Our Arts Council grant has enabled us to invest in a new programme of evaluation and research to better understand our audiences, their experiences in our museums, and how we can improve both access and experience to existing and potential visitors.
Our evaluation and research programme includes several strands:
1. Exit Survey Kiosks: In partnership with CRTViewpoint we installed new kiosks in each of our museums to collect feedback from many of the over two million people who visit our museums annually. Within the first three months, we collected more responses than we had previously captured over a year. This new system has also allowed us to achieve more consistency with the data we collect as we can gather information throughout our opening hours, rather than being limited to the few times when staff and volunteers are available to conduct face to face surveys.
2. Ashmolean Research Project: Earlier this year we also worked with Morris Hargreaves McIntrye on a piece of research at the Ashmolean focussed on public perceptions of our museums and brand, and identifying potential new audiences whose interests suggest they would enjoy our museums, but do not currently visit.
3. Non-User Consultation: In partnership with Oxfordshire County Council we conducted an online survey of local Oxfordshire residents to better understand the barriers to local residents visiting our museums.
4. Student Consultation: We worked with the Oxford University Student Consultancy to look at our current engagement with local students and young people and make suggestions about how we can deepen our offer for students.
How we are responding?
In order to be able to respond to what we are learning from our evaluation work, ASPIRE has launched the ASPIRE Audience Engagement Fund, which colleagues working in our museums can bid to in order to support activity that responds to our audience evaluation.
So far projects we have supported include:
The Ashmolean's Summer of Family Fun taking place in August 2014
New in galley touch screen interactive devices with 3D images of key objects from the Ashmolean's iBook
New MP3 players to deliver the museum's audio-guide at the Museum of the History of Science
A new homepage for the Pitt Rivers Museum for release early in 2014
A stand at Oxford University Freshers Fair to engage students as volunteers or in our new Museum Society.