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News 2010

November 2010

Leveraging online communities

Queensland Tourism's 'Best Job in the World' campaign was a dazzling success by any measure. It attracted vast publicity by leveraging online social networking media. Thousands of people submitted video applications on Youtube and then leveraged their networks to garner votes in an attempt to make the short list and then win the job. And the job? It was the arduous six month appointment to hang out on the Barrier Reef and write a blog.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is using the same formula with its current Month at the Museum activity. The prize was the opportunity to live at the Museum 24/7 for a month and to write about it on a blog, Facebook and Twitter. The 1500 submissions were displayed when the winner was announced.

Month in the museum applicants

The winner, the confident and photgenic Kate McGroarty, bubbles with enthusiasm about her daily experiences. This provides a ready vehicle for the Museum to talk about the wide range of activities it carries out, both behind the scenes and in public.

It's a great example of contemporary science communication, and it positions the Museum of Science and Industry firmly in the 21st Century. Which is just what you would expect from one of the largest science museums in the world, home to more than 35,000 artifacts with nearly 14 acres of hands-on exhibits.

You'd need a month, right?

September 2010

Damaging the 'brand'

The idea of 'brand' is a neat shorthand for reputation. So, when the bad boys of sport act out they are reported to have damaged the brand of their club, their sport, or even brand-Australia.

Media titillation over Tiger Woods' indiscretions has oscillated between sexual indiscretion and damage to the Tiger-brand (and the subsequent financial loss). Accenture is reported to be the first sponsor to drop Tiger. They should know about brand damage given that they had to re-brand completely and adopt a new name after their gold standard name, Andersen Consulting, was trashed in 2001.

In our work with museums, galleries and libraries, we are fortunate to work with organisations that are loved and valued in their communities. The sector is strongly valued and this rubs off onto the well-run entities in it.

Brand talk is becoming more widely understood in public discourse, thanks in part to TV programs like The Gruen Transfer. It is a convenient shorthand for reputation.

July 2010

Redfern – the jury's still out

After completing major street upgrades and refurbishing the park and oval, the City of Sydney continues to support Redfern with a program to bring down the shutters, improved communication and plans for community events and facilities.

Environmetrics is surveying Sydneysiders to gather data on visits to Redfern/Waterloo and perceptions of the area. So we were interested to read Susan Wellings in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10 July 2010. She concludes that while Redfern is changing, the jury is still out.

Here's her take on the outlook for Redfern.

On the plus side, it's very close to the city and has a station, says buyers' agent Curtis. But it still has some stigma, it has a high percentage of its population on welfare, the intersection of Lawson and Gibbons streets affects the flow of pedestrians and major projects under way have uncertain outcomes. "The North Eveleigh Street development and how that turns out will have a major bearing on Redfern's future," Curtis says. "And while there's been a lot spent on Redfern Street, the shutters still come down at night. The jury's still out."

The main point that everyone agrees on is that the area is changing fast.

May 2010

Cultural Tourism in Hong Kong

I have just spent 10 days in Hong Kong teaching a course in the Master of Museums Studies program for the University of Sydney. As lectures were in the evenings, I had the opportunity to visit a variety of museums. I saw museums of art, history, and science, as well as house museums and heritage sites.

I noticed that architects have made some of the same mistakes with large museums in Hong Kong as we have seen in Australia.

Turning your back

Both the Australian National Maritime Museum at Darling Harbour and the Museum of Art on the Kowloon waterfront turn their backs to the water. This means that in both cases visitors who approach along the attractive waterfront are greeted by the back of the building. At the Maritime Museum, the visitor first encounters the kitchen delivery dock shutter door. At the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the visitor enounters a big blocky facade.

Museum of Art
Hong Kong Museum of Art – Found it! Now, where's the entry?

In both cases, the visitor tries to figure out whether to go left or right. The temptation is to go right and continue to follow the water's edge. In both cases that is the wrong choice.

