The visitor study in Scotland during the 1990s: an examination of research into the visitors of museums and galleries with particular reference to the arts.
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The visitors to museums and galleries have been studied from a variety of perspectives and with a variety of goals. This thesis seeks to draw together the varying techniques and attitudes towards the visitor, as well as summarise the current position of museologists towards the relationships involved in museum visiting. The focus of this study is Scotland during the 1990s, though long terms trends which extend beyond this time frame will also be included, as will contextual data into international patterns of attendance and attitudes. The main areas of concern within this thesis are: firstly, the characteristics of museum and gallery visitors; secondly, the attitudes and perceptions of the public towards the arts and museum and gallery visiting; thirdly, the motivational forces which induce visiting and the factors which act as barriers to attendance; and fourthly, the general climate within which museum and gallery visiting takes place. This study will analyse the collection methods as well as the conclusion for qualitative and quantitative data. This will include a contextual study of the climate within which the research has been commissioned, conducted and criticised. The visitor study is inextricably linked to the society that produced it. Long term comparisons of visitor studies are not always possible, due to differences in collection methods and the parameters of study. Comparisons of the assumptions and the methodologies that drive research are highly informative and can be used to express the changing nature of visitor studies. This thesis seeks to divide the museum and gallery audience into its constituent parts, and to prove that there exists a multifarious visiting public. There is no average museum visitor, nor a set of visitor profiles for all museums and galleries, instead there are distinct audience profiles for specific venues.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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