The Visitor Studies Group: Championing excellent visitor experiences

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 the lucky recipient of the Visitor Studies Group Conference 2017 bursary I have been asked to share my thoughts on the conference.

Reading through my notes I was struck by a theme that permeated unconsciously through the two days; that everyone there was seeking, or sharing, inspiration. From the monumental task of measuring the impact of culture on the health and well-being of an entire city, to the personal impact of a museum visit on a dementia sufferer, all of the projects presented showed that inspiration is there to be grabbed, moulded, and shaped into whatever project we choose, we just need to find the source that speaks to us personally. For some, inspiration will have come from the models, approaches and methods that are the daily tools used in visitor studies. These are certainly what I hoped to gather from the conference; those tried and tested formulas that served others so well and could be scribbled down, taken back home and employed in my next project, all time savers, proven methodologies or templates for success. In reality though, it hasn’t been the ‘hardware’ presented at the conference that has given me inspiration but the quotes that a number of speakers included in their presentations.

No numbers without stories, no stories without numbers’, ‘Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot be necessarily counted’ and Don’t think too much without doing & don’t do too much without thinking’ are great visitor studies ‘take-aways’ that really are worth adopting in our everyday work. These little nuggets of wisdom speak volumes and when faced with problems and challenges I will certainly be revisiting them. They may not offer the solution to every problem but they may just make you stop long enough to think a little differently and that is what the Visitor Studies Group Conference is all about, an opportunity to hear tales of others achievements, failures and frustrations; to provide those lightbulb moments, and create pathways to amazing creativity and innovation. I hope that other delegates at the conference got as much out of the two days as I did, that they found their personal inspiration to take away, but if not I’d like to offer my own favourite quote for when things aren’t quite working. Just remember ‘some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue’.

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