At the Hong Kong Museum of Art, you go left and soon discover this imposing entrance with the clear name of the institution.

Hong Kong Museum of Art – Entrance

Grand staircases

The entry stairs at the Museum of Art look imposing and daunting. Fortunately, the escalator provides a practical alternative. But this excalator looks like an afterthought and it makes the stairs redundant. Are the stairs there to make an imposing statement about higher art forms? Or perhaps, as in some public buildings in Australia, their primary purpose is to comply with fire escape regulations.

Either way, imposing staircases alongside escalators seem to be quite popular in Hong Kong museums. The following picture shows an internal staircase in the Hong Kong Heritage Museum where the escalators are well-integrated.

Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Hong Kong Heritage Museum – Entrance

There's no doubt that an imposing polished stone staircase adds a sense of importance and ceremony to cultural institutions.

Gillian Savage

March 2010

The whole experience

No transaction stands alone, isolated from what went before and what follows. When we want to examine an event more closely, we should look at it in the context of what went before and what followed.

The context of before and after can be understood in five phases. These phases apply to experiences as diverse as shopping, sports participation, educational events and leisure outings.

Five Phases

1. Anticipation

This phase involves thinking about and planning the outing. Key decisions are made here – when to go, how to get there, how long to stay, what to take, what other things to do on the outing.

Our research explores decision-making in addition to describing the inner landscape of assumptions, expectations and attitudes.

2. Travel to

This phase involves travelling to the venue, parking, costs and access.

Our research describes modes of travel and expectations, as well as wayfinding and accessibility. Travel time can be used as one measure of economic worth.

3. On site

This phase involves the whole visitor experience onsite.

We have measured many aspects of onsite experiences, including:

>Wayfinding – tracking & timing
>Visitor satisfaction – rating, likes and dislikes
>Engagement patterns – tracking & timing, rating
>Expenditure – reported spend
>Learning outcomes – range of measures, including MOLI

4. Travel back

This phase involves the return journey.

Our research describes modes of travel. We have also explored the conversations that take place on return trips.

5. Recollection

This phase involves the many ways that outings and events are recalled, shared and commemorated. For children, play is an important form of recollection, while visitors to art exhibitions often find that the catalogue helps to consolidate memories and recall them years later.

Our research has explored the way outings and events are recalled in timeframes such as: immediately after, 2-3 weeks later and several months later. We have studied learning outcomes for museum visits.

The Five Phases were first proposed in 1966 by Clawson and Knetsch in the context of leisure activities.

January 2010


Walking is good for us at all levels. At the personal level, our bodies evolved to move so that an active lifestyle is important for health. At the community level, everyone benefits when lots of things are within walking distance – lower car use reduces air pollution and carbon emissions, and local businesses thrive.

With growing evidence for the multiple benefits of walking, walkability is given increasing importance in city planning.

A new online tool uses the Google Maps database to give a Walk Score for every address in Australia. When you enter an address, it calculates your score out of 100, based on the facilities within a 1.6km radius. Is your home a Walkers Paradise or seriously Car-Dependent?

Powerful new evidence of the dollar impact of the Walk Score emerged in Walking the Walk, a U.S. study demonstrating that the Walk Score is associated with increases in home values to the tune of $700-$3,000 per point.

The prospect of higher sales values will encourage councils and developers to plan for more walkable neighbourhoods.

Go to Walk Score to measure the walkability score for your next development.

Check out this slide presentation of the Walking the Walk report.

October 2009

We see the 'green shoots' of economic recovery sprouting in the renewed enquiry from our housing developer clients.

One of our very useful tools that helps developers get their new housing plans right is Homezone. This is a tool we use in focus groups of prospective home buyers to help buyers discriminate between the home features they REALLY want. Homezone puts participants in the real life situation of having to choose between alternatives in a trade-off game.

We can put all kinds of features into the game – views, northerly aspect, balcony size, number of bedrooms, quality of finishes, and so forth. The range of choices is customised for each project so the report gives specific guidance for an individual development.

