The Louvre: Winning at Digital Engagement

Background

Established in 1793, the Musée du Louvre is one of the world’s largest and most visited museums. Despite its age and size, the Louvre has become one of the most forward thinking and digitally innovative museums, resulting in increasing numbers of visitors every year. In particular, the Louvre has been able to create and capture value because of its partnership approach and consumer-centric focus. It engages in digital innovation with specific aims of enriching visitor experience and enhancing exposure of its art collections. Here, I will explore three digital implementations that have helped the Louvre attract a wider audience.

Partnership with Nintendo

In 2012, an internal study at the museum revealed that only 4% of museum visitors were renting an audio-guide. These guides had been created with the goal of helping visitors deepen their understanding of artwork and exhibits; however, they were increasingly seen as outdated by the average visitor. In an effort to help make museum visits more interactive and fun, particularly for the digitally native younger generations, the Louvre partnered with Japanese consumer electronics and video game company Nintendo.

Through this partnership, the Nintendo 3DS device – one of the newest and most popular consoles at the time – was used to display over 700 commentaries on works of art, interactive maps, and 3D renditions of sculptures and paintings. The visual elements of the 3DS allowed visitors to more closely interact with artwork and served as a platform to pioneer early augmented reality aspects in the museum. The partnership was particularly successful in broadening the younger-than-30 and foreign visitor segments to the museum. This implementation was successful because it was user-centric; visitors became more engaged and could tailor their museum experience to individual preferences.

 

Interactive Website and Mobile App

While the Nintendo partnership helped increase engagement in the Louvre, management also leveraged digital innovations to captivate visitors before and after their visits. The Louvre website has become one of the most digitally advanced for a museum; it offers 3000 pages of free contents from HD reproductions of artworks to virtual tours. More importantly, the website is built and updated with the customer experience in mind. This year, the website was revamped to implement AI-based conversational functionalities in order to better help visitors prepare for their visits. Because of its focus on providing value for visitors – by presenting educational materials rather than just trying to sell tickets – the Louvre website attracts over 15 million unique visits every year. Only 5% of visitors go to the museum without having interacted with the website first, while over two-thirds of website users end up visiting the museum in person. It’s particularly significant that the website has not cannibalized physical visits; rather, it has served as a complement to funnel engaged users to paying an in-person visit to the museum. In 2015, the Louvre also developed a permanent exhibition called the “Petite Galerie,” which was linked to an AR mobile app so that users can experience restored versions of artworks in their original state.

Website: https://www.louvre.fr/en

Data-driven decision making

The Louvre has also been a pioneer in implementing data-driven decision making. With over 10 million visitors a year, it’s especially important that the museum is able to optimize operations in order to accommodate visitors, quantify growth and attendance, continue to strategize outreach, and monetize the visitors. The museum employs data analytics in order to track visitation trends for different exhibits, allowing management to better cater future offerings to growing needs and expectations. A digital tool was also implemented in 2019 that allows Louvre agents to track incidents and solve them in real-time, allowing them to provide better service to visitors. By understanding the demographics of website visitors and museum attendees, the Louvre is also able to better target its marketing efforts. With the immense amount of data collected, the Louvre is positioning itself to be able to best leverage data for future AI digital transformations.

Conclusion

The Louvre has been able to succeed with digital transformation initiatives mainly because it focuses on innovations that improves the customer experience through museum outreach and visitor engagement. It has carefully mapped the customer journey to determine the specific pain points along the way that might be improved with digital solutions.

 

 

Sources

Louvre annual report, 2009-2019

Louvre official website: https://www.louvre.fr/en

The authenticity of the museum experience in the digital age: the case of the Louvre, Anne Krebs 2017.

“The Louvre Goes Digital,” France Today. 13th October 2012.

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12 thoughts on “The Louvre: Winning at Digital Engagement

  1. Interesting read Joe – I wasn’t aware of all these initiatives! There’s a great lesson here that the partnership route, particularly for companies that are have little competency in digital, is a really great option to kick start digital transformation. I think these efforts have been so successful because, despite being digital in nature, they are still rooted to the Lourve’s mission of enriching the experience and enhancing exposure of its art. I think its fantastic that the museum is embracing technology to increase the audience they can reach, since travel can be such a limiting factor. A potential next step would be utilizing VR to share the museum’s physical exhibits with those that aren’t able to be in Paris.

  2. Great article Joe, I didn’t know the Louvres was so innovative. That’s not suprising to see Mona Lisa as the place where most people take instagram pictures! I believe they can really improve the experience of the visitor. Another idea is to use technology to manage the huge number of visitors. One of the worst experience people have when they go to the louvres is having to wait in lines for very long time to enter the museum or see specific works of arts. I think data analytics could also help to optimize queeing by dispatching visitors or recommanding on when and which gallerie to visit.

