Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160 - 179)



  160. So half your visitors only come once and half your visitors are from overseas and only come once, so virtually every British visitor comes more than once?
  (Dr Borg) Yes, that is probably true.

  161. Remarkable. If it is true it perhaps explains the 97 per cent satisfaction rate. It makes it look as those who come from this country who do come at all are so remarkably satisfied that they will certainly come at least once more in the same year.
  (Dr Borg) It is not necessarily in the same year. A repeat visitor may be someone who comes as child and comes again as an adult. It is simply that they have been before to the institution.

  162. That puts a rather different light on it because you were saying earlier that 630,000 came for more than the first time.
  (Dr Borg) I did not mean in that year.

  163. So a repeat visitor could be someone who comes 50 years apart?
  (Dr Borg) Yes.

  Mr Rendel: Mrs Steinberg when she comes back?

  Mr Steinberg: 40 years to go.

Mr Rendel

  164. Why do some schools not come?
  (Dr Borg) I do not think we have information as to why they do not come. They must decide that their current courses are not going to benefit from what we are offering to them.

  165. What percentage of schools come in, say, London and the South East? We do not expect all the ones from Northumbria to come.
  (Dr Borg) I do not know what percentage of all London schools come.

  166. Is that not something you ought to know? I should have thought if the schools that do come are just a fairly small percentage but they come very frequently that would indicate to me you have got a lot of potential out there which you are simply not going for.
  (Dr Borg) As I said, we have quite a large number of school visits anyway that we do not know about because schools are only counted as school visits if they tell us they are coming.

  167. That would be another reason you ought to know how many schools are not coming. If they are coming and not telling you, firstly, you could do some useful work with those and, secondly, it would give you a better indication as to whether there were a lot of schools that might come, and might get quite a lot out of such a visit, and are not coming. That is surely important information for you. I am surprised you do not know it.
  (Dr Borg) We send information to schools and do a great deal of work with school teachers but, clearly, ideally every single school should come.

  168. How often do you send information to every school in London?
  (Dr Borg) We do mailings twice a year to schools.

  169. And you do not know how many of those schools respond?
  (Dr Borg) We do mail all the schools in London and the South East and we will know which ones come and it varies from year to year.

  170. You know which ones tell you that they are coming because you keep telling me there are some that come but do not tell you they are coming, so you do not know which ones never come, on which perhaps you could do some more work. Do you intend now to find out?
  (Dr Borg) I accept that is something that we could do some more work on.

  171. Thank you. You said that you had done the research now on the people that did not come but you did it after June last year when this Report was finalised. When was it completed?
  (Dr Borg) It was completed some time last year. I cannot remember exactly but it was a piece of joint research done with the two other South Kensington museums.

  172. You said the information that you gleaned from that was mainly that people were unaware of the contents, the building was forbidding, or it was not for them. You were asked the question twice and you repeated the first two of those reasons the second time you were asked the question. The second time you were asked that question you said "we need to tackle that". What are you now doing to tackle that?
  (Dr Borg) We are taking a series of steps which include the refurbishment and reopening of the British Galleries, the building of the Spiral Building, the development of the contemporary programme. I think all the new activities the Museum is involved in are intended to address new audiences and bring wider audiences into the Museum.

  173. How many of these things were started before you did this research?
  (Dr Borg) All of those things were started before we did that research.

  174. No new decisions have come out of the research you did last year?
  (Dr Borg) The research confirmed what we had expected; that these were the reasons why people did not come. It did not bring any surprises.

  175. What do you do to attract back visitors who have come for the first time?
  (Dr Borg) We hope we provide an experience in the Museum that people will want to return and visit again, but then we also put on programmes of exhibitions which we hope will bring them back a second time or third time.

  176. There are no specific moves like giving people a voucher if they pay to come back with a friend two weeks later?
  (Dr Borg) We have the usual range of marketing initiatives to bring people back.

  177. The reference collections which are a very big part of your claim that you make everything accessible; what publicity is given to those?
  (Dr Borg) The existence of the reference collections is well-known to those people who are interested in them. If you think of almost any of the collections in the Victoria and Albert Museum, a large number of objects in that collection will be on show. If you are interested in English ceramics or English water colours you can come and see a large number on show. If you then say, "Can I see more?" you will be told yes and how that can be achieved. The reference collections are most used by people who know that they exist, who are collectors, who are interested, who are scholars. They may not know exactly what is in them and that is why they will come and use them.

  178. So the only people that use them are people who know they exist. You do not go out of your way to tell people who come to your Museum that there are a lot of other objects which are not on show?
  (Dr Borg) We certainly tell them that they can see more of a particular type of object if they wish to do so.

  179. How do you do that?
  (Dr Borg) We tell them in labels and wall panels and exhibitions that direct them to other parts of the Museum where they can see more on show.

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