Faculty research spotlight: Partnering with Ontario’s museums on the journey to digital transformation

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George Brown College is embarking on a three-year partnership with the Ontario Museum Association (OMA) to guide Ontario’s 700 museums into the digital age.

“Digital transformation in museums is changing how people interact with and experience museums through technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality,” said Karen Sinotte, a professor in George Brown’s Centre for Business who is spearheading the partnership. “It’s also about making the museum experience accessible to the Deaf-Blind community, through strategies like 3D-printing artifacts.”

It all started with analytics. In summer 2020, students in the Analytics for Business Decision Making program used open data sources to help the Toronto Railway Museum (located near the Rogers Centre) understand factors that impact visitor behaviour. The students looked at several factors and found that visitor traffic increased by an average of 10 percent when there is a baseball game – slightly higher when the Blue Jays lose and slightly lower when they win.

Students and graduates are now working with the OMA on various projects, including building an analytics database and a model to help Ontario’s museums make data-informed decisions around digital transformation.

This is the first partnership of its kind between the OMA and a post-secondary institution, and it will be a crucial piece of providing Ontario’s many underserved museums with the tools they need to adapt in the digital age.


Eva Hongya He, a graduate of the college’s Strategic Relationship Marketing program, completed an analytics project for the OMA. That project provided experience that helped her land co-op at Environics Analytics, which led to a full-time job there.

“Museum digitalization was a meaningful and fun project. I got exposure to secondary research, data compilation, and web scraping. It was great to learn skills that are used in real world outside of class,” said Eva.

Jamie Cornish, a student in the Analytics for Business Decision Making program, was hired for an internship at the OMA after working on two class projects that involved collecting data and analyzing the relationship between consumers, museums and technology. Part of Jamie’s internship involved summarizing the results of these projects and generating new research topics to expand on the findings.

“It’s been great to take the knowledge and skills I learned in the classroom and apply them to real-world data and real-world issues,” said Jamie. “Going through this process afforded me the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the significance of our class work and how the findings impact a real organization.”


Within the partnership with the OMA, there are many analytics projects underway and on the horizon, as well as the development of a digital campaign for the Canadian Canoe Museum and an integrated marketing campaign for the Bata Shoe Museum.

One of these projects involved consumer research with the OMA and Maru/Blue, which helped students learn about the power of data for good.

“Working with our partners at Maru/Blue and the Ontario Museum Association, we've been able to provide students with an opportunity to play a small role in the preservation and enhancement of Ontario's cultural institutions,” said Eli Yufest, a professor in the Centre for Business who supervised the project.

George Brown and the OMA will receive over $360,000 in funding over three years from the College and Community Social Innovation Fund, and they are hoping to build the partnership to encompass multiple initiatives.

If you’re interested in learning more, or if you want to participate or have ideas to suggest, please contact Karen Sinotte ksinotte@georgebrown.ca.

This article is the first of a series highlighting research led by faculty at George Brown. Stay tuned for more news highlighting research and innovation at the college.


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