The Visitor Studies Group: Championing excellent visitor experiences

VSG News
Conference – 6/7 March 2014

The VSG Conference this year was held in St Martin-in-the Fields and focused on the theme Visitor Studies: It’s all about Relationships.

We would like to thank everybody who came along and made it such a rewarding couple of days, and in particular the speakers and those who submitted posters. The Conference was a packed event with inspiring presentations and lively discussions.

Approximately 70 conference delegates came from a wide range of cultural organisations including museums, zoos, botanical gardens, libraries, galleries, universities and visitor attractions as well as research agencies and consultancies. Our delegates came from across the UK and further afield, ie the US, Australia, Netherlands and Switzerland.

Committee Member Sabine Doolin and Co-Chair Sheena Muncie have written a paper to provide feedback on the two day event with highlights from all the speakers, you can read it here.

Committee News

The VSG Committee is delighted to welcome two new Committee Members – Catherine Elvin and Susie Ironside.

Catherine is a Grants Officer with the Heritage Lottery Fund based in Manchester. While her background is in art and photography, she spent three years working in audience research and learning programmes with the National Media Museum and the Science Museum. Catherine’s experience includes conducting research and evaluation with a range of audience groups using the outcomes to input to the development of innovative and engaging museum projects. In her HLF role, Catherine works with, and learns from, a diverse range of natural and cultural heritage projects.

Susie is Visitor Studies Curator at Glasgow Museums. She previously worked as a secondary school teacher, and then as an Audience Development Intern for Culture Republic, Scotland’s cultural engagement hub, before joining the Riverside Museum Project team as Research Assistant for Visitor Studies. Community engagement and the role of co-production in museums is a key area of interest for Susie and she is keen to learn and explore how museums engage visitors and non-visitors in meaningful and productive ways.

If you would like to join the Committee, then please tell us a little about yourself, your current role, why you would like to join the Committee, what you can bring to the team and what you hope to gain from the experience. Please send your application to by 30 April.

AGM – Finances

At the Conference AGM Members were informed that full details of the Group’s financial position would be shared following the year end. Financial details will be made available to Members in the next newsletter.
Membership Renewal.
For those who did not join or renew your membership in the past month or two, this is your final warning that your membership will expire at the end of March and you will be removed from the newsletter list and all membership privileges. Please rejoin by following the instructions for joining on the form see How to Join.
Organisations will be invoiced directly at the beginning of April to the main point of contact. If you think your point of contact may have left your organisation, or you are unsure who it is, please email


Alison James Annual Professional Development Bursary.

The VSG annual bursary provides financial assistance to members to pursue professional development opportunities that are in keeping with the mission and goals of the Visitor Studies Group.


After the untimely death of Alison James, who was keen supporter of professional development within the sector, we are celebrating Alison’s contribution to the field by renaming the bursary in her honour.
The bursary is offered to cover travel, conference registration fees or other related expenses up to £500. This sum can be offered to one applicant or distributed at the discretion of the Selection Board. Recipients are asked to report back at our annual conference, to see the slides from this years’ recipient, David Francis.
Application forms are currently being reviewed but will be available from 1st April on our Bursary page.

Other News and Activities
Museums & Heritage Show

Join us on 14 May, when the Visitor Studies Group will again be curating the Visitor Insight Strand at the Museums & Heritage Show. The seminars in this strand include an introduction to audience research, listening to visitors and other stakeholders and collaboration among organisations to better understand visitors. See

Call for Members’ News

VSG member Anna Elffers has written an article online about our conference. If anybody can read Dutch it can be found at &
Do you have any news or articles to share with other members? We would love to hear from you, please send any items for inclusion to

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