University of Leicester eBulletin

Drawing the Crowds

June 2002
No 117

Following the success in Wales of the “Free For All” policy, introduced at all national museums from April 2001, the National Museums & Galleries of Wales (NMGW) has commissioned the Research Centre for Museums & Galleries at the University of Leicester to continue the drive towards greater social inclusion in Welsh museums.

While the introduction of free entry to museums in Wales, which was introduced eight months earlier than in England, saw an increase in museum visits of 85 per cent across eight NMGW sites, the University of Leicester Research Centre for Museums & Galleries has been appointed to take forward non-visitor research on behalf of the NMGW in order to identify strategies for broadening audiences and engaging groups that are underrepresented in visitor profiles.

This will involve focus group work with people who do not use museums, in three locations across Wales and with key community representatives in some of the most disadvantaged wards as identified by the National Welsh Assembly. The research, funded by the National Museums and Galleries of Wales with support from the Welsh Tourist Office, is being undertaken by RCMG working in partnership with research consultants Morris Hargreaves McIntyre. Findings will be available by September 2002.

Jocelyn Dodd, of the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries, said:

“Free admission clearly removes just one of the barriers that deter people from visiting museums – this exciting project provides us with the opportunity to explore in greater detail, the other, more complex and sometimes hidden, barriers that deny access for many communities and to identify ways of removing them. We are delighted to be working with the National Museums and Galleries of Wales on this timely and significant research project.”

The Leicester Museum Studies Department is unique in its field throughout the world. The Research Centre for Museums and Galleries was established within the Department in 1999, since when it has played an increasingly important role in undertaking research into the relationships between museums, galleries and their audiences.

Note to editors:  Further information on the University of Leicester Museum Studies Department’s research project with the National Museums and Galleries of Wales is available from Richard Sandell or Jocelyn Dodd, telephone 0116 252 3965/3995,  facsimile 0116 252 3960, email rps6@le.ac.uk and jad25@le.ac.uk

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