14 Tips on Innovation from 2021’s Most Innovative Museums and Attractions

Tiqets for Venues Blog Team

March 11, 2022

What have innovative museums and other attractions been doing to stay relevant and offer memorable experiences during a rocky time for tourism? This is one of the questions Tiqets addressed with the 2021 Remarkable Venue Awards.

The six winners of the Most Innovative Venue Award have one thing in common: a dedication to offering awesome experiences to visitors in a time when people really need a little extra…. something. Every single attraction on our list takes an original approach, but leaning into different types of museum technology is one common way they engage, entertain, and educate visitors.

Still, a genuinely amazing experience is not all flash and sizzle. There must also be storytelling, creativity, and authenticity. Here are the 14 tactics our 6 winners have adopted to create incredible, award-worthy experiences for their deserving audiences. 

How the Las Vegas Raiders creates a “wow” factor for its new stadium tours

Las Vegas Raiders fans in the Allegiant Stadium, home to one of the most innovative museums and attractions of 2021.

The Raiders, a popular U.S. football team, launched a tour of the team’s new home, Allegiant Stadium, in Las Vegas. The Raiders had just relocated from California, and the marketing team was charged with building brand loyalty in a new market. But how to give fans an experience that is as unforgettable as a live Raiders game in the middle of the pandemic shutdowns?

To create an emotional and memorable visitor experience, even without a game in session, the team launched a personally guided 70-minute tour. Trained hosts lead visitors through the brand-new $2B stadium, an experience with a “wow” factor because of various creative innovations:

1. Spectacular special effects that help tell a captivating story

Tour hosts control the audiovisual experience of the tour – including an emotional musical score, eye-catching media, and the LED ribbon inside the bowl of the stadium – via a device on their wrist, making every step of the experience feel like a magic trick to guests.

2. Insider access to areas you can’t visit every day

Access to the most exclusive parts of the stadium make every tour guest feel like a VIP. Visitors are welcomed into the Broadcast Booth for an audio show hosted by sportscaster Brent Musburger and enjoy a visit from Raiders legend Howie Long in the Press Conference room.

3. Unforgettable immersive experiences

Captivating immersive experiences at key points in the tour surprise and delight visitors. For instance, they are introduced to a holographic version of Coach Gruden in the Raiders Locker Room, with a pre-game pep talk culminating in the traditional run onto the field, just like the players do on game day.

“It’s more than just a stadium tour,” says Jay Chess, Vice President, Tours and Group Sales for the Las Vegas Raiders. “The tour embraces a marriage of emotional storytelling and technological innovation to give guests a unique, one-of-a-kind immersion into the iconic Silver and Black.”

The project has been incredibly successful, resulting in a great brand introduction in Vegas and a 50% increase in retail sales compared to other types of Raiders retail customers.

What your venue can take away from the Las Vegas Raiders tour:

The Raiders team understood that a tour should be more than a simple chance to showcase the venue. There’s an opportunity to create a next-level fan experience and even revenue opportunities. Which parts of your venue could you open up to visitors for a behind-the-scenes experience? Where could museum technology take your venue from a passive to an interactive experience?

Paris Montparnasse Top of the City augments an already stunning vista

Paris Montparnasse Top of the City, the famous observation deck offering a stunning view of Paris, typically welcomes a million visitors a year. But even an established sightseeing venue in the heart of one of the most popular cities in the world can’t just rest on its laurels. To be in the sights of the next generation of tourists and Parisienne adventurers takes creative thinking.

To magnify the view and create a unique experience, Paris Montparnasse innovates branded experiences the public can have onsite and anywhere.

4. Augmented reality to really involve the visitor

With augmented reality built into the mounted viewers, visitors to the attraction’s platform can see a panoramic view of the city that includes precise information about observable sites and monuments. Even on a foggy day when visual observation is limited, the technology enables people to enjoy the ambience of Paris without location constraints.

5. A compelling at-home version of the experience

Like a lot of venues and attractions, Paris Montparnasse Top of the City improved its virtual offerings during the pandemic to include “tourists at home.” Magnicity, the venue’s innovative mobile app, offers a fun and educational way to enjoy Paris and learn its secrets via the same augmented reality technology used at the observation deck.

