Understanding Our Audiences
For the Oxford ASPIRE Museums, 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.
Developing Research Techniques
Useful to developing our research techniques has been a JISC funded study that has produced an Audience Research guide. Key considerations when developing a research strategy include:
- Identifying the target audience you would like to know more about (Young People; Local Residents; Tourists; Students; etc.)
- Identifying what you would like to know about (What are they using the museum for; What is their satisfaction with the service; Their opinion on specific events/facilities; etc.)
- What resulting information will be useful (Number of target audiences attending specific events; Opinions and qualitative feedback on certain displays; etc.)
- What will you do with the information (Adjust marketing activities to better target specific audiences; Change how information is provided for specific displays; Provide additional resources for families/disabled audiences; etc.)
What We're Doing
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.
These rolling surveys help us better understand our current visitor profile: are they tourists, academics, families, students, locals, etc.; are they first time visitors or regulars and which of our museums do they visit; age; ethnicity; disability; etc. They also help us determine how satisfied our visitors are with the service we provide and what they would like to see more of or improved; their main purpose of coming to the museum; and how they hear about what's happening.
2. Ashmolean Research Project
Earlier this year we also worked with Morris Hargreaves McIntrye on a piece of research at the Ashmolean focused on public perceptions of our museums and brand. Our key aim was to identify 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. We wanted to get a clearer profile of who doesn't visit our museums from the local area, why not, and what might change their mind. Results are available on the County website.
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.