Digital strategy

Stand: January 2019

“We want to carry the museum institution into the future.”

Mission, Übersee-Museum, 2013

“To achieve this goal, we are enriching everything we do with the digital dimension.”

Digital strategy, Übersee-Museum, 2017


The Übersee-Museum sees itself committed to the networked communication of knowledge across collections from a global perspective as part of the vision of the museum. As a natural development of traditional formats and processes, the thoughtful use of digital media and content offers the museum the opportunity to perform core tasks such as those of scientific documentation, research and knowledge transfer, as well as access to the collections for all in a contemporary way and on a truly global scale.

Especially in times of high availability of digital content on the Internet, the museum has the chance to offer itself as a trusted source of quality content as well as research sources with a high degree of authenticity.

As the impact of digital increases in society the Übersee-Museum gets more and more opportunities to share content with visitors in new ways and innovative formats and to adapt to their changing needs, both on the internet and in the museum itself: the whole activity has to be enriched by a digital dimension.

“Digital mindset”

In order to remain future-proof and relevant for these target groups and partners, who are constantly and rapidly changing, as well as for their needs, a structural change in thinking and working methods is required that includes all areas of the museum’s work: an open-mindedness towards digital solutions (“digital mindset”) is required, which must be at the center of all the museum’s activities as a trend-setting impulse provider and thus represents an important foundation for all further digitally oriented projects.

Another important component of a digital strategy is adopting a visitor-centric perspective. This means that the experience visitors have with the museum – both in the museum and in online media – is a high priority, and this requires an increasing level of responsiveness and agility. In this context, it is important to recognize that physical visitors* to the museum are equivalent to those who interact with the museum digitally and may never visit the “actual” museum: even a pure digital museum experience with the Overseas Museum is a full museum experience.

Into the future through digital empowerment

It is the strategic goal of the Übersee-Museum to enable itself to make the collections explorable and experienceable through various communication channels by means of systematic and sustainable digitization and accessibility. In this way, the objects, their context and history can be vividly shared and made accessible to existing as well as previously new target groups, whether on the World Wide Web or through exhibition media on the premises. This also includes a contemporary and needs-oriented way of transferring knowledge that meets the current and future demands of both teaching and learning visitors.

The basis for such improved and expanded access is, not least, a commitment to openness (“open access”), diverse reuse options, and, building on this, the development of new, collection-based narrative formats in the digital medium (“digital storytelling”). Furthermore, it is important to use already existing standards and interfaces, not only to achieve consistent data quality in the longer term, but also to create machine-readable data that allow linking collection information with other institutions and perspectives (“Linked Open Data”).

Once these basic conditions are in place, they offer the museum completely new opportunities to engage with visitors and deliver innovative participatory digital experiences in a variety of media and formats, both in the museum and online. Achieving such future viability is the overarching long-term strategic goal. The steps required for this must be constantly reviewed and further developed and adapted to relevant developments.

Development of a digital strategy

The Übersee-Museum therefore recognizes the need for a fully integrated digital strategy that is primarily motivated by an improvement in the digital visitor experience and digital knowledge transfer and connectivity, but also presupposes the digital empowerment of employees, which will enable the museum to offer these experiences in a well-integrated, sustainable and self-sustaining manner.

Guiding principles

In building the digital strategy and the projects based on it and recorded in a catalog of measures, a number of overarching guiding principles have emerged:

  • Digital competence: as part of an integrated way of thinking and working, the digital is used as an option for all main tasks and processes of the museum: structured, agile, lean, user-centered and responsive.
  • Fit for the future: we strive for contemporary museum work that can meet the current and future demands, needs and opportunities of an increasingly digitalized society. Social relevance drives us.
  • All visitors count: we give equal importance to physical and digital visitors, and thus also consider fully digital museum experiences as desirable goals for conveying the stories surrounding the museum and its collections.
  • Integrated worlds: through the specific use of digital technologies, we enable visitors to intuitively transition between exhibition media and online offerings, creating a museum experience in which on-site information and location-independent media information can complement and enrich each other.
  • Open to all: through the ongoing digitalization, networking, access and reuse of our collections, we activate our objects and thus make them accessible to existing and new target groups.