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7. Marketing

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Marketing is about promoting and selling a product or service. For Museums, the "product" is a visit to the Museum or to an exhibition.  Today, marketing - and number of visitors - is as important for Museums, as it is for commercial businesses. Museums need visitors, even if it is only to show their governments and sponsors, that their money is well used.

"Especially in Eastern Europe, many museum managers are still reluctant to associate their institution with concepts originating from the business world, such as investments, marketing, promotion or public relations. They fear that by adopting a business-like approach in managing their institution, the museums will no longer be considered as spaces of learning and culture, but commercial enterprises, interested not in preserving the heritage but in exploiting it only for financial reasons. The present paper argues why such an attitude is completely wrong and presents the benefits a museum could have by adopting a marketing approach."

from: Marketing as a key element in achieving museum’s mission , 2008

Like commercial businesses, Museums do market research to find out who their potential visitors are, how they can reach them, and what message they should send them. What do you tell potential visitors about your Museum or exhibition,  how can you convince them to come and visit?

Museums also  do market research to find out about the competition, especially at the planning stage. You do not want to start a Museum or set up an exhibition, if there is very strong competition nearby.  On the other hand, successful Museums can be good examples: what do they do that you can copy? 

Tools that most Museums use to promote their Museum:

  • A brand strategy.
  • A Museum website.
  • Social Media.
  • Email newsletters.
  • Direct mail.
  • Print advertising.
  • Articles in magazines, journals, newspapers.
  • Special tours, workshops, events, exhibitions.
  • Pop-up exhibitions and workshops at conferences, festivals.
  • Special benefits for Friends of the Museum: discounts, special tours, special events.
  • Promo gifts: bags, buttons, clothing, key-chains with the name and the logo of the Museum. 

In our Survey of Deaf Museums, we asked what tools Deaf Museums use to advertise their Museum. Most have a website and use social media, some do more - see below. 

 Further Reading:

A Brand Strategy

A Brand Strategy

A brand identity is the visual profile of a product or service. It includes the name, the logo, the house style (font and colours). Apple is a brand, and so is MacDonald's. You see their logo or an advertisement and you immediately recognize the product.image 2022 10 26 093213353

Source:  From Fruit to Fame: The Evolution of the Apple Logo​


Mainstream Museums use a brand strategy to be easily recognized as well. They use the logo on the building, on the website, on posters, catalogues, other  printed materials and on items sold in the Museum shop. 

"Before you start working with a designer to develop the brand identity for your museum you might want to consider whether certain fonts, colours and images are more appropriate than others.

If you are redesigning your museum's brand identity does it make sense to keep a recognisable colour palette? Could some element of the museum logo be kept or evolved?

Also, make yourself aware of competitors in your marketplace. Are there colours and other elements to avoid so that your museum's brand identity stands out?"

Source: How to Create a great Museum Brand Identity?

logo british museum    Amsterdam museum

"The British Museum’s visual language is a system designed to visually represent the Museum. It reflects and reinforces the Museum’s values and core purpose. In line with the Museum’s positioning in the wider world, it is strong and confident, visually demonstrating that the Museum is a single organisation with a shared outlook and goals.
Key elements of the design are:
• a single Museum logo, undiluted by ‘sub-brands’
• typefaces (fonts), Baskerville and Akzidenz Grotesk
• the choice of objects from the collection to represent the brief
• a strong and consistent design style"

Source: Design guidelines, The British Museum

 Further Reading:

Museum Websites

Museum Websites

  A good Museum website has to meet (at least) the following objectives:

  1. The target audience must be able to find it. For this, you need SEO: Search Engine Optimization. Under Further Reading, you will find links to guidelines for this. 
  2. The first impression must be good: your target audience must be willing to explore the website to see what it has to offer.
  3. The content must be visually interesting, but the text should be attractive too: the correct tone and writing style, with content (information) that is to-the-point.. 
  4. Navigation must be easy, visitors should find exactly, and quickly! what they are looking for.
  5. The information on the website must be up-to-date; new information should be added regularly, so that visitors will keep coming back.
  6. Visitors must be able to see the information with all browsers, and on all devices including Tablets and Mobile phones.
  7. Again, last but not least, the website must be accessible for people with disabilities. 

Van Gogh Museum

Homepage of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, October 2022

British Museum

Homepage of the British Museum, London, October 2022


Further Reading:

Social Media

Social Media

Most mainstream Museums use Social Media (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest) to market their Museum. Setting up an account on these platforms is easy. Getting people to find your page, to read, like and share your posts and to follow you, takes more work. MuseumNext gives the following tips:

    • Be authentic: develop a “voice” that is authentic and immediately recognisable as belonging to YOU.
    • Involve your entire Museum, not just the marketing department.
    • Involve the community - ask them to contribute to your posts, share posts from other communities and ask them to share your posts.
    • Use eye-catching visuals.
    • Use buzzwords - words that are trending in your field - and hashtag them (add #). These words can help your press releases and posts to stand out and get noticed by others. 

Other tricks that help Museums to get noticed on Social Media:

    • They use influencers: they ask people who have many followers on Instagram or Facebook to visit their Museum and to post photos of the Museum, event or exhibition on Instagram and Facebook , to share your posts.
    • They set up 'Instagrammable' exhibits and displays.
    • They post podcasts and videos about exhibitions and events. 
    • They use International Museum Day and other relevant international and national days, birthdays, holidays to organise special events and to post about these. They start days or weeks in advance, and post regular updates to keep people interested. International Museum Day is an international day held annually on or around 18 May, coordinated by the International Council of Museums (ICOM).   


IMD 2022 POSTER FINAL EN 683x1024

Source: https://imd.icom.museum/international-museum-day-2022/the-poster/

Further Reading:

Museum Shop, Museum Café

Museum Shop, Museum Café

Many Museums use a Museum shop and a café as important marketing tools: People may even come to the Museum shop or the café as their main reason to visit the Museum.

