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Van Gogh Museum: photo by Jan Kees Steenman
Ten years ago, the Van Gogh Museum hired their first Digital Media Manager. Today, the Digital Communication department consists of six people with the aim to connect with a global audience, sell tickets to the museum, raise awareness for special events, and educate the world on Vincent van Gogh’s life and art. With a larger team comes challenges of collaborating efficiently, but it also provides more resources to take on larger opportunities. One such example is spreading the word about The Mesdag Collection, a museum in The Hague administered by the Van Gogh Museum. The Mesdag Collection is less known than the Van Gogh Museum and doesn’t yet have an established brand name and following. In order to increase awareness and attendance, the Digital Department turned to Google tools.
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, opened in 1973, makes the life and work of Vincent van Gogh and the art of his time accessible to as many people as possible in order to enrich and inspire them. The museum's collection is the largest collection of Van Gogh's paintings and drawings in the world. In 2016, the museum had 2.1 million visitors, and was the 2nd most visited museum in the Netherlands. In parallel, the Mesdag Collection in The Hague is a museum built by artist and collector Hendrik Willem Mesdag and his wife Sientje Mesdag, now administered by the Van Gogh museum. The museum (and the former home of Hendrik and Sientje Mesdag) displays the art collection of the Mesdags: paintings by artists of the French Barbizon School and the Dutch Hague School. The museum uses G Suite to collaborate efficiently internally and with other museums. They use Google Hangouts to consult when an in-person meeting is difficult to arrange. Collaboration and sharing files are easier with Google Docs and Google Drive. No need for locked documents or local versions with Google Docs. Everyone can view and edit one doc at the same time. And for asset management, the Van Gogh Museum relies primarily on Google Drive. The Ad Grant is used to raise awareness not only for the Van Gogh Museum, but also for The Mesdag Collection. The Ad Grant provided location-targeted text ads which have helped to raise awareness for the The Van Gogh Museum while also driving ticket sales. The Digital Communication team set-up Google Analytics to measure the direct impact the ads had on ticket sales and learned that the Ad Grant contributes to 15% of the total ticket sales for the Van Gogh Museum, and drives 40% of the overall traffic to the website.
"Google for Nonprofits help us to make Vincent van Gogh's art accessible to more people across the globe than ever before. Furthermore, the tools for publishing, distributing and promoting content, and tracking the results, all contribute to the museum's mission."
Edith Schreurs, Van Gogh Museum
Since the Google Search ads launched, thanks to the Ad Grant, traffic to the The Mesdag Collection’s website has doubled. In fact, Google ads drive 44% of all traffic to The Mesdag Collection website & are the number one traffic source overall. For the Van Gogh Museum, Google organic search is the number one traffic source, generating 39% of traffic. The use of Google for Nonprofits has had a huge impact on our organization and our community. The Van Gogh Museum has over 5,6 million followers on Google+. Their most successful posts are about storytelling on Vincent van Gogh and to offer inspiration to their followers by posting images and videos daily. Furthermore, the museum’s opening hours vary during the seasons, so the Digital team also keeps their Google My Business page up to date to offer accurate opening hours which people find in the search results to make it easy for them to plan their visit. On top of that, the Digital Media team discovered the value that Google Analytics brings and checks their Google Analytics account daily to understand website user behavior and where users are coming from. The YouTube channel has grown to over 4,039 subscribers and the Van Gogh Museum creates original YouTube content like the featured video ‘Meet Vincent’ (with 27,156 views already) and exhibition trailers to further their mission on educating the world about Vincent van Gogh. Many people are curious about various aspects of Vincent van Gogh’s art and life. His artworks are visually appealing and it’s important to the museum to offer a good mix of quality video’s about Vincent van Gogh (educational, research topics, exhibition trailers, etc.). As video content becomes increasingly important, the Digital Communication team has invested resources to create quality video content to share with viewers around the world. The museum's video production is a collaboration between various departments (Digital Communication, Education & Interpretation, Marketing) to create the right balance between in depth content and meaningful calls to action. Furthermore, in recent years YouTube has become an important search engine and the museum pays attention to search engine optimization of the video’s as well, and they make sure to embed the video’s on various platforms like their website & Google+ to distribute the content.