Visitor information and feedback plays a very important part role in informing what we do. We want to know as much as possible about our visitors (and non-visitors) so we know where we are performing well and where there’s further opportunity to do even better.
Knowing what our visitors think of their museum experience at MTG Hawke’s Bay is an important piece of information. In order to capture some of this data we have a regular visitor survey available for people to complete as they leave the museum and we partake in the annual country-wide Museums Aotearoa survey each year. We actively encourage visitors to complete these surveys and also take the opportunity to engage with people about their experience when they make purchases at the museum shop.
Our survey asks people to rate their experience, whether they would recommend the museum to others and any comments they want to make. Over the last year 94% of people who completed our survey rated the quality of their museum experience as positive (20%) or very positive (75%), and the vast majority would recommend the museum to a friend. This is wonderful and encouraging feedback to receive and tells us that people visiting the museum are, in the main, enjoying and valuing the experience.
It’s not just through surveys that people give us feedback – people contact us in person, through social media, in writing or talk to me when I’m in town, at the movies, in shops, etc to provide a mixture of encouragement, comments, suggestions and so on. I love getting feedback (good or bad) as it helps inform my understanding of how we’re performing for the community and what we should do more or less of and other opportunities we may not have thought of ourselves.
So what do we know from this feedback? Well our visitors love the 1931 Hawke’s Bay Earthquake gallery and associated Survivors’ Stories film by Gaylene Preston. We’ve had lots of positive feedback about our friendly staff and great customer service and the most popular temporary exhibition last year was “Bottled Ocean 2118” by George Nuku. The activities for children and the quality of design and presentation of our galleries have also been appreciated by our visitors and this, coupled with winning a Museums Aotearoa Award, tells us we are doing really well in this field. Free entry continues to be a feature in our feedback with people enjoying and appreciating the opportunity to engage with arts and culture in their community at no cost, and we also get positive feedback about the range and variety of exhibitions.
Themes are trickier to identify in the areas people would like improved but some which are mentioned include wanting the museum to be bigger, wanting a café, and needing directional signage in the House of Webb: a Victorian family’s journey to Ormondville. Other bits of feedback changed during the course of the year – at the start of the year people commented on wanting more interactives and by the end of the year people were commenting that they love the amount of interactives around the museum.
A challenge for all museums and the next step for us is to understand more about who isn’t coming to the museum and why. In the meantime we’ll continue to work hard to deliver a museum Hawke’s Bay can be proud of and ensure we keep building upon the things visitors are already telling us they love.
By Laura Vodanovich, Director MTG Hawke's Bay
17 April 2019
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