How Museums and Galleries Monetize Virtual Exhibitions

Art is meant to be perceived. While foot traffic has slowed in museums and galleries, their presence has been growing online. Luckily, the art community has been fairly receptive to these changing dynamics. As these artistic establishments shift their revenue streams to virtual exhibitions, it has become apparent that their money making strategies must shift as well. 

In the era of virtual experiences many ways of hosting events online have surfaced. Bringing the right people together who are willing to spend money on an online gallery or other form of virtual art experience will depend on a few different factors. Budget, what customers will gain from attending a virtual event, where people will be tuning in from and how are just a few considerations. 

Past marketing strategies to reach consumers interested in art are not producing the same results as virtual exhibitions become the norm. Museums have been forced to restructure their marketing strategies in order to reach their consumers and find new ones to make up for lost income. 

Digital resilience

When social distancing regulations become more wide-spread, museums in London lead the way in creating a more resilient plan. The National Gallery offered a film presented by their curator. And the Design Museum was in tow, gathering up artists and experts in different fields to bring a collaborative experience online. 

Both charged a fee for non-members and offered access to those who pay for a yearly membership. Another way that galleries can use virtual technology to their advantage is by creating lectures and other educational experiences for adults and students. Many European museums have been utilizing zoom since it has become so accessible for all ages. 

The advent of the internet and new technologies have been foreshadowing a time when our world would become digitized. As new data comes forward and COVID-19 guidelines for businesses evolve, it is vital that organizations create a model that bounces back quickly when physical revenue streams are brought to a halt. Bringing art exhibitions to users with just a few clicks is part of how museums can build digital resilience. 

The art of cloud computing

In a nutshell, on demand broad network access is what makes any virtual event possible. Many milestones have brought us closer to creating online communities and having real time experiences with others using tech. The accessibility of cloud computing is arguably the most important milestone when it comes to hosting virtual events. 

According to cloud computing expert Barbara Ericson of Cloud Defense, with the cloud “all the resources and processing power needed to complete computation is accessed in the cloud or virtual spaces. There are companies that can provide cloud services, which then enables users (who normally pay subscription fees) to access those servers for their needs.”

Cloud computing really is a work of art. It’s streamlined, simplistic, and necessary in modern times. Nowadays the cloud and its ability to measure service is as close to a utility as gas or electric. 

Benefits for art lovers

This new realm where technology and art collide in virtual exhibitions could prove to be an ongoing marketing strategy. Instead of having to leave the home, people can now travel through time by attending virtual gallery events. 

Some people may be drawn to the museum, and may eventually travel to see the art in-person. But the benefits of an online experience can impact art lovers globally.

It was almost inevitable that the classical art world would enter the digital age. The urgency that the pandemic created for museums to find new ways to thrive sparked inspiration in artists to create works that can be perceived through new avenues. Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality experiences will soon be more accessible through apps.  

The demand for streamlined media will only increase with the availability of the technology and as more people use it. Even those who may not have appreciated art before will be able to have meaningful connections to artists through these advances. 

The inevitability of digitization

It’s a necessity to offer virtual products and services. However, employers are having trouble finding a balance between business as usual and reshaping business as we know it. 

This is especially difficult for small business owners who have budget limitations. This year, 93% of companies are foreseeing problems implementing their digital transformation efforts. Even larger companies have to find the time and resources to learn new skills and train others.

Most people handle their interactions with online businesses through AI and do not even come into contact with humans. Consumers expect an efficient experience and technological leaps like cloud computing and the widespread use of AI provide unlimited potential for business owners to bring streamlined engagement with their company and products. 

Another reason why there is some hesitancy to digitize, is cyber security. Many smaller businesses are not equipped to design a cybersecurity strategy and overlook weak spots that leave them vulnerable to cyberattack. If they fall victim to a cyber attack, they likely won’t have the knowledge or resources necessary to handle it. 

Making money through virtual exhibitions

There are many ways that museums can make their digital efforts profitable. One way is to offer a range of virtual experiences and price points. Providing a combination of free and paid offerings can help bring more traffic and a wider audience. 

Of course, the exhibition experience can be difficult to translate into a digital medium. Most importantly, you want to ensure that your viewers have a great experience. This is why it is critical to choose a hosting platform wisely. Whether you are new to hosting virtual events or you have experience hosting, using an all in one platform is ideal. The more time spent on the actual hosting results in time away from the exhibition itself. 

People are willing to pay for things that they perceive as valuable. The key to generating income through virtual events is to provide your customers with something that they want. Add value through the addition of guest speakers, special guests, and artists themselves. This may take some experimentation, but the profits will be worth it in the long term. 


There has never been a better time for museums to find ways to create digital resilience in the current era. Hosting virtual gallery exhibitions is beneficial to museums in more ways than one. 

Not only do virtual exhibitions widen audiences, they are a low-cost way to create an online presence. By offering multiple types of virtual experiences, museums can make a profitable income and build a foundation for artists of the future. 

Want to learn how to host a virtual exhibition?

Check out our Ultimate Guide to Planning a Virtual Event

Read it here

How Museums and Galleries Monetize Virtual Exhibitions

Brianne Snell

Brianne is a Content Manager at vFairs. She has over 8 years of experience planning and creating content for IT and SaaS organizations. When she isn't sharing her excitement for virtual and hybrid events, you can find her doing Pilates, bingeing pop culture podcasts and hanging out with her dog, Charlotte.

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