|The Natural History Museum Annual Review 2003 | 2004|
|Introduction||The Director's Review||Our Year||World Class Science|
|Opening Up the Collection||Darwin Centre Innovation||3 Million+ Visitors||A Place for Learning|
|Working for Us||Looking Ahead||Our Supporters||Financial Review|
|Corporate Governance||Previous Years' Reports|
|(Annual Report Home - graphics and PDF)|
|3 Million+ Visitors|
|More visitors than ever before came to our South Kensington and Tring venues, attracted by free entry and an exciting range of activities celebrating the wonder of the natural world.|
|Popular Exhibitions||Enhancing the Visitor Experience||New Approaches||Exhibitions on Tour|
|Developing our Web Presence|
Popular exhibitions. More than 3.1 million people visited our sites in South Kensington and Tring during the year. The success of our special exhibition T. rex: The Killer Question boosted visitor numbers, as did the annual Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition and the ever-popular Earth from the Air - the free open-air display of Yann Arthus-Bertrand's awe-inspiring photographs. Events such as The Big Draw in October 2003 gave visitors of all ages the opportunity to participate in fun activities. The newly-opened Darwin Centre was yet another compelling reason to visit the Museum.
Our Tring team mounted an ambitious programme of 36 activities at the Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum, led by the highly successful special exhibition The Egg: The Most Perfect Thing in the Universe, and were rewarded with over 80,000 visitors. This equalled the previous year's record number.
Enhancing the visitor experience. The Natural History Museum competes against many other leisure attractions in a demanding marketplace where visitors have high expectations. Our comprehensive Visitor Offer Strategy will help to ensure that we retain our competitiveness. The strategy addresses every aspect of the visitor experience, from new gallery displays to catering and the other services that can make such a positive contribution to visitors' enjoyment of the Museum. We are making significant improvements in all these areas as part of a continuing 10-year programme of change and renewal.
Physical access is a key priority. In 2003 we completed the access audits for public areas - a thorough, two-year investigation of disabled access provision across the South Kensington and Tring sites. We are following up the audit recommendations with a range of access enhancements including better signage and new emergency evacuation procedures, and we are working to embed awareness of access issues throughout our organisation.
Social inclusion and intellectual access are also major priorities. We are making our venues more attractive destinations to people who have previously felt excluded, such as ethnic groups and young adults. Our audience development programme Diverse World is the focus for delivering a range of stimulating events, exhibitions, outreach programmes and online projects which will appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Already we are seeing significant changes in visitor demographics - the number of visitors from the C2DE socio-economic groups during the year almost doubled, and comfortably exceeded the target agreed with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
The Walter Rothschild Zoological Museum is partnering other museums in Hertfordshire in a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund that aims to engage local communities to celebrate ethnic diversity within the county.
New approaches. We are planning major changes to our permanent exhibitions, introducing new gallery displays that we hope will engage and delight visitors. Through partnerships with public and commercial organisations, we are developing innovative special exhibitions that will bring new visitors to the Museum. Hair, our main summer exhibition for 2004, was an example of the new approach and more are planned for 2005.
We intend to make full use of the open-air space around the Museum. This offers considerable potential for use as an exhibition and public area, as the success of the Wildlife Garden and Earth from the Air in the East Garden have demonstrated.
Our Customer Services unit monitors and evaluates the quality of service delivery closely using face-to-face surveys, feedback leaflets and email. We welcome visitor comments, which can be sent to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leela Nair - Gallery Team Member
'I really enjoy the job. You're not just giving information out - you're also taking it in. There is so much here, it's impossible to know about everything, and although I've been doing this job for six years I'm constantly discovering new things about the Museum. I love nature, and I think that what we do here really matters.'
Exhibitions on tour. We share our special exhibitions with audiences throughout the UK and worldwide through our touring programme. In 2003/04 our exhibitions reached a total of nearly 1.8 million off-site visitors, travelling to 35 UK venues and museums in eleven countries. The international tour of Wildlife Photographer of the Year continued to expand with 17 versions of this popular exhibition visiting three continents.
We sold one of our exhibitions to The National Taiwan Museum, we collaborated with the Geological Museum of China to tour their fossils, and we sold a robotic Velociraptor dinosaur model to the Parque de las Ciencias in Granada. Our involvement with several European museum colleagues in the EU-funded CASTEX project culminated with our production of the CASTEX Guidelines, a summary of best practice for development and touring of exhibitions in Europe. Working with the Museum's Interpretation and Design specialists, our International Business Development team was actively involved in the planning for a range of new blockbuster exhibitions that will provide a basis for future business expansion.
On tour 2003/04: Dino-Birds: Edinburgh, Belfast / Predators: Granada, Manchester, Paris / Myths & Monsters: Manchester, Edinburgh and Sheffield / Carnivores: Lisbon and Granada / Dinosaurs - Eggs & Babies: Amneville and Newcastle / Eating Creepy Crawlies: Dundee / Turbulent Landscapes: Emmen / Wildlife Photographer of the Year: over 50 venues in 11 countries including Norway, Denmark, Spain and Austria.
Developing our web presence. Our website is the gateway to an extensive resource of science information, e-learning resources and news about current and forthcoming attractions. Web traffic continued to grow, with more than 7.7 million visits recorded in 2003/04 - more than double the target we set with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
Many new features and enhancements were developed during the year. We redesigned the home page so that it features exhibitions, activities and topical news. A notable success was our online coverage of T-rex: The Killer Question, which included a competition and interactive games that stimulated web users to visit the exhibition. In a collaboration with www.show.me.uk, the children's section of the 24 Hour Museum website, we developed a new online game for 7 to 11 year-olds called Mission Explore.
In November 2003 we launched Nature Navigator with funding from the New Opportunities Fund. Illustrated with paintings and drawings from the Museum's art collection, Nature Navigator is an invaluable source of information about plant and animal species for anyone wanting to explore Britain's wildlife.
During the year Ailsa Barry was appointed to the new position of Head of Interactive Media and a single team was created to enable delivery of an integrated content offer across our multimedia platforms, including web and kiosks. A major redevelopment of our website was agreed for completion in 2005.