FEATURE28 November 2019

Rewarding curiosity: How the British Museum shapes the visitor experience

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Features Impact Leisure & Arts UK

The British Museum attracts visitors from far and wide, and it’s Stuart Frost’s job to make sure they are getting the most out of their experience, be it from the permanent collection or special exhibitions – as he explains to Katie McQuater.

“Part of our job is to make sure we attract people’s attention, but then, when we get it, we reward it, ” says Stuart Frost. As head of interpretation at the British Museum, he is focused on shaping an experience within the 260-year-old organisation that is relevant for visitors today, doesn’t sell the museum short, and helps people connect with what they’re seeing.

“‘Interpretation’ can be defined as anything that helps people make sense of their visit to the museum, ” says Frost, and this feeds into all parts of the organisation, including programming, marketing and retail. His specific role within the interpretation team is to develop permanent gallery displays and special exhibitions, and he runs the museum’s team of volunteers, too.

Not only do permanent galleries and special exhibitions attract two entirely different audiences, but people also behave differently in each.

“In special exhibitions, particularly those with an admission charge, it’s predominantly people from London and the South East, ” says Frost. Because ...