Across the Whitworth and Manchester Museum we have implemented Culture Counts metric surveys to gather information on artistic quality along with the perspective of our peers and visitors in relation to our exhibitions. During the pilot phase of the project, we created and completed 8 surveys ranging from new exhibitions, events and live performances.
Choosing from the three options of conducting public surveys (online, display or interview) we selected to utilise the strength of our Visitor team to personally interview members of the public. Before starting the surveys, we took the time to thoroughly train the Visitor team by giving them a background of the project, context of the questions and guidance on the importance of approaching a diverse range of visitors. We also offered opportunities to play with off-line versions, which quickly built their confidence in navigating the system.
In starting the surveys, what we found most interesting was the feedback we received from the team. They commented on how the surveys sparked further conversations about arts and culture in and around Manchester. During the various surveys conducting, we found the team had no problems collecting the minimum amount needed for an accurate reflection in data and in one instance we collected over 300 visitors responses for one exhibition alone.
This is a significant change in attitudes toward survey taking. Previous experiences with collecting information through other survey formats have been met with avoidance or hesitation. The metric system is quick, easy and very user friendly. Due to the uncomplicated interface and intelligent questions, the public, not only participate, but also see this as an opportunity to engage in further conversations.
Since the beginning of the project, we have been busy collecting quality data and analysing our findings. Now moving into a reflective stage of the project, we are triangulating the data between self, public and peer to identify our perspective verses those of our visitors and colleagues. We can already see areas in the reports where there are differences between the data and are now beginning to use this information to improve the visitor experience for future exhibitions.