2022 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers

In this rapidly evolving climate, museum leaders need to make decisions based on data, not assumptions. The Annual Survey of Museum-Goers provides data-driven insights, helping you make more confident, informed decisions.

Who is my museum's audience?

How does my museum compare to others?

Who isn't visiting my museum and why?

Is my museum for everyone?

How do museum-goers feel about climate change?

We all have questions.

Answer yours with the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers.

The Annual Survey of Museum-Goers, conducted in partnership between Wilkening Consulting and the American Alliance of Museums, provides your museum with a cost-effective way to gain insight into your visitors and compare your institution to others in your locale, of similar type, and the museum field writ large. By participating in the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers, you will be:

  • gaining insight into your visitors, including who they are, their behaviors, and their values,
  • benchmarking your data against that of peers, especially around the 2022 themes to be determined,
  • tracking changes in your stakeholders over time (with multi-year participation), and much more.
Once you know exactly what makes your museum meaningful to your community, you’ll be better equipped to attract more visitors, make the case for increased funding, and keep up with our rapidly evolving environment.

2022 Themes

In addition to gaining deeper insights into your museum’s audience, the 2022 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers will focus on three themes to help the museum field grapple with today’s challenges and opportunities. This year’s themes are:

Climate Change

We are all witnessing the continued impacts of climate change and grappling with the increased risk of natural disasters. In 2021 alone, North America faced horrendous wildfires, devastating hurricanes, flooding, and our hottest summer ever. Climate change is here, yet not everyone agrees climate change is a critical issue.

What, then, is the role of museums in sharing information on climate change and in helping people make lifestyle decisions that reduce carbon? How do audiences with different viewpoints respond to this content? Do they find museums credible on this topic? Does it matter what type of museum is sharing this message?

Wellbeing & Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in very different ways, but virtually everyone has looked to different things to escape, relax, and respite.

For some, the pandemic laid bare and exacerbated the challenges they have long faced with mental health.

Does the public view museums as a contributor to their wellbeing? Do they think of museums as a critical part of the mental health resources in their communities? What happens when controversial or challenging content shared by museums precludes respite or mental health opportunities? Can we really do both?

Wellbeing & Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in very different ways, but virtually everyone has looked to different things to escape, relax, and respite.

For some, the pandemic laid bare and exacerbated the challenges they have long faced with mental health.

Does the public view museums as a contributor to their wellbeing? Do they think of museums as a critical part of the mental health resources in their communities? What happens when controversial or challenging content shared by museums precludes respite or mental health opportunities? Can we really do both?

Belonging

All visitors want to feel welcome, comfortable, and included during museum visits. But not everyone does.

What makes people feel they do or do not belong? How can museums help people feel more connected to others? Do museum-goers think museums benefit everyone, or only some people (and how do they feel about that)? Also crucial to understand is what happens when the values a museum promotes conflicts with the values some visitors hold dear. Does that tension preclude belonging?

Participate in the 2022 Survey in 4 easy steps

Participating in the 2022 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers is quick and easy. Sign up by February 28 and launch your survey by March 8 to save nearly 70%!

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Sign up for the 2022 Survey

Enroll your museum in the 2022 survey in less than 5 minutes by February 28, 2022.

Customize 1-2 questions using Wilkening Consulting’s custom question book.

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Send your survey

Wilkening Consulting will send you a custom link to your museum’s survey and sample text for you to send to your email list and post on social media by March 8, 2022.

Sit back and see your results in real-time through your virtual dashboard.

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Receive your report

Start discovering more about your audience! Between May and June 2022, you will receive your data spreadsheet and a shareable, easy-to-understand slide deck visualizing your results.

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Discuss your results with a pro

All museums will receive access to a short video series to contextualize results. Choose to drop-in for office hours with Wilkening Consulting to discuss your results or, if your museum is a Tier 3 AAM member, you also receive a private one-hour call with Wilkening Consulting to discuss your results.

The changes we have made based on the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers research are helping us cultivate an audience for the future.”

