Encouraging more visits to an Art Gallery and Museum
Only a small proportion of residents and visitors to a seaside town were visiting the local art gallery and a museum. The local museums trust wanted to understand why the attractions were not being visited and what could be done to encourage more visitors.
- To establish awareness and perceptions of the Museum and Art Gallery.To establish the how often the two attractions were visited.To assess reactions to what the venues offered and establish motivations to visit in the future.To identify ways to encourage more visits from either new or repeat visitors.
We conducted research with three different target groups:
- Local residents.
- Visitors to the town, both those visiting for the day only and those staying overnight.
- Those living within 60 miles of the seaside town who visited other museums and / or art galleries.
We carried out qualitative and quantitative research. These involved:
- 300 telephone interviews with residents and 300 face-to-face interviews with visitors to the town during their stay. Both groups were asked about their awareness and perceptions of the different attractions in the town, their reasons for visiting or not visiting and their reaction when we described the facilities the attractions offered.
- We carried out an online survey with 300 people who lived within 60 miles of the seaside town and who visited other museums and art galleries. We asked which museums and art galleries they visited, what had motivated them to visit these attractions and what they knew about the attractions in the seaside town. They were asked how likely they would be to visit the town’s attractions after we described the facilities on offer.
- Four focus groups were held amongst both visitors and non-visitors to the attractions and amongst both residents and visitors to the town. We focused on finding out what stopped visits and what could be done to overcome these barriers. The aim was to identify actions and messages which would stimulate first-time visitors to attend and current visitors to return more often.
Some very clear conclusions emerged from the research. We found many visitors to the town and to nearby museums and art galleries were not aware of the existence of the town’s museum and art gallery. Once told about the attractions, many were very interested in visiting.
Residents who had visited the museum and the art gallery had enjoyed their visit and said they would like to return. Only a small proportion of them had actually done so though.
We also discovered the Art Gallery’s café served as a meeting point and often encouraged visits to the gallery. A café or tea shop in the museum could encourage more visits, particularly if it overlooked the sea.
Our other suggestions included:
- Highlighting the attractions’ educational value, particularly to children.
- Explaining that, as exhibits changed, a visitor has not seen everything there is to see after a first visit.
- Increasing advertising and promotion.
- Creating more interactive activities, particularly for children.
- Involving local schools.
- Establishing a “trail” on nearby pavements leading to the museum.
- Improving accessibility, particularly for the elderly or disabled.