Visitors to the Indigenous Australians exhibition

By: Dr Lynda Kelly, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 02 Oct 2009

Who visits the Indigenous Australians Exhibition and what do they think about it?

The Museum is planning to develop a new Indigenous Australians exhibition. To inform this development an evaluation of the current exhibition was conducted in during 2009. A total of 167 face to face interviews were conducted with visitors and results summarised below.

The main motivation for visiting the exhibition was either a general visit (47%) 35% or a desire to learn about Indigenous culture, people and history (35%).

98% of visitors understood the main messages the exhibition is trying to convey, described as:

  • Indigenous culture, spirituality, identity and pre-settlement history
  • the history of what happened to Indigenous people/ the stolen generation
  • racism, discrimination, abuse and conflict
  • reconciliation, the future
  • educate people and raise awareness of Indigenous Australians
  • justice, rights and respect

Visitors were asked to describe their feelings after visiting the exhibition and most respondents described feelings centred on learning. They said they felt informed, interested, gained understanding and were curious.
The exact nature of the learning was described as:

  • 88% discovered new information
  • 77% built on existing knowledge
  • 60% refreshed their knowledge
  • 60% remembered things they hadn’t thought of for a while
  • 51% shared some of their knowledge with other people
  • 83% felt curious about finding out more
  • 85% felt they had been reminded of the importance of some issues
  • 67% got a real buzz out of what they learnt
  • 36% felt it was all very familiar to them
  • 81% felt it was pleasant to be reminded and to learn more
  • 51% of respondents reported sharing their knowledge with others and 83% expressed a desire to find out more.

For 27% of respondents the most interesting feature of the exhibition was the art, 17% craft and artefacts, 16% stolen generation and the maze, 11% weapons, 10% history.

81% of respondents correctly identified Indigenous people as telling the stories in the exhibition and 83% supported the merging of political and cultural issues in the exhibition.

Visitor profile:

  • 44% visited alone
  • 23% with family
  • 6% with friends
  • 22% with spouse/partner
  • 3% with an organised group
  • 75% of respondents were new visitors
  • Aged under 35: 42%
  • 35-49 years: 21%
  • 50+ years: 37%
  • 72% university educated
  • 33% of respondents live in Australia
  • 67% overseas

6% described themselves as being of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Island descent


Lynda Kelly - 4.10 PM, 14 October 2009
Hi to you both. First to th breakdown of visitors question. We dont have specific figures on percentages of all visitors who go to the Indigenous Australians exhibition. However stats do show that a more tourists and single adults visit. I have uplaoded our last Visitor Profile on our website here: This may also go towards answering your questions Melissa. As to the new exhibition - we don'f yet have a date as we are still in the vey early concept planning stages. I do know that the new exhibtion will show contemporary stories as that's not only what our visitors want, but the kinds of stories and content that Indigenous people want to tell. As to the mix in the current gallery - the themes and content areas were chosen and developed by Indigenous people themsvles in consultation with Museum staff which is why we ended up with that mix. Thanks both for your interest!
mellie25 - 12.10 PM, 14 October 2009
Hi again Lynda you have alot of great information on the website! I was wondering what are the main countries which visit the museum and is there any plans to adapt the exhibitions with multi-lingual signs so they are to gaining a maximum impact. Also just wondering when the new Indigenous Australians exhibition will open? Visited the exhibition on the weekend and noticed a few interesting things... - the entry is hidden by the temporary egyptian exhibition. is there any plans to combat this? - the 'traditional' aspects of Indigenous peoples, the dreaming etc, is only given a tiny part of the exhibition, while the new changes to the Indigenous peoples in the last 100 years is given the majority of the space. Think this is strange as a large majority of international and domestic visitors would like to experience the 'traditional'. Will the new exhibition be more traditional or contemporary? Thanks for your time Melissa
@lifeasdaddy - 8.10 PM, 13 October 2009
I'm interested to know how the segmentation of Visitor profile for this exhibition compares with general entry to the museum, especially in the categories visited alone/new visitors/overseas. Could you give me those % figures for comparison, please?
Lynda Kelly - 12.10 PM, 08 October 2009
Thnx Melissa and glad you enjoyed the information I posted. We are in the very early stages of planning the new exhibition and this survey formed a part of that. We certainly do plan to use new media and our cultural exhibitions are always a collaborative effort with the relevant community. This paper - Developing a Community of Practice: Museums and Reconciliation in Australia ( is a good one to give you a background of the Museum's work in this area.
mellie25 - 8.10 PM, 07 October 2009
great info! Just wondering what new changes were happening to the exhibition? Also were you bringing in any new media to represent the indigenous peoples? Is the new exhibition a collaborate effort between museum staff and indigenous peoples? Thanks

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