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Models of Museum Visiting

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 01 May 2009

This question from Ido Beja, Haifa University (via Facebook!): My name is Ido, I'm a student from Haifa University, and I'm doing some research about visitors in museums with hope to build a system for groups of visitors in museums based on group modeling. I saw the abstract of your article "Developing a model of museum visiting" - can you please sent me hard copy of the article?

Hi Ido, I did indeed write a paper on this topic in 2001, presenting it at a Museums Australia conference in Canberra. Basically the study involved a series of exit surveys conducted from November 1999 to January 2001 with visitors to the Australian Museum, Sydney. Questions were designed to see what factors identified from the literature influenced reasons given for visiting museums and galleries generally, and the Australian Museum in particular. 413 visitors were asked to rate eleven indicators on a 5-point Likert-scale, with 1 being low and 5 high. From both looking at the data and a literature review I developed a model of museum visiting which included the following five highest rating factors (in order):

  • experiencing something new
  • entertainment
  • learning
  • the interests of children/family
  • doing something worthwhile in leisure

There was not much discrimination between factors based on the relatively small variation between standard deviations (from 1.04 to 1.51), which suggested to me that these are probably the main drivers for visitors to museums.

I haven't re-looked at this for awhile now so be interested in any feedback.