  3. Thanks for the article Joe. I remember going to the Louvre and had no such technology like this five years ago – how I wish I could have used a Nitendo device for better educating myself on the different artworks. It’s incredible to see that they are embracing technology in such a traditional museum sector. The data that they use to drive decisions is quite interesting. I wonder if they can collect more information about visitors such as their age, occupation, etc. since they may be useful for figuring out trends among a certain demographic group. These trends can then be used for giving more personalized recommendations to visitors as they walk in the Louvre for example.

  4. Really interesting read! In particular the point on interactive website and mobile app reminds me of an initiative that Google has started called Google Arts & Culture, which is basically a platform on which you can play around with various pieces of art. It’s really meant to increase the younger generation’s engagement with the art world, which I think is a key value add that technology can bring to the table. In particular for a museum like the Louvre, where there are so many pieces of art, any software / technology solution that can help in the individualized discovery of pieces that a visitor might like could be a big help in boosting visitor numbers.

  5. This was very interesting. Had no idea the Louvre had all this. You don’t often think of old institutions such as these leading the way in digital innovation. I am curious if these kind of initiatives are seen at other museums. I’ve personally never experienced it and I’m wondering if the Louvre are the only one engaging in this kind of digital innovation. I think it would be fantastic at Natural History museums in particular.

  6. Great article and insight into the use of digital technologies in an industry you traditionally think of as archaic! I would be interesting to learn which of these initiatives have resulted in the largest impact for both consumer value creation and value capture. I bet that visitors really appreciate the user-friendly guided tour which they can directly experience while indirectly enjoying the smooth museum operations.

  7. Such an interesting topic! I had no idea about the partnership with Nintendo and its heavy use of data analytics. I’m curious if other museums around the world have followed suit or if the Louvre is pioneering innovation in the industry.

  8. This was super interesting to read about since I hadn’t really ever thought about the art museum industry – one typically steeped in the historical and ancient – being enhanced by digital. One major thought I had was whether the digital aspects of the website and in-person experience were helping with repeat visits. While it is amazing that they are able to achieve 15M unique website visitors per year – with 10M or 2/3 coming to visit in person – I do wonder when they will “max out” on the % of the population who would be interested in this type of service (once you’ve seen it once, would you go again?). And if they will constantly need to innovate digitally in order to achieve relevance among this community – a need that might require continued investment that might not necessarily pay off. It will be interesting to see how they balance this investment versus investment in the physical pieces of art as well.

  9. This was very interesting to read! I really hope that these initiatives help drive more visitors to the museum and help capture the attention of the younger generation in particular. My understanding is that Accenture is also helping the Louvre “digitise” how visitors experience art in the museum. Apparently, this is part of a corporate citizen initiative so its free of charge for the Louvre. It would be great if other museums around the world received similar help from their governments!

  10. This was a fascinating read, Joe! I particularly enjoy the idea of bringing museum art to life through AR/VR technologies, and I am excited to see where the Louvre takes this idea, given the richness and significance of the art that it houses. It would be great to see the Louvre expand concepts like the “Petite Galerie” to their full collection, or at least the most widely know pieces. Wouldn’t it be grand to see what the Victory of Samothrace would look like in its original condition, through AR?

    The data analytics piece of this equation is interesting as well. One potential benefit as well to tracking visitation and traffic is the ability to then distribute that traffic more evenly, thereby decreasing wear and tear or maintenance of the grounds, which could be a concern for such a highly visited tourist attraction.

  11. Thanks for sharing this piece, Joe!

    It’s very interesting to see these digital innovations by the Louvre. Especially in an increasingly digital world, it is hard to stay relevant as an offline institution. Despite these efforts, however, I am not convinced that the Louvre is pushing the boundary enough in order to stay relevant.

    I believe the museum could create digital experiences around some of the art pieces that it exhibits – for example, why doesn’t the museum consider digital documentaries around the life of Leonardo Da Vinci? Those additional contextual information pieces could be integrated into its website.

    Additionally, the Louvre could leverage its incredibly global brand to educate visitors and potential visitors on the arts e.g. by establishing a digital Art Institute that provides short courses or videos around the history of the arts.

    What’s your take? Do you think the Louvre is doing enough to stay relevant or are there additional opportunities that the museum should consider employing?

  12. How interesting Jo. I it is noteworthy how culture and digital innovation will come hand in hand. I believe museums will be growing in VR experiences, not only for the tailored user-centric experience, but also for the piece alone. Every piece has a history that need to be told in its own context and with its own origin. How can you see a Greek sculpture in all its glory, with colors on it and not only with white marble on it? There is much to be accessed in partnership (not only with Nintendo, but smartphones and VR apps, maybe like Snapchat) that will come as great opportunities to capture value for museums and other cultural institutions.

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