Re:Fresh Project Museum of Farnham Case Study
March 2012 - ongoing
What were the project aims?
The Re:Fresh project aims to help museums upgrade their interpretation and exhibition design. The Museum of Farnham wanted to use the opportunities given to us by the refresh project to re-assess how best to interpret our collection within the limited space available. We also had a broader and more ambitious project; to re-assess the purpose of the Museum and what story it can tell about Farnham.
We want a museum which the local community feels belongs to them; where learning for all generations is central to our visitor offer, demonstrated throughout our different streams of services including events, workshops, displays and general visits to the museum.
What was the impact of the project?
What new skills have your staff and volunteers gained?
Courses in evaluating for success and exciting writing for interpretation were attended by the Curator and Assistant Curator.
A one to one session with Kate Measures (Heritage Consultant) looked at the museums overall plan and another one to one session helped us to evaluate the current visitor experience and plan for improvements.
How has your organisation become more efficient and/or effective?
Our exhibition design is now a more analytical and measured process which takes account of the needs of all our users and follows our key aims of education for all and our mission as a community museum. Better planning has made for better exhibitions and for a museum with a more cohesive feel.
As a result of the input given to us Museum staff have been able to look at the service we provide holistically using tested evaluation techniques and break down future improvements into manageable projects which work towards the overall aims of the museum. In contrast to what would have been otherwise piecemeal and uncoordinated actions based on perceived rather than actual benefit to the museum.
How do your visitors gain a better service as a result?
Through evaluation we now better understand who are audience are and what they want and need. We are able to move towards representing the Farnham community and providing a better quality service for them.
Do your visitors have greater enjoyment from their experiences?
Our evaluation has shown that the majority of visitors leave having had a positive experience. Hopefully future surveys will see the level of satisfaction increase.
What are your organisation’s plans for a sustainable and resilient future as a result?
Visitor figures are an important part of our KPIs and how we judge our success.
We hope to attain higher visitor figures by using our knowledge to better inform our target audience about our events and exhibitions. Furthermore, as a result of inventive interpretation which is designed to be used by a wider audience we hope people will be have a more positive visitor experience and we will get increased repeat visits.
What went well and what didn't go well?
Tell us about the timing of the project for you and you partners?
The timing of the project was perfect as both the Curator and Assistant Curator are relatively new to the museum and had big ideas about redesigning the 20 year old permanent displays.
Was the consultant/trainer the right person for the job? Why is this?
Kate Measures brought a welcome injection of enthusiasm and specialist knowledge to the museum. Big changes can be daunting for everyone so Kate’s encouragement was key in helping us to make the leap and start the changes.
How did you encourage everyone in your organisation to engage in the project?
The staff and volunteers are all really pleased with the changes happening and always look forward to seeing the result of the next project.
How did your visitors engage in the project?
The visitors did not engage first hand with the project but many of our repeat visitors are very complimentary about the changes that they can see.
- Don’t be afraid to seek an honest opinion and be open to constructive criticism
- Celebrate the wins as well as acknowledging the failures
- Keep positive!
What are your plans for the future
How will the learning from this project be implemented in your organisation?
Apart from the skills listed above, Museum staff have gained the confidence to push forward with improvements, bringing the museum into line as a community asset available to the widest possible audience.
The evaluation seminar has also helped us to produce an evaluation plan to provide data for our impending accreditation review.
What did the project cost?
This advice and support is part of the larger scaled project run and funded by the SEWS MDO Helen Derbyshire. However typical day rates for speciliast consultants range between £250-£500 per day.