In 2008, the chief communications officer at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) asked GBAO to conduct research to help her department better understand the millions who visit the museum each year. Our original research among MoMA visitors helped the museum better realize the demographic and geographic diversity of its visitors, as well as attitudes toward the visitor experience and awareness of the many programs and special features offered by the museum.
MoMA asked GBAO to expand that initial survey into regular research among visitors, which demonstrated seasonal trends in their visitor population, the extent to which different exhibitions drew in new visitors to the museum, and how visitors researched and planned their trips to the museum. This research was invaluable in helping the museum maximize its communications budget and target resources to the most important audiences for each exhibit.
In the years since our initial visitor research, GBAO has worked with almost every department within MoMA to help the museum’s leadership gain an unparalleled understanding of its many audiences.
Research GBAO has conducted on behalf of MoMA over the past 9 years includes:
- Qualitative research among international visitors to MoMA, which requires GBAO staff to recruit visitors in-person at the museum, coordinate participation in focus groups at a remote site, and build diverse groups that represent the vast geographic diversity of its international visitors, all in less than 48 hours.
- Regular surveys of visitors to MoMA PS1, the contemporary art exhibition space in Queens that focuses on emerging artists, new genres, and adventurous new work, and which hosts the Warm Up outdoor music series, helping expand MoMA’s brand to new audiences and keeping it on the cutting edge of contemporary art.
- Quantitative and qualitative research among prospective visitors, defined as visitors to other NYC museums or art galleries who share demographic and attitudinal traits with MoMA visitors but have not visited the museum.
- Qualitative research among communities of color within the New York market, helping MoMA overcome historically low visitorship to local museums among these critical groups, and design future exhibitions to meet the unique demands of these communities.
- Quantitative and qualitative research among MoMA’s vast digital universe, including members, those who engage with the museum over social media, subscribers to the museum’s digital newsletter and other online publications, those who shop MoMA’s online retail shop, and visitors to moma.org.
- In-depth interviews with top hospitality professionals to examine the travel habits of international visitors and how they set their itineraries when coming to NYC.
In 2012, GBAO helped MoMA go even deeper into understanding its various audiences, using research to strategically tackle challenges across the institution by launching MoMA 360: A comprehensive research project using consistent methodology to study MoMA’s myriad constituencies on a range of critical measures. This annual project has produced a segmentation model that has given MoMA unprecedented understanding of the patterns of interactions different audiences have with the institution across its many platforms and provided critical direction for leaders throughout the institution in building new partnerships and allocating resources more effectively.