As a field, we have all been wrestling with some big questions. Big questions that strike at the heart of what museums do, how we do it, why we do it, and whether we do it more (or less) effectively than others.
To tackle these questions requires research, which is where I come in.
This winter, 25 museums partnered with me to field the 2017 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers. You have seen a couple of posts rooted in that research already (see category "2017 Annual Survey"), but this post is my real kickoff piece, outlining what my research is, what has fed into it, and what is to come.
What is it: A survey of museum-goers, not casual visitors or the broader public (see "bonus research," below, for more on those population segments). There were 6,013 respondents, with 56% coming from art and history museums, and 44% from children's museums and science centers. This breakdown was close to ideal, as it is a relatively even balance of two very different groups of visitors with very different motivations for visiting.
Research goals: In particular, the survey focused on the following themes:
Bonus research: In addition to my work with museum-goers, I have also fielded broader population samples, which permits me to assess how museum-goers are like the broader population … and not. These surveys allow contextualization and, in some cases, stiff reality checks. You'll see these results brought in a fair amount, especially when it comes to estimating the size of the population that visits museums, and how much individuals engage with their communities.
Topics to expect:
And now, three additional notes:
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I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional lands of the Duwamish people. I thank them for the care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.