LePAS – Leibniz Platform for Advancing and Supporting Visitor Research in Museums

Visitor research in museums is taking on an increasingly important role in the strategic development of museums. This is exactly where the new collaborative project of Leibniz research museums and educational research institutions comes in: The (Leibniz) Platform for Advancing and Supporting Visitor Research in Museums (LePAS) aims to establish a platform for visitor research in Germany.

Museums are not only places for socialising and leisure activities. As informal places of learning they are an important pillar of lifelong learning. With their exhibitions and educational programmes, museums aim, among other things, to promote skills such as the ability to reflect and think critically. The new keywords are visitor orientation, dialogue with society, participation and social relevance. Museums are in the process of taking on a more active role in society: away from the temple of the Muses and the “neutral” place, towards relevant social actors that promote and shape both dialogue and active participation of different interest groups.

In order to do this in a targeted way, it is important to know more about one’s audience and to understand why people visit museums, but also why other people do not visit museums. Although many museums in Germany already conduct their own visitor studies, there is a lack of sustainable visitor research concepts, instruments and infrastructures. LePAS aims to collect and (further) develop tools for obtaining reliable, standardized visitor data and provide these on a user-friendly research platform. This platform complemented by a training system to support museums in independently implementing sound visitor research.

The LePAS project therefore consists of three components: 1) a modular set of reliable and valid research tools that address museum- and visitor-relevant questions from different fields (e.g. demographic, cognitive, psychological); 2) a data collection and analysis platform that allows for easy compilation and administration of visitor surveys as well as simple descriptive and comparative statistical analyses of survey results; and 3) a comprehensive training programme that enables museums not only to reliably collect data, but also to address their own questions in a evidence-based way. This approach will enable reliable comparisons between museums on different dimensions, such as visitor structure, psychological characteristics, or learning behaviours in different environments. In addition, LePAS will contribute to the use of common tools for visitor research at informal learning sites. This approach will not only strengthen the leading role of the Leibniz Association in museum research in Germany, but also the impact of museums on society as a whole.

LePAS is funded by the Leibniz Association (Leibniz Competition 2022).