Title:The (post) digital visitor: What has (almost) twenty years of museum audience research revealed?
Authors:Lynda Kelly
Publication:MW2016: Museums and the Web 2016

Audience research has been undertaken in museums and cultural institutions since the late nineteenth century, starting what is a rich and prolific field of museum practice that, so far, has focussed heavily on program/exhibition evaluation and market research (Kelly, 2004). In 1999, I began my doctoral study asking adult museum visitors what sources they used when searching for information and where they liked to learn. Apart from books, libraries, and museums, intriguingly this thing called "the Internet" started appearing in visitors’ responses (Kelly, 2007). This then sparked my long obsession with all things digital—there was something in this, I thought…

After that research, I undertook a huge number and range of studies investigating use of the Internet and digital products, as they were (and still are) becoming significant ways for museums to engage visitors both inside and outside their physical sites to enhance their learning. These have ranged from museum visitors’ online behaviours, museums and social media, students’ views about digital learning, teachers and technology, social media and museum visitors, mobile visitors, user-testing, and trend analysis (Kelly, 2013, 2014, 2015a; Kelly & Breault, 2007; Kelly & Fitzgerald, 2011; Kelly & Groundwater-Smith, 2009; Kelly & Russo, 2008, 2010; Russo et al., 2008).

To celebrate and mark twenty years of Museums and the Web, this paper reanalyses this body of work in the context of 2016 and reimagines who the (post) digital museum visitor might be.