Annual Survey of Museum-Goers

Each year, the American Alliance of Museums conducts a survey of museum-goers on behalf of participating member museums.  

I visit a LOT of museums each year, so it's not unusual for me to receive surveys from a handful of different museums. Each collects and interprets their own data. While I don't think less of non-participating museums (many are already great and packed with visitors), I do appreciate those museums who opt to participate. They obviously value their guests' opinions and are striving to improve. 

I just received my first AAM survey of 2024. It happened to come from the outstanding Nascar Hall of Fame, which we visited in January 2022. I have nothing but good things to say about the Nascar HOF. Even people with zero interest in car racing (like me) will enjoy the diversity of exhibits that cover the history, technological advances, key people, and necessary skill that goes into the sport. Anyway, I took the 10-minute survey and thought it would be fun to share a few of the non-site-specific questions (and my answers) with you. 

This was hard to answer. My response varies a lot depending on the type of museum. A hands-on science museum that targets children (like Museum of Discovery) could not be more different in audience, needs, and purpose than the Legacy Museum. A museum that covers a narrow subject (like Mill City Museum) is completely different than a museum that showcases a huge subject (like the Harvard Museum of Natural History.) I want different things from art museums than I do from history museums, science museums, or pop culture museums. Of the nine possible choices (besides None and Other), I selected six and I'm still wondering if I shouldn't have answered differently. 

I don't visit most museums more than once, but it's not because I don't want to. It's because they're thousands of miles from home. For the purposes of this question, I ignored all the museums I've visited that are more than an hour or two from home and answered just based on local museums. 

I visit around 40 different museums a year. While I may want to go more often, "Professional Museum Attendee" is not a paid job, as far as I'm aware. I'm visiting as many museums as is possible for a person who has a job, family, and household responsibilities. 

I wanted a choice of "All of the above" but settled for picking the two that matter most to me right now, in this stage of life. I would have answered differently 25 years ago, when I was more likely to visit museums alone (or with 32 children at a time). 

This question threw me at first. Do I use my imagination in museums? At first I thought I didn't, but then I realized that good, immersive history museums are all about imagination. Art museums inspire me to create, which definitely uses imagination. I'm not a "time travel to the future" kind of person, so that doesn't appeal to me. 

There were a lot more questions, but I'm going to stop here. If this interested you, I strongly recommend reading the following reports: 

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

1 comment:

  1. I personally enjoy art museums the most. Those really inspire me. War museums make me sad.


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