Observing our visitors in exhibition galleries tells us a lot about how well our galleries and displays are designed. This doesn't actually involve direct conversations with visitors as, on these occasions, we are interested in what people do.
You may see a number of these studies going on across our national museums and a notice is always displayed to inform visitors that visitor research is being undertaken. No personal information is recorded about visitors, all we are interested in is typically where people go, how long people look at exhibits, whether people read information or use any of the interactive information points, what the most / least visited spots are in a gallery, and how long people spend there.
We carried out a survey like this in the Origins gallery which opened in December 2007. Staff from across the museum took part in a three month project to discretely track visitors in the gallery. We then carried out focus group work with a range of visitors to establish some of the reasons why people did what they did and what they thought of the gallery.
The results of this survey are helping to inform not just the new archaeology displays at St Fagans, but all exhibitions across the Museum.