interviews

Optimal reach! I strongly believe in the oil stain theory’

MuseumTV makes newsflashes, short films and mini-documentaries about art, cultural heritage and design in Dutch museums. Matching viewers with art and heritage, that’s what it’s about. The website provides insight and inspiration, background and information about the more than hundred Dutch museums that are affiliated with MuseumTV, from the Zuiderzeemuseum in Enkhuizen or the Buitenplaats in Eelde to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Textiles Museum in Tilburg.
After a running start since its foundation in 2016, with a rapidly expanding network, MuseumTV is now making plans together with the Cultural Youth Card Foundation (CJP) and NBTC Holland Marketing. Their commitment: to familiarize youth and international visitors with the Dutch museum world. The Mondriaan Fund contributes to the research and to realizing this cooperation.

An interview about the new plans, with Marieke van der Donk, founder of MuseumTV, Anneke van der Vaart of CJP, and Conrad van Tiggelen of NBTC Holland Marketing.

Young people and international visitors: these are two different target groups that MuseumTV now focuses on. Why this choice?

Marieke van der Donk: ‘Across the board, families and elderly people make up the largest group of exhibition visitors. It can be hugely rewarding to also specifically name other groups and approach them in their own ways. With the groups that we are now committed to, the advantage works for all parties: inexperienced visitors are familiarized with the museums, and the museums benefit from further public interest.
The influx of tourists is growing steadily and museum visits are very popular ways to spend the day, but it is mostly big museums such as the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh that benefit from that. The majority of Dutch museums are overlooked by this influx, while there is so much beauty to be discovered off the beaten track. Moreover, small museums struggle with the need to build a bridge to the wider public. So there lies a great opportunity.

‘The same goes for a large group of young people that we have barely been able to motivate as yet: the Netherlands has over 480,000 MBO students (secondary vocational students). Our question is: how can we reach these young people? And how can we activate them?’

So it involves two parallel tracks: one through NBTC Holland Marketing in the context of foreign visitors; and one through CJP for MBO students. To start with the youth: what does the cooperation between MuseumTV and CJP consist of?

Marieke van der Donk: ‘Since February, we have been hard at work with an expert team, with people from both foundations; at CJP this happens under the supervision of Anneke van der Vaart. What is very important is our market research, in addition to the experience they have at CJP. Without specific research that we were able to set in motion and carry out partly thanks to the Mondriaan Fund, we’d be nowhere. How do we appeal to these young people? How can we spark their imagination? That requires more than the opening of doors.

‘Since 2017, for example, we have already had the special MBO card for discounts at museums, but it is a pity of all the unvisited exhibitions when this card remains unused. The first lesson is that we should identify more clearly with this target group. For a while now, MuseumTV has been making films featuring young people visiting exhibitions. Still, that format will need another spin. Audio-visual media are popular enough: watching movies and gaming are very popular. The combination of those two is what we will put into action. If only for the tone and presentation, the cooperation with CJP is indispensible; combining forces rather than everyone inventing the wheel for themselves.’

At CJP, Anneke van der Vaart is the key figure in the cooperation with MuseumTV. To her we ask: what will the new combination of film and games look like?

Anneke van der Vaart: ‘You have to be able to asses both what works and what doesn’t work. MuseumTV is solid in terms of content and also always puts content first, but in order to reach our target group, and especially this group of MBO students who tend to have a practical rather than a theoretical attitude, it is better to turn that method around; to choose a radically different approach.

‘What counts is: what are they watching? Which YouTube clips are popular and what is it about those clips? What are the style elements? Contests have especially good scores. Suspense captures the attention: what will happen next; who wins? And well-known faces of YouTube have an appeal: distinct vloggers with their own following. Together with the museums that are open to this, we combine that information in our Bingo Battle. We are going to play Bingo in the museum together with YouTube personalities. And Yuki Kho, from the ‘Kunst Kijken met Ko & Kho’ (looking at art with Yuki Kho) website, is going to present the films that we will make with these vloggers. She loves art, and on her site she shares advice about ‘the endless super museum’ that the Internet can be, and she knows what she’s talking about. So it will be more than a superficial little game, but it will also be funny and flashy.

