Museums actively researching visitors experiences and learning (MARVEL): a methodological study

Australian Museums and Galleries Online
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Open Museum Journal, 2005, 7 (1), pp. 1 - 19
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Museums and similar institutions spend a great deal of time, money and effort developing exhibits that facilitate visitor learning. Learning outcomes are core business for most museums. Contemporary management practice recognises that performance is stronger when outcomes are measured, yet the typical performance measures used by museums are numeric counts of visitors, exhibitions, events, tickets sold or levels of .satisfaction.. An effective, meaningful and economical way of measuring learning is needed. The development of a meaningful procedure for uncovering learning allows for the gathering of information that will have enormous impact on the quality of future exhibitions. The MARVEL project (Museums Actively Researching Visitor Experiences and Learning) was a collaboration between the University of Technology Sydney, the Australian Museum, the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney and Environmetrics Pty Ltd. The project team members are Janette Griffin, Lynda Kelly, Janelle Hatherly and Gillian Savage respectively from each of the above organisations. The aim was to develop a set of .tools. for measuring aspects of learning in any cultural institution, and that could be used by staff who may have little evaluation experience. Three tools were developed and tested to meet this need. This paper reports on the development and initial testing of these tools. A following paper will include field trials of the tools and some tentative data gathered from five museums.
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