“Nowadays, whether it’s a long lunch discussing art or a quick pitstop for sustenance, the café is an integral part of the museum experience as a whole”

Source: https://elephant.art/ode-museum-cafe-spaces-essential-museum-experience/

A Museum shop and web-shop may not generate much income, but it can sell merchandise that advertises the Museum. Bags and T-shirts with the Museum logo, key-chains, books, calendars, postcards. At the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, you can buy Van Gogh candles, cushions, vases, wallpaper, and more. 

Van Gogh shop

source: https://www.vangoghmuseumshop.comenseevangoghathome

Museums prefer to locate their shop near the entrance or the exit of the Museum, or both. Often you can only exit the Museum by going through the shop. 

Further Reading:

Marketing by Deaf Museums

Marketing by Deaf Museums

 In our survey of Deaf Museums, we asked our contact persons about advertising: 

"Does your Museum have a website? Do you use Social Media? Do you advertise in other ways?  What - in your opinion -  is the most effective way to get people to visit your museum?

All Deaf Museums that responded had a website and used social media: Facebook and Instagram. Kuurojen Museo also uses print: the magazine of the deaf. The Norsk Døvemuseum also advertises in the local (mainstream) newspaper, when they have a special activity at the Museum. 

The Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds in France reports that local newspapers often talk about their activities as well as magazines for the Deaf. They also answer our question about the most effective way: "Talk about it as much as possible and make it known by all means, for example during association celebrations, conferences accompanied by flyers, etc."

They also have a number of videos on YouTube about the Museum.

Museum Shop

The Norsk Døvemuseum  has a small museum shop with selected products, see below.

webshopTrondheimwebshop Trondheim2webshop Trondheim3


The Deaf Heritage Centre in Ireland sells mugs with their logo, the Irish manual alphabet, or a photo of Thomas Mahon, see below.



 As far as we know, the Deaf Museums do not sell postcards, calendars, or posters with photos of Deaf events or important people in Deaf history.  In the Netherlands, one can order postage stamps with a personal design. As an award, we had stamps printed with a photo of a statue of Andreas Christian Møller, the founder of the first Deaf school in Norway. They can actually be used - in the Netherlands - and are a nice way of promoting Deaf history or a Deaf museum.

 moller stamps


The Deaf Heritage Centre UK is hosted on the website of the British Deaf History Society (BDHS). BDHS has a webshop that sells many books and journals about Deaf history. 

webshop BDHS


The Brand Strategies of Deaf Museums

The Brand Strategies of Deaf Museums

Deaf Museums vary in the names that they use for their Museum. In the table below, you can see the names in the national language and in English. 

 Kuurojen Museo

Finnish Museum of the Deaf
Norsk Døvemuseum

Norwegian Museum of Deaf History and Culture

Norwegian Deaf Museum

Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds Museum of the History and Culture of the Deaf

 Different names are used on the website of the Museum in Manchester:

  • The Deaf Heritage Centre ( UK)
  • The Deaf Museum and Art Gallery
  • Deaf Museum and Archive

The Deaf Heritage Centre (Ireland)

Døvehistorisk Selskab 

Danish Deaf History Society 

 Some of these names are stronger 'brand' names than others. The Deaf Heritage Centre in the UK uses a number of different names on its website, which is confusing. It shares one of its names with the Deaf Heritage Centre in Ireland. 

The logos of these Deaf Museums: 


norskdovemuseumlogoNorsk Døvemuseum

Logo Musee special Bleu

bdhs British Deaf History Society - no separate logo for the Museum

logoDHC Deaf Heritage Centre Ireland

dovehistoriskselskab Døvehistorisk Selskab 


Websites of Deaf Museums

Websites of Deaf Museums

Most Deaf Museums in Europe do not have a budget or expertise for professional marketing. One Museum, the Tommaso Pendola Museum in Siena, does not even have a website. The websites of some of the other Deaf Museums in Europe are hard to find, especially for people from other countries.  Some have only limited information.

Below some examples:

Website Norskdovemuseum

On the website of the Norwegian Deaf Museum , you see a video of hearing visitors of the Rom X exhibition - an exhibition for hearing visitors. Some pages are available in English text. The page "Visit us" has a video in Norwegian Sign language:{ modal url=" https://dms04.dimu.org/multimedia/0136MvHUJZAK.mp4?mmid=0136MvHUJZAK"}Visit us{/modal}

Website Musee dhistoire

The website of the Musée d'Histoire et de Culture des Sourds in France (see above) opens with a lot of information, but only in French. Foreign visitors will have to use Google Translate to find the information they want. 

 Website Kuurojen Museo

The website of the Finnish Deaf Museum, Kuurojen Museo, shows the online Museum and has only limited information about the physical exhibition in Helsinki. Most pages are available in Finnish, Swedish and English text. Some information is available in Finnish Sign Language

Below, the results of a Google search that we did, October 2022, from the perspective of a foreign visitor: 

Search Term Google's Top Results
Deaf Museum
  • Deaf Museums - Welcome!  https://www.deafmuseums.eu
Deaf Museum Norway
Deaf Museum Finland
Deaf Museum Denmark
Deaf Museum UK
Deaf Museum Ireland
Deaf Museum France
 Deaf Museum Italy  
  • Deaf Museums - Welcome!


Of course, the main target group of the Deaf Museums in Europe are visitors from their own country, who will use search terms in the national language. But two conclusions are obvious:

  • Deaf Museums in Europe are not easy to find for people who use English search terms.
  • Our websites, www.deafmuseums.eu and www.deafhistory.eu are easy to find by Google and include links to the national websites of the Museums. 




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