visitors?

The reason I ask, beyond the pragmatic concerns about the future of federal agencies like IMLS and NEH that help fund museums under a Trump administration, has to do with how and why people choose to visit (or not visit) museums.

It seems clear that emotions "trumped" more intellectual considerations of policy or character for many voters in this recent election. Might museums actually be better at increasing their audience reach if their appeal was more emotional and less intellectual?  (Of course, many museum experiences are deeply emotional, but that's only true for the people who actually step inside.)

Many cultural institutions (including museums) are facing declining audiences and funding streams in the face of shifting demographics and attitudes.  And while museum professionals constantly strive to broaden the communities they serve, should they be aiming more for potential visitors' guts rather than their heads? What can entice museum-shy or museum-adverse folks to cross the thresholds of our institutions?

What lessons should we be taking away from the election to Make Museums Great Again?

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