While many museums have been designing digital engagement programs for years, the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the field to quickly create or expand their online offerings. This rapid proliferation of digital museum content is a testament to the field’s ability to efficiently pivot in response to changing circumstances. The rise in digital content has also allowed new audiences to gain access to museum programming for the first time and opened opportunities for museum staff to establish new ways of connecting with their communities. As museums reopen their physical locations, many are wondering what the future of digital engagement should look like at their institutions in order to nurture these new or reinvigorated connections. 

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The ASTC team has launched a project to learn about our members’ experiences, challenges, and opportunities when it comes to digital engagement: What do science centers and museums need to continue to provide creative, effective, and equitable digital programs for diverse audiences? To begin answering this question, our team has held two virtual discussions for staff at member institutions, interviewed experts, and commissioned a literature review.  

This project is supported by the Overdeck Family Foundation, a foundation that is committed to inspiring young minds and strengthening family learning through out-of-school time STEM experiences. 


Community of Practice 

As a part of this project, we created a Digital Engagement Community of Practice where museum professionals working in digital engagement can learn about colleagues’ programs, share stories, and ask questions! This online community features a library of recommended resources to help members start, sustain, and strategize museum digital engagement. We hope the library grows over time as members add the resources that they’ve found useful in their own work! 

Literature Review

Museum Digital Engagement: Before, During, and Beyond the COVID-19 Pandemic covers the major topics in museum digital engagement from before the pandemic, during the height of the pandemic, and into the future. This review was developed with Oberg Research. 

Blog Post: Digital Engagement Strategy and Financial Sustainability

Steven Beasley of Field Theory, Nik Honeysett of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, and Rosie Siemer of FIVESEED offer their expertise on strategies that can contribute to the financial sustainability of digital engagement efforts.

ASTC Virtual Convening: Exploring Sustainable Approaches to Digital Engagement 

This convening, which took place on April 26 and 28, 2022, was an opportunity for our members to hear inspiring stories of successes in museum digital engagement, learn from their peers, and have discussions about developing their own organizations’ digital strategies. Discussions focused on four key areas of sustainable digital engagement: Reflecting on 2020–2021, Finding Your Strategic Value, Staff Capacity, and Sustainable Financial Models. 

Thank you to the members of the Digital Sustainability Working Group who made this convening possible:

  • Brittney Gorter, Kentucky Science Center (Louisville, Kentucky) 
  • Jamie Vought, formerly of Arizona Science Center (Phoenix, Arizona)  
  • Jennifer Robinson, Montana Natural History Center (Missoula, Montana) 
  • Megan Ennes, Florida Museum of Natural History (Gainesville, Florida) 
  • Melissa Higgins, Boston Children’s Museum (Boston, Massachusetts)  
  • Mitch Sava, Museum of Life & Science (Durham, North Carolina)  
  • Zack Anderson, TELUS Spark Science Centre (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) 

For questions, contact Naomi Wallace, Manager of Impact Initiatives.

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