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Our visitors and audiences

In the Museum's seventh year of operation national visitation was substantially higher than that of the previous year, though there were fluctuations within categories. Visitation to the Museum was also influenced by seasonal fluctuations that brought peaks in school holiday months and downturns in between, especially during the winter months. The year's visitation was marked by:

  • a slight decline in visitors to the permanent exhibitions
  • substantially higher visitation than anticipated to both temporary and travelling exhibitions
  • continued strong visitation by schools, with numbers close to those in previous years
  • reduced attendance at public programs, due to a decreased level of activity.

National visitation numbers, 2001–08, financial year total visitation

Financial year Visitation
2001–02 903,400
2002–03 825,000
2003–04 820,200
2004–05 666,200
2005–06 770,601
2006–07 945,210
2007–08 1,007,856

Breakdown of visitation numbers, 2005–06, 2006–07 and 2007–08

Location 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08
Permanent exhibitions 428,123 418,790 393,141
Temporary exhibitions 91,101 105,710 89,348
Travelling exhibitions 63,762 248,641 372,407
Public programs and events 69,061 53,097 33,297
Schools 83,780 86,444 87,266
Functions/venue hire 34,234 32,528 32,397
TOTAL 770,601 945,210 1,007,856

Monthly visitation numbers to permanent exhibitions, 2007–08

Vertical bar graph. Title: Monthly visitation numbers to permanent exhibitions, 2007–08. Data: Jul 39,203, Aug 27,902; Sep 33,423; Oct 36,423; Nov 30,878; Dec 32,673; Jan 43,162; Feb 25,507; Mar 31,954; Apr 36,468; May 27,813; Jun 27,659.

Monthly visitation numbers to temporary exhibitions, 2007–08

Vertical bar graph. Title: Monthly visitation numbers to temporary exhibitions, 2007–08. Data: Jul-Oct, 0; Nov 1819, Dec 16,344, Jan 27,601; Feb 3829; Mar 15,454; Apr 17,978; May 6323; Jun 0.

Monthly visitation numbers to travelling exhibitions, 2007–08

Vertical bar graph. Data: Jul 43,700, Aug 31,818, Sep 17,329, Oct 13,610, Nov 20,656, Dec 27,625, Jan 51,357, Feb 24,083, Mar 42,947, Apr 13,017, May 7224, Jun 79,041.

Monthly participation in public programs, 2007–08

Vertical bar graph. Data: Jul 4588, Aug 1191, Sep 2448, Oct 3513, Nov 1404, Dec 2687, Jan 6098, Feb 1882, Mar 4853, Apr 1566, May 1568, Jun 1499.

Monthly participation in externally organised functions/venue hire,

Vertical bar graph. Data: Jul 2873, Aug 3753, Sep 2921, Oct 2490, Nov 5120, Dec 5445, Jan 170, Feb 2656, Mar 1593, April 1563, May 2691, Jun 1122.

Breakdown of total 2007–08 Museum visitation by visitor category

Doughnut chart. Data: Permanent exhibitions 39%, Travelling exhibitions 37%, Temporary exhibitions 9%, Public programs 3.5%, Schools 8.5%, Functions/venue hire 3%.

Monthly web visitation figures, 2007–08

Month Visitation
July 07 110,181
August 07 133,121
September 07 121,413
October 07 124,189
November 07 125,500
December 07 80,600
January 08 99,960
February 08 127,810
March 08 139,270
April 08 145,149
May 08 168,249
June 08 146,484
Total 2007–08 1,521,926

Visitor feedback

The Museum actively seeks visitor comment by conducting exit interviews, commissioning audience research and inviting visitors to provide written feedback through Museum feedback forms. Informal comment is also noted by hosts and public programs staff. The Museum enters visitor feedback data into a database that enables the Museum to analyse visitor demographics, attitudes and behaviour over time.

The visitor age groups most strongly represented were 35–39 years and 55–59 years (both 11 per cent). Thirty-five per cent of visitors were from Canberra or its close neighbour, Queanbeyan; 55 per cent were from elsewhere in Australia, in particular Sydney and regional New South Wales; and 10 per cent were from overseas. The proportion of repeat visitors was 48 per cent overall. Thirty-two per cent of visitors interviewed during the year had visited the Museum three or more times.

Museum visitors have continued to demonstrate high satisfaction levels. Of 1200 visitors interviewed during the year, 94 per cent said they were 'satisfied' or 'very satisfied' with their experience. When invited to comment on what they liked most about the Museum, visitors most commonly mentioned overall layout and presentation, the building itself and the focus on Australian subject matter. The only aspect of the Museum to elicit substantial negative comment was 'confusing layout and flow' (8 per cent).

Eighty-one per cent of visitors agreed that they had learned something interesting about Australian history during their visit. The positive visitor response is also demonstrated by answers to questions such as: 'Which of the following words best describe your visit to the Museum today?' Visitors tended to select 'stimulating' (33 per cent) or 'engaging' (26 per cent).

Audience and visitor research

The Museum undertook research projects designed to enhance the satisfaction of visitors with Museum exhibitions and programs. These projects were as follows:

  • Based on two temporary exhibitions (Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert and League of Legends: 100 Years of Rugby League in Australia), an evaluation was carried out to assess the experience of visiting families accompanied by children between the ages of 5 to 12 years, with a key focus on intergenerational learning. The research culminated in a presentation to curatorial, exhibitions and program staff, with a discussion of its key recommendations.
  • A collaboration with the Australian Museum investigated how museums are experienced by culturally diverse audiences. Interviews, leisure diaries and museum reports were organised with the assistance of the Maori, Lebanese, Chinese and Indian communities in both Canberra and Sydney. The resulting joint publication will appear in late 2008.
  • Interviews were conducted with 100 visitors to test early perceptions of the new Circa revolving theatre, especially those experienced by different age groups. Their recall of test messages concerning the redevelopment process was also tested.
  • Other program evaluations involved researching the experiences of those attending the Australia Day Family Festival (77 interviews), and visitors to the Behind the Lines and League of Legends exhibitions (50 interviews each).

The Museum has been conducting exit interviews with visitors since it opened. Exit interviews were conducted with 1200 visitors this year, increasing the total of number of interviews now held in the Museum's substantial database of visitor information to 18,200.