One thing that plagues the cultural sector is competition for leisure time. Sure, we might compete against each other, but most of us would agree that our biggest competition is for a few hours in people’s’ already-busy lives.
We’re certainly not the only sector with cause for concern. Coffee shops, bookstores (yes, some still exist), airports, hotels, and even bars often offer free WiFi so patrons can multitask. Adding this extra can be enticing to visitors and often influences destination choice. It’s becoming so commonplace that, indeed, it’s almost expected.
Recently I have been seeing a trend in taking this concept further.
A laundromat in Munich, called Wash & Coffee (Waschsalon), provides an experience that I certainly never found as an undergrad in New York City. At Wash & Coffee (as you’ll see in the video below), a lounge atmosphere– complete with espresso, sandwiches, even occasional stand-up comedy– gets folded into a necessary, routine, and typically banal task.
The truly great thing about an enterprise like Wash & Coffee isn’t that it combines two seemingly disparate experiences into one; rather that it provides an improved experience over something that is typically incredibly dull.
You may have seen other blended business models for the ‘We Have Kids but Still Want to be Grown Ups’ demographic. In Chicago, Little Beans Cafe pairs an upscale coffee-house with an expansive play area and kids’ menu for the young ones. Similarly, everything from movie theatres to railway stations offer child-minding and daycare services.
Businesses are getting creative when it comes to serving their audiences’ expansive (and often competing) needs.
How does this play out in museums and culturals? Many have cafes and coffee carts, museum shops and summer camps… but what are we missing?
What other opportunities might be there to decompartmentalize visitors’ lives within and outside of our walls?
Is it so far-fetched to have curatorial lectures in laundromats or at the mechanic’s, instead of our own auditoriums and halls?
What about a museum bus that picks up kids at school and provides art activities on their ride home, so parents don’t have to leave work early for after-school pick-ups?
How about bringing exhibits to high school football games or the grocery store?
What do we do to meet our communities where they are, in addition to asking them to come to us?
Are we too afraid of taking away from ‘the museum experience’ to be willing to see the museum as a part of a larger whole?
Thanks to Springwise for inspiration this week.
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