While past experience can give some direction for future developments, our clients find it reassuring to market-test their ideas with prospective buyers. This is especially important during turbulent times when tastes and incomes are likely to have changed.

July 2009

In Canberra recently, we took the opportunity to look through the new Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. It is a very stylish presentation of this topic and is likely to have strong appeal to schools.

At the National Museum, K-Space continues to excite families and kids. A group of Year 7 students from Mt Isa were heard to exclaim 'wicked!', 'cool!' and 'that's ours!' as they watched the 3-D animation of their space ships flying around.

k-space animation is wicked!

Check out the discussion on Museum 3.0 about the RFID-enabled Touchwall – a new technology for wall-sized touch screens that respond to individual users who have RFID badges/tags.

And finally, we are taking our newsletter online. On a relaxed schedule of four times a year, our newsletter comments on topical issues related to projects or papers and presentations we give. We invite you to sign up for it today!

Click on the link in the side bar to read our July09 newsletter online.

June 2009

  • Phew! Teaching in the Museum Research Methods intensive course is over! Now there are just the piles of assignments to be marked.
  • We are starting a study that will generate some tourism development strategies for Parramatta City Council. The more I see of Parramatta, the more I like it.
  • Gillian will join Rachael Coghlan (from the National Museum of Australia) at the Forum on Visitor Research in Natural and Cultural Heritage Attractions in Brisbane on 13 July 2009.
  • John Falk and Lynn Dierking will give a seminar in Canberra about their current research in free-choice learning. As experts in museum evaluation and learning theory, they have a lot to offer at this free seminar for museum and gallery professionals.
  •    2.30-5.00 pm | Thursday 9 July 2009
       National Museum of Australia
       Bookings essential on 6208 51.

  • We were interested in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald about Elaine Heumann Gurian, the American author of Civilizing The Museum and a highly regarded consultant to many of the world's leading cultural institutions. In June, she visited Sydney and gave a talk at the Powerhouse Museum on Museum as Soup Kitchen.

  • Retail Ecology

    We have been looking at the dynamics of local shopping strips using a 'Retail Ecology' framework. This framework recognises the multiple connections and influences that create an ever-evolving pattern of responsive change.

    A retail shopping strip is best regarded as an ecosystem because success depends on a combination of several mutually-supporting elements. If any one of them is missing, the whole thing limps along. But if all the elements are in place, the strip thrives.

    Four aspects of retail ecology are:

    Physical setting
    Quality of street environment including paving, lighting, seating, trees & banners, protection from traffic. Business premises that are well-maintained and interesting to look into.

    The shopping area is seen as safe, inviting, relevant, and easy to use.

    Economic mix
    There is a good range of businesses, which are located in complementary clusters that attract shoppers and encourage them to move between businesses.

    Business & government
    Local businesses, owners and government work together to coordinate activities and ensure that regulation is supportive and relevant.

    Environmetrics can assist with strategies and plans to revitalise local shopping strips.

    'Tab and Table' service

    Our Tab and Table service is very popular. Clients send us piles of questionnaires and we do the rest!

    You will receive neat data tables and the datafile.

    Competitive prices and fast turnaround.

    Contact Gillian Savage 1300 802 446 to discuss your needs and get a quick quote.


    News and Views October 2009 | Online

    News and Views July 2009 | Online

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    Newsletter – Oct 2007
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    After the Show: Visitor Research – 2007 Conference Paper
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    Newsletter – Jul 2007
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    Newsletter – Oct 2006
    |PDF 50kb|   |  Oct 06

    Newsletter – Jul 2006
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    Who pays? Museum entry fees.
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    10 ways to attract mature users.
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    Traps in predicting visitor numbers.   |  Feb 99

    Does Thirst, an exhibition at the Australian Museum take us beyond the New Museology?   |  Feb 99

    Information throughout this website is provided for general interest. Environmetrics Pty Ltd accepts no responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person or organisation acting or refraining from action as a result of material in this service.
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