In 2020, Reconsidering Museums asked the public about the role, value, and future of museums through an online engagement campaign called Museums for Me. The campaign included a series of consultations undertaken by Hill+Knowlton Strategies Canada on behalf of the consortium. Museums for Me reached over 500,000 Canadians through the awareness campaign, online survey, public polling, and dialogue sessions.

The text "What do museums mean to you? Tell us what you think!" overtop an image of an artifact display case.

From October 2020 to March 2021, an online survey was fielded in both French and English on the Museums for Me project website. The survey collected 1759 responses. Due to the nature of distribution and promotion through the provincial and territorial museums associations, respondents were more likely to be avid museum goers than the general public.

To balance this out, the consortium also conducted public opinion research through Leger Opinion’s online panel collecting 1400 responses over the period March 12-17, 2021. The sample was randomly selected based on quotas to reflect census data for age, gender, and regions in Canada. Respondents who identified as Indigenous and those with a household income below $40,000 a year were oversampled by an extra 200 cases each to ensure representation from those groups. The data was weighted to ensure representation by age, gender, and region. An associated margin of error for a probability-based sample of n=1,400 is ±2.6%, 19 times out of 20.

The consortium also hosted dialogue sessions in November and December 2020, three in English and one in French. People had to register to take part and there were 87 participants. An online meeting specifically for the Fellows of the Canadian Museums Association was also offered with seven fellows participating.

The data gathered from the surveys and dialogue session was analyzed and compiled in report form. To learn more about the findings, please read the What We Heard Report.

The consortium used this contemporary research to understand how Canadian’s opinions of the role and value of museums had changed over time. The last time a study of this nature was conducted was in 1973 when the federal government funded the first comprehensive study of the behaviours and attitudes of museum-goers and non-goers in Canada. The 1974 report The Museum and the Canadian Public by Brian Dixon, Alice Courtney, and Robert Bailey, summarizes this groundbreaking study and provides a baseline for visitation and attitudes to museums in Canada. A comparative analysis of the two data sets commissioned by the consortium shows how public perceptions of museums in Canada have shifted or remained consistent over the last 50 years.

To learn more about Canadian’s changing perceptions, please read Trust and Value: The Role of Museums in Canada in the Twenty-First Century.

Module 2 of this course will delve deeper into the data and the themes that emerged.

Last modified: Thursday, 2 March 2023, 4:24 PM