Dallas Museum of Art: Free entry and membership for all

The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is considered to be one of the most important cultural institutions of its kind in the US. It is one of those establishments that has the ability to always attract attention, whether it is for an exhibition or some newfangled area of policy.
We can derive as much from its mission statement that it is certainly a leader: “We collect, preserve, present and interpret works of art of the highest quality from diverse cultures and many centuries, including that of our own time.
“We ignite the power of art, embracing our responsibility to engage and educate our community, to contribute to cultural knowledge and to advance creative endeavour.”
In its continuing pursuit for progress, the museum has decided to seek inspiration from its very own past. It has announced that, as of January 2013, it is to return to offering free general admission into its building, as well as launch an innovative new membership scheme.
The DMA Friends & Partners programme is a novel approach to membership, designed on the idea of engagement. It’s about fostering long-term relationships with art lovers, with an emphasis on “participation”. DMA argues that the traditional approach – i.e. transaction-based – is no longer effective.
It will allow, for example, members to have greater admittance to museum programs and staff, as well as increase access to its wider collection, which is often out of reach for most members of the public.
“Visitors literally bring life to the Dallas Museum of Art. Their participation in our galleries, exhibitions, education initiatives and public programs activates the DMA and is the cornerstone of a vibrant cultural community,” commented Maxwell L. Anderson, the Eugene McDermott director of the Dallas Museum of Art.
“Through a return to free general admission and the new Friends & Partners program, we can open the doors of the museum and show appreciation to our visitors for the many ways their participation matters to the DMA.”
He added that by increasing the two-way relationship between the public and the museum, and by finding new ways to say “thank you”, the DMA can change the role of such establishments in society at large. This is the start of a wider, more global movement.
One area the museum is keen to invest in is its website, appreciative of the fact that if it wants to deliver a deeper, more comprehensive vision, it will have to match its sway in the real world with a similar authority online.
“New technologies and online participation are already an integral part of many visitors’ daily lives,” explained Rob Stein, deputy director of the DMA.
“As part of our new approach to visitor engagement, we want to provide our audiences with enhanced ways to feel connected to the museum and to share their opinions with us and each other.”
The DMA will benefit massively from technologies. Furthermore, in building a virtual community that is as strong as the physical one, it can deliver much more to all its stakeholders, concluded Mr Stein.
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