Reaching new audiences: British Museum Manga

Reaching new audiences: British Museum Manga


The British Museum held the largest exhibition of manga ever to take place outside of Japan. They used the exhibition to successfully reach new audiences and to support a perception shift for the museum. Ella Lewis-Collins, Senior Marketing Manager, British Museum and Sylvie Harding, Research Executive, Morris Hargreaves McIntyre take us through what they did.

The British Museum’s sold out Manga exhibition attracted its youngest, most ethnically diverse audience ever. It smashed ticketing targets and broke records for first time attenders.

Despite the content, this wasn’t a foregone conclusion: formative research showed manga enthusiasts feared the Museum would spoil the content by making it too 'museum-y'.

This insight, informed by the segmentation tool, Culture Segments, shaped the marketing team’s strategy to target atypical paid museum audiences.

A bold poster campaign was the main driver for a quarter of visits; graffiti artists painted key boroughs of the city bright orange; a social media campaign ensured no-one could mistake the exhibition as being boring.

The results speak for themselves:

  • 27% of visitors were first time visitors – double that of other recent exhibitions
  • 43% of visitors were 25-34 age group, the youngest on record
  • 34% of visitors were BAME, with a significantly higher proportion of Londoners
  • 22% of visitors were from the Entertainment Culture Segment, ten times the usual level for a paid exhibition at the museum
  • The exhibition beat its ticketing targets by more than 20,000.


Perhaps most significantly, a third of people said their perceptions had been changed by the exhibition, suggesting manga has successfully unlocked a new audience of atypical users.

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Resource type: Case studies | Published: 2021