Best of Creativity in museums. Key learnings from seven communication experts in branding, design and digital strategy

Corinne Estrada, Agenda, France

After very successful presentations of the Best Of Creativity in Sydney and Canberra, Corinne Estrada, CEO of communications agency Agenda and Mark Goggin, Director of Sydney Living Museums will share with the MWA2014 delegates the key learnings of last year's Communicating the Museum Conference in Stockholm. This how-to session will present best practices in branding, innovation and digital strategy from international museums and cultural organisations. Corinne will demonstrate how museums are becoming global brands with a new purpose. She will invite the participants to discuss the role of creativity in culture. Corinne and Mark will be presenting case studies from six global cultural organisations, each delivering new insights on creativity and innovation. Learn from the Victoria and Albert Museum, Johnson Banks, the Rijksmuseum, Tate, Local Projects and the Swedish Institute. Corinne and Mark will present and analyse video extracts from the following presentations: 1. INSPIRING CREATIVITY - "DAVID BOWIE IS...THE BEST SELLING SHOW" by Damien Whitmore, former Victoria and Albert Museum, UK 2. CREATING A TONE OF VOICE - AUTHORITY VERSUS CREATIVITY How to create a brand that allows multiple voices to be heard? by Marc Sands, Tate, UK 3. “CURATORS OF SWEDEN” - NOT TELLING BUT PROVING: HOW TO ACTIVATE BRAND VALUES Frida Roberts, Heads of Communications Unit, Swedish Institute, Sweden Carl Unger, Volontaire, Sweden 4. THE BRANDING EXERCISE - BRAVE, BOLD OR ANONYMOUS; YOU DECIDE Michael Johnson, Johnson Banks, UK 5. “CULTIVATING INTERNAL CREATIVITY TO RETHINK A MUSEUM IDENTITY” HOW TO BRAND A MUSEUM AFTER A 10-YEAR TRANSFORMATION Marjolijn Meynen, Rijksmuseum, Netherlands 6. MAKING TODAY'S MUSEUM INTO TOMORROW'S MUSEUM Jake Barton, Local Projects With this session, Corinne and Mark will inspire MWA delegates to be more creative and optimistic. They will empower the attendees to act and think more creatively.

Keywords: museum, creativity, innovation, communication, branding, design


All museums should inspire creativity. What exactly is creativity and how can museums improve and nurture it?  Researchers define creativity as the development of ideas, products, or solutions that are perceived both as (a) unique and novel and (b) relevant and useful. ‘Creativity is defined as the tendency to generate or recognize ideas, alternatives, or possibilities that may be useful in solving problems, communicating with others, and entertaining ourselves and others.’ – Robert E. Franken, Human Motivation.

Corinne Estrada presents seven short videos about creativity in museums from the conference Communicating the Museum in Stockholm in July 2013. In these videos museum experts and leaders from creative industry explain how to inject creativity into the organisations. Corinne focuses on their key learnings to build a more creative and innovative environment. These videos are presented at Museum and the Web for the first time.



To start with, an inspiring speech by Damien Whitmore, Director of Public Affairs and Programming at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London: within a museum, creativity should be at the core of everything. We should mediate creativity. Museums are important. They are global brands. They communicate about purposes. They are no longer just buildings but touring exhibitions, digital, tv channels, collections, merchandising, licensing, and their brands have to be true.

Damien explains the values that a museum or a gallery should embrace to become creative. We should always ask ‘is this world class ?’, ‘is this generous ?’, ‘is this contemporary ?’, ‘is this coherent with my brand’, ‘is this exhibition scholar ?’ to adopt the creative behavior.


Damien is Director of Public Affairs and Programming at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He advises a wide range of museums and galleries around the world on programming, branding and organisational strategy including Istanbul Modern, the Russia Museum in St Petersburg, the Garage in Moscow and the new Holon Design Museum in Israel. He co-founded Communicating the Museum in Paris with Agenda in 2000.

Damien’s key learning: my everyday behaviour should support creativity in every thing I do.


In this face-to-face presentation Lise Korsgaard, Head of Communications at the Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark engages with Marc Sands, Director of Audiences and Media, Tate, UK

How to create a brand that allows multiple voices to be heard?


Marc Sands joined Tate in the post of Director of Audiences and Media in May 2010. Marc is responsible for developing the brand across online, broadcast and social media to strengthen Tate’s relationships with audiences and build social networks for the organisation. He leads the teams behind TATE ETC. magazine and the online video magazine TateShots, as well as press, public relations, marketing, membership and ticket sales. Marc was previously on the board at Guardian News & Media as Marketing Director of The Guardian, The Observer and their websites (2000 – 2010). Prior to joining The Guardian, Marc worked for LWT/Granada Television, and then became a founding employee of British Digital Broadcasting – which later to become ONdigital, the Digital Terrestrial consortium between Carlton and Granada. Marc’s early career was spent working in the advertising industry in both New York and London, starting at DMB&B and ending at HHCL and Partners. Marc’s first degree was at Cambridge which was immediately followed by an MBA.

