Event planners are constantly looking for new and exciting venues to hold off-site meetings and events. If you want to inspire guests, increase attendee engagement and create an impression, consider hosting your event at a museum. Museums offer an alternative to traditional event spaces, as their primary function is to be an institution of culture to the community.
Whether historic, artistic, or scientific, museums work to create an accessible experience for all visitors. Unlike hotels and conference centers, museums will always prioritize their mission and core values first. Because of this, many people don’t realize they can be used as meeting and event spaces as well.
The devotion to their cause can make museums a little bit more of a challenge in comparison to venues that focus on events alone. Understanding this will help you navigate the conversation and think creatively when designing your meeting or event. Here are a few reasons to consider a museum for your event.
Museum properties are typically designed to handle a wide range of guest counts. Several of the museums in the Twin Cities offer spaces designed to host some of the area’s largest events, but many of them also have smaller rooms that offer the same cache for a more intimate group of guests. Either way, museums generally have striking architecture and attractive interior features that create a beautiful backdrop for any occasion.
Hosting events in museum spaces often encourages you to think differently than you have in the past. For instance, if you are used to a seated dinner for 600 with a stage, then perhaps you might consider mixing it up with a cocktail reception, interesting bites of food, and tours of the newest exhibit. And if you’re used to classroom-style meeting with a screen and projector as the focal point, perhaps you shift your concept and consider a meeting with breakout sessions and a team building activity in one of the exhibits.
More Than Mingle
Museums give your guests the chance to play tourist and check out the local attractions. As an added bonus, you can arrange to have docents (expert guides) on hand in the galleries to answer questions, engage your group in a dialogue, or provide educational tours for small groups of guests who are interested in learning more about the exhibits. These curated tours for your attendees help develop a shared experience and understanding that opens the door to better networking, creative thinking, and engagement.
A Few Tips Along the Way
Museums have guidelines regarding decorations, audio visual equipment, and catering services based on either partnerships or internal policies. For example, due to the high risk, valuable, and often irreplaceable items they carry, museums may only allow pre-approved vendors into their spaces. These vendors are usually familiar with the museums’ rules, layout, and access points, and they’ll be excellent resources for you as you plan your event.
It’s important to collect all of the information and read through everything carefully. It’s not uncommon to find out you can’t have red wine in the galleries, if you’re even allowed to have wine. Often times, there are strict rules regarding set up and tear down times, so it is imperative to understand these parameters to adequately prepare yourself and your vendors for a successful meeting or event.
Exhibits may change between the time you do your site inspection and your event date. If you are planning to use the exhibitions, be sure to ask what will be showing around the time of your event so that you can incorporate the exhibit into your event appropriately. If you have a chance, go through it yourself so that you can be sure it’s the right fit for your group. That also gives you a chance to ensure the theme ties into your event.
Lastly, don’t be afraid: Museums aren’t as stuffy as you think.
About the Author
Jason Brown-Hoesing is the Regional Director of Catering for Culinaire in Minneapolis and works with his team at The Walker Art Center, Guthrie, and American Swedish institute to create memorable experiences and one of a kind events. Jason has over 20 years of experience in events and catering and is always looking for new ways to create unforgettable and unique occasions for his clients. Jason also serves on his 2nd year on the board for ILEA as Previous Director of the Minnesota Star Awards and his 3rd year on the Cowles Center Gala committee. You may see him out and about town for brunch, the theatre. or concerts.
The International Live Events Association (ILEA) represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally - event professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.