The perceptions and motivations of visitors attending special events in galleries

Axelsen, Megan (2007). The perceptions and motivations of visitors attending special events in galleries PhD Thesis, School of Tourism, University of Queensland.

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Author Axelsen, Megan
Thesis Title The perceptions and motivations of visitors attending special events in galleries
School, Centre or Institute School of Tourism
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2007
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Abstract/Summary Art galleries have traditionally been seen as entertainment venues aimed at the elite. In an attempt to alter this perception, galleries are shifting their focus to become more responsive to visitor needs. Contemporary policies explicitly pursue more equal access and participation, and new strategies are being developed to make galleries more appealing to people who would not usually visit them. One such visitor-focused strategy that is increasingly being utilised is the staging of special events. Special events enable galleries to inspire and attract new visitors, as well as respond to changing visitor needs and expectations. With the increased use of special events however, it is important that galleries develop an awareness of how their visitors understand and respond to such events. To explore this issue, this study investigates visitors’ perceptions of special events in galleries and their motivations to attend such events. A qualitative approach is taken to facilitate the ability to illustrate, in visitors’ own words, the contemporary perceptions of, and motivations for attending special events at galleries. Intensive interviews and focus group interviews were conducted with visitors attending two different special events at two different galleries: The Nature Machine Summer Children’s Festival, a week long festival at the Queensland Art Gallery; and International Women’s Day at the National Gallery, an afternoon of fundraising lectures at the National Gallery of Australia. From the interviews, a set of categories were developed that represent the main motivations visitors have for attending special events at galleries. A set of categories were also developed to represent the perceptions visitors have of what defines a special event at a gallery, and how special events differ from a gallery’s day-to-day program. These findings are important because they can help galleries more fully understand both their visitors and their programs. This therefore enables the development of more relevant events, programs, marketing campaigns and audience-development strategies. By exploring visitor perceptions, this study augments the understanding of how the special events at galleries are changing people’s perceptions of galleries. The research into motivation is subsequently essential for understanding the attributes of special events that are important to stimulating visitation.

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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:39:12 EST