As a MuseumTV watcher, can you join the Bingo Battle in museums?

Anneke van der Vaart: ‘Step one is that we want to show what’s out there. To remove barriers, because really: museums are hundred-nil down with this group. So we will be constructive. We’ll start with four museums that will join the Bingo Battle from September. We aim to have a total of seven museums join the pilot. Films and bingo cards will be up on the site and we’ll dedicate a big campaign to it. Participants from the focus group are EYE Film museum and the Van Gogh in Amsterdam, the Stedelijk Museum in Breda and the Afrika Museum near Nijmegen. But the pilot will begin shortly, in May, at the Eye museum. That is what we are currently working towards. As a matter of fact, our team also has an intern from the MBO, critically thinking along with us.

‘All the bingo cards will be custom made per museum. They are about works of art, cultural heritage, art historic facts and maybe sometimes also about a special little corner in the museum. Everything that makes an impression. They encourage people to sometimes look at a red surface, sometimes a saint, sometimes a naked breast. In some museums, viewers can also get to work with the bingo cards themselves. And we are thinking about making the game interactive. But showing what is out there, through the museums, MuseumTV and CJP: that is the first point. The grant from the Mondriaan Fund is at the source of that digital visibility; and the connection between art and the widening and rejuvenation of the audience.’

Showing what is out there, that is a recurring motto. MuseumTV wishes to draw attention to the wealth of museum collections and exhibitions. On the one hand, by opening up new roads with CJP. And on the other, by doing so for foreign visitors too. The cooperation on the Holland.com website of NBTC Holland Marketing is a new instrument for that. Presenting English-language and German-language videos of museums on this website seems just the thing we need; it is almost strange that it hasn’t happened before!

‘Still, Marieke van der Donk of MuseumTV explains, ‘it certainly isn’t something that comes naturally! The Grant from the Mondriaan Fund is a great incentive to get the collaboration started, with NBTC Holland Marketing and certainly also among the museums. This digital showroom involves costs that especially the small museums, because of their limited marketing budgets, shy away from. I have to say: especially the small museums can benefit tremendously when people that are now in line for the big museums in Amsterdam redirect their focus. I am convinced that it is worth it to invest in online scope, but there is still some attachment to printed matter. However: printing is very expensive and with Dutch newspapers you don’t reach foreign speakers.

‘There are now twenty museums that have joined the new campaign at Holland.com. This campaign entails that subtitled films are integrated in the online platform, which aims to reach up to 500,000 impressions in the United States, England, Belgium and Germany. With this group, big museums are involved such as the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Hermitage in Amsterdam, but also museums that are much smaller in scale such as the Zeeuws Museum in Middelburg or the PIT Safety Museum in Almere.

“This collaboration is an outstanding example of joining forces; I strongly believe in that multiplication, spreading out like an oil stain. We already have a range of partners and can now develop our reach even further through the new collaboration, supported by the Mondriaan Fund, with CJP and NBTC Holland Marketing. In this way, and through the sites of all the museums that bring in their own network, you reinforce each other tremendously, and that is what it’s about: not competing with each other within the museum sector, but reinforcing each other for an optimal reach.’

Art and culture can also be an attraction to foreign visitors. Finally, Conrad van Tiggelen, Marketing Director of NBTC Holland Marketing Foundation, about the new collaboration with MuseumTV.

Conrad van Tiggelen: ‘Through the joint campaign, in which Holland.com can offer space to MuseumTV, we draw the attention of foreign visitors to the abundance of Dutch museums. At an early stage of their search for an attractive destination, in the first phase of inspiration and seduction, MuseumTV plays a role, now made possible through the translation of the Dutch films into German and English, partly thanks to the Mondriaan Fund. The commitment is broader than Holland.com. It also involves the use of channels by partners such as Tripadvisor, to draw attention to the museum videos. By presenting the offer of MuseumTV within a Holland-context, at the landing pages of various campaigns in Belgium, Germany, Great Britain and the United States, we reach a broad group of international travellers. By means of both offline and online channels, these visits to the landing pages are boosted by a Holland campaign. That’s where it starts: activating interest for the great cultural variety that we have.’