EN facebook

MuseumsToday 2020 - Directions and possibilities service-oriented museum approach


With the changes in the needs of visitors and maintaining authorities over the last decade, the service-oriented approach has become increasingly important in the professional mentality of Hungarian museums. In line with this trend, one of the focus areas of the MúzeumokMa 2020 research was to explore the views of senior and middle managers, museum staff and service providers in contact with the institutions regarding the service-oriented museum approach and its implementation in practice. In this context, the survey also looked at ways to reach out to non-visitors, and explored the relationship between museums and tourism.


The online questionnaire, which was completed by 1,636 respondents, revealed a positive result: almost two thirds of respondents believe that their institution is fully service-oriented, while one third believe it is partially service-oriented.


Based on the views of the museum profession, the overall idea is that a service museum is quality-driven, innovative, provides complex services and experiences, and operates in a planned and forward-looking way. The approach is centred around the visitors, which means that it stimulates interest, motivates visitors to explore the exhibitions, and aims to reach and satisfy as wide an audience as possible. The respondents highlighted the need for a supportive attitude from the museum management and the museum’s maintaining authority in terms of keeping a service-oriented approach and developing a network of partners. Although revenue generation is important, a service-oriented museum is not a profit-oriented institution either. Some respondents reported that their institution does not have a service-oriented approach, which they said was due to a lack of staff knowledge and skills, problems in museum management, and reasons related to infrastructure and financial aspects.


The majority of service providers in contact with museums thought that the museums they serve generally operate with a service-oriented approach. At the same time, they also indicated communication, virtual presence, online services and partnerships as areas for improvement for museum institutions. Service providers were positive regarding the professionalism of the institutions, museum educational programmes and events, and the design of the exhibition spaces. The museums’ willingness to pay was also typically rated positively, indicating that institutions that may be in financial difficulties also try to meet their obligations.


Both museums and service providers identified the following as the three most important factors for increasing competitiveness among cultural service providers: trainings that contribute to a change of attitude, and learning about good practices at home and abroad, which is not possible without the support of the maintaining authority. In the context of increasing competitiveness, museum professionals also consider it important to make staff financially motivated, to reinvest revenues in service development, to implement larger institutional budgets and salaries, and to make organisational and infrastructural improvements. The professional developments and training courses implemented by the Hungarian Open Air Museum - Museum Education and Methodology Centre help promote the above-mentioned change of approach, but it is also important for individual institutions to be active in participating in the exchange of expertise at home and abroad, as well as to provide personal motivation for their staff.


Regarding the service-oriented museum approach, it is also worth exploring visitor and non-visitor communities and their motivations for visiting or not visiting the museum. Although in recent years, no representative and comprehensive national visitor survey has been conducted in the museum field in Hungary, the in-depth interview questions of the research explored attitudes towards “non-visitors” and possible future plans with regard to this group among senior and middle managers of museums. According to respondents’ personal opinions, the most difficult target audience for the museum to reach is young adults (aged 18-30). They are followed by the 30-35 age group and then secondary school students (15-18). Some also mentioned the challenge of reaching disadvantaged target groups, including those on the periphery of society and people with disabilities.


International visitor surveys often report trends that differ from those in Hungary. A 2016 survey in the UK[1] found that the 25-44 age group is the most active in visiting museums, while in the Netherlands,[2] it is the 13-18 age group which is the most difficult to attract to museums, and in Spain,[3] secondary school students and young adults visit museums the most often. In 2016, the city of Derby, England, carried out a comprehensive survey of “non-visitors” to its museums.[4] One informative finding of the survey was that the demographic groups of non-visitors can be most accurately defined not by age group, but by lack of educational background.


Managers believed that young adults should be targeted through experience-focused, entertaining museum programmes tailored to the needs of their age group, such as museum escape rooms, subjective guided tours by celebrities, cycling tours of the city, concerts, festival events, and the Night of Museums programme.[5] Another interesting idea was a dating package designed for young adults. Respondents considered it important to create attractive spaces for young people and to communicate adequately, in particular through more active use of social media. Participants believed that similar tools should be used to reach the 30+ age group, while secondary school students should be targeted by broadening the range of options offered in the context museum education. In addition, career guidance as a potential was also mentioned, as well as placing the focus on contemporary culture when developing programmes for 15-18 year olds. According to the survey results, a significant number of museums in Hungary offer programmes for specific target groups, which are reached through cooperation with civil and professional organisations.


