A happy new year and a new project…

I am about to embark on a  project inspired by my love of the West Highland Museum in Fort William.  For those who don’t know the place Fort William sits on the shores of Loch Linnhe, a deep loch with Ben Nevis, Britains highest mountain, immediately overhead.  It is in the middle of the Scottish West Highlands, an area of outstanding beauty and tremendous history.  The West Highland Museum is a wonderful building absolutely stuffed full of interesting and intriguing bits of history.. from primitive times to recent.  To check it out on-line go to http://www.westhighlandmuseum.org.uk/.

This wonderful place is run by a charitable trust.  It is not owned, run, or financed by government, local or otherwise but is dependant for its survival on voluntary contributions.  So my project for this term is firstly an investigation into how people respond to the request for a donation, and what is the motivation to which they are responding.  I am then proposing to intervene in some way that is fun, thought provoking, a little bit wicked, and causes people to give a little more money and walk away with a smile on their faces and a good feeling.

First things first.  Research.

I have written a questionnaire and need to get as many answers from as many different groups of people as possible.  Please feel free to download one and email it to me at caroline.gooch@talk21.com.

questionnaire for museum

I am still working out how to save a form in such a way as to enable people to interact with it..watch this space.

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One thought on “A happy new year and a new project…

  1. Hi Carrie. Thanks for the recent phone call, which jogged me to go back to your blog. I don’t know exactly what you mean by “save a form in such a way as to enable people to interact with it.” Have you considered using Google Forms? Here’s the official how-to:
    http://docs.google.com/support/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=15166
    (Can’t see how to embed links.)

    I looked at the questionnaire, and, as I always do with items of this type, I quibble with its premises. When I enter a free gallery or museum, as a rule I give them money. Sometimes this is with a direct donation, but more often by purchasing goods that I normally wouldn’t, or paying more for something than I would in the general run of things. I make this explicit to others with me – foreign visitors or students, usually.

    The last question in particular seems to me to approach things from the wrong way round:
    How much will you normally spend on a cup of tea or coffee in a museum or gallery?
    More to the issue is, at what price point will the museum visitor walk away from the cafeteria queue? “I’m not paying THAT for a cup of tea!!” And coffee, of course, has become a whole different kettle of … capuccini… for which high street drinkers pay more than would have been thought credible a decade ago.

    The questionnaire is well-meaning, but ultimately the only way to tell whether people will donate is to put a moving statue out there in the lobby and see whether they reach into their pockets. One of my favourites, though small and tucked away, is in the Pitt Rivers Museum — which, come to think of it, is also small and tucked away. Once the children discover it, pester power comes into play!

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