The Visitor Studies Group: Championing excellent visitor experiences

News & Events

The latest news and upcoming events from The Visitor Studies Group (VSG). To find out more or make a booking please see the events posted below.

2020 Conference – tickets on sale!


We are delighted to open our 2020 conference for booking.

Co-Creating the Future: Participation and the Role of Visitor Studies will take place 5 & 6th March 2020 at the Museum of London.

Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite.

Over two days, we will explore, interrogate and understand how emerging research and evaluation around participatory practice and projects, collaboration and co-designing can help evidence the challenges and benefits of these models of working. We seek to explore the role on participants, and audiences, and also consider how we can use research and evaluation to support others to develop new ways of working. Sessions will consider how research can help us advocate for and inform developments in these practices.


Kirsty Devine (Programme Director, Paisley Museum Re-imagined) – “Critical Conversations: Becoming a Listening Museum”

Paisley Museum Re-Imagined is the biggest renewal that the Museum has ever undertaken in its 150 years history. To help realise this ambition to help the wider public to shape the plans for the building, landscape and the collections. Co-production and audience engagement is core to all aspects of the redevelopment and the approach has resulted in changes in practice and project outcomes. While challenging at times, ultimately the aim is to create a rich and diverse museum experience.

The Democratic Society, Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council – “The People’s Palace Story – innovating and working together in Glasgow”

This presentation by The Democratic Society, Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council will explore the journey towards empowering communities in the capital transformation programme for the People’s Palace in the heart of Glasgow. The session will consider the co-production approach to community engagement and the impact it’s had so far.

Presenters include:

  • Karen Knutson and Kevin Crowley (University of Pittsburgh) – Museum and community in networked innovative practice: The role of evaluation in resolving tensions and supporting collaboration and co-design
  • Mia Ridge (British Library) – Crowdsourcing in cultural heritage: a perspective on participatory practice online
  • Nicola Wallis and Kate Noble (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge) – Participation: so easy a child can do it…
  • Stefania Donini (Guildhall Barbican) – Spatial politics of participation: the changing role of public spaces in arts institutions
  • Elly Magson, Lauren Souter and Vandana Patel (Museum of London) – Listening to Londoners: Developing a New Museum of London
  • Rosie Bullimore, Jatinder Kailey, Kim Klug (Historic Royal Palaces) – Embedding participatory practice to create organisational change
  • Irenie Ekkeshis and Katie Dunstan (New Citizenship Project) – Putting the purpose into participation

Full programme to be announced very soon!

Environmental sustainability

With the climate crisis at the forefronts of our minds, VSG is taking the first steps towards hosting the most environmentally sustainable events possible. At our 2020 conference we will be cutting down on printed materials by asking delegates to take photographs of our programme supplied in large poster format on the day. Delegate packs consisting of programmes, speaker lists and biographies and delegate lists will be circulated via email before the conference. Catering will consist of vegetarian options only. We would like to encourage you to bring your own water bottles to the conference and will point you towards water re-filling stations on the day. Thank you for your support as we embark upon this journey. Please do feel free to share any tips or advice with us.

2020 conference bursary opportunity!

Each year the Visitor Studies Group offers one bursary to support one person to attend our annual conference. This year we are offering one full (two-day) ticket for the conference plus £100 towards travel and accommodation. We are welcoming applications now. To apply, we ask that you send us one or two paragraphs demonstrating whyContinue Reading

Visitor Studies Group Conference 2020

  We are delighted to announce the call for papers for our annual conference 2020. The topic of our 2020 conference is Co-Creating the Future: Participation and the Role of Visitor Studies. The conference will take place at the Museum of London, March 5th & 6th, 2020. Over these two days, we will explore, interrogateContinue Reading

Big data toolkit

As part of the VSG 2018 Conference, ‘Big Data, Big Opportunities’, delegates were invited to contribute ideas to a ‘Big Data Toolkit’.  We have compiled notes collected from the conference into the toolkit, which we are sharing with VSG members.  This includes examples of ‘big’ and ‘bigger’ data used in the sector, examples of ‘bigContinue Reading

Masterclass -Commissioning audience research: a practical guide

23 January 2019, 15:00 – 17:30, Dana Research Centre and Library, Science Museum Tickets are free for Visitor Studies Group members or cost £30 for non-members and £20 for independent freelancers or students. Book via Eventbrite . The amount of audience research that the museums, culture and tourism sectors commission from external evaluators and agencies is everContinue Reading

#VSGConf19 tickets on sale!

