Tafterjournal n. 121 - GENNAIO - FEBBRAIO 2023

Reinventing the wheel: why museums should learn more about their visitors


Rubrica: Editoriali

Parole chiave: , ,


Have you ever wondered why everybody underlines the relevance of private information and privacy policies?

One of the most astonishing answers could be that personal information is important to those who want to sell you a product or a service.

Maybe simple.

Still, it is everything but simple for museums, apparently.

In Italy, there is very poor knowledge about museum visitors, and there is still less knowledge about cultural consumption.

In our country, there are always too many reasons that could be suitable to justify a specific condition, and this case is no exception.

This lack of knowledge could be the effect of the lack of funding, or, the consequence of the lack of adequate software, or even the organizational structure of the most important Italian museums, where private companies manage all those services where visitors’ data could be collected (such as ticketing) and this condition could cause issues related to the privacy of visitors or give to those operators a commercial advantage.

Actually, none of those reasons is decisive: lots of museums have spent, in recent years, significative economic resources to realize research about their visitors; no special software is required to collect basic information about visitors and their cultural tastes and consumption; the realization of a common database could avoid any commercial advantage, and the data-anonymization process could come in handy to protect visitors’ privacy.

Since the lockdown Italy strongly prompted the digital development of public services: we’re running digitization projects in almost all the most important spheres of our lives, such as health with the realization of the Electronic Health Record, a database with all our health data, or digital identity, with the so-called SPID (Public System of Digital Identity), which already provides citizens with numerous e-government services.

So why we do not have an Electronic Cultural Record?

Perhaps it is not such a priority for our museums or policymakers, but it could be a strong tool for both public and private players.

By analysing Cultural Consumption Data, private enterprises could produce a more attractive cultural supply, addressing specific products and services to the right audience, and this could increase the overall volume of cultural consumption.

Thanks to the potential growth of private revenues, public institutions, and other organizations could focus on those “taste-niches” that cannot reach a proper market dimension.

Furthermore, cultural organizations could reach the right audiences, strengthening engagement and improving the sense of belonging.

There are several ways to realize such a system: one of the most intuitive is a specific tax-deduction policy for all the personal expenses related to cultural and creative themes that are paid by a specific debit card.

This kind of system could enable the realization of specific AI developments, thanks to which, when a person comes to visit a specific museum, the AI could suggest specific guided visits based on his or her past purchases.

It is sad to find that traditional cultural systems are abdicating to the digital supplies all the potentiality of data: in our everyday lives we’re surrounded by services displaying us how likely it is we could appreciate a book, a restaurant, a tv-series or a tv-movie.

It could be useful for us to understand how likely it is we could count of such a service also in our physical experiences: going to the cinema, exploring a city, evaluating theatre or music events, or choosing an art – exhibition or a museum.

It’s quite simple to understand.

Still, it is everything but simple for cultural systems, apparently.



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