Tuesday, May 6, 2008

What kind of museum visitor are you?

I recently read an interesting article (“Calling All Spiritual Pilgrims: Identity in the Museum Experience” by John Falk [in Museum, Jan-Feb 2008]) that placed museum visitors into five basic identity-related categories. These categories are based on an extensive body of research into visitor motivation and museum expectations.

These categories are as follows:

i) Explorers—curiosity driven, with a generic interest in the content of the museum (for us, this means they have a general interest in 19th century or frontier Texas history)

ii) Facilitators—socially motivated. Their visit is focused on primarily enabling the experience and learning of others in their accompanying social group (these are your teachers, parents, etc.)

iii) Professional/Hobbyists—feel a close tie between the museum content and their professions or hobbies (i.e. interested in building a cabin or a specific craft our museum demonstrates)

iv) Experience Seekers—motivated to visit because they perceive the museum as an important destination (i.e. visit because "if you visit Fort Worth, you HAVE to see Log Cabin Village!)

v) Spiritual Pilgrims—primarily seeking to have a contemplative, spiritual, and/or restorative experience (looking for respite and "escape" from contemporary life...)

Which of these categories do you think YOU fall under? Does your motivation change according to the needs of those around you?

The whole concept of visitor motivation is interesting because it reminds us, as a museum, that not all people visit us for the same reason. Therefore we need to ensure that we're meeting the needs of ALL our visitors regardless of their reason for visiting.

So how are we doing? What are your thoughts? How can we improve our service to you?

No comments: