Evaluating temporary exhibitions

By Jon Young

We have conducted summative evaluations for ten of the British Library’s temporary exhibitions in recent year including Magna Carta, Harry Potter; The History of Magic, and Anglo Saxon Kingdoms.  In each case, research was needed to understand their visitors in terms of previous visits, subject relationship, influences to visit, visitor experience and reasons for not visiting.  Additionally, the Library sought to understand interest from potential donors and sponsors.

Typically the research involves a combination of quantitative analysis, qualitative SmartDepth interviews and ethnographic research.  Where appropriate we also look at social media commentary, TripAdvisor reviews and the Library’s booking data.

Our analysis reported on the visitor experience through the prism of our ‘emotional engagement wheel’ which seeks to understand the key ingredients of a memorable experience.  Exhibitions are reported on against each of the Library’s visitor segments, and benchmarked against each other.  The resulting report was forward-looking and action-focused to enable the British Library to build on findings in future exhibitions.  It included a series of short-term and long-term goals to apply to other exhibitions.

To find out more about this study, contact Jon Young