British Museum

Sponsor: The British Museum Group Picture BMuseum
Sponsor Liaison: Eleanor Hyun
Student Team: Peyton Delgorio, Shivangi Pandey, Maggie Russell, and Ryan Wiesenberg
Abstract: The Korea Foundation Gallery is one of the many galleries in the British Museum that holds historically significant artifacts. The British Museum tries to preserve and honor its artifacts by continuously assessing and updating its galleries. A 2012 Korea Foundation Gallery visitor experience survey revealed that visitors did not notice key objects and did not follow the layout of the gallery. This feedback prompted curators to make renovations to the Gallery. We evaluated whether the redesign met the desired impact through tracking visitor movements, surveying visitors, and interviewing museum staff. Based on our evaluation, we found that the visitor experience improved post- redesign. We also provided suggestions on ways to further the Gallery’s visitor engagement.

Final Report – British Museum Final Report

Final Presentation – Final Presentation

Executive Summary


Nearly 40 million people visit national museums and galleries in England every year and approximately six million visit the British Museum, a tourist attraction in London, England (British Museum, n.d.). The British Museum is constantly updating and improving its galleries to honor its artifacts cultural and historical significance. Understanding visitors’ reactions, perceptions, and interactions helps the British Museum curators revamp galleries and exhibits to their full potential to create a more enjoyable and educational experience.

In 2012, the British Museum’s Department of Asia surveyed visitors about their experience in The Korea Foundation Gallery. They found the gallery was not meeting the needs of visitors or curatorial expectations. In 2014, curators updated the Gallery to reflect the feedback from the 2012 survey. In order to assess the performance of the 2014 renovations, the Department of Asia requested a group of Worcester Polytechnic Institute students to perform an assessment of the nature and quality of the current visitor experience in the gallery. In collaboration with Eleanor Hyun, curator of the Korea Foundation Gallery, and the Department of Asia, we helped the museum evaluate the visitor experience in the updated gallery.



The goal of this project was to evaluate and understand how the renovations to the display and design of the Korea Foundation Gallery impacted the current visitor experience, whether it successfully meets the criteria of the curatorial staff, and if the redesign effectively achieved the desired impact. In order to successfully accomplish our goal, we analyzed visitor experience in the gallery and provided suggestions on how to further improve the overall gallery experience. We explained the steps we took towards achieving our overall goal in five objectives.

First, we assessed the catalyst and success of the Korea Foundation Gallery redesign by finding differences in the layout and aesthetic design of the pre-design and post-design gallery. We achieved this by gathering information about the redesign project and responses to the old gallery. We then identified the goals of the interpretations team and the curatorial staff and compared them to our preliminary analysis of the current gallery design.

Throughout our analysis, we compared our results to the report published in 2012 about the old Korea Foundation Gallery. Since the scope of the redesign was to improve visitor experience, we designed our methodology such that our tracking and survey data was comparable to the 2012 tracking and survey data. We found it was important to understand the findings and recommendations of the 2012 report in order to steer our analysis in a direction that is most beneficial for understanding current visitor experience in the Korea Foundation Gallery.

We used several different methods during our project to properly assess the current design of the Korea Foundation Gallery. We achieved this by interviewing 11 museum staff members. We interviewed curators in both the Department of Asia as well as other departments in the British Museum, interpretation officers, and conservators.
After completing the preliminary research, we used two different methods to assess visitor experience: surveys and tracking. We used five different methods of tracking to understand factors such as visitor movement through the gallery, the number of visitors that enter the gallery, case attraction power, and individual visitor studies. Additionally, we conducted a visitor experience survey that presented information about the demographics of the visitors, their different learning styles, and how the visitors perceived the current design as well as suggestions on ways to further improve the gallery.

After collecting and compiling the data from visitor experience surveys, tracking information, and the information from interviews with the museum staff, we analyzed the data thoroughly to gain a better understanding of the influence the changes made to the gallery. We used this data to identify how visitors are currently experiencing the Korea Foundation Gallery and presented conclusions based on the results. Based on our findings, we made a list of recommendations regarding the gallery’s design and layout.


Findings and Results

After completing the data collection through interviews, tracking and surveys, we compared it to the 2012 evaluation report of the old Korea Foundation Gallery Design. We then compared the data from surveys, interviews, and, tracking and compiled a list of findings. These findings are stated and described below.

We first review the biases potential sources of bias we encountered during data collection and how that influenced how we progressed in the project. We found that layout constraints limitations due to supporting beams and case layout adjusted where we sat in the gallery to complete our tracking and surveying methods.

The redesign team, including Sascha Priewe and Interpretation Officer Ellie Miles, listened to visitor feedback and suggestions from the 2012 report and took them into account as they redesigned the gallery. This included changing the physical layout, information provided, and various other attributes of the gallery. The redesign team, alongside the previous curator, created a new gallery design that strives to display Korean history in a new light.

After completing our 11 interviews, we compiled a list of findings about the scope and success of the redesign:
1. The staff members thought the gallery before the redesign needed to be refreshed. They advocated for a more coherent set-up of the cases and an updated design approach to the gallery as a whole.
2. The major aims of the redesign included refreshing the layout of the gallery and the cases, updating the gallery’s lighting, and improving the overall atmosphere.
3. The major focal points of the redesign were gallery design, colors, and information interpretation. Staff members commented on the gallery both pre and post redesign and presented suggestions for ways the gallery can improve in the future.
4. The overall consensus among staff members was that the redesign project improved the overall design of the gallery. The staff applauded the updates, especially commending the improvement of the brightness of the room.

Along with gaining the staff’s input, we used to survey to understand how the visitors viewed the Korea Foundation Gallery. According to the survey we conducted, the overall consensus of the visitors is that the Gallery is modern, clean, and spacious. However, 31% of the visitors said that there should be more displays and that there is not enough context and information presented about the artifacts. In the 2012 survey, visitors stated that there was too much information presented about the objects that did not make sense together as a whole unit.

Tracking visitor movement in the gallery helped us understand visitor entrance count, case popularity, and spatially breakdown the gallery. We found that 1,084 visitors move through the gallery on average per day and 75% of those visitors enter the gallery through door 67. Overall, there is no set path through the gallery, however there are two commonly taken paths: along the outside of the gallery and from one door to the other that passes in front of the sarangbang. The sarangbang is a recreation of a gentleman’s room with various windows, doors, and artifacts from the time period. The sarangbang has the highest average number of views per hour followed by case 19. Case 19 is located next to door 95 and contains artifacts depicting what would have been in a tradition woman’s dressing room. These two cases also have strong initial attraction power as indicated by high numbers of people first viewing them when entering the gallery. It should also be noted that the sarangbang and the timeline have high levels of visitor engagement as many of visitors spent longer than 30 seconds viewing the case while most cases had the majority of visitors view the case for less than ten seconds. Tracking visitor movement helped us understand visitor engagement and movement in the gallery and better informed us on plans for our recommendations.



Based on our findings discussed in the previous section, we put together a list of six recommendations for our sponsor and curator of the Korea Foundation Gallery, Eleanor Hyun, as well as the British Museum on ways to improve the Korea Foundation Gallery in the future. These recommendations include: more historical context and background on Korean history, the addition of an interactive element within the Sarangbang, an update on the design and information presentation of the Timeline, the inclusion of more information about the moon jar, an increase in the amount of gallery talks held weekly, and the implementation of technology in the gallery.