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
Breakdown of visitation numbers, 2005–06, 2006–07 and 2007–08
|Public programs and events||69,061||53,097||33,297|
Monthly visitation numbers to permanent exhibitions, 2007–08
Monthly visitation numbers to temporary exhibitions, 2007–08
Monthly visitation numbers to travelling exhibitions, 2007–08
Monthly participation in public programs, 2007–08
Monthly participation in externally organised functions/venue hire,
Breakdown of total 2007–08 Museum visitation by visitor category
Monthly web visitation figures, 2007–08
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.