The Amon Carter Museum of American Art contracted RK&A to conduct a study of program attendees. The goal of the study was to understand adult public program attendees to inform the Amon Carter’s decisions around (1) current public programming efforts; (2) gallery offerings that may support those who visit in the galleries outside of public programs; and (3) program and museum structures to inspire museum visits (e.g., move late-night hours, eliminate program reservations, etc.).
How did we approach this study?
RK&A collected data through standardized questionnaires to obtain information about adult program attendees’ motivations for attending programs and other characteristics related to their museum visits. Questions included mostly single- or multiple-choice questions and rating scales and a few open-ended questions, which generated qualitative responses that RK&A researchers categorized in analysis. The questionnaire was developed after completing 20 telephone interviews with public program attendees. A total of 544 questionnaires were collected at all 47 Amon Carter Museum public programs from October to July 2016.
What did we learn?
First, compared with data collected by RK&A of walk-in visitors to the Amon Carter in 2008, program attendees differ from walk-in visitors in that most program attendees reside in the greater Fort Worth area, whereas walk-in visitors primarily reside in the various regions of Texas. Additionally, program attendees also consist of more females, and are younger, repeat visitors, members, and more likely to be visiting with children. Second, as the Amon Carter might expect, program attendees vary greatly and who they are determines the type of program they attend. For example, adult program attendees attend for their own personal benefit, while family program attendees select family programs for the benefit of their children. Also, community program attendees do not often attend other museum programs whereas adult program attendees are frequent program attendees. Finally, community and family program attendees place similar importance on spending time with family and friends and little importance on hearing from a specific artist or speaker, whereas the opposite is true of adult program attendees. However, note that interest in the subject matter is the one unifying motivation for attendance across program types.
What are the implications of the findings?
Following completion of the study, RK&A conducted a reflection workshop with Amon Carter Museum staff to discuss the implications of the study; the questions focused on the three goals of the study (listed above). Noting that 63% of repeat attendees said they would attend more programs if they could, staff discussed what they might gain or lose among an attentive audience if they were to offer (and not offer) more programs. The discussion also explored how the museum might alter the program structure, including opportunities to change program schedules or charge for programs, and how such changes might affect different audiences. Since attendees often have distinct motivations for attending a program versus visiting the museum to experience the galleries, RK&A and Amon Carter staff reflected on underlying reasons for wanting program attendees to visit the museum during non-program times, and how intentions for program and exhibition experiences compare.
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