As part of some work I’m doing am uploading a series of research reports here for easy access.
Older Audiences and Museums
Older people are an important and increasing group of museum visitors, particularly in Australia. The proportion of the Australian population aged 65 years and over grew steadily during the twentieth century and is projected to grow further during this century. In 1901 there were 151,000 people aged 65 years and over living in Australia , or 4% of the population. By 1998 this number had increased to 2.3 million, or 12% of the total population. It is projected that by 2051 this will have grown to between 6 to 6.3 million, or around 24-26% of Australians.
During 2002 a collaborative study was developed and managed by the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, the Australian Museum, Sydney and Environmetrics, a private market research company in Sydney, into the needs and expectations of older visitors in order to recommend ways that museums can respond to these. The research targeted Australians aged 65 years and over and included those who currently visited and engaged with museums and those who didn’t. There were three phases to the project: an extensive literature review; a quantitative study via a telephone survey of Sydney and Canberra adults; and several qualitative projects consisting of depth interviews and discussion groups.
The published report , Energised, engaged, everywhere: Older Australians and Museums by Lynda Kelly, Gillian Savage, Peta Landman and Susan Tonkin (ISBN 0 7347 2311 3), provides comprehensive statistical and qualitative information about this group, specifically focussing on leisure habits and museum visiting. As well, a set of recommendations were made for museums to consider when programming for older audiences, listing over forty achievable things that museums can do to attract and satisfy older people that are universally applicable.
Download the report here: Older Audiences full report
Family Audiences and Museums
Across the world, museums have paid considerable attention to the needs of children and families through the development of targeted exhibitions, activities and programs and as special-purpose areas. In 2004 a joint study was undertaken between the Australian Museum and the National Museum of Australia This study brought together current information about family visit experiences and made recommendations to enhance these.
There were two parts to this study: a literature review and field research. The detailed literature review includes studies spanning the past 70 years and was commissioned to obtain an up-to-date information about families; how they are defined, how they use museums and the ways that they learn. The field research included a total of 29 case study families in Sydney and Canberra who had visited either the Australian Museum or National Museum of Australia. The sample included a variety of family types with children under 12 years of age.
The report, Knowledge Quest: Australian Families Visit Museums, can be downloaded here: Knowledge Quest full report
Museum Audiences with Disabilities
One in five Australians has some type of disability. People with disabilities represent a large, diverse and important audience for museums and galleries. The aim of this study, a collaboration between the Australian Museum, the National Museum of Australia and Accessible Arts was to give voice to the views of visitors with disabilities and suggest ways in which museums and galleries can better support their access needs.
Overall, it was found that people with a disability are supportive of museums and galleries, are motivated visitors and see museums and galleries as excellent environments for learning, education and social interaction. People with a disability have strong networks and often visit in groups or with friends and family. Ensuring their access needs are met offers the potential for museums to increase both visitor numbers and the diversity of their audience. In addition, by finding better ways to meet the needs of visitors with disabilities, museums and galleries will automatically be improving the visiting experience for all visitor groups.
The published report from the study, Many Voices Making Choices: museum audiences with disabilities by Peta Landman, Kiersten Fishburn, Lynda Kelly, and Susan Tonkin (ISBN 0 7347 2318 0), provides information about this audience, specifically focussing on their views about museums and museum visiting. As well, a set of recommendations were made for museums to consider when programming for these audiences, and a range of available resources are listed in the publication, which can be downloaded here: Many Voices full report
An audio transcript from the seminar held to launch the report (with instructions) can be accessed here.
The Young Adult Audience
The Pre-school audience