Weeknotes: 47.2015 Martha’s LMG report, peer research and collecting family stories

Earlier this week, Alyson and Martha delivered a peer research report commissioned by English Heritage on understanding what is the value of multimedia compared to audioguides, why organisations chose to change platform and what the impact of that change has been. Each of the organisations who took part received a copy and we’re hoping to present this soon.

We found peer research super interesting as it allowed us to spot the patterns and gaps that are happening across many organisations, helping us to understand what is and isn’t working within the sector when it comes to guides. Individual case studies are often great for highlighting bright spots of projects or specific challenges. Alternatively, sector wide research adds richer and deeper insights on how organisations key decisions, assumptions, processes and resourcing are having an even greater impact on visitors and the successful implementation of digital technologies.

Anyway, we’ve enjoyed it so much that we now planning on pulling together more peer research projects in spring/summer of next year. Get in touch if you have any burning questions you would like to understand about how the sector is using, thinking, resourcing, spending on digital services.

When I caught up with Laura she was on a New Jersey Transit train on my way to NYC to spend the day visiting museums with Martha (I know, we’re jealous as hell too) FGW USA & UK met in the middle for a New York museums field trip looking at lots of digital experiences early this week. There seems to be have been more robots than expected. I’m going to harass them for a review once they’ve stuffed themselves with a slap up Thanksgiving dinner.

Laura spent last week thinking about and planning some design research for a museum that’s prototyping a mobile video platform for collecting family stories. She’s been doing lots of exploring of ideas and thinking around how we capture memories and what makes for a good video (are these oral histories or random snippets of life – the super 8 films of the digital age?). She said “I wish I knew about my great grandparents and what I want to capture for my young children.” So as a bit of informal research, Laura will be spending some of the Thanksgiving  holiday participating in the StoryCorps #GreatListen project.

Jack Whinery, homesteader, and his family, Pie Town, New Mexico October 1940

Jack Whinery, homesteader, and his family, Pie Town, New Mexico
October 1940

At the beginning of last week Martha attended the London Museum Group’s event on audiences and data 

It looks like the who thing left her with lots to follow up on. Martha said:

The first speaker was James Doeser, who described some initial findings from their ‘Capturing London’s Audiences’  project. The audiences strand of this project looks to better understand the way that museum visitor demographics have changed in recent times in London (compared with the regions) along with their behaviour.

So far, they’ve been looking at publicly available sources of data such as the Taking Part survey. There wasn’t anything earth shattering in the data shared; museum visits are generally increasing, more so in upper socioeconomic classes, but it’s early days. They are keen for organisational data, as well as guidance on what would be useful segmentation of audience types and suggestions for other avenues of research, including qualitative research. So, if you have some thoughts or data to share, get in touch with James 

Jacqui Fortnum from the Audience Agency told us why you should collect visitor data, obviously not something FGW needs to be convinced on. She also talked about their audience finder tool which assists organisations to collect audience data and then aggregates it so you can compare your data with the average. Very handy, potentially! She also talked about their segmentation tool, Audience Spectrumwhich I’ve yet to have a proper look at, and some upcoming events which sound like they could be interesting 

Finally, Emma Morioka and Adam Sibbald of Historic Royal Palaces described their efforts to reach a more local, young, professional audience at the Tower of London (currently only 13% of their visitors are based in London). They wanted to try using technology to do something immersive, and came up with the Nightwatchers evening event.  

It used the stories of Elizabethan spies as a jumping off point for an experience for individuals that uses phones to replicate responses from a fictional character. It took visitors into areas out of the usual tourist areas, including some parts which are normally off limits. It was a hit, selling out quickly and receiving positive feedback. Visitors said that it made them feel closer to people in the past, and look at the surroundings in a new light. I’m definitely intrigued, will be trying to get tickets for the second run next year.

So thanks to the LMG for a great session. You can see tweets from the event at #lmgaudiences

As you may have noticed, it’s been all about the conferences lately and we’re super pleased to have had two sessions accepted at MWXX in Los Angeles in April 2016. The first will be a how to on digital experiences for families. The second will be presenting our research on the outcomes of the Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative and how scholars are actually using online scholarly catalogues. Tickets go on sale on 1st December!

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