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  • The British Museum

    Creating a Methodology for Evaluating a Gallery

    An Interactive Qualifying Project to be submitted to the faculty of Worcester

    Polytechnic Institute in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of

    Bachelor of Science

    Submitted by:

    Stephanie Carlyle

    Timothy Glover

    Anatoly Klebanov

    Submitted to:

    Project Advisors:

    Prof. Constance Clark

    Prof. Malcolm Ray

    Project Liaisons:

    Rhiannon Goddard, Interpretation Manager, the British Museum

    Claire Edwards, Interpretation Officer, the British Museum

    21 February 2008

  • i

    Abstract

    The Interpretation Unit of the British Museum in London sponsored this project to

    develop a methodology for evaluating their galleries. Future student interns will now

    be able to evaluate specific galleries using the methodology guidebook created by the

    WPI project team. The evaluation of galleries includes tracking visitors followed by

    interviews with those visitors.

  • ii

    Table of Contents

    ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................................................ I

    TABLE OF TABLES .......................................................................................................................... III

    TABLE OF FIGURES ........................................................................................................................ IV

    1. INTRODUCTION ............................................................................................................................. 1

    2. BACKGROUND ................................................................................................................................. 2

    2.1 HISTORY OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM ................................................................................................ 2

    2.2 MISSION OF THE MUSEUM ............................................................................................................... 3

    2.3 VISITOR STATISTICS ........................................................................................................................ 4

    2.4 THE COLLECTIONS .......................................................................................................................... 6

    2.5 MANAGEMENT AND GOVERNANCE ................................................................................................. 7

    2.6 FUNDING ......................................................................................................................................... 8

    2.7 THE INTERPRETATION UNIT ............................................................................................................ 9

    3. LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................................................................. 9

    3.1 VISITOR ENGAGEMENT ................................................................................................................. 10

    3.2 EDUTAINMENT .............................................................................................................................. 11

    3.3 VISITOR STUDIES .......................................................................................................................... 12

    3.4 THE BRITISH MUSEUM .................................................................................................................. 15

    4. METHODOLOGY ........................................................................................................................... 16

    4.1 OBJECTIVE 1: PRELIMINARIES ....................................................................................................... 17

    4.1.1 Trials ..................................................................................................................................... 17

    4.2 OBJECTIVE 2: DATA COLLECTION ................................................................................................. 18

    4.2.1 Observing the Visitor ............................................................................................................ 18

    4.2.2 Exit Interview ........................................................................................................................ 19

    4.3 OBJECTIVE 3: DATA ANALYSIS ..................................................................................................... 19

    5. RESULTS .......................................................................................................................................... 20

    5.1 CREATING A METHODOLOGY ........................................................................................................ 20

    5.2 CREATING A QUESTIONNAIRE ....................................................................................................... 23

    5.3 CREATING MAPS ........................................................................................................................... 29

    5.4 TRIAL STUDIES .............................................................................................................................. 30

    5.5 DATA ANALYSIS ........................................................................................................................... 30

    5.5.1 Qualitative ............................................................................................................................ 30

    5.5.2 Dwell Times .......................................................................................................................... 32

    5.5.4 Exhibit Popularity ................................................................................................................. 35

    5.5.5 Most Photographed............................................................................................................... 36

    5.5.6 Most Discussed ..................................................................................................................... 36

    5.5.7 Gateway Object .................................................................................................................... 41

    5.5.8 Label Reading ....................................................................................................................... 41

    5.5.9 Visiting Patterns ................................................................................................................... 42

    5.5.10 Walkthrough and Refusal Rates .......................................................................................... 43

    5.5.11 Demographics ..................................................................................................................... 45

    5.5.12 Segment Breakdown ............................................................................................................ 53

    5.5.13 Comparisons with British Museum Data ............................................................................ 53

    6. CONCLUSIONS .......................................................................................................................... 60

    WORKS CITED ................................................................................................................................... 62

    APPENDIX A: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS ..................................................................................... 64

    APPENDIX B: GALLERY MAPS ..................................................................................................... 67

    APPENDIX C: VISITOR TRAFFIC PATTERNS ............................................................................ 72

    APPENDIX D: QUANTITATIVE DATA .......................................................................................... 77

  • iii

    Table of Tables Table 1: Department Descriptions.....6

    Table 2: Three Year Funding Agreement ....8

    Table 3: Non Cash Resources....8

    Table 4: Grant-in-aid Allocation....9

    Table 5: Visitor Segments ............15

  • iv

    Table of Figures

    Figure 1: Number of Visitors to the British Museum (created using British Museum Annual

    Reports and Accounts, 2006/07) ................................................................................................... 5

    Figure 2: Segment Flow Chart (Taken from Visitor Insight Monitor Year Two by MHM) .. 24

    Figure 3: North America Dwell Times Frequency Distribution ....................................................... 33

    Figure 4: Roman Empire Dwell Times Frequency Distribution ...................................................... 34

    Figure 5: Egyptian Death and Afterlife Dwell Times Frequency Distribution ............................... 35

    Figure 6: Case 14: The American West .............................................................................................. 37

    Figure 7: Totem .................................................................................................................................... 37

    Figure 8: Case 5: The Mowachaht of Vancouver Island ................................................................... 38

    Figure 9: Case 17: Hopewell Pipes from Mound City, Ohio ............................................................. 38

    Figure 10: Case 18: Crocodile Armor ................................................................................................. 39

    Figure 11: Busts ...........................................................