*** Breaking news first! Next week we’ll be inviting a small number of museums to participate in a new study . . . once again for free. So make sure to watch for our next post to see if you are interested in some free research! ***
week we are wrapping up our series of posts on moms, dads, and museum visitation,
coming out of our latest survey of museum-goers.
We have shared a lot of data with you, but what next?
and foremost, when it comes to pleasing parents, we cannot forget the
kids. If the kids are not active,
engaged, and interested, you can pretty much write off most parents. So serving children well through hands-on
experiences as well as narrative and aesthetic experiences (we’ll be talking
more about how important those are this fall when we dig into our memory work
more), is crucial.
we have to keep in mind the primary motivations of parents, that is, learning
opportunities for children, fun, and family time. When planning exhibits and programming for
family audiences, we should be asking ourselves 1 - will the children learn
something; 2 – will everyone have fun; and 3 – will this promote family
time? If you hit all three, that is a great first step (and heck, two out of three isn't bad either).
Then there is the third thing, which is where things get trickier, because this
is where we want to focus in on the parents, their engagement, and perhaps
change their expectations and motivations for visiting. And that is ensuring that exhibits and
programs provide content aimed at the interests and intellects of the parents.
That it will ignite their
curiosity, make them excited, create more positive outcomes for both children
and parents, and give parents a reason to continue visiting the museum even
when their children have grown up and left the house.
has shown that children are more engaged with exhibits when parents participate
as well. But parental participation does
not necessarily mean parental engagement if the parents feel it is something
they have to do instead of something
that excites and interests them as well (never mind that no matter what you
try, it seems like there will always be that group of parents who stand back,
tap out e-mails or text messages, and totally ignore the
museum’s exhibits and programming).
We don’t have a silver bullet answer on how to develop engagement with parents, but here are some things we are tracking and continuing to research:
- When considering adults without children, only about a quarter enjoy hands-on activities, but young adults under 30 are nearly 2x more likely to enjoy them. They grew up with them, and long-term, more and more adults will expect them.
- That being said, the most engaged adult respondents under 50, including our Ultra-Curious parents, were more likely to remember narrative-based museum experiences from their childhoods, and were more likely to seek out object-based museum experiences today. Objects, and their stories, are still incredibly relevant and important to museum experiences for adults and children.
- Parents who go to a wide variety of museums show significantly more adult engagement that parents who only go to a few types of museums that they perceive to be most age-appropriate for children. Encouraging families to visit history-based, art, and natural history museums, as well as botanical gardens and arboretums, appears to build more sustainable, committed audiences for all museums, benefitting museums of all types.
- Engaging dad appears to increase engagement for the entire family. How can we further encourage dads to visit museums and infect children (and moms) with their enthusiasm?
research we have shared over the past several weeks only scratches the surface
of our analysis, and on behalf of our clients we continue to go back
and examine how moms (and dads, too) do, or do not, behave differently based on
the ages of their children, how educational attainment plays a role, and
whether race or ethnicity makes a difference or not. We’ll continue to share the
highlights via this blog.
What do you think? To share, simply click on “comments” below. (If you are reading this from your e-mail subscription to the blog, please go to our blog's website to add a comment.)