Museum Marketing, Communications & Audience Engagement Glossary
What is the Glossary?
The glossary is a compendium of critical but often loosely defined terms relevant to the work of museum marketing, communications, and audience engagement professionals. Each word has a brief summary of what it means, how it’s used, and why it matters.
Why are we doing this?
This glossary was created as a resource for the community of museum professionals. It incorporates an audience-centric and museum-specific lens in each definition in the hope that this will contribute to the continued development of the museum field at large.
We believe that museums exist to serve audiences. While the work of reaching and attracting the public has been traditionally perceived as marketing, communications, and audience engagement work, an audience-centric approach means that engaging with and creating for audiences is the shared responsibility of every person involved in museum work.
We believe that language is central to how museum professionals collaborate. Language also ascribes meaning to how we see each other and ourselves. It is, therefore, critical that the following definitions apply principles of DEAI (Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion). We intend to provide the community of museum professionals a shared vocabulary to encourage ongoing conversations around this work and to promote understanding and collaboration across departments and institutions as they serve audiences.
To create a shared, audience-centric vocabulary to champion communication and collaboration across the museum community.
Through defining a selection of key marketing, communications, and audience engagement related terms, we seek to open a dialogue with the rest of the museum field, so that the field as a whole can work together to better serve their audiences and communities.
A museum world in which audience-centric collaboration and conversation are core practices.
Who is this for?
Though primarily intended for museum marketing, communications, and audience engagement professionals, the glossary is also meant to be a shared resource for the museum community at large that can help facilitate collaboration across departments.
How did we do this?
Created as a living document, the glossary was developed over the course of three years through virtual meetings with a diverse group of museum professionals and consultants.
We brought in additional colleagues with various types of expertise in the museum field, including DEAI and intersectionality, to review the work as it progressed.
We recognize that the glossary is incomplete and ongoing work, and our intention is for it to continue to evolve with feedback from the professional community and the public. We welcome your input.
No part of this work employed A.I. tools. It was intentionally created through a collaborative process of dialogue and debate, which we encourage museum professionals across the field to continue.
Who are we?
We are museum professionals in roles across marketing, communications, and audience engagement, as well as consultants who serve the cultural and nonprofit industry.
List of Contributors 2021–2023
Kristie Swink Benson, High Museum of Art
Elke Dehner, Rubin Museum of Art
James Heaton, Tronvig
Noelia Hobeika, Tronvig
Joyce Kwon, Tronvig
Allison Peck, Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, formerly Smithsonian Arts & Industries
Kristin Prestegaard, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Katie Ross, Denver Art Museum
Adam R. Rozan, museum professional
Jo Tiongson-Perez, Penn Museum
Reviewers: Amy Hutchins, Deirdre Maher, Aidan Vega, Tia Jackson-Truitt
Our working group has grown to enjoy our sessions for discussing these ideas and we would like to continue that process with an open call to join our group to discuss our work in the context of these terms and the ideas they inspire. Tronvig hosts a monthly call for those who would like to join this ongoing conversation from the community of museum professionals.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for an invitation to the sessions, held on Zoom on the second Friday of the month from 1 to 2PM Eastern Time.