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Millenials in the Museum

by Patrick Wittwer on

Many corporations across the United States are starting to target a millennial audience. Generally millennials are less prone to spend and have a little less capital then previous generations; thus corporations have to alter their approach and create new ways to reach this emerging audience. As I come from the world of nonprofit museums, I have started to adapt successful programs from previous institutions to fit the corporate mold.

One of the most popular way museums attract that fresh-out-of-college audience is adult programming. These programs are developed with young adults in mind, and follow the same general formula. First, the hook: Draw in the millennial audience with the promise of snacks, adult beverages, and a museum environment free of screaming children. Second, offer a somewhat outlandish twist on your mission. Finally, complement the event with programming similar to what a normal visit would offer.

For example, the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia offers a program called Mega-Bad Movie Night. An idea inspired by Mystery Science Theater 3000, the highlight of the program is a screening of an awesomely awful sci-fi film with a trio of scientists on stage cracking jokes at the movie’s expense and interjecting some real science. Prior to the film, visitors enjoy snacks, beer, and wine while the education staff offers a variety of interactions, games, and demonstrations with a little more of an edge than one would find during a school visit.

Here at the Wells Fargo History Museum in Philadelphia, we have taken inspiration from such programs and launched our First Friday events. On the first Friday of each month, we offer a different themed program to draw in a millennial audience from the university next door and the several office buildings in our vicinity. Throughout the year, we will offer movie nights, a grown-up field trip night, a trivia night, and more. How is your company attracting this young audience? What ideas might you have for an adult program at your institution?

Patrick Wittwer is the Museum Manager at the Wells Fargo History Museum in Philadelphia.

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