Presentation at MCN 2016: National Museum Website Visitor Motivation Survey

Museum Computer Network is

a membership-based professional association that provides a space for museum professionals to connect, share resources and best practices, develop their careers, and advance digital transformation in museums. Hosted every year since 1968, MCN’s Annual Conference draws over 600 cultural heritage professionals from museums, historic sites and visitor attractions in North America and beyond. Each conference features a variety of interactions and professional development opportunities.

In 2016 the conference took place in New Orleans. I led a 60-Minute Professional Session that included Alli Burness (ThinkPlace), Susan Edwards (The Hammer Museum), Jacques Haba (Nasher Sculpture Center), Jonathan Munar (Art21), Tricia Robson (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), Sarah Wambold (Clyfford Still Museum) and Jessica Warchall (The Andy Warhol Museum).

The subject of our presentation was…

In 2015-16, cultural organizations across the United States, joined by partners in Canada and Australia, banded together to better understand museum website visitor motivation. This was not just a research study, but a community of museums looking to better understand their online audiences.

The survey comprised a single question about what motivated users in going to the website that day. Focussing on identity-related motivations (rather than demographics or behaviors), the survey responses aligned with museum researcher John Falk’s Predictive Model for Museum Visitation—Explorer, Facilitator, Professional/Hobbyist, Recharger, and Seeker.

Led by Sarah Wambold, Director of Digital Media at the Clyfford Still Museum, and Marty Spellerberg, of Spellerberg Associates, the project culls more than 16 weeks of data across 23 different museum websites. This is the first survey to utilize Falk’s framework online, the first focused primarily on small- and medium-sized organizations, and the first in the US to view the data in aggregate.

The study provided representatives from participating museums the opportunity to discuss their findings, highlighting patterns that emerged across the various institutions. In order to facilitate those exchanges, professionals from each institution have met online using Slack, asking questions and sharing knowledge. In this forum we will bring this dialogue to life and the voices of MCN attendees into the conversation.

Posted November 2016

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