The Visitor Studies Group: Championing excellent visitor experiences

Newsletter – April 2015

April 2015 Newsletter

**Please note that the information below was correct at the time of being emailed to members but may have changed since.

In this newsletter:
• Conference 2015
• Financial Report
• Ecsite REV pre-conference
• New committee members and helpers
• Conference 2016 – Venue?

Dear Member,

Conference 2015

“[An] opportunity to network with sector colleagues, great positive energy and sense of a genuinely supportive and collaborative group of people working together to grow and develop our practice.”

The 2015 conference was held in St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square on 5th and 6th March. The Conference theme “Visitor Studies: Embracing Change?” challenged delegates to consider what changes they were facing in their workplaces, how the discipline is evolving or needs to develop, whether they were addressing these changes and by what means, and what barriers constricted or hampered change. Year on year, delegates tell us that the main reason for attending a VSG Conference is for professional development, networking and “to be inspired”.

The Conference programme was packed with inspiring speakers and lively discussions. Approximately 80 delegates attending representing visitors studies across a wide range of cultural organisations including zoos, botanical gardens, museums, libraries, galleries, universities and visitor attractions as well as research agencies and consultants. This year, we were delighted to welcome delegates and speakers from across the UK and Europe clearly highlighting the aim of the VSG to share best practice nationally and internationally.

The committee’s overall take-out from the two days was that visitor studies is evolving, the conference showed that we can now ask and contribute to the big questions of cultural organisations, such as what they are, what they promise, how they can stay relevant and how to bring participation more to the centre of organisations.

We want to thank all speakers and delegates for their invaluable contributions. It felt like the VSG is asserting a more confident, strategic role and we hope to build on this further together with all our members. A full summary of the conference can be found on our website HERE. Speakers’ presentations are online HERE. Delegates’ feedback is summarised HERE.

If you have suggestions about next year’s Conference – its theme, its location (see below), keynote speakers or any other element – please don’t hesitate to get in contact with the Committee on We would love to hear from you and look forward to welcoming you to our next VSG Conference.


Financial Report

VSG is a not-for-profit organisation but needs income to cover administrative and committee costs and to allow us to take the financial risk of organising events and our annual conference before attendees sign up. In the financial year April 2014 – March 2015 VSG spent £16,759 and took in an income of £19,734, making a profit of £2,975.
Last year our biggest expenses were on our administrative costs, our conference and our new website. Membership income was down last year and is something we will actively tackle in the next year.
We currently have a bank balance of £16,223 and a projected expenditure of approximately £18,000 for the next year. In addition to our general expenditure this year we are going to offer two bursaries (more information to be released soon), invest in some targeted marketing to increase membership numbers and run more events in different locations around the country.

A full breakdown of VSG finances can be seen by any member just email

Ecsite REV pre-conference

9 & 10 June 2015 MUSE, Trento, Italy
REV is is a professional partner of the VSG. REV is the Research and Evaluation Group of ECSITE (the European network of Science Centres & Museums). The aim of REV is to stimulate and help facilitate research and evaluation in science centres and museums across Europe. Registration for the REV Pre-conference is now open: The pre-conference aims to explore how research can inform practice in our institutions as well as how we can use research findings and evaluation to create the perfect self-guided school experience. See our website event page for booking info and full programme.



Welcome to the committee Helen Mark as committee member (3yrs) and Chad McGitchie as committee helper (1yr) and thank you to everybody who expressed interest. Helen and Chad’s biogs can be found on the website ( .


Conference 2016

We are already seeking a venue for conference 2016. We are considering venues in London and other major cities. If you think you can help by offering your organisation’s venue please email Additionally, if you are a regular attender or haven’t been able to attend recently we’re keen to hear your opinions on whether London is the best place to hold the conference or there’s another city that would suit you better.



Many of you will have seen we’ve been having teething problems with our new invoicing/receipt system. Some people received receipts who hadn’t paid! Please be assured that this is in no way linked to our payment system and no money has been taken that you don’t know about. However, we would like to take this opportunity to ask that you do renew your membership for this year. We are a not-for-profit membership organisation and we cannot do any of the work we do without membership fees to cover our admin and to allow us a float for organising events. Please support our work by joining up again for 2015/16.

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