University of Cambridge Museums

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Marketing exhibition evaluation for Death on the Nile

Death on the Nile: Uncovering the afterlife of ancient Egypt. Fitzwilliam Museum, 23 February 2016 to 22 May 2016.

Death on the Nile: Uncovering the afterlife of ancient Egypt. Fitzwilliam Museum, 23 February – 22 May 2016.

The Fitzwilliam Museum’s first major exhibition for 2016 was Death on the Nile: Uncovering the afterlife of ancient Egypt. This show went beyond the images of mummies, pharaohs and mystery often associated with ancient Egypt, and revealed how coffin design developed over 4,000 years. The exhibition contained a series of contextual films and a ‘live’ conservation area that provided visitors with a unique insight into the science used to examine the objects on display.

Over the course of the exhibition exit surveys were conducted by volunteers between 5 – 10 April (during Easter holidays) and 3 – 8 May (term time) to gain an understanding of how people had heard about the exhibition and what they thought about the show. 334 participants took part in the survey, which gave the Museum a robust sample of data – the most notable results as follows:

  • The top three forms of marketing people had seen before visiting the exhibition were lamp post banners (41%), posters (29%) and our website (15%).
  • 98% of visitors to the exhibition rated the show as very good or excellent.
  • Over half of the people who visited thought that the conservation lab enhanced their experience.
  • Over half of the people who visited watched one of the films in the exhibition and 97% of those respondents thought it enhanced their experience.
  • 70% of visitors came specifically to see the Death on the Nile exhibition, a higher statistic than for previous exhibitions (usually around 50-55%), which shows the programming was of particular appeal.
  • The exhibition saw a growth in attendees from the 35-44 age group, and reduction of those aged 55-64. This demographic change was again most likely a reflection of the programming.

Evaluating exhibitions is crucial to the understanding of our audiences – to learn from what we have done before and to build upon this in the future – particularly important in the Fitzwilliam’s bicentenary year. This exhibition has clearly highlighted the impact of on-street advertising, which we will continue to use. It has also highlighted that programming an exhibition such as Death on the Nile can significantly increase the amount of visitors coming in to the Museum to see the show, and can create a slight demographic shift – appealing more to a younger audience.

Death on the Nile closed with 91,782 visitors, proving a great success for a three month exhibition, particularly when compared to the successful Darwin exhibition back in 2009, which received 90,000 visitors in six months.

Read the full exhibition report online.

The Fitzwilliam currently relies on volunteers to collect data, and will be looking for more people to help with surveying the second major bicentenary exhibition COLOUR: The art and science of illuminated manuscripts (30 July – 30 December). Should you be interested in helping out with surveying, please email Tracy Harding.

Tracy Harding, Marketing Coordinator, Fitzwilliam Museum

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This entry was posted on June 27, 2016 by in Behind the Scenes, Culture, Goal 1, Goal 2, News and tagged , .
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