How to create a blockbuster exhibition

In one of my previous posts I made a star appeal matrix for creating blockbuster exhibitions. While making this matrix I was contemplating what defines a blockbuster exhibition. With some googleing and some of my own brainpower I found that a blockbuster exhibition has the following characteristics:

Quantitative characteristics in order of importance are:

  1. The number of visitors the exhibitions attracts
  2. The revenue it generates
  3. The public relations value
  4. The appreciation of the visitors

All those quantitative characteristics has to be positive deviations of the what the normal/average numbers are. This means that when a museum, with an average of 100.000 visitors a year, has that one special exhibition which attracts 350.000 visitors, this museum has created a Blockbuster. Apart form that a museum should also compare his numbers with other museums.

There are also content related characteristics (in random order):

  • The blockbuster exhibition has a popular theme. (sex, sport)
  • The content of the exhibition matches the zeitgeist.
  • The exhibition has celebrity appeal or some other well known icons. (Picasso, King Tut)
  • The exhibition has several content layers: the superficial visitor is being entertained but also the more profound visitor can fulfill his needs.
  • It appeals to an international audience.
  • One or two clear defined target groups.

And finally there are are also some organizational characteristics:

  • Is the museum organization or a PR agency able to create a hype/buzz?
  • Can the museum organization create/get enough content?

When your museum wants to create a blockbuster exhibition, you should first look into the content characteristics. Brianstorm with each other and see if your ideas at least partially match those characteristics. Then when the best ideas are chosen look at your organization and see if it is able to pull it off. Finally what defines a blockbuster for a small museum is different then for a big one.

Here are some of the resources I used. Some focus on the negative side of blockbuster exhibition: