Thursday, April 8, 2010

What Were You Thinking? . . . survey results are in.

In 2008-2009 Gyroscope, in partnership with JFK University’s Museum Studies graduate program, launched a survey of Children’s Museums. The survey was designed, in part, to get input from the field on topics we often discuss with our clients. We wondered whether the conversations we were having represented broader concerns that could be found within the field as a whole? Or were they still fairly new and localized?

At the same time, we wanted to benchmark some of the standard practices within children’s museums. This would enable us to see emerging opportunities more clearly, and assess what types of visitor experiences most effectively contribute to a unique identity.

Who Took It?

We sent invitations to all 310 US-based museums in the Association of Children’s Museum membership, and received 42 completed responses. So we heard from 13.5% of the Children’s Museums in the USA.

Participating museums came from 24 different states. We heard from both coasts - Washington state, Northern and Southern California, New England and the Eastern Shore down to Florida – as well as from the Rust Belt, Mid-West, South, Southwest, and Plains states. The Northwest - Montana, the Dakotas, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada and Minnesota in particular – is, for some reason, not represented in our sample. The map above shows where participating museums are from.

What Did We Ask?

The survey had 33 questions covering the name and mission of the organization, organizational structure, the visitor experience, research, collaboration, measuring success, and audience demographics.

In the following weeks we will post a series focusing on one of these topics at a time and explore the data. We welcome your questions and comments along the way.

What's Next

Were you one of the museums that responded to our survey, and if so, does the analysis make sense to you? Did you not participate but have a point of view that we should incorporate into our findings? Does your museum operate in a way that is similar to, or different from, the majority of children’s museums that took our survey? Are there other issues your organization is exploring which you would like to hear from the field about?

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