There is no documented proof that watching a video of an artist swinging a brush at his canvas makes more people want to visit an exhibition. Still, the region’s museums, competing to extend our art experience beyond the exhibition walls, are producing web-TV like never before.
Louisiana is just the latest in a line of museums that are allowing you to keep updated on the work of artists without ever passing their doorsteps. Following in the digital footsteps of major international museums such as MoMA in New York and the Tate Modern in London, free online video and TV channels are increasingly becoming a ‘must’ on museum websites, even though no evidence suggests it affects how many people actually pay the entrance fee to see an exhibition.
“We didn’t launch the channel to make more people visit the museum,” explained Christian Lund, the head of Louisiana Channel, which was launched by Louisiana at the beginning of December. “The channel is not supposed to offer the same content as the exhibitions. It is supposed to offer something different − an extra bonus.”
The viewers of Louisiana Channel can access a wide range of content from the museum, which is located half an hour’s drive north of Copenhagen: from a 15-minute interview with the British artist David Hockney to a live performance by American poet and songwriter Patti Smith – all just a click of your mouse away.
In Denmark, Louisiana is playing catch-up. Arken Museum in Ishøj has been distributing free video via its channel, Arken Channel, since 2011. “The videos are made for people who want to keep up-to-date with what is happening at the museum and who want to get more in-depth with some of the artists or themes that are represented here,” explained Karin Skipper-Ulstrup, the marketing and online manager at Arken Museum.
And Statens Museum for Kunst in Copenhagen already has four years of experience in the web-TV field. The head of its web-TV department, Mathilde Schytz Juul, agrees with the other museums that the video production has a different purpose from making more people pay to visit the museum.
“Our goal is to stimulate people’s appetite for art,” she said. “A click has as much worth to us as a visitor.”
Louisiana accordingly measures the success of its new web-TV channel in clicks instead of ticket sales. The goal is to reach a much bigger audience than the museum’s usual activities. By tracking the clicks on the channel’s website and social media platforms such as Twitter and YouTube, they have found out that people in the US and Canada are actually the most frequent users of their videos.
“What we want to do is to communicate the values that Louisiana stands for,” said Lund. “Maybe sometime while watching one of our videos on YouTube, people in the US will become curious about what this place ‘Louisiana’ is besides being a state in their own country.”
Louisiana’s new channel currently attracts between 600 and 800 views a day, compared to 4,000 visitors on a very busy day through its doors.