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Let’s meet at the museum

Updated: Oct 9, 2023

By Maryke Benadé


Forget dinner and drinks, museums are set to become the ideal place to meet someone for a first date. Many might think that museum dates don’t allow for eye contact or conversation, but museums offer so much more than walking around the galleries at your own pace.


Why Museums?


The mere experience of meeting each other at a museum is an automatic

ice-breaker. You can learn a lot about someone by taking part in an activity or sharing a unique experience. On a deeper level, how a person relates and engages with a museum’s collection, programmes or events can tell you a lot about their perspective, values and outlook on life.


Note: Contrary to popular belief, you are allowed to speak to each other above the volume of a whisper in most museums.

Looking for something different


Finding unique date venues and activities are becoming popular among young people, especially in the Generation Z community, those born between 1995 to 2010. On the social media platform Pinterest, search terms for ‘museum dates’ increased by 70% in 2022 according to Pinterest’s 2023 ‘Pinterest Predicts’ report. The report even has a category called ‘Date Differently', with the following summary:


“Dinner and a movie is so 2022. In the year ahead, Gen Z will embark on a different kind of dating experience, opting for experiential outings such as bookshop nights, museum meet-cutes and aquarium adventures. Because who needs ‘dinner and movie’ when you have ‘bookshop and manatee’?”

So what’s behind this trend? The report explains:


“Gen Z is shaking things up—and we’re not talking about martinis. This younger generation is looking for alternatives to the traditional happy hour meet-up. In 2023, get ready for some unique date proposals.²”

Places like museums, bookshops and aquariums allow us to open up to different types of discussions we might not have over a plate of spaghetti. It can also be good for your well-being during the date. Researchers have discovered that visiting art museums in particular can have a positive impact on your health.


Researcher Katherine Cotter explains some of the positive impacts art museums can have on us to online forum Hyperallergic:


“Art museums have great potential to positively impact people, including reducing their stress, enhancing positive emotional experiences, and helping people to feel less lonely and more connected.”




Museum dates can help shape the perception of museums and encourage authentic engagement


Museum dates can help influence how people view and interact with the museum because they are experiencing it in a different context. It can act as a catalyst for museums to think outside the box when it comes to communicating what they offer the community and work towards changing perception that museums are 'just a place filled with old stuff that holds no relevance to our day-to-day lives'. People can view the museum through a different filter and highlight that they are places where you can learn about each other by engaging with the collection and its stories in a unique way.


Museum date nights are also great ways to promote the different ways the community can engage with the museum. Even though the context in which people visit the museum is a date, they will still experience the some parts of the museum in a similar way if they came by themselves or with a group of friends.


Setting the scene


Look at what current museum events and programmes you offer and think outside of the box to share it as a first date venue and activity.


Incorporate events and museum programmes as examples of what people can do as a date activity. The High Museum of Art in Atlanta Georgia promotes date nights alongside their other museum events, like ‘February Friday Jazz’.


Take inspiration from companies like Museum Hack that take a different approach to museum tours. Participants encounter museums differently through their often unorthodox way of conducting museum tours. Their website states: “Museum Hack leads renegade, small group tours for people who think they don't like museums”.




So how can you communicate that the museum is a great place for a date?


Share stories about love and connection from the collection and the well-being benefits of attending museum events or engaging in museum programmes.


Of course, February is the perfect time to promote the museum as a date venue and activity. Highlight unique and fun date activities on Valentine's Day by coupling your museum events, programmes and collection with museum dates. It is probably the one time of the year when you can lean into using love puns!


Communication channels like blogs, email marketing, social media, brochures or signage in the galleries can be great starting points for communicating your message. If you are hosting museum date events or activities, invite the local media to the museum for media exposure.


Use different formats and communication channels and reach people where they are. For example, signage in the museum that advertises date nights will target regular visitors during their visit. It is also easier to encourage them to bring their date to the museum since they are already interested in museums.


Since data shows that the younger generation are leading this trend towards museum dates, communicate creatively on digital platforms used by young users, like social media platforms and video-sharing platforms. Short-form videos on social media sharing interesting museum objects, stories and spaces can showcase the museum as a contender for their next date.


And if the date does not develop into romance, hopefully, you will have gained a regular museum visitor.



References:


Date different | Pinterest Predicts 2023. (n.d.). Pinterest. https://business.pinterest.com/en-gb/pinterest-predicts/2023/date-different


Suffering From Anxiety? Try Visiting a Museum- CIMAM. (n.d.). https://cimam.org/news-archive/suffering-from-anxiety-try-visiting-a-museum/


Date Nights Event Category. (n.d.). High Museum of Art. https://high.org/event_category/date-nights/view/event/


Museum Hack. (2020, August 25). F***ing Awesome Museum Tours. https://museumhack.com/



Photo by duanyi wu on Unsplash


 

Huberta Consulting blogs covers communications strategy, museum communications, content strategy and a range of other museum-centered topics.


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