“We’ve grown audience engagement in our key 35-55 demographic by 155 percent since 2018, and our overall attendance continues to trend upward.”

Trevor Jones, Director and CEO, History Nebraska

Testimonials

Read more from previous participants in the

Annual Survey of Museum-Goers

“The Annual Museums survey is invaluable in giving us insight into how we are doing as an institution and how we compare with others in the field. We learn not only about who is coming to our museum, but also the impacts on our visitors and the reasons they value us. The survey helped us see that the intentional work we are doing in this area is working.”

Karleen Gardner

Director of Learning Innovation, Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia)

“Omaha Children’s Museum has participated for the past 2 years in the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers.  What has always impressed us has been the way in which the data is woven into a story.  This makes accessing the data much more effective for the variety of audiences in which we share the results: internal staff, board of directors, stakeholders, and the general public.

The data we receive from the survey provides a context to our work, which can feel isolated and flat without the national context of comparison.

No museum should plan its operations and strategically look to its future in the vacuum of its own data, having access and an interpretation of the data helps our team stretch themselves to be better at delivering to the needs of our audience.

I would strongly advocate for more museums to participate in this annual survey. At a reasonable cost to participate, the benefits received far outweigh the costs. Having participated in back-to-back years, the value of the investment has more than doubled for our team.

Lindy J. Hoyer

Executive Director, Omaha Children’s Museum

“The Annual Survey of Museum-Goers allows Michigan Science Center to gain insight into the opinions of museum-goers nationally and the experiences of our guests locally. We love being able to benchmark our results against other museums. The results from the Annual Survey allow our marketing and education teams to better understand our audience and empower us to promote MiSci as a customized set of experiences that our guests want! We highly recommend participation in the survey – Susie and her team distill complex datasets into meaningful takeaways for us. Plus, the more science centers and museums that participate, the greater the national understanding of how museum-goers value our role in society.

Cassie Byrd

Chief Learning Officer, Michigan Science Center

We received our results about a month ago and have already started to use them in the following ways: Sharing highlights with our board; with funders- in grant applications and reports; in conversation with potential donors and funders; in marketing and sponsorship materials; with our city chamber; to strategically inform our diversity, equity, and inclusion work; to inform conversation about strength and growth areas for programming; in preparation to enter strategic planning next year. As a small museum, I would say it is definitely worth it. 

Jessimi Jones

Executive Director, Springfield Museum of Art

“The Illinois State Museum uses data from the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers in many ways: helping us understand who our audiences are, informing our processes as we design programs and exhibitions, and most importantly, identifying for us who we are not seeing at the museum. This helps us interrogate who is missing, who is underrepresented at the ISM, and leads us to ask why and make a plan for organizational change.  Presented in graphically exciting ways, the Museum-Goers survey is also widely instructive for boards and staff as they are learning from and working with the data.

It is our intention to engage with the survey each year so that we can measure our change. When we make the purposeful plans and course corrections to deepen and broaden our audiences, the survey can serve as our informant as we move along. And, because AAM and Wilkening Consulting are thinking about timely events and impacts in the museum field, each year’s themes allows participants to gain highly relevant data that helps the museum stay abreast of issues and be part of trends, enabling museums to be responsive to audience and community needs and interests.”

Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko

Musem Director, Illinois State Museum

“My museum used the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers data to learn from our visitors and community members regarding their needs, values, and relationship with the art museum. We love that this is data we receive every year so that we can review change over time and understand what visitors are seeking during these challenging times for our communities. These metrics help us look both, backwards and forwards, as we plan for the future.”

Karleen Gardner

Director of Learning Innovation, Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia)

Participant stories

Browse the stories of those who have participated in the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers and learn how they applied the data in practice.

Data cuts and current participants

When five or more museums of the same type or location sign up for the survey, you receive even more benchmarking data. See current data cuts.

Ready to sign up?

Complete the form to sign up or get in touch with Wilkening Consulting for more information.