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NatSCA Evaluation Survey Report

NatSCA, the Natural Sciences Collections Association network, are pleased to present the findings of an Arts Council England funded study into the audiences of mixed discipline museums. This independent study was undertaken by Jenesys Associates Ltd. in 10 museums across the UK during the summer of 2013.

This work was intended to explore the experiences of different audiences in different galleries of mixed discipline museums, in order to understand their preferences and the reasons behind them. They hope that this information will allow us to better understand how natural science galleries are perceived by the public and to allow other Subject Specialist Networks and museums to gain an insight into their audiences.

Visitors identified natural sciences, art and live animal galleries as their favourite types of exhibit and described art, natural sciences and local history as their least favourite gallery types. The fact that some of the same galleries appear on both the most and least favourite lists suggests that audiences are highly heterogeneous in their tastes.

The breakdown of audience profiles further demonstrates that different galleries appeal to different demographics, with each offering something of value to a particular user group. Furthermore, qualitative feedback from users provided additional insight into reasons for preferences or lack of interest, ranging from the subject matter to the quality of presentation.

The findings of this report offer many opportunities for museums with mixed collections as well as colleagues associated with individual disciplines – to better understand their visitors, and what perceptions are held by these visitors. The report is presented in its entirety in order that colleagues have access to the details, but an executive summary is provided at the start.

NatSCA welcomes any responses or questions that arise – please email both Jack Ashby and Paolo Viscardi (j.ashby@ucl.ac.uk, PViscardi@horniman.ac.uk).  

The full report runs to 48 pages, but an executive summary of the findings is provided at the beginning.

You can view the pdf report here.