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Best Insight: Best Practices for Museum Visitor Satisfaction Surveys

Nov 18, 2023 | Blog

Museum Visitor Satisfaction Surveys: A Critical Insight

Key Takeaways:

  1. Visitor Surveys: are essential tools for museums to understand and improve the visitor experience.
  2. Cell phone technology: has revolutionized how visitor surveys are conducted, offering real-time feedback and greater response rates.
  3. Survey methodologies: Paper and online surveys have limitations, while cell phone surveys are emerging as a more effective approach.
  4. Implementation strategies: for cell phone surveys include crafting targeted questions and incentivizing participation.

Ever wondered what goes on in the minds of visitors as they stroll through the corridors of a museum? Museum Visitor Satisfaction Surveys serve this exact purpose. They are a key element in measuring and enhancing the museum experience. Why? Because every feedback, every smile, frown, or look of awe tells a story – a story that museums need to hear to evolve and excel. These surveys are pivotal in understanding how visitors interact with and perceive museum exhibits and services. With the evolution of technology, especially the widespread use of cell phones, the approach to conducting these surveys has seen a significant shift. This article explores the pivotal role of visitor satisfaction surveys in museums, emphasizing the newfound efficacy of cell phone survey methods.

Let’s dive into the world of these surveys, unraveling their essence and significance.

The Importance of Museum Visitor Surveys

Understanding visitor perspectives is crucial for museum marketing managers. Surveys provide invaluable insights into visitor needs, complaints, and overall experience. They are instrumental in identifying areas for improvement, tracking changes over time, and benchmarking against other institutions. Leveraging this data can profoundly impact your strategic planning and operational decisions.

  • Visitor Perspectives: Gaining a deep understanding of visitor experiences.
  • Areas for Improvement: Identifying and addressing key pain points.
  • Tracking and Benchmarking: Measuring progress and comparing with industry standards. Looking for future exhibits

Understanding the Three Types of Museum Visitor Research

In the realm of museum visitor satisfaction, three terms often surface: Museum Audience Research, Museum Visitor Research and Exhibit feedback. While they might sound similar, they hold distinct meanings and scopes.

Museum Audience Research delves into the overall museum market. It’s like looking at the museum world through a wide-angle lens, capturing trends and patterns that span continents—from the United States to Asia. This research helps museums understand the bigger picture, the broader audience they cater to and likely future visits.

On the other hand, Museum Visitor Research zooms in on the individual experiences. It’s the close-up shot, focusing on the visitors who walk through the museum doors. This research is about understanding the personal journeys of each visitor – what drives the museum visit, their satisfaction levels, interests, and prior knowledge. This includes all parts of their journey from car parking, gift shop, restaurants and even restrooms.

Finally Exhibit Feedback drills down further to understand how well the exhibit is delivering what is required. This is delivered via the visitors own cell phone. Moreover, the visitor can alert the museum staff if the exhibit needs attention. This method delivers the most actionable feedback.

Museum Visitor Research Types

All these research types are crucial. They work together like gears in a clock, ensuring that museums not only attract visitors but also provide enriching and memorable experiences. In this article we focus only on the at-museum methods ie, Visitor Research and Exhibit Feedback.

Phases of Museum Visitor Research

Museum visitor research isn’t a one-off event; it’s a journey through various stages, each providing critical insights.

  1. Front-end evaluation: This is the starting point. Museums gather information about visitors’ prior knowledge, expectations, and interests even before an exhibition is designed. It’s about understanding the audience upfront, ensuring that the final exhibit resonates with them.
  2. Formative evaluation: This phase occurs during the development of an exhibit. Museums test out models or prototypes and gather visitor responses. It’s a process of tweaking and refining, ensuring that each element of the exhibit effectively communicates its intended message.
  3. Remedial evaluation: Once an exhibition is open, this phase helps identify and fix unforeseen issues. It could be anything from adjusting lighting to improving crowd flow. Remedial evaluation is about fine-tuning the visitor experience in real-time.
  4. Summative evaluation: The final stage, where museums assess the overall impact of an exhibit or program. This involves analyzing visitor feedback, learning outcomes, and overall satisfaction. Summative evaluation helps museums understand what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Each phase plays a vital role in shaping museum experiences, ensuring that they not only educate but also delight and inspire.

