Democratizing Art in the Digital Age: a study of the history of Tate’s digital strategy

Ione Mignogna

Student thesis: Master thesis


The aim of the paper is to reconstruct the history of the digital strategy of the chosen single case study of the British institution Tate. This will be done to explain the case itself and to serve as a guideline for other museums wanting to implement a digital strategy. The descriptive and inductive research will answer the question ‘what is the history of Tate’s digital strategy?’ Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews as primary data sources and gathered from secondary sources including documents and information found on Tate’s website and on third party websites. The grand challenge this thesis deals with is the democratization of art. In order to understand the grand challenge within the context of managerial studies, two concepts were highlighted in relation to Tate’s digital strategy: co-creation and Lampel et al.’s ‘Balancing Act’ (2000). Democratization efforts can be brought forward through the use of digital co-creative practices, which will be pointed out to show how changing the communication with existing and new audiences can increase accessibility and transform the role of the museum audience from passive receptors of knowledge to active co-creators of meaning and experiences. The second concept focuses on the role that digitalization plays in helping democratize art by blurring the lines between the paradoxes of needing to remain profitable whilst wanting to exhibit art-for-art’s sake, as well as between increasing accessibility without neglecting the quality of the artworks and exhibitions. Tate’s history will be presented in the form of a timeline divided in three stages: the initial stage going from 1998-2007 when digital practices began to be implemented yet the focus remained on the website, the second stage from 2007-2015 when social media and the use of mobile platforms became of interest to Tate, and the current third stage where the generation of revenue became a key concern in the development of the digital strategy. Strategic advice will be presented in this paper for smaller museums, museums facing struggles similar to those that Tate faced, as well as for other cultural institutions wanting to move towards digital.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages96