The Role of Audience Research in Museums: A Field Research Conducted at the Museums of Istanbul

By İrem Ekener Sanıvar and Kadriye Tezcan Akmehmet.

Published by The International Journal of the Inclusive Museum

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Museums are increasingly expected to be responsive to their audience in the21st century. Museums must establish a means of measuring the quality of visitor services systematically over time, which plays a vital role in encouraging the visitors to engage with and learn from collections. Exhibitions are the basic medium of the museum to communicate with its public. However, generally museum displays are not based on the needs and expectations of the public. It is essential for museums to find out as much information as possible about the audiences and communities that the museum wishes to serve through audience research at all stages of the exhibition development process. In Turkey, museums carry out their communication functions mostly through exhibitions. Adequate studies regarding exhibitions in museums have not been conducted. Audience research is a recently developing field for the museums in Turkey. There is a need for the evaluation of the particular effects of museum exhibitions on museum audiences throughout the exhibition development process. The aim of this study is to propose the significance of and contribute to the development of audience research and exhibition development studies in museums. The field research is based primarily on surveys conducted at the museums of Istanbul within the context of exhibition development. From this perspective, the audience research studies implemented by the museums of Istanbul have been identified and evaluated.

Keywords: Museum Audience, Audience Research, Exhibition Development, Museum Communication

International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp.109-128. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.454MB).

İrem Ekener Sanıvar

Yıldız Technical University, Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

İrem E. Sanıvar, graduated from Art History Department at Hacettepe University in 2004. She has acquired “Museum Guide and Educator Certificate” after participating “New Museology Expert Training Project” which was arranged in 2005 in collaboration with İSKUR, European Union (EU), İKSV and İstanbul Museum of Modern Art. She received an M.A. in Museum Studies Graduate Program from Yildiz Technical University by completing her thesis named “The Role of Audience Research in Exhibition Development in Museums” in 2009. She has served as a guide at different periods at Sakip Sabanci Museum, Is Bank Museum and Istanbul Museum of Modern Art. She is currently working at the Is Bank Museum as an Events and Museum Education Manager.

Dr. Kadriye Tezcan Akmehmet

Assistant Professor, Department of Art, Museum Studies Graduate Program, Faculty of Art and Design, Yildiz Technical University, Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey

Dr. Kadriye Tezcan Akmehmet is Assistant Professor in the Museum Studies Graduate Program and Art Management Program at the Yildiz Technical University. She received a B.A. in Art History from Istanbul University, an M.A. in Museum Studies Graduate Program from Yildiz Technical University, and a Ph.D. in Art History from Istanbul Technical University. She is currently working on her post-doctoral research supported by the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program on “The Role of Museum Programs in Parent Involvement” in the Museum Studies Program, George Washington University. Her research interests include museum education, in particular related to issues of school programs, museum-community partnership and parent involvement.


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