About a third of young adults without children also chose family time as a primary reason for visiting museums, and their comments indicate that they enjoy visiting them with various family members, but primarily their spouses or significant others (with some saying museums helped them get to know future spouses better).
Adults over age 60 are the least likely to cite family time; only one in five women, and only one in six men. As Americans age, however, they need social outlets to maintain long-term health and wellness. My data suggests museums are under-performing in this role (for more, see my review of Creative Health on The Curated Bookshelf).
A note about fielding research. I hold dear the idea that research for the field, about the field, should be shared with the field. But that only works when museums work together to make it possible. Since individual museums are needed to field this work, the survey also benefits participating museums on an individual level by providing benchmark data on visitation rates, motivations, attitudes and preferences, and demographic questions … all of which can then be tracked over time in the future. Participating museums are also allowed to add 1 - 2 custom questions specific to their needs.
Which means if you value this research, want more of it in the coming years, and want to track your own museum's progress over time, please support this work by enrolling your museum in the 2018 Annual Survey of Museum Goers. The fee for 2018 is only $1,000 per museum.
The questions for this survey have been inspired by ongoing conversations within the museum field (who does/does not go to museums, why they do/do not visit, and what that means for communities) and ongoing research in the fields of education and psychology around lifelong learning and intrinsic motivation. In particular, this question is similar to versions fielded by, among other organizations, the Smithsonian's Office of Policy and Analysis, the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture, Visitors Count!, etc.
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