Audience Advocacy: Parliament ‘collapse’ recalls US research

The segment on TV comedy Rake, of the Australian Parliament collapsing to the ground, evoked memories of visitor research in Washington, seventeen years ago. Supported by a Fulbright award, I was interviewing visitors to the National Museum of American History, just down from the Capitol Building. I was working with Dr Judy Gradwohl, seeking audience responses to a website in development, called American Bytes. Its purpose was to delve into the museum’s ‘attic’ and give experience and knowledge of 450 objects online.

The website was launched in August 2001 to wide acclaim but the name was changed to History Wired. Some visitors I interviewed had expressed discomfort with the ‘bytes’ linked with America. One woman even said it; ‘America bites the dust’. There were other good reasons for the name change but visitors contributed to the decision. Considering the events of 9/11 a few weeks later, it was wise that we asked and even better that the museum listened to visitors.

Read other findings from the research.