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2020 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers

The 2020 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers is a survey of museum-goers specifically, not casual visitors or the broader public. Fielded this winter (2019-2020), as of March 21, 2020 there were 38,866 respondents from the email lists of 73 museums of all types. With a sample of this size, we are able to break it down in many ways, including highly specific demographic and life stage categories as well as by different attitudes, values, and behaviors.

Broader population comparison sampling was fielded concurrently with the Annual Survey in order to provide a comparison sample. The broader population comparison sampling had 1,787 respondents from across the country, with only 22% sharing that they had visited a museum in the previous year.

As the survey was fielded prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, AAM and Wilkening Consulting are following-up this survey with qualitative research among museum-goers, seeking to understand their current status, what they need from museums during closures and stay-at-home orders, and their hopes and fears for their communities during and post-pandemic.

Results from the 2020 Annual Survey of Museum-Goers will begin to be shared in September. As the qualitative research unfolds over the coming weeks, AAM and Wilkening Consulting will work to share insights with the field as quickly as possible.

2020 Annual Survey of Museum Goers themes

DEAI: How inclusive do museum-goers want museums to be? How does it vary by values and identity? How do we share DEAI values to yield greater acceptance among visitors?

Values and Identity: Museum-goers are characterized by many different values and identities. Understanding them can help us better understand their needs and their attitudes towards DEAI, social activism, and more.

Museums and Social Activism: Do audiences expect museums to be “neutral?” How do they feel about museums taking positions on social issues? And if we choose to take a position, what is the best way of sharing that position?

Curiosity: There is more than one type of curiosity. How do motivations and outcomes shift when people pursue their existing interests versus being delighted with answers to new questions versus finding new rabbit holes to fall into? Do the differences really matter?

Museums rely on the Annual Survey of Museum-Goers to:
  • gain insight into their visitors, including who they are, their behaviors, and their values;
  • benchmark their data against that of their peers, especially around the themes of diversity and inclusion, values and identity, and social activism;
  • track changes in their stakeholders over time (with multi-year participation), and much more.

Participating museums that joined Wilkening Consulting’s Annual Surveys between 2017 and 2019 are now tracking their results over time, for even greater insight.

Interested in enrolling in the 2021 survey? Sign up by completing this form and learn more here.

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