Museum Trends Survey 2023

Closed 19 Apr 2024

Opened 30 Jan 2024


Why is the Museum Trends Survey needed?
As an advocacy body for the museum sector, NI Museums Council (NIMC) needs up-to-date information on how its member museums across Northern Ireland operate. The purpose of the survey is to provide focused quantitative and qualitative data about both local authority and independent museums so that NIMC can argue effectively for their social, cultural and economic value and help to secure the resources they need. Further, NIMC needs data that can point to the strategic challenges for the sector, challenges which require strategic planning to be dealt with collectively rather than individually.

The Museum Trends Survey offers NIMC an opportunity to discover what museums are doing well, and to celebrate that. It also offers an opportunity to discover what is not being done, and why that might be, which is key to advocating for increased provision of all kinds. Further, through the framing and content of the Museum Trends Survey, NIMC can affirm the meaning and worth of the museum sector, and all the people who work in it. 

What is being surveyed?
The survey questions have been devised with the goal of ensuring that every response can support NIMC’s advocacy for the local museum sector. Broadly, questions will ask for quantitative (numbers, percentages etc.) or qualitative (narrative) responses that pertain to the work of your museum during the last financial year (1st April 2022 – 31st March 2023).

The questionnaire has been reviewed and redeveloped following extensive consultation and independent assessment. As a result, some aspects of previous surveys will no longer feature. 

The Museum Trends Survey 2023 will ask a range of questions that are grouped into seven sections across three themes that map to the UK Museum Accreditation standard.

Organisational Health
1.    Infrastructure
2.    Workforce 
3.    Finance 
4.    Strategic Outlook 

Managing Collections
5.    Collections 
6.    Range Statements

Users and their Experiences
7.    Formal Learning
8.    Informal Learning
9.    Community Engagement
10.    Audience Development and Outreach
11.    Impact 

Whilst the Museum Trends Survey maps to the UK Museum Accreditation framework, unaccredited museums are also encouraged to participate.

How will the survey be done?
The Museum Trends Survey is being delivered digitally through Citizen Space, which is the online survey software used by Government for all public consultations. 

If you have any immediate questions about the Museum Trends Survey, please do feel free to contact us on 02890 550215 or via e-mail to

How will the Museum Trends data be used?
As the survey questions will have changed substantially from previous years, there will be limited scope to assess trends relative to the 2015 dataset, which was published in 2016. The goal will be to ensure that subsequent surveys incorporate an element of statistical analysis that will allow NIMC to make conclusive and persuasive statements about sectoral trends. This will involve comparing annual averages to determine statistically significant changes using Analysis of Variance and assessing data trends through regression analysis. These approaches will support NIMC’s data-driven advocacy strategy for the local museum sector, ensuring that we are more agile, and able to respond quickly and coherently to needs as they arise, and to better forecast sectoral issues and opportunities.

Benefits for survey participants.
Once NIMC has gathered the information, we will undertake an analysis and publish sectoral information, but only limited information on any particular museum (for example, NIMC will not publish information on your staffing or financial performance). We will be able to provide your museum with a specific report that will allow you to compare and contrast your work and performance with the general trends across the sector. This could facilitate your planning and may suggest other areas of work and activities that your museum might consider for the future. In broad terms, the survey will support our advocacy within the Department for Communities, and more generally across Government and other stakeholders. 

Data Protection concerns.
NIMC is conscious of its Data Protection and Freedom of Information responsibilities. The information provided by you in this questionnaire will be used for research purposes to inform NIMC’s advocacy function, service planning and assist in determining policy priorities. The data will be published by NIMC, and while it will not be used in a manner that will allow identification of any individual’s details, it will be used to promote museums generally and individually.

Survey data will be archived at NIMC in order to make it available to other researchers, and to museums, in line with current data sharing practices. 


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