So, as we approach the annual AAM conference, we see several trends and themes emerging across the field. These observations are based on meetings and visits with funding authorities, museums, summits and other professional conversations. It will be interesting to see if these themes come up at the conference and what news and updates we’ll add afterward in our postmortem after the conference.
- There is an increase in the creation of “maker” and DYI spaces in both science centers AND children’s museums.
- Linked with 1 above is the move in the children’s museum to aggressively target STEM content.
Where does this leave the science center field?
- In the museum world, there seems to be a prevalent belief that if you build a mobile app you will attract (fill in the blank): teens, young adults, tech savvy, new visitors, money. But do these audiences want and respond to these new apps?
- Children’s museums are attempting to up the age range of their visitorship. They are looking to add new experiences and environmental contexts that will attract kids who may have thought the museum was only for their younger siblings.
- Museums anticipate that augmented reality will be a new technology in the toolbox of experiences. However, we’ve yet to discover how to use it well to achieve the intended impacts.
- Overseas, there are still many countries looking for a museum experience similar to the ones in North America. One trend these new overseas initiatives have in common: They are willing to try different funding models to make it happen.