Tickets for the Visitor Studies Group conference, 2019, have been released. Book via Eventbrite . ***Use discount code ERLYBRD for 10% off before 18th January.*** “Visitor studies: reflecting the wider world, advocating for change?” March 7th and 8th, 2019, National Gallery, London As visitor studies practitioners seeking to understand the broad identities of our visitors, how canContinue Reading

Networking drinks – Sept 2018

Please join us on Tuesday 11th September at the Somers Town Coffee House from 6.30-8pm for networking drinks. Meet members of the committee and other audience researchers to discuss the latest happenings in the world of visitor studies as well as ideas for #VSGConf19’s  call for papers . If you are planning on attending, please email:  so we canContinue Reading

#VSGConf19 – Call for Papers

We are delighted to open up submissions for our 2019 conference: “Visitor studies: reflecting the wider world, advocating for change?” Taking place March 7th and 8th at the National Gallery London, we are looking for sessions that explore, interrogate and understand how emerging trends – especially those borne from audience research both within and outside theContinue Reading

‘Big data, big opportunities?’ – Reflections

  This year’s VSG Conference, ‘Big data, big opportunities?’ took place March 8th and 9th in London’s Natural History Museum.  Our bursary recipient, Elena Trimarchi, reflects on a busy two days: The theme of this year’s conference was Big Data. One of the things that most struck me was the variety of the speakers’ backgrounds:Continue Reading

The Visitor Studies Survival Kit training workshop

Training event, Inverness, 19th March 2018 The Visitor Studies Group has partnered with GEM  to offer ‘The Visitor Studies Survival Kit’ to be held in Inverness next year. Presenting an overview of qualitative and quantitative research techniques that can be delivered on limited budgets with limited resources, this event will give GEM and Visitor Studies Group membersContinue Reading

Conference 2018

  ***Tickets can be purchased via Eventbrite .*** The full programme is available for download here:  VSG Conference 2018 Programme . In visitor studies, we are constantly striving to respond to an ever-changing socio-political landscape. We are frequently tasked with helping our organisations understand and support evidence-informed decision making, in response to these often complex areas. As populations and communitiesContinue Reading

Conference 2018: Call for Papers

  We are excited to announce the theme for our 2018 annual conference and issue our call for papers . The theme will be: ‘Big data, big opportunities?’ In visitor studies, we are constantly striving to respond to an ever-changing socio-political landscape. We are frequently tasked with helping our organisations understand and support evidence-informed decision making, in responseContinue Reading

Bursary applications open!

Applications for the 2017 Alison James Professional Development Bursary are now open.  In 2017 the VSG annual bursary will provide financial assistance to those in the early stages of their career to provide support and encouragement in their professional development. The closing date for applications this year is Monday 8 May 2017. Applicants will be expectedContinue Reading

Conference reflections

This year, the Visitor Studies Group were happy to be able to offer a bursary to assist one person to attend our conference.  Louise Treble of Glasgow Museums was the deserving recipient and through the bursary was able to attend the full two day conference.  Louise has kindly summarised her experience of the conference: As theContinue Reading

Conference programme announced!

The full programme  for the Visitor Studies Group’s 2017 conference, ”Measuring up”: ways of capturing social value and more intangible outcomes’ is available to view now. We think this is one of our most exciting programmes yet, featuring speakers from a diverse range of organisations and institutions both within and outside of the heritage sector. A sample ofContinue Reading

December socials!

We are planning two festive social events in December, one in London and one in Glasgow.  We would love to see you at either, or both!   Glasgow, 1st December Come along to Brewdog (1397 Argyle St) at 6pm for a wee drink and some friendly visitor studies chat.   Kelvin Hall is just around the cornerContinue Reading

Social event in London!

Join VSG committee members to catch up on all things visitor studies over a drink or two.  Find out what others are up to and share questions, thoughts and experiences on research and evaluation, or anything else that’s on your mind.  Plus we’ll be chatting about our 2017 conference theme, hot off the press! When:Continue Reading

Conference Keynote Speakers

Conference Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to welcome two keynote speakers to this years’ conference who can open up the discussion on how we turn audience research into action. Lamia Dabboussy is Head of Audience Planning and Brand Insight at the BBC and Esme Ward is Head of Learning and Engagement at The Whitworth and Manchester Museum atContinue Reading

Access All Areas? – Manchester

Wednesday 11 November Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester Following the success and feedback from our Access all Areas? event last year in Edinburgh, we are excited to offer another full-day session in Manchester that will focus on access and accessibility within the cultural sector. The programme for the day is available on the  Event Page . Presentations haveContinue Reading