Recommendation and information provision for sequential experiences in the cultural sector

Investigating the use of digital route recommendation systems for cultural institutions

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) reported a £15bn yearly gross value added in the UK from the cultural heritage sector. However, there is limited research on the operations and management of cultural institutions, despite the economic significance. This research, in collaboration with the Van Gogh Museum, investigates the use of digital route recommendation systems in museums to improve visitor experience and crowd management. In parallel, the research team plans to implement multiple interventions aimed at modifying the multimedia guide offerings withing the treatment groups.



The challenge

Cultural institutions are symbolic in that they are actors for education – beyond public exhibitions, many institutions such as the Van Gogh Museum offer schools and education programs for minority groups. They communicate cultural heritage, acknowledging and celebrating society’s diversity, they promote artistic creation and work as significant contributors to the economy. Cultural institutions are a critical juncture to develop new operating models, leveraging data and digitisation to reach broader audiences and rethink the interactions with art collections. Overcrowding can negatively influence visitor experience as museums become more popular, and one of the difficulties museums face is finding improved ways to better manage visitor flow and congestion.

The intervention

The study aims to use a digital route recommendation system to provide visitors with personalised recommendations for artworks to view. The system will be based on a variety of factors, including the visitor’s interests, the time they have available, and the current congestion levels in the museum as it seeks to understand whether and to which extent different audience segments prefer ‘standardised recommendations’ or ‘free discovery’ in choosing which artworks to engage with. Visitor movement data and survey data will be tracked and collected to measure the effectiveness of the system.

The potential impact

Cultural institutions are important drivers of tourism and local development. By advancing the use of data analytics in the cultural sector, the insights of this research have the potential to be advantageous for similar establishments in developing economies. The demonstration of digital route recommendation systems may increase revenue, improve accessibility, create economic benefits for both the cultural institutions and the communities they serve.