Friday, July 10, 2009
Do You Have a Museum Card?
This week, I stopped in at a small coffee place on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. "Are you local?" asked the woman behind the counter. I answered no, and she said, "Oh, if you were, I wanted to make sure you got one of our coffee cards, so you could get a free cup after 10 cups." It made me think about why museums can't work harder for their frequent visitors. I know, I know, that's why you become a member. But maybe there should be a different model--one that isn't just looking for your membership dollars but encouraging you to visit more often, on a regular basis. Could museums offer a free visit after 10 visits, or a free cup of coffee in the cafe? I might like that more than laying out the money for a membership--and over time, you might get more money from visitors like me.
I also hear more and more from visitor surveys and focus groups that they're looking for places in museums to relax, explore and chat--just like a coffee shop.
I could only think of one museum that has anything similar (and I'd love to hear about other examples). The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY. Admission at the Hyde is free, but if you're in grades K-6, you receive a special Discovery Card--which gets punched during each visit, just like a coffee card. On a second monthly visit, kids receive a bin for art supplies--and from then on out, each visit, anytime during the month, they receive a free art supply (different each month). This program, supported by local businesses, provides an incredible way to turn young people into life-long museum visitors. The education staff estimates that they've given out hundreds of bins.
All photos: Peru, 2008