Museum Analytics: Action Research Project

Defining, measuring and evaluating online success in the cultural sector.

Museums and cultural organizations in general have been investing a considerable amount of resources on online infrastructures, such as, institutional websites, e-newsletters and social media. One of the most pressing challenges that organizations face in regard to these technologies is to define, measure and evaluate their effectiveness.

This project aims at installing a truly analytic culture in museums, by empowering them with expertise and tools to measure the impact of their online endeavors. Moreover, it seeks to help gain insights that lead to a deeper understanding of online audiences.


The focus of this research is to:
  • Map overall organizational goals to online activities by creating an online strategy.
  • Setup and use free software to measure and evaluate online activities and online audiences.
  • Analyze and interpret weekly or monthly reports on your online activities and online audiences.
  • Understand how to integrate the use of digital tactics into your overall strategic mission.




Workshop 1 - Goals and metrics: The first workshop is to be divided in two parts. In the first part of the workshop, Jane Finnis (Chief Executive of Culture24) presents the key learnings from the Let's Get Real research. The presentation is to include insights about how we understand success online and how to relate this to our overall mission. In the second part of the workshop, facilitated by Rui Guerra, participants are encouraged to discuss their organizational strengths and weaknesses in web analytics and digital measurement following the online analytics maturity model defined by Stéphane Hamel. The same model is to be filled in by the end of the research project in order to monitor the progress of participating organizations.

See the results of workshop 1.

Workshop 2 - Web-analytics: Best practices are presented on how to set up and configure Google Analytics (GA). Attention is to be paid on how to analyze and interpret information on GA.The workshop is lead by Seb Chan. After the workshop, GA data is to be automatically collected from all organizations.

Workshop 3 - Social Media: A workshop focusing on how to report about social media activities, focussing on measuring performances and evaluating outcomes. Participants are to define clear goals and respective metrics to be measured using available online tools, such as, Museum Analytics. After the workshop, social media data is to be automatically collected from all organizations.

Evaluation Meeting: Participants are given the opportunity to share insights collected from the action research project. Relevant questions or goals that have remained underexposed can be addressed during this workshop. According to the needs of the participants, necessary adaptions in the reports or sharing platform are to be made. Based on the outcome of this meeting, the writing and production of the final report is to start.



The project follows the footsteps of a similar project developed by Culture24 in the UK during 2011 and 2012. The outcomes of the Culture24 research project have been published online and have been presented in cultural heritage conferences, such as, DISH2011 and Museums and the Web 2012. The frankness of the Culture24 report and its openness to speak about the failure in the sector to really capture the attention of online audiences, has been positively received. Several museum professionals in the Netherlands have responded to this research with great interest. However, a research of this nature has not been done in the Netherlands. Therefore, this project has been initiated by Rui Guerra (co-founder of INTK) and Hein Wils (project manager at The Netherlands Institute For Sound And Vision). The project is supported by the participating museums, the Cultural Heritage Agency (Ministry of Education, Culture and Science) and the Mondriaan Fund.


Participants in 2013

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