The museum visitor experience is a recurring topic at this year’s annual meeting. Information and resources on visitors to museums can be found in expected and unlikely places.
The Visitor Services Professional Interest Committee is a great place to start and meet an amazing group of museum professionals focused on the full scope of visitors’ museum experiences. The new AAM publication, Life Stages of the Museum Visitor: Building Engagement Over a Lifetime by James Chung and Susie Wilkening, offers research-based findings that look to future museum visitation indicators. And an exhibitor forum focusing on museum stores but addressing key issues in the museum visitor experience is another great resource.
I’ve been pleasantly surprised at a number of sessions that have recognized the importance of having great visitor services and front-line staff, but there’s still more we can do to bring credibility and recognition to these frontline museum staff with enormous influence in our visitors’ experience.—Ann A. Fortescue, director of education & visitor services, Senator John Heinz History Center