At the heart of the Brunel Museum Reinvented project is the strong desire to the Museum to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the communities around us. And in order to do that, we need to understand who those people are and what they want from us. This means that during the development stage of the project we undertook some research into who are audiences are and could be, and what they want to see from the Museum.
We started by looking at what we already knew about our audiences. A two week survey at the museum in April / May 2018 identified visitors as:
- 84% male
- 98% white
- 85% aged 60 years or above
- 90% were Brunel enthusiasts or retired engineers
- Three quarters were from outside London.
We know with surveys like this they don’t tell you about EVERYONE who visits, just those who are there on the day. But even so, they give a strong indication of the kinds of people who regularly visit the Museum.
In Southwark, we’re in a borough where almost 1 in 5 is under 15. That’s a huge number of people. And then, if you start to consider all the parents, grandparents, old siblings, aunts and uncles related to those under 15s, that’s a lot of people that we’re not necessarily serving.
This helped us identify our target audiences for the project:
- Primary school age children
- Local community
- Girls under the age of 15 who are interested in a career in engineering
Once we’d identified our audiences, we wanted to make sure that we were asking people from these groups what they want to see at the Museum.
The pandemic made it difficult but we made it work. We ran an online survey, followed up with telephone interviews and used social media for the first time to run polls.
When we could go out again, we made an effort to reach people where they are to ensure we’re meeting both non-visitors and underserved visitors, so we ran a number of consultation events at various locations in the borough such as Surrey Quays shopping centre and New Cross Gate Trust under fives session.
We also ran a session at the Museum itself for Open House Day in September 2020 with the architects. This session gave us loads of really useful feedback that fed directly into the design of the new Welcome Pavilion, including making it much smaller in size! You can read all about how we’ve implemented those changes in a previous blog post: Reinvented Project: March 2021 Update – Brunel Museum (thebrunelmuseum.com)
Now that we’re into the delivery phase of the project, it’s definitely not the end of us talking and listening to visitors and non-visitors alike, which I’ll be covering in a future blog.
If you’d like to share your views about the Brunel Museum Reinvented project, please join us on Sunday 15 January for our next Community Open Day
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