Well, it’s still Thursday somewhere, so for this (rather late) #throwbackthursday post I’m travelling back to 1997 and thinking about my very first #museumeval project – a survey with visitors to a temporary shark exhibition at the Australian Museum. Since then have navigated through many hundreds of interviews, surveys, focus groups, workshops, community consultations, user tests, observations and tracking across a range of people, young and old, visitors and non-visitors, face-to-face and online, always with a focus on improving how we can better provide great experiences for visitors.
There really is no magic formula. My many years of research has shown that people are pretty clear on what they want from a museum visit – whether onsite, online or via their mobile device:
- experiences that encourage discovery, interaction, cater for the unexpected, provide many pathways to explore, give a taste for what happens behind-the-scenes and are fun
- content that is challenging, real, authoritative, meaningful, encourages questions and is well-organised, easy to navigate and searchable
- technology that works seamlessly whether using their own device or a provided one
- staff that can relate to all kinds of visitors, are respectful of visitors’ ideas and views, are knowledgeable in their field and are easy to talk to
- opportunities to socialise, hang out with family / friends / peers and learn together
And why this post? I am travelling back in time and will be attending my first Visitor Research Forum next week at the University of Canberra, where I will be presenting some of my work with teachers and museum experiences. There is a cool range of speakers from a range of institutions including the Smithsonian, Museum Victoria, Te Papa (New Zealand), University of Canberra, and the University of Queensland (the original initiators of these forums).
Follow the hashtag #vrf2015 and #museumeval and watch this space…