Marc and Liz’s key learning: there is not only one tone of voice in one organisation but many, and we should let them go.


Frida Roberts, Head of Communications Unit of the Swedish Institute, a public organisation in Sweden, is in conversation with her business partner Carl Unger, CEO & Founding of Volontaires agency about transforming a small public Twitter campaign into one of the world most innovative experience. For one week, the Swedish Institute allows one Swedish person to run the Twitter account of the Swedish Institute to tweet as much as they want on any subject without any controls on them. Although they were many incidents, the Twitter campaign was a huge worldwide success and the return on investment was huge. This campaign was so progressive that it was entirely for the benefit of Sweden, which wanted to show how open the country is. They fostered dialogue instead of stopping it. As museums, we should all provide be a platform for discussion: a difficult task when you are a public organisation !

This was a big challenge that showed how tolerant the country is.


Frida is Head of the Communications Unit at the Swedish Institute (SI), a public agency under the Ministry for Foreign Affairs that promotes Sweden around the world through public diplomacy. SI seeks to establish cooperation and long-term relationships with other countries through strategic communications and exchange in the fields of culture, education, science and business.

Passionate about intercultural communications, branding and digital media, Frida has over 15 years of professional experience in the Internet industry with a successful international track record producing and executing business and communications strategies.

She is also a co-founder of the highly acclaimed and award winning ‘Curators of Sweden’ project, in collaboration with Visit Sweden. This ground breaking venture was the first of its kind globally and allowed Swedish citizens to voice their own opinions, uncensored, on Sweden’s official Twitter account.


After 20 years of international marketing, Carl Unger co-founded Volontaire with the ambition to redefine what advertising agencies do. Since its inception in 2009, the agency’s work has been hailed as brave, accused as reckless and received numerous international advertising awards, including Gold at the Euro Effie Awards, Art Directors Club of Europe, LIA, Tomorrow Awards, Cresta and the Clio Awards as well as a Cannes Lions Grand Prix.

The agency is seen by many as one of the global leaders in the transformation of the advertising industry from traditional storytelling to behavior driven activity that mixes product development, digital activities, PR and advertising in perfect fluency. Carl is a frequently hired speaker and lecturer at top international schools, such as Stockholm School of Economics.

Carl and Frida’s key learning: we are responsible for creating platforms for others to be creative.



In this provocative workshop, Michael Johnson, Founder of Johnson Banks in London, asks us to do 2 exercises : the ‘Me Too’s’ and the ‘Thumb Test’. In the ‘Me Too’s’, he shows how much we copy from each other and how scared we are to risk. It is easy to copy but not creative. We live in a world of ‘Me Too’s’, not challenging but comfortable. It doesn’t show a lot about you. Michael discusses museums’ conservative and predictable approach to branding, asking the question “Why does it seem so hard for institutions to communicate in new and unusual ways?”. In the ‘Thumb Test’ Michael is asking the audience ‘who’s poster is that’ hiding the logo with the thumb. It is hardly possible to recognize which organisation is behind the exhibition even with the most famous museums and galleries.

Michael Johnson, will share with CTM delegates his branding and design experience. With examples taken from across the globe, this talk will identify obstacles which lie in the way of creating and explain how to overcome them, as well as how to create flexible brands and campaigns that live and breathe like the museums themselves.

Michael’s key learning: the purpose of your organisation must be in the center of your communication


Michael Johnson runs Johnson Banks, a London-based design consultancy with a global reputation. The company works on a wide range of branding projects across the museum and cultural sector. In London they have recently rebranded the Science Museum and regularly create campaigns for the V&A. They repositioned the famous Parc de La Villette in Paris, branded an art centre in Philadelphia and a space observatory in Japan. They’re working on a major project for the Qatar Museums Authority and have just finished branding a global art initiative for the Guggenheim.

Johnson lectures worldwide on branding, identity and design history. He has won most of the design world’s most prestigious awards (including eight D&AD ‘yellow pencils’), has dozens of designs in the V&A’s permanent collection and was D&AD President in 2003, one of the youngest presidents ever. He has published the second edition of his book, Problem Solved, and is working on two others.



This success story is presented by Marjolijn Meynen, Head of Communication and Marketing at the Rijksmuseum, Netherlands. After 12 years of being closed, the reopening of the Rijksmuseums in March 2013 was a national celebration for the Dutch and a world class event for the world of art: a national resurrection and a curatorial revolution as quoted by the Financial Times. Marjolijn was very much inspired by the soccer strategy. She wanted to be as successful as the soccers’ players: act as leaders. She reveals the military plan that she executed and implemented successfully from security staff to top managers inside the museum. She was dedicated to defining and sharing the ambition and values within the entire organisation, visualizing this ambition and trusting people, partners and team.


