Contact Us


You need visitors for your museum to be a success. Understanding your visitors and who you would like to attract is essential: who they are, where they come from, and their likes and dislikes. This information can help you create a stronger offering that appeals to a wider range of people.

Who visits museums?

It’s important to consider where you are and what you have to offer when estimating the number of visitors your museum will attract. A major city museum with an extensive and varied collection will have a larger pool of people to draw from, compared to a more isolated rural museum with a specialist collection.

Overestimating the number of visitors can have significant negative consequences for your organisation. Utilising a variety of data sources will help you to predict the number of visitors your museum could attract and how to undertake targeted promotional activity.

New museums are entering an extremely competitive market. With a population of over 5.3 million, one-third of the population in Scotland visits a museum or gallery at least once a year. Even established museums can struggle to secure a significant percentage of all visits despite identifying their audiences and targeting marketing efforts.

Who will visit my museum?

Knowing who your visitors are will help you plan exhibitions, and events, and help you be more targeted in your marketing activity. Initially, you can use  local population data such as the Census (last conducted in 2022, although the results are yet to be published), to identify potential audiences. Speaking to similar or neighbouring museums or attractions can also help you estimate visitor numbers.

Once your museum is up and running, it is crucial to have systems in place to identify your visitors and get feedback on their experience. You can monitor visitor numbers through ticket sales, asking front-of-house staff to informally identify the types of people coming in (such as groups, couples, families), using Gift Aid postcode data to identify how far visitors are travelling, and conducting visitor surveys.

Regardless of the method used to obtain the  information, it is important to know what you want to do with it and remember to set time aside to analyse it all and discuss your response.

It’s also vitally important that you comply with  GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) guidelines (25 May 2018) when collecting or using data.

Segmenting your audience

People who visit museums are all different. Your venue could appeal to a wide range of visitors, such as elderly couples, young families, and teenagers.

Try to classify your visitors into specific groups based on their geographic location, interests, and motivations, as well as age or life stage. This process is known as segmentation and can prove extremely beneficial when you want to conduct promotional activities or communicate with a particular audience. The category in which you put them will decide what you offer and how and where you speak to them.

Further resources

VisitScotland – About our Visitors  can help you find out why people choose to visit Scotland and why they are coming from the UK and overseas. There is also information on Scotland’s Visitor Survey which took place in 2023.  

VisitScotland –  Research and Insights Across Scotland’s Regions provides more detailed information and valuable insights, including the latest visitor survey for each region.

Culture Republic is Scotland’s audience development agency, and their website holds a range of resources on the topic. 

The Information Commissioners Office website is the best source of information on the GDPR guidelines introduced in May 2018. These are important if you are storing and using data on individuals. 

Scotland’s Census paints an important picture of Scotland’s people, their characteristics and behaviour. The last census took place in 2022 although the results have yet to be published. The 2011 Census is still a useful resource to use when planning. 

Scotland’s Towns Partnership: Understanding Scottish Places is a collection of freely accessible information that helps you to better understand your local area and those who live in it. 

MOSAIC Scotland is a paid service from Experian that allows you to profile your audiences based on location, preferences, and behaviours. 

The Culture Hive, run by the Arts Marketing Association, has developed an audience persona template for cultural and creative businesses which helps with classifying and segmenting your audiences. They also have an audience development guide which will help if you’re looking to expand the audience that uses your museum or services.

Audience Spectrum, by The Audience Agency, segments the whole UK population by their attitudes towards culture, and by what they like to see and do. 20 new subsegments were added in 2022.