Is Formal Visitor Research Necessary?: Assessment of an Outdoor Museum Staff's Knowledge of the Institution's Audience


  • Janet A. Anderson
  • Dale J. Blahna


Recreation behavior, recreation motivations, interpretation, outdoor museums


The purpose of this study was to assess outdoor museum staffers' knowledge of their audience. Staff members at a living historical farm were asked to predict visitor responses to a survey questionnaire. The staff members were good predictors of visitor demographics and behavior. They were poor predictors of motivations for visiting and satisfactions with the visit. Given a high rate of visitor contact for all staff, a comparison of first summer and more experienced staffers' predictions found no indication that increased length of service results in increased knowledge of the audience. The study concludes that two months of service, with high visitor contact, may be sufficient to give staff members a reasonably accurate knowledge of audience demographics and behavior, but formal research efforts are necessary to accurately assess visitor motivations for visiting and satisfactions with the visit.





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