Stories First

In 2016, the National Air and Space Museum launched a new story-first content strategy, placing storytelling at the forefront of the visitor experience across all digital platforms (web, mobile, social). The goal is to continuously share stories that are engaging, timely, and relevant to a broader audience. Stories are presented as an “engagement layer” designed to surface compelling stories of aviation and spaceflight and encourage deeper exploration of related collections, exhibitions, and educational content. The story-first approach breaks down silos between distributed content sources and enables reorganizing and remixing of stories based on human-centered themes and topics. Exhibitions, for example, are presented as a series of stories shared before, during, and after an exhibition opens, with stories related across exhibition themes. Audiences can peruse topics of interest to them and subscribe to be notified when new stories become available. This “stories as a service” model is designed to motivate audiences to return for new stories and remain connected with the Museum. Adopting this strategy has facilitated storytelling based on the visitor context and prioritized content production for audiences beyond the Museum walls. We will share our story-first approach from strategy to implementation, impacts on organizational culture, and what we have learned from analytics and visitor evaluation. The session will close with an open conversation about storytelling in museums. Speakers Session Leader : Victoria Portway, Head of Digital Experience, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Co-Presenter : Sarah Banks, Manager of Online Engagement, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Co-Presenter : Jennifer Arena, Digital Content Manager, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum MCN 2016 Presenting Sponsor: Piction New Orleans, LA