Museums and Their Visitors

By Eilean Hooper-Greenhill | Go to book overview

Glossary
Area Museum Services/Councils regional advisory bodies for non-national museums and galleries in the United Kingdom.
audience advocate the museum staff member that speaks on behalf of actual and potential museum visitors. He/she should sit on gallery planning teams, and carry out visitor research and evaluation. This role is sometimes played by an education specialist.
customer care comprehensive attention to the needs of visitors, which includes a welcome on arrival, intellectually and physically accessible displays and events, adequate facilities and a safe environment.
discovery room a space within the museum or gallery where artefacts and specimens may be handled and investigated.
easy-to-read text initially devised for adults with reading difficulties, this has now been adapted for museum use.
evaluation assessment of exhibitions, projects or almost anything.
Formative evaluation takes place as the project or exhibit is being developed and aims to test it before major resources are invested.
Front-end evaluation takes place before a project begins, is sometimes goal-free or open-ended, and acts as preliminary research before the project is finally agreed.
Summative evaluation takes place at the end of a project and assesses its success. Lessons are learnt for future projects.
face-to-face communication communication between two people in the same place at the same time; also known as interpersonal communication.
focus groups groups of between six and twelve people of similar characteristics. Often used in market research, or in the collection of qualitative data.
goal-free evaluation open-ended assessment which uses questions which are not devised in relation to previously defined criteria or standards. Allows for unforeseen outcomes and the generation of new ideas.
goal-referenced evaluation assessment where criteria and standards have been devised, and where outcomes will be measured against these goals. Tests hypotheses.
holistic considers the complete phenomenon rather than parts of the whole.
mass communication communication with a mass audience, generally used of advertising, newspapers, television and cinema.
Museums and Galleries Commission central government body in the United Kingdom with responsibility for overseeing the welfare of museums, administering grants, and developing guidelines for good practice.
naturalistic evaluation assessment and research using methods adapted from human and social sciences, such as ethnography and sociology.
Office of Public Censuses and Surveys central government department in the United Kingdom responsible for collecting and publishing general social data. A few museum visitor surveys have been produced for national museums.
outreach taking the museum or gallery out into the community, through workshops or exhibitions in community centres such as hospitals or libraries, mobile museums or exhibitions, loan services.
performance indicators measures developed to assess how specific areas of an institution have performed in relation to established criteria, which may be qualitative or quantitative.
piloting trying out a small sample before deciding to go ahead.
qualitative research research based on qualitative data, i.e., small-scale but very detailed investigations, where small amounts of in-depth

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