Smart art

How are museums in Latin America surviving the pandemic?

The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a digital revolution across many industries and museums are no exception. Roughly 80% museums in Europe have increased their online activity, placing exhibitions online and giving visibility to the most prized objects in their collections.

According to a Mexican curator, “90% of museums in Latin America have closed their doors but about half have seen increased online traffic, the top 5% have seen online visitors increase 200%. They have been pushing new video and content through social media platforms and have seen their followers grow by up to 1570%.”

It seems that the main opportunity for these museums is to reach a new and traditionally uninterested demographic: teenagers! One well-covered success story is the Uffizi gallery in Florence that, despite only launching a website in 2015, has taken to TikTok to showcase its collection in amusing videos targeted at teenagers.

Several other museums followed suit including Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and the Prado Museum in Madrid.

A Brazilian art director believes these digital initiatives are an important part of the future of museums, “It is essential for museums to connect to young people and to get content to young people. There is a generation gap in the world of museums. It is not that young people are not interested but that the communication channel is wrong.”

“It is essential for museums to connect to young people […]. It is not that young people are not interested but that the communication channel is wrong.”

Art Director, Brazil

A Lima-based digital strategist observes a similar trend in Latin America, “In Peru, the Museo de Arte de Lima (MALI) is a reference in terms of digital communications, from viral videos to virtual auctions.”

One major problem for the museums is a lack of adequately trained staff, which is a problem in many institutions. The curator we spoke to explained, “Trained personnel are essential, we need to make landfall and focus on the younger people who are the ones who are going to consume. It isn’t easy to produce fresh, simple and professional communications.”

Trained personnel are essential, we need to make landfall and focus on the younger people who are the ones who are going to consume.”

Curator, Mexico

Another challenge is how to monetise the new audience, a museums communications director explains, “The content has been given for free which is a problem because in general people do not value things that they get for free. You have to think about hybrid business models, oriented to the public, I don’t know if others have done this analysis but there is a tremendous opportunity there.”

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