6. Multimedia digital storytelling that appeals to younger audiences

Like a lot of venues, Paris Montparnasse Top of the City has to stay relevant for new generations if it’s going to stay on the radar long term. The venue has invested resources and creative energy into digital offerings that tell the rich history of Paris and its monuments, with storytelling that suits a young, tech-savvy audience. Factual information is mixed up with fascinating anecdotes, short textual stories, video clips, filters, and 3D reconstructions. 

All of these digital offerings create a true visual feast – a phrase long used to describe the beauty of Paris itself.

What your venue can take away from Paris Montparnasse Top of the City:

Digital storytelling often combines real views and experiences with augmented ones. Are you already using augmented reality at your venue? If not, consider where some AR could heighten an exhibition or activity.

Mostra di Leonardo modernizes a classical experience

Photo via Mostra di Leonardo Website

The interactive Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in the Palace of the Chancellery in Rome might have a long-dead artistic genius as its subject, but the modern experience is revelatory. After 12 years, the attraction still regularly innovates new experiences to keep visitors enthralled. 

7. The ability to step into the artwork

High-resolution videos projected onto grand walls and originally designed holograms offer a 3D view into Da Vinci’s most inspired works and inventions. It’s “a modern way of displaying the old-but-so-innovative ideas by Leonardo,” as Augusto Biagi, Owner and Curator of the Mostra di Leonardo, describes.

8. A treasure hunt that takes the experience out into the streets

Combining the history of ancient Rome within the context of Da Vinci, the Treasure Hunt with Leonardo hosts visitors for a half-day experience of sightseeing, learning, and walking around Rome’s historic city center. The tour, led by a digital version of Leonardo on a tablet, concludes inside the innovative museum, where the enigma of the Treasure Hunt is resolved, and participants interact with the inventions of Da Vinci. 

Keeping things fresh is critical for the exhibition to stand apart from other Da Vinci attractions in Italy.

What your venue can take away from Mostra di Leonardo:

Mostra di Leonardo combines embodied experiences with digital ones. Can you use museum technology to create a scavenger hunt at your venue or to give your exhibitions a 3D or even 4D quality?

Remastered re-envisions the Old Masters with the help of the New

People enjoying the exhibits at Remastered, one of the most innovative  museums of 2021.
Remastered was one of the most innovative museum experiences in 2021.

Imagine being viscerally inside the world of Old Dutch Masters such as Van Gogh, Vermeer, Bosch, and Rembrandt. And imagine being guided into that world by New Dutch Masters like DJ Sam Feldt and the best Dutch digital studios, including Woodwork, y=f(x), YiPP and Smack. This is the experience Remastered offers. It’s a deep visual and auditory immersion into the colorful imagination of Van Gogh, the unearthly creatures of Hieronymus Bosch, and the brilliance of Mondrian’s “Victory Boogie Woogie” – set to a beat.

It’s not quite an exhibition and not entirely an event, but a “new digital world where you can sit, stand, walk, and dance in wonder,” as Nicole de Klerk, Omnichannel Sales Marketeer at Remastered, phrases it.

9. Contemporary artists curating beautiful experiences that engage the senses

A thrilling 60-minute experience invites participants to float through a waterfall door, fly their own UFO on a giant LED screen, interact with schools of fish, and sail through the clouds. Taking advantage of the largest LED screen currently in Europe – along with 60 state-of-the-art projectors, 50 loudspeakers, and 245 million pixels – the museum technology is only part of the experience. The rest is supplied by the creativity of artistic masters old and new.

Marvin Koppejan, Creative Director of Woodwork, touts: "We came up with technology that didn't even exist and invented how it works in such a large space. Not only did it have to be technically exceptional, but it also had to be exceptionally beautiful to experience."

What your venue can take away from Remastered:

Never be afraid to think really big. Get creative and invite other creative types to help you design never-before-witnessed moments. Could you partner with DJs, artists, or designers to give your venue a modern, current feel?

Puy du Fou España captivates with stories from the old times

A theater production at Puy du Fou España, one of 2021's most innovative museums and attractions.

