The research quantified the instant appeal of proposed titles, explored the interest in and understanding of proposed titles and exhibition content, determined the likelihood of attendance by visitor type, and explored the dynamics of a visit – how far potential visitors will travel, who they will visit with, willingness to pay. Five exhibitions were tested, and findings provided thematic suggestions for future exhibitions. The conclusions address audience profile, marketing communications, intrinsic appeal and how to meet visitors’ needs and provide value for money. The wider market for temporary exhibitions was also quantified as context.
It is clear from the responses that whist visitors largely expect their aesthetic needs to be met in V&A exhibitions, they are nevertheless hungry for a depth of intellectual context. There is a need for rich, layered context in order to fully appreciate the aesthetic elements.
Although people can have a deeply satisfying experience that is purely aesthetic, research finds that this satisfaction is deepened further by the provision of contextual information that makes them feel better informed, and offers greater insight into and understanding of the works. This level of satisfaction generates positive word of mouth recommendation and we know from years of research findings that personal recommendation is generally the most powerful influencer of visits.