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Museums Find Going Virtual a Double-Edged Sword

Almost half of 18-34 year olds say they have felt starved of culture during the pandemic and a fifth of all consumers tried a virtual tour of a museum or gallery in a bid to close the culture gap according to the latest Alfresco Life research by OOH agency Kinetic Worldwide.

The research, which tracks consumer attitudes through the Covid-19 crisis, showed that 18% of all adults visited a cultural space since they reopened after the first lockdown, increasing to 30% of those that live in urban areas and those with children. These audiences have been the first to visit showing how much they value these spaces.

Virtual experiences lead to physical opportunities

The survey also found that virtual tour offering have helped encourage physical visits to cultural spaces outside of lockdown. During the first lockdown, 20% of adults did a virtual tour of a cultural space, increasing to 25% of those that live in urban areas and 31% for those with children. Of these virtual culture vultures, 85% agree that “doing a virtual tour inspired me to visit more museums and galleries in the future”.

The importance of culture

Kinetic’s research suggests cultural institutions could experience a strong bounce back as restrictions are lifted and the prospect of a vaccine grows, they will need to work hard to remind consumers of their presence and value.

While 44% of 18-34 year-olds feel starved of culture, just 14% said visiting a museum or gallery was a priority.

Health concerns were cited by 40% as a reason not to make a physical cultural visit (decreasing to 30% among 18-34 years-olds). However, for many, being away from cities because of remote working, or the change in habits during the pandemic means that cultural spaces are less top of mind. Overall, 27% of adults said they simply hadn’t considered it, increasing to 33% in suburban areas.

Sarah Harding, Research Director at Kinetic, said: “Covid-19 has accelerated the digital transformation of the culture sector in a similar way to other business areas. Virtual tours are encouraging many of those who take them to visit for real, but the pandemic has clearly created barriers to future visits. While our study suggests a large proportion of younger consumers are keen to close the culture gap, overall cultural brands will need to work hard to remind all consumers of the value of a physical visit as restrictions lift.”

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