Visitor research

Evaluating exhibitions

Project leader

  • Stuart Frost, Head of Interpretation


  • Learning, Volunteers and Audiences
  • Exhibitions

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The British Museum has a varied temporary exhibition programme which uses different spaces across the site. Innovative displays of a smaller number of objects from the Museum collection have been held in Room 3 since January 2005.

The British Museum undertakes research to inform the development of its temporary exhibitions and to make improvements to the permanent galleries.

The Museum intends to publish the outcome of this process here, beginning with summative reports of smaller displays in Room 3.

Conservation in focus. Room 3, November 2008.

Evaluation process



When work begins on developing an exhibition or display, initial concepts and ideas are explored with key audiences. Front-end evaluation establishes visitors’ prior knowledge, experience and expectations of the subject covered by the exhibition or gallery.


When ideas for specific displays and associated interpretation within an exhibition are more advanced they may be tested with visitors. This stage of the evaluation process leads to iterative improvements.



After an exhibition has opened, research is undertaken to help inform the development of future displays and to establish how successful an individual project has been in meeting its objectives.

Evaluation reports



World Conservation and Exhibition Centre Activity Plan 2015-18
Summative report (pdf) 

World Conservation and Exhibition Centre Activity Plan evaluation Year 3 report


World Conservation and Exhibition Centre Activity Plan evaluation Year 2 report


World Conservation and Exhibition Centre Activity Plan evaluation Year 1 report

Egypt: faith after the pharoahs
(29 October 2015 - 7 February 2016)
Summative report (pdf) 


Defining Beauty: the body in ancient Greek art
(26 March – 5 July 2015)
Summative report (pdf) 

Ming: 50 years that changed China
(18 September 2014 – 5 January 2015)
Summative report (pdf) 


Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam
(Reading Room, 26 January – 15 April 2012)
Summative report (pdf) 

More information about this exhibition 


Treasures of Heaven: saints, relics and devotion in medieval Europe
(Reading Room, 23 June – 9 October 2011)
Summative report (pdf) 

More information about this exhibition 


South Africa Landscape: Kew at the British Museum
(21 April – 16 October 2011)
Summative report (pdf) 

Journey through the afterlife: ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead
(Reading Room, 4 November 2010 – 6 March 2011)
Formative report (pdf) 
Summative report (pdf) 

More information about this exhibition 

Fra Angelico to Leonardo: Italian Renaissance Drawings
(Reading Room, 22 April – 25 July 2010)
Formative report (pdf) 
Summative report (pdf) 

More information about this exhibition 



Revolution on paper: Mexican prints
1910–1960 (pdf) 

(Room 90, 22 October 2009 – 5 April 2010)

The power of dogu: ceramic figures from ancient Japan (pdf) 
(Room 91, 10 September – 22 November 2009)

Shah ‘Abbas: The Remaking of Iran
(Reading Room, 19 February 14 June 2009)
Summative report (pdf) 
Formative report (pdf) 

More information about this exhibition 




Statuephilia: Contemporary Sculptors at the British Museum(pdf) 
(4 October 2008 25 January 2009)

Church and Emperor: an Ethiopian crucifixion (pdf) 
(Room 3, 6 March 5 May 2008)

Conservation in Focus (pdf) 
(Room 3, 11 September  26 October 2008)

More information about these exhibitions 



The Caribbean before Columbus: Taíno Icons (pdf) 
(Room 3, 3 May 17 June 2007)

Ikebana: Living Flowers of Japan (pdf) 
(Room 3, 5 July 19 August 2007)

Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan (pdf) 
(Room 35, 19 July – 21 October 2007)

Divine Cat: speaking with the gods in ancient Egypt (pdf) 
(Room 3, 8 November 2007 27 January 2008)



Word into Art: Artists of the Modern Middle East
(Room 35, 18 May – 2 September 2006)
Formative report (pdf) 
Summative report (pdf) 

Michelangelo Drawings: Closer to the Master
(Room 5, March-June)
Formative report (pdf) 
Summative report (pdf) 

Warren Cup: Sex and Society in Ancient Greece (pdf) 
(Room 3, 11 May – 2 July 2006)

The Royal Game of Ur (pdf) 
(Room 3, 20 July 3 September 2006)

The Art of Peace: paintings by the poet Tagore (pdf) 
(Room 3, 14 September 12 November 2006)

The past from above: through the lens of Georg Gerster (pdf) 
(Room 35, 16 November 2006 – 11 February 2007)



Forgotten Empire: the world of Ancient Persia (pdf) 
(Room 5, 9 September 2005 – 8 January 2006

Samurai to Manga: Japan across the centuries (pdf) 
(Room 3, 15 December 2005 – 8 February 2006)


Evaluating Museum activities

Touching History: an evaluation of Hands On desks (pdf)