Earlier this year I was commissioned by the South East Museum Development Programme (SEMDP) to run a project about non-user consultation, involving:
- Planning an affordable, realistic, and yet meaningful consultation process for four museums in Hampshire wishing to undertake consultation with non-users for the first time;
- Coaching and training the museums’ teams during the delivery phase;
- Producing a practical online guide on non-user consultation and case studies of the museums’ experiences;
- Delivering a shared training session to showcase the project to a group of museum staff or volunteers from the area.
The projects included:
- Jane Austen’s House Museum, which ran a focus group with a cross-cultural social group;
- St Barbe Museum and Art Gallery, which undertook on-street surveys with tourists and local people;
- Bursledon Brickworks Museum which undertook a community event, focus group and online survey to explore views of local families who don’t currently visit the museum;
- Fordingbridge Museum which ran a focus group and stakeholder interviews to explore improved access to the museum.
The museums all did very well, fitting in the project on top of already big workloads and ploughing on over the summer when staff and volunteer numbers were depleted due to holidays.
Insights gained ranged from smaller things that can be implemented in the short-term at little or no cost e.g. putting access information on a museum’s website and providing chairs for people to rest on, to longer term improvements such as better signage and wayfinding.
Museums also reported additional benefits of the project, including staff and volunteers gaining new skills and experience, valuable themes for staff and volunteer training being highlighted, and engagement with new audiences.
“Christina did a great job delivering our museum development funded non-user consultation project for museums in Hampshire. With her help, four local museums tried new ways of reaching out to their target audience groups, and then shared that experience with a wider group of local museums. Her expertise, patience and project management skills meant that over a period of nearly a year, museums received the coaching and encouragement they needed to make a significant improvement to their consultation efforts. A job well done, thank you.”
Jaane Rowehl, Museum Development Officer, Hampshire Solent.