The Philadelphia Museum of Art Unveils New Strategic Vision

Looking to the Future

The Philadelphia Museum of Art, arguably the most iconic cultural institution in Philadelphia, is embracing a new strategic vision. Developed in collaboration with a diverse group of museum staff, the plan was unveiled recently to members, friends, and colleagues.

“We have much to build on and be proud of already, but if the museum is to remain a vital force, we must not only sustain the traditions, we must also realize its enormous potential in the future,” said Timothy Rub, the chief executive officer of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The new plan focuses on four overarching themes, which are outlined below.

Engaging audiences
Building attendance is among the museum’s greatest priorities, and it seeks to increase attendance by 35 percent, to 1 million visitors annually. “Audiences matter, perhaps more so today than ever before,” said Rub.

Strengthening the participation and engagement of young audiences and families is also key. “We know that these new times of learning are different from what we’ve done in the past,” said Rub. “Simply put, as our visitors change, so do the ways we use to engage them.”

The museum, with an annual budget of $53.8 million, plans to put access at the center of its engagement strategy, using social and interactive means to reach a digitally focused audience. More old-fashioned ways to open up the collections are also planned, such as longer hours and programs similar to its popular new initiative, Pay-What-You-Wish Wednesday Nights.

Enhancing the visitor experience
The 137-year-old museum may have a commanding presence, but its bones are old. “We live in an old house, and at every turn we feel hindered, in terms of how the building works,” explained Rub.

A long-term facilities master plan, led by renowned architect Frank Gehry, is already underway, but other changes are on the horizon, such as the renovation of existing galleries, and a retooling of the way the museum communicates with its audiences.

“We need to vault ourselves into the conversation about how museums can be experienced digitally in a rich and rewarding way, one that complements a visit to the museum,” Rub added. “All roads will still lead to the home of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.”

Activating the collections
Presenting the museum’s vast collections in innovative ways is paramount. “For me, the heart of the matter and an important focus is what we do with the works of art that have been entrusted to our care,” said Rub. That means positioning works creatively, and interpreting them with the interests of visitors in mind. A redesigned website and new mobile apps will boost these efforts.

Existing and new partnerships with other cultural institutions, such as the National Museum of Korea, will strengthen the impact of the collections locally and around the globe. “Activating our collection means sharing it with audiences around the world that will yield strategic benefit for us,” Rub said.

Strengthening the commitment to community
The Philadelphia Museum of Art was first envisioned as a civic resource for the community, and over time, it has maintained a pattern of community support.

The new strategic vision will further develop the museum’s position as a source of education and cultural engagement by developing new partnerships and enhancing its outreach and programming efforts. It also seeks to establish itself as a primary learning center for the visual arts.

“We need to think anew about how we can continue to serve Philadelphia school children. What worked in the past no longer works today,” acknowledged Rub. “We cannot throw up our hands and turn our backs, because what’s at stake, of course, is the future of Philadelphia’s children.”

For more information about the future of the museum, view the full report here.

Posted by Erin Kane on April 3, 2013

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