Thank you, onliners!

HMNS.ORG today.

So, the next time we do a survey of our online visitors, it should include the question “What do you call a group of people who interact online?” The closest I could find was onliners, though this really refers to something much more specific. I also liked “online hero” – because it seemed like an apt description for the awesome people who took the time to help us out by answering some questions about their online activities.

Clearly there is a gap in dictionary.com - this needs to be rectified. Ideas, anyone?

In the meantime, I’m happy to announce that the randomly selected winner of the iPod Touch is Brandi Roberson. Congratulations, Brandi!

Since so many of you (almost 2,000!) took the time to answer our questions about what you like to do online, I thought I would share some of the trends with you here.

The most interesting answers came in response to the open-ended final question, “What – if any – new features would you like to see added to www.hmns.org?” They included gems like “More Robots!” (um…ok?)and “Gravity!” (more details, please) as well as tons of great ideas – like an online gift shop, webcams, virtual tours, member-specific content, the ability to review exhibitions, RSS feeds, social networking, increased interaction in general and much more.

Other interesting tidbits: you’re young (over half between 25 – 44) and you really like the Internet (99% use it either “constantly” or daily” – though I suppose it might be more surprising if you didn’t). You like Facebook waaaay more than MySpace (by a margin of 35%) and 1.6% are still stuck with dial up. You’re creative – 35% are creating content on Flickr, YouTube or Twitter.

15% of you stop by our web site for more information about an exhibit after you visit the Museum in person – a scenario we generally have not considered with regards to the information available online. I can assure you we are considering that now – along with all of the other needs and preferences you shared – as we work on improving our online programs. Thank you!

If you missed the survey, or if you have any further ideas you’d like to share, please do so in the comments. We would love to hear from you!

6 thoughts on “Thank you, onliners!

  1. I think that there should be highlights under each exhibit section that highlights some of the best specimens on display.

    Also, I’ve been reading a book called “Whose Muse?: Art Museums and the Public Trust” I really enjoyed this quote by James Cuno, director of the Art Institute of Chicago, about the basic public trust of art museums and their roles in society.
    “In the end, this is what our visitors most want from us: to have access to works of art in order to change them, to alter their experience of the world, to sharpen and heighten their sensibilities to it, to make it come alive anew for them, so they can walk away at a different angle to the world.”

    Erin, what do you feel the basis of public trust is for science museums?

  2. I sometimes feel that art museums typically appeal toward the upper echelon for their classiness. You do not see kids running around and hear them screaming in art museum, but you constantly hear it in HMNS.

  3. In my experience, the kids who are “running around and screaming” are excited about what they’re looking at – which means they are learning, exactly the outcome we strive to create for them, and everyone who visits us – no matter what age group – every day.

    And I think this point also addresses your first question – the public trusts that we provide educational experiences, in accordance with our mission. Replace “works of art” with “scientific artifacts” in the quote you provide and it works as a pretty good description of the experience a science museum provides as well. Sounds like a pretty good book – thanks for sharing it.

  4. I just feel that the museum experience is seriously ruined by the rowdy kids. You really do not get to quietly enjoy the exhibits, and you leave with a terrible experience. The exhibits are sometimes good, but the experience mostly is not. I rarely run into this problem at art museums.

  5. You should try coming in the afternoons – most of the kids coming during the week are on field trips, and they generally have to be back at their schools by 3 p.m. We also have extended hours on Tuesday evenings, during which time admission to the permanent exhibit halls is free. On the weekends, the museum is generally quietest early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

  6. I think I agree with Thomas if you replace “classiness” with “snobbishness” – science is more than just staring quietly at artifacts. It’s about experiencing what makes our world tick.

    As much as I love art museums, I tend to notice that there I see more arms crossed, thoughtfully furrowed brow, shhhhhh-stop-talking-while-i’m-contemplating people than at science museums. Places like HMNS feel much more alive to me – I for one love to see the excited children!

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