Curator of the city

There are three places in Utrecht from which the Dom Tower is photographed. Do you know them?(*)

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Fantastic collections, great exhibitions and a brand new train station a five-minute walk from the Museum Quarter. With those starting points, 20% growth in visitor numbers seemed a manageable challenge.

Utrecht’s ten largest museums decided to join forces to realise this ambition.

Vereniging Utrechtse Musea
Utrecht
2011

Framing the challenge

During two framing workshops with museum staff, we explored the question: What makes a museum visit valuable? And how do we address this? Cooperation between museums was named as very important Just like having a strong collection and creating interesting, thematic exhibitions.

The visitor, on the other hand, came up less often than we expected.

Following people

During an initial exploration, we discovered something fundamental: People don’t go to a museum at all. People go for a day out, visit a city or do something fun and educational with the family.

Very practically, we started following people through the city. Where do they come from, how do they enter the city, how do they move through the streets and where do they pause. Can they find the museums easily?

This research yielded many leads that, in summary, amount to advising museums to also become curators of the outdoor space. Of the museum district, the centre of Utrecht or even the whole city.

As a museum, by looking outside your front door at your visitors, you increase the chance that they will also walk in to you.

Methodieken
Shadowing
Dagboekstudie
Customer Journey Mapping
Workshops
Mission accomplished?

Did our insights and ideas lead to 20% more visitors? To be honest, we don’t know exactly yet. What we do know is that Utrecht museums have succeeded in thinking outside their own doors. They are becoming more and more visible in the public domain, claiming their place among the offerings for people visiting the city.

(*) Do you recognise the spots from which the Dom tower is photographed? The next time you walk through Utrecht, it’s nice to take a moment to think about these. Let us know if you found them and we will tell you why they are so important to the museums.

Design in
the service
of people