Over the summer months you may notice an increased number of staff stationed in the museum lobby. One of these staff members may approach you, asking questions. “How nosy,” you might think to yourself. And you would be right. These staff members are part of a 4-month-long visitor study about the new Connecting Cultures exhibition.
Visitor studies are nothing new here and we’ve been doing them regularly for several years; they help us understand who visits us and why. Every three years we complete a general visitor survey in order to keep track of trends in our visitorship. We have also been known to do exhibition-specific studies, and this is one such study.
We have two main objectives with this study: to learn if you recognize and understand the main idea of the exhibition, and to determine how you are using the exhibition. Is the main idea clear? Are the WikiLink QR codes noticeable? Are people engaging with the staff person stationed in the exhibition? How is this introduction to the museum collection changing (or not) the visitor experience? We want to know what works and what doesn’t so that we can improve upon our current efforts.
The study has two parts: a survey administered via laptop and an interview with a Museum representative. The survey and interview will not happen simultaneously, but alternate weekdays and weekends, so one portion is going on every day the Museum is open during the duration of the study. The survey will be available at a desk in the lobby to anyone who wishes to provide feedback on the exhibition. Questions will focus on the first objective: to determine if you recognize and understand the main idea of the exhibition. The interview portion of the study will focus on the second objective: to determine how you are using the exhibition. The interview will consist of two parts: an entrance interview and an exit interview. For the interview portion, a respondent is only eligible to participate if they’ve not yet seen Connecting Cultures so that we might get a clearer “before” and “after” picture of a visitor’s experience.
So if you are approached by a nosy staff person the next time you step through our doors, I encourage you to share your thoughts so that we might satisfy our inquiring minds.
Sara Devine, Manager of Audience Engagement and Interpretive Materials, joined the Brooklyn Museum in 2011. Sara works with curators, designers, educators, technology, and visitor services staff on all aspects of interpretation. A vocal visitor advocate, her expertise lies in crafting accessible and engaging visitor experiences. She received her M.A. in Museum Studies from The George Washington University and B.A. in Classical Civilization from Emory University. Sara was previously Senior Content Developer and Project Manager at Hilferty, a museum planning and exhibition design firm in Ohio, where she developed comprehensive interpretive plans and exhibitions for a wide variety of museums. She has also worked as the Assistant Curator, Special Exhibitions at Monticello and as a Curatorial Assistant at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.