In the next part of our experiment we learned a valuable lesson: never assume your visitors are psychic. After the results of our chalkboard experiment we enthusiastically stuck up big sheets of paper outside the galleries asking visitors ‘What’s your favourite object?’ We popped some post it notes on a table and waited for the responses to flood in. Would visitors prefer Tom Paine’s desk or Hannah Mitchell’s kitchen? The Co-op shop or the Tin Plate Workers’ banner? After a couple of days we went to look:
D’oh!! We’d only gone and asked the wrong question! We should have asked ‘what is your favourite object in the museum?’. Massive lesson learned!
We put up a sign to try and get some more of the answers we wanted….
Fortunately this seemed to work and we did notice an increase in the number of favourite museum objects.
Interestingly, we got more comments via the post it system than we did via the chalkboard. We got 114 comments over 16 days in the chalkboard system (an average of 7.125 comments per day) and 302 comments over 13 days (23 comments per day) in the post it system. Admittedly, we did have more places to add comments for the post its (2 pieces of paper outside Main Gallery One, 1 piece of paper outside Main Gallery Two, and visitors also posted comments on the chalkboard outside Main Gallery Two), but there was a substantial rise in engagement. This may have been a result of the positioning, the medium or perhaps visitors engaging more with the question they thought we were asking. 35% of visitors told us their favourite object in the museum when we asked the question on the chalkboard. Only 21% of visitors did when we asked the question on the post its (although this figure raises to 51% when you include visitors’ favourite personal objects). The vast majority of the comments were outside Main Gallery One, where we didn’t have chalkboards previously. This appears to be a good location to engage our visitors and is definitely something to explore later in the project.
Surprisingly, there were no favourite objects (PHM or personal) stuck on the chalkboard outside Main Gallery Two. This may have been because the question was not posed there, so visitors felt more freedom to comment on other areas.
Next step is for visitors to vote out of the top three objects – will the jukebox be the victor again?