Recent years have shown that tourists’ choice of destinations is increasingly influenced by cultural aspects, therefore, it is worthwhile to assess the relationship between museums and tourism in the context of the service-oriented museum approach. Visitor-friendly museums offering authentic and unique experiences, interactivity and entertainment are the ones that can become major tourist destinations. Cultural tourism in Hungary is typically domestic, and this trend has been reinforced by the pandemic. Revenues from cultural tourism (hospitality, accommodation and other service industries) stimulate the economy of the given town or village, so the two areas can have a mutually positive effect on each other. Based on the findings of the interviews with senior museum managers, active participation in tourism is an expectation of the maintaining authorities, especially in the countryside. Heads of institutions in the capital also consider cultural tourism to be a priority area, and attach importance to applying for grants for tourism development and to generating revenues through tourism. They seek to cooperate with key players in the tourism sector and they aim to target visitor groups with programmes specifically designed for them. At the same time, museums in Budapest which had a high proportion of foreign visitors in previous years, mainly due to their location, exhibitions and programmes, have been forced to rethink their tourism strategy in the face of the pandemic, and to focus more on domestic tourism.


In towns that are popular tourist destinations, museums typically have good relations with the local government that maintains them, as well as with the key tourism players in the town, often partnering with them when designing various development concepts. Grants can provide these institutions with significant financial resources, but their maintaining authorities also have higher expectations of them. However, based on the findings of the research, the benefits associated with the boom in cultural tourism (greater awareness, increased visitor numbers and revenue) could be exploited more efficiently. Institutions operating in less frequent tourist destinations do not yet see the positive effects of cultural tourism, as their area is not an attractive destination for domestic tourism. Local governments that have recognised the problem are trying to develop their future tourism strategy with the involvement of the museums that they maintain, building on the appeal of museums among cultural services.


The quality of the cultural offer and specifically the quality of museum services also determines the competitiveness of destinations, as the high level of professional quality and the uniqueness of museums is guaranteed by their authenticity. However, in order to stand out among an excessive range of other services, they need to adopt the right approach and they need to be aware of the demographics and the requirements of tourists and visitors to the area. The implementation of accordingly designed services requires additional funding and new partnerships between museums and strategic players in the tourism sector.


Understanding and meeting the needs of visitors and creating new opportunities to increase revenue have become essential for museums competing in the cultural landscape. As the service-oriented museum approach is gaining ground, institutions are becoming able to reach new groups of visitors, the quality of communication with professional and non-professional partners is improving, and the increased revenues from cooperations in tourism contribute to the economic development of the region.





Makranczi, Zsolt: Múzeumok és a turizmus (Museums and tourism)


[date accessed: 26/09/2022]


Nagy, Magdolna & Szu, Annamária: Mit jelent a szolgáltatói szemlélet a múzeumokban? (The relevance of the service-oriented approach in museums)


[date accessed: 26/09/2022]


Pacsika, Márton: Kik nem látogatják a múzeumainkat, és mit tehetünk a bevonásuk érdekében? (Non-visitors and how to attract them)


[date accessed: 26/09/2022]



[1] Department for Culture Media and Sport: Taking Part focus on: Museums and galleries, 2016 https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/562676/Focus_on_museums_and_galleries_final.pdf

[date accessed: 16/09/2022]


[2] Museums in the Netherlands 2016


[date accessed: 16/09/2022]


[3] Statistics on Museums and Museum Collections 2018. Results summary, 2020


[date accessed: 16/09/2022]


[4] Doran, Fiona - Landles, Linda: Non Visitors Research 2016, Fiona Doran and Linda Landles, Bluegrass Research, 2017


[date accessed: 16/09/2022]


[5] https://muzej.hu/

[date accessed: 23/09/2022]