Family Learning Forum

A Project of the USS Constitution Museum

  • More engaged visitors at a free museum results in greater voluntary donations
  • More engaged visitors can lead to more memberships
  • More engaged visitors often means more repeat visitors

Increased Donations

The USS Constitution Museum in Boston, MA charges no admission fee for entrance, but encourages voluntary donations from its approximately 300,000 annual visitors. Since opening a prototype exhibit focused on family learning, voluntary visitor donations increased 57% from an average of 37 cents/visitor in 2005 to an average of 58 cents/visitor in 2007. Combined with a 30% increase in museum visitation between 2005 and 2007 this resulted in a doubling of annual visitor donations from $75,000 in 2005 to $150,000 in 2007.

Increased Membership

At Conner Prairie, a large outdoor history museum in Fishers, Indiana, a focus on family interaction has resulted in a longer stay by most visitors. Family memberships at this regional attraction have dramatically increased, along with repeat visitation.

Repeat Visitation

In 2007 the USS Constitution Museum added more family focused activities and interpretation to our 29th annual ship model show. In the past almost the only interpretation was that of the ships the models represented. Added interpretation about the ship modelers explained their motivations for building models, and also pointed out how different models are built for different purposes and used in different ways. Visitors had an opportunity to meet ship modelers in the gallery who offered personal insights, and time-lapsed video reduced the ship model construction from a process of years to just a few moments. Interviews with visitors to the exhibit during winter school vacation week revealed a family returning for the second time in one week – now with the neighbors in tow – because there was so much to see in just that one temporary exhibit!