How the Museums at Night team collect visitor data

I was recently asked how the Museums at Night team manage to collect information about the visitors who attend festival events at arts and heritage venues across the UK. We use a lot of tactics that work together to provide us with a reliable sample for evaluation purposes, so I thought I’d share them here in case they’re useful for any other organisations.

An audience sitting on bleachers to watch a show

A rapt audience watching a Victorian variety show – but how did we find out what they thought? (c) Wilderspin National School

Sampling venues

We got data from Museums at Night 2012 visitors by selecting a representative sample of different venues (large, small, arts, museum, urban, rural, doing family-friendly or adults-only events) and sending them a standard number of visitor surveys, asking them to get as many as possible completed and posted back to us.

Sharing the survey

We also published the visitor survey form online and emailed all participating venues, asking that if they surveyed their visitors, would they please use our questions. In return, we would process the data for them once we received their forms.

Sharing questions

We asked venues who wanted to write their own visitor surveys to insert our questions where they could, and to share their results data with us.

Online link

We also put up the visitor survey on Surveymonkey, and sent the link both to our Museums at Night public mailing list and to venues who wanted to direct their visitors to an online form rather than use paper ones.

Keeping data in proportion

Where we received a huge number of surveys from regional clusters, we processed them all to enable cluster evaluation, but only fed the results of a proportional number of surveys from that one area into our overall stats, so they didn’t skew the data.

Collaboration

As always, none of this would be possible without the help of the staff and volunteers who run Museums at Night events: we’re very grateful to everyone who takes the time to gather and share visitor data with us!

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