Method: Non-Interactive Media
Non-interactive media – or static media – engages audiences with the museum’s mission or collections through podcasts, video series, or other one-way media. This method of distance learning is as opposed to interactive media like webinars or video field trips. For non-interactive media today, we are going to focus on audio and video content, like a podcast or video. Museums utilize these non-interactive media for two main reasons: to encourage in-person visits or to advance their institutional mission.
Who is the Audience?
This type of media can be tailored for any audience type and age group. You can find lecture series for adults, family-friendly stories, how-to videos for all ages, and plenty of content for school groups.
Case Study 1: Story Time at the Met Podcast Series
The Metropolitan Museum of Art used to publish a family story time podcast series to encourage museum visits. The series, Story Time at the Met, features a fairytale, fable, or legend told in an engaging, child-friendly way. After the 5-minute story, the podcast ends by encouraging the listener to learn more by visiting a related exhibition at the Met. For example, a story about Johnny Appleseed can be followed up with a visit to the Met to view “Cider Making” by William Sidney Mount.
Case Study 2: Voices on Antisemitism USHMM Podcast Series
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum publishes a monthly podcast series called Voices on Antisemitism, featuring scholars, authors, politicians, artists, and religious leaders, who reflect on the ways that antisemitism and hatred influence the world today. Guests have included Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rabbi Lord Jonahan Sacks, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Imam Khalid Latif and Rabbi Yehuda Sarna and they have spoken on such diverse topics as Jewish identity, anti-Zionism, interfaith relations, and the Holocaust on film. The majority of the USHMM podcasts are designed to advance the museum’s mission “to advance and disseminate knowledge about this unprecedented tragedy; to preserve the memory of those who suffered; and to encourage its visitors to reflect upon the moral and spiritual questions raised by the events of the Holocaust as well as their own responsibilities as citizens of a democracy.” Aside from naming the museum as the authors of the series, the podcast does not push listeners to visit the museum. It is only on rare occasion that an episode relates to an exhibit, like their November 2013 podcast on The Power of Propaganda exhibit that is currently traveling. I saw it last year at the Field Museum in Chicago and it was excellent. You can see it at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, Ohio until March 15 and then at the Missouri History Museum in St. Louis from April to September.
Podcasts can serve as valuable marketing and educational tools for museums, connecting the museum to audiences around the world, advancing their missions, and giving them name recognition for potential tourists.
Check out other Non-Interactive Museum Media
Face-to-Face podcast series, National Portrait Gallery
The Brain Scoop Youtube channel, The Field Museum
Handi-Hour Crafting Youtube series, Smithsonian American Art Museum