In Focus: Museum of Islamic Art
5 years ago by Sonia Rafi
The Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Qatar is one of its kind in the Middle East with a large collection of Islamic Art from all over the world depicting several different eras.
In a recent interview, Daniel Brown, the Deputy Director for Operations and current Acting Director, talked about the museum from a customer service perspective.
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“WE BELIEVE THE POWER OF ART IS VITAL TO BRINGING THE STORY OF OUR CULTURES TO LIFE”
What is the vision behind the Museum of Islamic Art?
Daniel Brown: MIA is recognised as the centre of knowledge, dialogue and inspiration that illuminates the art of Islamic civilisations, opening minds and shaping the future.
What is your role as deputy director of the museum?
Daniel Brown: My role is Deputy Director – Operations and I am responsible for the day to day operational running of the museum. I have been Acting Director of MIA since July 2013 while the Director is on sabbatical.
How would you describe the customer journey from the moment they step into your museum?
Daniel Brown: We believe the power of art is vital to bringing the story of our cultures to life and in creating its next chapters. Thus in sharing our knowledge about Islamic Art this contributes to open minds. MIA has lively spaces where learning is exciting and where visitors can see MIA’s world class collection of Islamic art in uniquely beautiful galleries where the objects take centre stage.
What age range do the majority of visitors fall under and are they mostly local or international?
Daniel Brown: All ages and nationalities including local, expat and international visitors due to MIA’s growing reputation and close proximity to the international airport.
What is the average number of monthly visits that you get at the museum and what are the busiest months?
Daniel Brown: Busiest months are from October to June due to the weather, and then on Eid holidays and international festivals. Our average monthly numbers are 30,000 visitors.
How do you facilitate disabled customers?
Daniel Brown: All areas of MIA are wheelchair accessible. Digital guides are available for both hearing and sight impaired. Museum Guides have undergone specific accessibility training. Art workshops are also available. We recently collaborated with UCL Qatar to facilitate a disability focus group to further enhance access at MIA.
Are tour guides trained to speak in multiple languages?
Daniel Brown: Yes. Currently we have Arabic, English, Farsi, Chinese, Pashtu and German.
Are the tours interactive, 3d, 4d and if not are you thinking of it?
Daniel Brown: Our tours are currently interactive and we are developing further initiatives to enhance visitors’ experiences.
How often do you change the settings and exhibits? Is customer feedback used?
Daniel Brown: Our permanent galleries have a rotation program in place to ensure we safeguard all our objects. We conduct 2 blockbuster exhibitions each year and 2 research focused exhibitions.
If a customer wants to know more about a certain Muslim era, is your website answering any of the expected questions?
Daniel Brown: The focus of MIA’s collection is the arts of the Islamic world. Our permanent galleries include sections based around historic periods and our online object records, available through MIA’s website categorize each object according to their time and place of production.
What online forums do you use to promote the museum and upcoming events?
Daniel Brown: We use MIA’s website and a range of social media channels to promote our collections, exhibitions, resources and programs. The website and social media channels, including our Facebook page, see a significant number of visitors and followers. We have over 800,000 followers on Facebook from around the world.
How are you handling online and offline customer service?
Daniel Brown: We have a Visitor Service form that can be filled out in person, or on the website, and full visitor information is provided on the website. All email requests submitted through our website are responded to immediately. Our Gift shop, Cafe, MIA Park Kiosk, Library and Education Centre have direct customer service procedures in place.
How do you guage customer experience during or after a visit?
Daniel Brown: We have a full audience insight program that includes research, visitor surveys, gallery reviews, focus groups, feedback forms and other forms of visitor expertise – that contributes to forming new programmes and exhibitions at the museum.
Do you have any ongoing customer loyalty programs?
Daniel Brown: Qatar Museums is currently reviewing a loyalty program across cultural institutions in Qatar, to be launched over the summer.
What do customers take away from their visit to the museum?
Daniel Brown: A greater insight into the breadth and diversity of the Arts of the Islamic world: from China to Spain, and from the 7th to the 19th centuries.
About Daniel Brown:
Daniel Brown began his professional career in the field of health with Diplomas and Graduate Diplomas in the field of Applied Sciences and Health Management from the University of Technology, Sydney.
With his knowledge and professional skills he has successfully managed operations for the medical programs in the Organizing Committees of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games and the2006 Asian Games held in Doha. He was also responsible for the medical program for the APEC Sydney 2007 World Leaders Week.
He has also been the Manager for the Simpson Centre Health Services Research Institute which focused on re-modeling of health services. He has held conjoint chairs at the University of New South Wales and University of Technology, Sydney. He is currently completing a Masters in International Business Law with the University of Liverpool.
Daniel joined MIA in 2008 prior to its opening and has held the position of Deputy Director – Operations since then and is responsible for the day to day operations of MIA where his previous experience was an important factor in the opening of MIA. In July 2013 he was also appointed Acting Director of MIA while the current Director is on sabbatical.
Daniels role is to continue to move forward with the strategic plan of MIA to ensure MIA continues to build a professional, sustainable organisation that will research and share our collections, broaden audiences and deepen understanding of Islamic Art.