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In 2020 and 2021, pandemic-related lockdowns drastically impacted cultural and touristic consumption. But these challenges also offered cultural organizations opportunities to innovate and transform the way they program and approach their visitors. Digital has become a go-to solution to keep audiences engaged — one that is now complementing and enriching physical activations now that in-person participation is back in play. “Museums have discovered that they can operate while closed,” Claire de Longeaux, Event Director of Museum Connections, puts it. “Now, they must find a balance between the physical and the digital.”

This balance is what she hopes cultural players can find at Museum Connections 2022. The 27th edition of the international trade fair and conference takes place between March 30 and 31, 2022 in Paris, and aims to connect professionals across the museum, tourism, and technology sectors.

There will be networking opportunities on the MyMuseumConnections platform, as well as some 365 companies exhibiting the latest in museum technology services and retail products. A Start-Up Village will also feature more than 40 young companies working in advanced tech from artificial intelligence (as in the Ask Mona chatbot) to extended reality (including immersive tools XR-ROOM and My Tour Live). The goal, adds de Longeaux, is “to help museums better understand their brand, the ideas they want to communicate through products, and also how to organize [their] sustainability policy.” 

Museum Connections 2022

Now in its 27th year, Museum Connections invites cultural professionals to discover new museum products and services (above), and attend conferences led by an international line-up of speakers (below). Images: © Museum Connections

An accompanying Museum Connections conference program will further highlight the trends, opportunities, and challenges that are facing cultural venues today. “Research is the main theme of the conference, focusing specifically on transformation, commitment, and innovation,” adds de Longeaux.

Over two days’ worth of conferences, visitors will have their pick of talks focused on topics ranging from sustainability and fundraising to touring exhibitions and digital expansion, featuring speakers from the Palais de Tokyo, Museum of London, Culturespaces, and Rijksmuseum, among many other organizations. They’ll also have access to Making Sense of Immersion in 2021, a handbook produced by We Are Museums in collaboration with leaders in immersive technology. 

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Ultimately, visitor experiences will guide conversations at Museum Connections. “Museums have proved they are essential because of what they have brought to individuals during the pandemic,” says de Longeaux, highlighting a level of audience engagement that institutions will be hoping to sustain in 2022 (and particularly as Omicron is prompting new waves of closures). To ensure their continued cultural relevance while attempting to capture greater audience numbers in an increasingly crowded digital realm, museums will have to seek innovative ideas and collaborative opportunities — both of which Museum Connections is ready to deliver.

Museum Connections is offering free visitor badges exclusively for Jing Culture & Commerce readers. Register for yours now!

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Cultural Insider, Event Spotlight