Gen Z is leaning in

Bridging the World

Gen Z is leaning in. Are museums ready to make room?

Elizabeth Merritt

To respond to the needs and behavior of Millennials (born in the years 1981-1996), many museums pioneered new technology, introduced after-hours events, and offered discounted young-professional memberships to increase access to existing programming.

For Gen Z (born in the years 1997-2012), which is leaning into reform, it will not be enough to simply re-price and re-package. Museums need to rebuild and re-imagine institutions and education to meet expectations for content, accountability structures, and decision-making. It means making space for input from those who will take up the mantle of our institutions going forward.

This might look like:

  • Adding time for listening and applying research to the front end of project plans – a recent Knight report found that 54% of museums capture feedback, but only 18% use audience data to shape offerings.
  • Creating roles for young people on your committees and councils, rather than a separate youth council or internships.
  • Taking social media seriously as a vehicle for information to meet curiosity (and to know what others are saying).
  • Considering how your museum might serve Gen Z’s needs beyond education – they’re also looking for respites of calm, mental health help, career support, and local community.