Puy du Fou España was founded on a mystical proposition: “Stories do not get lost in time, they wander until they are found.” This unique, ambitious theme park, inaugurated in 2021, is steps away from the ancient Spanish capital city of Toledo. In this thematic compound, over 300 actors, dancers, horsemen, and acrobats inhabit four villages representing various seminal periods of Spanish cultural history up until the 20th century.

It’s an innovative premise on its own, and the actual experience does not disappoint. Rich scenery, high-tech lights and special effects, and exquisitely designed details all contribute to the hyper-reality of the experience. 

10. History brought alive by human (and non-human) actors

Among the many cultural spectacles the park offers, Allende la Mar Océana (Beyond the Ocean) tells the story of the departure of Columbus and his troops to the new world, a gamble meant to unite the West with the East that, we now know, took an unexpected historic turn. Then there’s the magnificent aerial show Cetrería de Reyes (Falconry of Kings), where hawks, vultures, eagles and owls perform.

11. Evocative soundtracks that inspire emotion

Puy du Fou España’s creators took quite seriously the musical scores that accompany the various spectacles. The award-winning composer Nathan Stornetta designed the evocative soundtracks, and the orchestral music was recorded in London with 64 artists from the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The musical backdrop lends a dramatic flavor to the overall experience.

12. Expertly curated lighting that leads the way

The immersion into Spanish history is amplified at Puy du Fou España with a combination of 3D video projection mapping and expertly curated lights. The lighting is designed to guide the spectator through the various story spectacles, and 800 discreet projectors light up just one experience:  “El Sueño de Toledo.”

The park is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, and it’s off to a great start. 

What your venue can take away from Puy du Fou España:

In traditional theater, inspired acting was combined with stunning scenery, creative costumery, and magical lighting. These elements still have the power to tell an incredible story. Which could you inject into your museum or attraction’s storytelling?

Royal Horticultural Society creates an authentic experience of hands-on learning

Photo via Royal Horticultural Society Website

Royal Garden Wisley is the flagship garden of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) in London, and it attracts over a million visitors a year to its colorful flora and magical hidden paths. People flock to Wisley to learn about the impressive plant collections, get inspiration and advice for their own gardens, participate in workshops and events, and relax in a beautiful venue. It’s a peaceful experience. But it’s also an innovative one.

RHS won Tiqets’ Most Innovative Venue in the UK Award in 2021 because of the attraction’s commitment to furthering gardening science, environmental conservation, and the greater education of the population about why plants are so important. 

13. A purpose worth pursuing

Environmental issues are on the radar of any garden attraction. The RHS recently launched RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science. “A place to inspire the next generations of scientists,” the center opened in the summer of 2021. Today, visitors to the garden can witness research being carried out in the moment and learn about the invaluable work of the initiative through interactive displays and world-class collections.

14. Hands-on chances to learn

Another new initiative at the new RHS Hilltop location is the daily “Hilltop Live” program, which introduces visitors to the horticultural, heritage, science, and education teams through talks, demonstrations, and participation in object handling. By engaging visitors in activities like storytelling and learning about summer-flowering trees, RHS hopes to spark a passion for local environments in visitors of all ages. 

With over 575,000 current members and a year-round calendar of seasonal events, the mission of RHS is to offer everyone a warm welcome and a little bit of inspiration. “We encourage our visitors to embrace planet-friendly gardening,” says Melissa Hackney, Groups Sales and Marketing Manager. With sustainability on so many people’s minds these days, these kinds of initiatives are both the right thing to do and a great way to engage visitors. 

What your venue can take away from the Royal Horticultural Society:

Does your museum or attraction serve a higher purpose? Finding ways to educate the public while keeping them engaged is key.

The competition, as always, was stiff for our Most Innovative Venue Award. There were plenty of other innovative museums and attractions showcasing remarkable creativity and technological prowess, but we hope these 14 examples will help spark your own imagination. We hope to see your entry for the 2022 awards!

It'll take you a while to turn your institution into one of the world's most innovative museums and attractions. In the meantime, check out 6 Museums on TikTok – and How They’re Using it to Market to Gen Z.

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