Marjolijn Meynen is responsible for marketing, events, sales, press and publicity at the Rijksmuseum. She has been the head of the Marketing and Communications team since August 2008. She was born in Johannesburg and graduated in Business Economics at the Rijksuniversiteit in Groningen. Meynen began her career as a marketer at Masterfoods and Sara Lee, gaining 10 years experience in both national and international markets. She then joined Branddoctors as a marketing advisor and later became part of the management team, working for clients such as KPN, Microsoft and Albert Heijn. Before joining the Rijksmuseum, Meynen also did a number of consulting projects for Cultuur & Ondernemen, a foundation that provides business expertise in order to improve the management of cultural organisations.

Marjolijn’s key learning : If soccer can do it, we can do it.



Jake Barton Principal/Founder of Local Projects discusses creativity in the context of making today’s Museum into tomorrow’s Museum. By mixing new ideas about experiential learning with core human values of communication and empathy, Local Projects has developed new models for visitor experiences. Through a process called “Prototype First,” Local Projects has navigated challenges like the Cleveland Museum’s amazing digital project presenting the permanent collection and Media Design for the 9/11 Memorial Museum, mitigating risk while building stakeholders around new innovations. Jake explains the experimental process of starting a relationship with yes, developing a strong statement (know your purpose), and making mistakes. He shares some new thinking around evolving Museums to be a platform for participation and collective meaning.

Jake Barton is principal and Founder of Local Projects, which is creating the media design for the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and the Frank Gehry designed Eisenhower Presidential Memorial. Local Projects is a three-time National Design Award finalist, and was named second of the top ten most innovative design firms by Fast Company Magazine for its redefinition of emotional storytelling. Jake is recognized as a leader in the field of interaction design for physical spaces, and in the creation of collaborative storytelling projects where participants generate content. Clients include SFMOMA, StoryCorps, GE, Johnson & Johnson, BMW Guggenheim Lab, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Seaworld, Microsoft, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, Paley Center for Media and the Sugar Hill Museum of Children’s Art and Storytelling.

Jake’s key learning : a crisis for an institution is the best moment for re-invention, and there are no mistakes, only opportunities.


From the eight speakers and six presentations, we learn that museums should develop as platforms to foster and inspire creativity: learning and creating through making rather than talking sand planning. Trust people to play and perform in your organisation, let them test and experiment. Further to the talks, Corinne will empower the attendees to act and think more creatively. The learning and creative experience starts from mistakes, improvisation and trust: three core values embraced by all communication leaders.

As museum professionals, we love our job, we love our collection, we love our objects, and we are passionate about what we are doing. We want to offer a beautiful environment, help people to enjoy life and we want to go further.

Presenter: Corinne Estrada, CEO AGENDA 

An expert in communications, branding and profile management, Corinne Estrada founded international communications agency Agenda in 1995. For over 20 years Agenda has managed international communications for major museums, art spaces and cultural destinations across Europe. Corinne has advised international organisations such as TateFundación Mapfre, the V&AThe National Gallery, London and Guggenheim Bilbao on their communications strategies and global positioning. In 2000 Corinne co-founded Communicating the Museum, the world’s leading event for arts communications professionals. Corinne is also founder  IDCA, International Design Communication Awards (formerly IMCA, International Museum Communication Awards) and Culture Business, a conference focusing on sponsorship. In 2011, Corinne was appointed to train art organisations in Estonia and Oaxaca (Mexico) about international strategies and branding. Trilingual in English, French and Spanish, Corinne holds an MBA in marketing from Pace University, New York (1988). She is a frequent speaker and lecturer at top international schools, such as CELSA la Sorbonne where she teaches project management. From 1986 – 1989 Corinne worked in New York as Group Coordinator for international travel group Carlson Wagonlits and in the ticketing industry in London. She now lives in Sydney since November 2013.


Communicating the Museum is a communications conference dedicated to international museum and gallery professionals. Over 3000 museum professionals have attended these seriously entertaining conferences. After Paris, Venice, Madrid, Stockholm, New York among many other cities, the 14th edition of the conference will take place in the southern hemisphere for the first time: in Sydney 4-8 November 2014 and Melbourne 9-11 November 2014. 300 delegates are expected to come from Europe 20% – Middle East Asia 20% – US 20%  and 40% from Australia. This year’s theme is Optimism which covers four topics: Opportunities, Collaborations, Leadership and Community Engagement. The panel of speakers include museum leaders from all over the world as well as artists, digital and media such Weibo, Baidu and SBS. Speakers from creative industries share their best practices in business development.


AGENDA PACIFIC is a branch of AGENDA whose headquarters have been in Paris since 1995. It was established in 2013 by Corinne Estrada in Sydney to raise the international profile of cultural cities, museums and galleries in the Asia Pacific region.

Tel: +61 449 632 799

Cite as:
C. Estrada, Best of Creativity in museums. Key learnings from seven communication experts in branding, design and digital strategy. In Museums and the Web Asia 2014, N. Proctor & R. Cherry (eds). Silver Spring, MD: Museums and the Web. Published September 30, 2014. Consulted .