When Merrion Square – a cluster of cultural institutions in Dublin, Ireland – saw falling attendance numbers during the 2000s financial crisis, they didn’t get discouraged. They got busy building new opportunities for visitors to engage and interact.
Applying the principles of design thinking, these historical and cultural museums had to stop and take a hard look at why new visitors might visit their places before they could move on to building new experiences. The whole process meant reaching out to new groups and partners.
“Part of this element required sharing information and experiences between members of the network; many of whom had never even met before despite having been neighbours on the square for many decades.”
The museums learned that design thinking is not just something you do once, but changes how you operate in the world.
“There were a number of insights to emerge from the programme. First, is that Design Thinking is not only a process but also a way of working. To do it well demands close collaboration and this had enormous benefits for a group of independent organisations with disparate missions, who shared only a prestige location and an appetite for development. Once on this programme, the participants worked well together, learning new skills like customer insight, ideation, prototype development.”
Mansooth University hosts a conference paper highlighting the success story as a case study for other museums and cultural institutions hoping to incorporate design thinking into their work process and increase/diversify visitation.