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Digital strategy 2018 to 2021

Harness the potential of digital



Museums operate at their touch points with their audiences. Digital is increasingly a component of all visits and a visit in its own right. Digital is changing audiences’ behaviour and reshaping their museum experience:

  • Audiences’ experience of digital is increasingly seamless and breathtaking, and their expectations of digital in museums is accordingly high
  • The lifecycle of digital is reducing, and technologies feel dated to audiences, ever more rapidly creating an increasing risk for museums’ digital outputs
  • The web provides audiences with near unlimited access to information, and because they are trusted authorities, there is an opportunity for museums to add value around their subject areas
  • Audiences are continually connected, and museums can deliver content to visitors in new contexts
  • Social media and digital authoring tools are transforming audiences from consumers to creators and distributors of content, and museums can provide digital resources for audiences can use and build on
  • Digital networks link people with shared interests, and museums can connect with audiences and enable them to participate in new ways

Digital is forever a work in progress, and the continually evolving digital environment affords museums ever new ways to deliver their missions and our new strategy seeks to realise this potential.


In 2017, SMG adopted a Group-wide strategy. The Group vision is: “A society that celebrates science, technology and engineering and their impact on our lives, now and in the future.” The Group mission is to “inspire futures” by:

  • Creative exploration of science, technical innovation and industry, and how they made and sustain modern society
  • Building a scientifically literate society, using the history, present and future of science, technology, medicine, transport and media to grow science capital
  • Inspiring the next generations of scientists, inventors and engineers

To achieve this, seven priorities are identified:

  1. Grow science capital in individuals and society
  2. Grow our audiences and exceed their expectations
  3. Sustain and grow our world-class collection
  4. Extend international reach
  5. Transform our estate
  6. Harness the potential of digital
  7. Increase income


The next phase of the Group’s digital strategy will be guided by the following principles:

  • Audience centred and guided by audience insight to ensure greatest impact
  • Proactively enhanced, sustainable and scalable to ensure quality
  • Entrepreneurial and innovative to provide audiences unique experiences
  • Accessible, open and reusable to empower all audiences
  • Work in partnership to extend our capabilities and the affordability of our ambitions
  • Embedded across the organisation to build long-term capability


The objectives for the 2018–21 digital ambitions fall into three areas:

  1. Enhance audience experience
  2. Increase audience reach
  3. Enable audience participation


Museums engage audiences through objects and stories. Historically, these experiences have been constrained by the space and formats of print media and museum galleries. In the digital age, these experiences are multimedia and interactive. Through digital, SMG will connect audiences to the collections and keep pace with audience expectations. SMG will achieve this by ensuring the effective use of digital media across the audience experience.



Museums are places. Historically, these places have been defined by buildings. In the digital age, museums are global places, accessible to all. Through digital channels, we have many ways in which to connect with audiences, deepen engagement and generate income.


3. Enable audience participation

Museums present objects. Historically, these objects have been presented largely in a one-way, broadcast mode. In the digital age, the presentation of these objects is two-way, interactive and participatory. Through digital SMG will enable audiences to learn in an active, interactive way; build on our content and intellectual output; engage audiences in a dialogue around STEM and the collections; and invite audience contribution to the museums’ work.