I find parental patterns and attitudes around museums endlessly fascinating.
It's not that I don't adults without children aren't interesting (they are!). But museum-going adults without children tend to exhibit what I think of as "steady-state" museum-engagement. Solid, regular engagement over a lifetime. I love this audience, and how much they are curious and love museums.
But parents … that's where the action is.
What do I mean? Well, they are a moving target of engagement. While some were regular museum-goers before children, most museum-going parents flood into museums only after they have a child. That's great … they value museums for their children! Except that we lose an estimated two-thirds of them as regular museum-goers by the time middle school rolls around. Including the parents. Not so great there. (You can get a quick overview of parents by downloading "Museum-Going Parents: A Data Story.")
It strikes me, then, that if we want to be organizations that thrive in the future, we need to figure this audience out. We need to figure out how to keep the kids engaged, so they grow into that lovely "steady-state" group of young adults. But we also should fight to retain the parents, for whom museums can and should provide valuable services through middle and older age.
Fortunately, the 2018 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers allows us to look ever more carefully at parents and guardians, in particular focusing on:
I'll be unpacking all of this research through the next several releases.
Do you value this research? Does it help you in your work at your museum? Do you want it to continue to help you and our field?
If so, consider how useful it would be to know how your museum's stakeholders feel about your museum, lifelong learning in museums, and more. By enrolling your museum in the 2019 Annual Survey of Museum Goers, you can easily benchmark the visitation rates, motivations, attitudes and preferences, and demographics of your stakeholders. Additionally, you can compare your results to your peers, begin to track them over time, and gain far more contextual information through your custom results and report. The fee for 2019 is only $1,000 per museum.
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.