A study of grandparents and grandchildren as visitors to museums and art galleries in the UK

Ela Beaumont, Pat Sterry


This paper discusses one aspect of a major research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council of family group visitors to museums and galleries in the UK. Grandparents visiting with their grandchildren are a little understood phenomenon in terms of visitor research and this paper aims to address that balance. The research project focuses on three art galleries and museums in the UK where 44 sets of grandparents were interviewed during the initial stages of the research. Findings have shown a number of interesting facets, some of which are presented in this paper. Grandparents are motivated to visit the museum with their grandchildren in the main because they are seeking an entertaining visit, a day out that is also educational and linked to school projects. They are likely to be the children’s primary carers as parents are out to work and the destination might not link with their own interests but those of the parents. They have social roles to play in their grandchildren’s lives. They often seek activity or workshops in the museum/art gallery that will be of benefit for their grandchildren and encourage them to explore the activities provided. These and other aspects are discussed within the paper. We conclude by suggesting how the findings can be used to inform more sophisticated approaches to ‘family friendly’ initiatives in museums and art galleries.

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Copyright (c) 2015 Ela Beaumont, Pat Sterry

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Museum and Society

ISSN 1479-8360

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