Museums and the Web

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The Use, Usefulness, and Value of Museums in the U.S

TitleThe Use, Usefulness, and Value of Museums in the U.S
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsGriffiths, J. - M., Aerni S. E., & King D.
Secondary TitleMuseums and the Web 2007. Proceedings
PublisherArchives & Museum Informatics
Place PublishedToronto, Canada
EditorTrant, J., & Bearman D.
Keywordsinternet, museums, on-line, survey, users

This paper presents results of an IMLS-funded study (Uses and Potential Uses of Online Information) involving 6,000 national household telephone interviews of adults. All 6,000 interviews ask about number of in-person or remote (on-line) visits to all types of museums (e.g., arboretum, science, historical, childrenís, etc) and whether the number of visits is more, the same as, or less now than in the past. One thousand of the interviews deal in-depth with in-person and remote visits to museums (including through television programs). The in-depth questions about in-person visits include who visited (e.g., by self, with family, part of tour group, etc), reasons the museums were visited (e.g., recreational and educational, research, etc.), what was done during the visits (e.g., browse, view a specific exhibit, attend a lecture, etc.), sources of information used (e.g., audio information, interactive computer, etc.), outcomes from the visit (e.g., broadened perspectives on life, inspired, encouraged further learning, etc.), ratings of overall satisfaction with the visits, exhibits, descriptive information and oral presentations. The surveys also examined attributes of information obtained from the museum such as their quality, trustworthiness, and so on. A number of questions involved childrenís use of museums by type of museum. Remote visit questions involved the type of remote visit to a Web site (e.g., browsing through the Web site; viewed a specific exhibit, collection or display; learned about a specific topic, etc.); purpose of remote visit (e.g., recreational and educational, research, etc.); outcomes from the remote visit for each purpose; ratings of overall satisfaction and specific aspects of the visit, as well as attribution of specific information from the remote visits. Finally, the surveys addressed the value of museums by what users pay in their time and other costs to use the museums. We also asked what users would do to obtain information observed from the museums if the museums were not available and what it would cost them to use alternative sources of information. The paper will present specific results of these surveys.