The Visitor Studies Group: Championing excellent visitor experiences

Newsletter – August 2015

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

August 2015 Members’ Newsletter


In this newsletter:
• Conference 2016 – Save the Date!
• Bursary Awarded
• Links from Conference 2015
• More dates for your diary

Dear Member

We hope you’re having a good summer whether this is a busy time for your organisation or a time to have a rest and indulge in some forward planning.
The committee met on a very warm day in London (hottest on record I believe) and have been busy behind the scenes putting together an events programme for the coming year which we hope you’ll find includes something for everyone.
As always, if there’s something not included that you’d like to see then do get in touch.

Conference 2016

We are pleased to be able to announce the dates for the 2016 VSG Conference will be 16th and 17th March 2016 with an optional study day on Friday 18th March. The venue will be in South Kensington, central London.

Our Theme and Call for Papers will be coming out very soon so please save the dates in your diary and keep an eye out for further information.

Delegates’ feedback on this year’s conference is summarised HERE.

Bursary Awarded

Each year the VSG offers a £500 Bursary in memory of Alison James who was a keen supporter of professional development in the visitor studies sector. This year, the VSG Committee decided to specifically target the Bursary to those at the earliest stages of their careers in visitor studies ie students or those who had been working in audience research for two years or less. We were delighted with the response and it’s wonderful to see so many coming into the sector.

The Panel who reviewed the submissions included two Committee members (Sheena Muncie and Susie Ironside), last year’s Bursary recipient (Gina Koutsika) and one of our longest standing members Nicky Boyd.

After much deliberation the VSG Bursary 2015 has been awarded to Jennifer Locke who is undertaking a PhD in Art Museum and Gallery Studies at Newcastle University. We look forward to supporting Jennifer in her studies and a forthcoming trip to the US to find out more about visitor-centric institutions. Members will hear more at next year’s Conference when Jennifer will report back on how she used the Bursary and what she learned as a result of her travels.

Thank you to all who applied.

Links from Conference 2015

Following on from his keynote speech at this year’s VSG Conference, we are delighted to announce that the video slides linked to Piotr Bienkowski’s speech are now online.

Piotr is the Project Director of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s ‘Our Museum’ programme. The Foundation is one of the UK’s largest independent grant-making bodies and has just launched a new web resource to support the embedding of participation in museums and galleries. The new website – – showcases learning and case studies from ‘Our Museum: Communities and Museums as Active Partners’. We believe that this will be an interesting and valuable resource for those working in our section. Links to the videos specifically mentioned in Piotr’s conference keynote are below:
* Nina Simon:
* Glasgow Museums Staff Ambassadors programme:
* National Museum of Wales – building community partnerships:
* National Theatre of Wales – collaborative leadership:
* Critical friends:

A full summary of the 2015 conference can be found on our website HERE.
Further speakers’ presentations are online HERE.

More dates for your diary!

The committee has been busy reviewing the range of our previous events and our members’ feedback and are in the early planning stages for the following events:
* Social events will be held simultaneously in London, Manchester and Scotland (Glasgow or Edinburgh) on Thursday 3 September. More info to follow – please try to make it along to your nearest one, we’d love to see you there.
* Sheena will be delivering two workshops on Visitor Studies at the GEM conference ‘Measuring the Magic’ in Swansea on 10 September. Please drop by and say hello if you are there.
* Committee members will have a stand in the marketplace at the Museums Galleries Scotland conference on 22 October in Edinburgh.
* After the success of our ‘Access All Areas?’ seminar day in Edinburgh last year ( we plan to hold another event on working with visitors with additional needs, this time in Manchester in late October – please get in touch if you are interested in contributing.
* We are also working on ideas for another ‘Masterclass’ for more experienced practitioners, probably in the North of England this time. If this appeals to you and you have any ideas please let us know.
* And planning further ahead, we will be delivering a training on using visitor studies in interpretative planning for Scottish Natural Heritage with the Forestry Commission Scotland in Battleby on 24 February 2016.

As always, the email address for getting in touch is


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