Methods

Our evaluation studies take place at different stages in the lifecycle of our exhibitions and programmes. Below are the four main types of studies we use.

Feasibility study
  • Feasibility studies take place at the very beginning to evaluate possible benefits of implementing an idea or system. It often involves a combination of a market study and an economic analysis that provides knowledge of both the environment where a project exists and the expected return/outcomes to be derived from it.
Front-end evaluation
  • Front-end evaluation occurs during the exhibition development stage to gauge audience interest levels and prior knowledge about the subject. It is used to develop stories, goals, communication messages, broad learning outcomes and interpretative strategies.
Formative evaluation
  • Formative evaluation happens during development and production to test exhibition components, such as text, labels, graphics, interactive, as well as the specific communication messages and learning outcomes. It takes place during the developmental stage and it allows the findings to be incorporated into the project. Prototypes of the exhibition components are used.
Summative evaluation
  • Summative evaluation uses a variety of methods to measure the success of an exhibition or programme. It can reveal what learning occured and whether the exhibition/programme delivered the messages that were intended.

Research, evaluation and consultation with our visitors inform strategic thinking and feed into key decision-making at timely moments.

Further information

More information on visitor studies and evaluation can be found at the following organisations:

  • The Visitor Studies Group is a UK based organisation, formed by a group of engaged professionals who support each other to achieve best practice in visitor studies.
  • The Visitor Studies Association is a US based diverse and dynamic group of practitioners and academics who share a passion for improving the quality of visitor experiences through audience research and evaluation.
  • The European Evaluation Society aims to promote theory, practice, and utilisation of high quality evaluation especially, but not exclusively, within the European countries.
  • The Australian Museum Audience Research Centre (AMARC) undertakes a broad range of visitor research and evaluation projects within museum practice.
Contact us

Visitor Research and Evaluation team
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD
UK

Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5000

Do you have a question about visitor research at the Museum?

Email the visitor research team

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