Thesis by Morgan McGee (2018)
The overwhelming majority of museum collections are kept in storage, never to be seen by the public. Behind-the-scenes (BTS) tours, which provide opportunities for visitors to enter collections storage and work spaces, are an increasingly popular method of using museums’ massive stored collections to create memorable experiences for visitors while educating them on the work that takes place at museums. The purpose of this study was to understand visitors’ attitudes toward their behind-the-scenes museum tour experiences and the impact of those experiences on their attitudes toward museum collections. This descriptive survey collected data via questionnaires administered to twenty-eight participants in BTS tours at two institutions. Results suggest that visitors responded to these tours with enthusiasm and that the collections seen during the tours resonated with visitors. These tours appeared to be effective in educating visitors about museum collections and positively influencing their perceptions of the museums and their collections. These findings support prior studies indicating that BTS tours are valuable because of their potential to create meaningful and enjoyable experiences for visitors, while broadening the usefulness of stored collections. Further research and conversation within the field is necessary to better understand these programs and develop best practices.
Keywords: Class of 2018, Cultural Resources Management, Museum Studies, museology, museum, Communication and the Arts
McGee, L., Luke, Jessica, Ong, Angelina, & Barker, Holly. (2018). The Collections Connection: Understanding the Attitudes of Participants in Behind-the-Scenes Museum Tours. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.