When Art Met Education

How the convergence of art and education can result in the ultimate brand experience.

With the world emerging from lockdown, museums and galleries have opened their doors to the public just in time for the UK school holidays. Following months of lockdown and many of us having missed out on both classroom discoveries and real-world adventures, now is the perfect time to see, learn, and experience our places of culture and education once again, now with more immersive and exciting ways to connect than ever before.


Creative Learning

Museums, heritage centres, and art galleries have often been on the front line of development in understanding the importance of interactive exhibits, installations, and pop-ups that combine education and art to create unforgettable brand experiences for visitors. Creative learning, characterised by making connections, questioning and challenging, using imagination, and exploring further ideas, is vital in engaging younger generations. OFSTED reported that school pupils who are encouraged to learn creatively gain a sense of personal achievement and the confidence to present their own ideas ‘with imagination and fluency’. Creative learning approaches developed for the arts are often able to be transferred into other areas of learning such as science and maths. 


While knowledge and facts are important building blocks, imagination is the synthesis of that knowledge, becoming the vehicle that gets learners from point A to point B on their own. Using our imagination as we learn drives discovery and starts new conversations with our peers. And interactive learning isn’t just beneficial for youngsters; Millennials and Gen Z, who grew up as digital natives, are far more likely to engage with an exhibit when it interacts with them, even better if it provides the opportunity to personalise their experience for the social media photo for them to share.


Art with Impact

Whether it’s used to shine a light on social concerns or explore topics like climate change and gun violence, experiential installations have increasingly drawn in crowds and provided an unparalleled platform for media attention. Olafur Eliasson used natural elements like light, water, air temperature, and fog to create an immersive environment in the Tate Modern for The Weather Project in 2008. Featuring a giant artificial sun, the installation expressed the artist’s concerns surrounding global warming, aiming to educate the public on the consequences of climate change. Conceptual artist Kara Walker also used her art to engage viewers with wider issues, inviting the public to explore the origins of racial inequality with her wall-sized cut paper silhouettes illustrating racial stereotypes.


Other works such as the Light Ball Orchestra in Singapore created a unique experience, encouraging the public to interact with and co-create the mood of the exhibit themselves. teamLab designed the light balls to change colour every time they’re touched, changing the colours flooding the room and therefore the entire ambience. 


Building a Digital Connection

The zeitgeist around the experience economy goes some way in explaining why the appetite for immersive installations is still booming. The digitisation of every aspect of communication and interaction within our lives has left us hungry for in-person, human connection with each other and the world, and this is especially prevalent off the back of months in isolation. Author and cultural strategist András Szántó explains “Museums, just like brands, need to tighten their connections to their audiences and create compelling experiences that genuinely attract and hold the attention of today’s audience. In this respect, they have lessons to learn from the commercial marketing world.” However, making a museum visit engaging goes beyond the content on show. Museum consultant Adrian Ellis suggests that combining the digital and physical experience gives visitors a new way to immerse themselves in the exhibits, increasing longevity of impact and resonating deeper with audiences. 


Blurred Lines: Immersive Art & Brand Experience

With the success of Instagram-friendly museums like the Museum of Ice Cream and the Museum of Pizza in sparking millennials’ interest in experiential exhibits, some creators are pushing the envelope even further to develop spaces that demand to be seen in person, not just on social media. Artist Vince Kadlubek has spoken of envisioning a future where the lines between things like art, theme parks, role-playing games, and augmented reality are blurred, creating an unpredictable experience for audiences that’s impossible to capture on camera.


Pushing boundaries in experiential galleries and exhibitions are effective in increasing dwell time, creating memorable learning experiences, and starting new conversations, but how can you apply these educational principles in a commercial setting?


In immersive experiences, it’s important to make the audience part of the art or exhibit. The Museum of Ice Cream achieved this by putting visitors as the centre of attention for a variety of photo opportunities, and allowing them to suggest names for their next ice cream flavour. By requesting interaction, exhibits are able to provide a richer connection with the brand whilst providing consumers with a fun, personalised experience. 


Providing take-aways that will follow them home, whether digital or physical, anything that will remind them of their unique experience with the brand later on. Whilst it’s fun to be creative and think outside the box, provide a seamless connection between brand message and the consumer’s actual experience; when providing a complex experience that relies on a mutual understanding often runs the risk of communicating a disjointed message.


Ultimately, embracing experiential brand experiences means providing some kind of educational insights into a world that guests may never have experienced before, stimulating the senses and relying on human perception throughout the storytelling process. 


Swarm merges the physical and digital worlds, offering extraordinary experience at every touchpoint. Get in touch with us to discuss your ideas on how to elevate your brand to cut through today's turbulent world.

Image Credit: Christian Fregnan