Methods of Conducting Visitor Satisfaction Surveys

Choosing the right method to gauge visitor satisfaction is crucial for museums. The American Alliance of Museums has some great guidelines, as does The Museum Journal for survey methodologies, so there is no need to create a survey from scratch. Each method offers its unique insights and challenges.

On-site Surveys: These are conducted within the museum premises. The advantage? You get feedback from visitors while their experience is fresh in their minds. Imagine capturing their thoughts and feelings right as they exit an exhibit – it’s raw, real, and valuable. It is also blisteringly expensive.

Online Surveys: In today’s digital age, online surveys offer convenience. They can reach a wider audience, including those who visited the museum in the past. However, the challenge here is to make these surveys engaging enough to encourage participation. Cheap with low response rates.

Anonymous Questionnaires: Often used in museums, these questionnaires promise honesty. Visitors are more likely to express their genuine opinions without the pressure of being identified. This method can unearth truths that might otherwise remain hidden. We concur and know there are many benefits to anonymous feedback.

Now lets talk about new technology – specifically using the visitors own cell phone – and exclusively to deliver exhibit feedback.

Advantages of Cell Phone Visitor Surveys

The advantages of using cell phone surveys are manifold. Visitors, who often carry their cell phones, can provide immediate feedback during their visit. This method ensures a user-friendly interface, leading to improved response rates and a broader demographic reach. Additionally, surveys can be geo-targeted to specific exhibits, offering more nuanced insights. Not only are these surveys more effective, but they are also cost-efficient. Feedback can cover current exhibits, demographic questions, and even preferences for an upcoming event.

  • Real-Time Feedback: Harnessing the power of instant responses.
  • Demographic Reach: Engaging a wider range of visitors.
  • Geo-Targeting: Focusing on specific exhibits or areas.

Museum Exhibit Feedback by Cell Phone

Examples of Museum Cell Phone Surveys

Implementing cell phone surveys in a museum setting involves several key steps. Choosing the right survey provider and software is crucial, as featured in our internal link on Attractions Feedback. Crafting concise, targeted survey questions and incentivizing participation, perhaps through discounts or other offers, are essential for success. Signage promoting participation and subsequent data analysis can drive significant improvements in visitor experience.

One way to start to use for exhibit feedback. You can see an example below – where the prompt for feedback is signage at the location. Feedback is in English or Spanish and delivered via SMS or QR code. This means there is nothing to download, and works on all cell phones.

Feedback will be about any issues related to the exhibit – signage, maintenance, cleaning and encourage ideas. Staff will be immediately notified of any issue so can fix the problem before it affects others.

Orlando Science Museum - exhibit feedback example

Moreover, other parts of the museum journey can be monitored through the same method. This would include restrooms, restaurants, gift shop and even car parking.

Science Museum Visitor Feedback


Museum Visitor Satisfaction Surveys are more than just questionnaires; they are a bridge between museums and their visitors. They provide insights that are vital for museums to evolve, remain relevant, and continue to provide engaging and educational experiences. As museums embrace these surveys and the learnings they offer, they step closer to fulfilling their mission of enlightening and inspiring generations.

The future of museum visitor satisfaction surveys is undeniably intertwined with mobile technology. Cell phone surveys offer an unparalleled opportunity for museums to tap into real-time, authentic visitor feedback. By adapting to this mobile-centric approach, museums can not only enhance the visitor experience but also stay ahead in a rapidly evolving digital world. Visitor surveys, especially when conducted via cell phones, become powerful tools that guide museums towards offering better, more engaging experiences – with higher exhibit uptimes.

To find out more about cell phone surveys and exhibit feedback – contact us.


In this section, let’s address some of the most frequently asked questions about Museum Visitor Satisfaction Surveys.


  1. Why are visitor satisfaction surveys important for museums?: Visitor satisfaction surveys provide critical insights into visitor experiences, helping museums identify areas for improvement and tailor their offerings to meet visitor expectations.
  2. What are the limitations of traditional survey methods?: Traditional survey methods often suffer from low response rates and limited demographic reach. Paper surveys can be inconvenient for visitors, while online surveys may not capture real-time feedback.
  3. How do cell phone surveys enhance the feedback process?: Cell phone surveys allow for real-time feedback, higher engagement rates, and a broader demographic reach. They can also be geo-targeted to specific exhibits, providing more detailed insights.
  4. What are some of the best practices implementing cell phone feedback in museums?: Best practices include choosing the right survey provider, crafting concise and targeted questions, incentivizing participation, and effectively analyzing the collected data to make informed decisions.


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