Wayfinding and behavioural research for the Victoria & Albert Museum

The V&A appointed CCD to undertake an in-depth programme of action research to better understand how different visitors and staff see, interact with and understand the building.

Client: Victoria & Albert Museum

Our aim was to give wandering visitors more of a purpose and, in doing so, create a more personal connection between them and the museum.

For culture and heritage venues, creating a deeper connection between visitors and the venue, in this case the V&A’s exhibitions, can help to improve visitor interest, increase dwell time and enhance the overall experience. This has commercial benefits too, such as increased willingness to donate, increased retail and food & beverage spend.

Visitor research at the V&A London

To discover what enticed the V&A’s visitors to explore the museum, we ran several days of on-site immersive research involving staff and visitors throughout. We used a variety of traditional and creative action research techniques based on the specific aims of the brief.

Traditional techniques were based on listening, observing, shadowing and conversational Q&As with visitors and staff.

Visitor research at the V&A London

The action research techniques were more provocative interventions that led to opening up new conversations about visitor needs.

We covered the maps in the entire museum for one day, encouraging visitors to ask staff about their favourite piece in the collection, and in turn creating a more personal connection between staff, visitors and the museum.

Sharing boards encouraged visitors to share their tips and favourite collection item/s, promoting visitors to explore and discover new collections or parts of the museum they otherwise may not have visited.

Encouraging interaction between staff and visitors at the V&A
Visitors at Victoria & Albert Museum
Sharing boards during CCD's V&A action research.
Visitors at Victoria & Albert Museum
The Other Map at the V&A prompted visitors to explore with emotion and action.

“The Other Map” was created to guide visitors through the museum using emotions and action.

The map included comments such as “look up”, “master a sketch”, and “refuel here” to encourage exploration and discovery.

These techniques helped us understand spaces in the museum that weren’t being found, and where the architecture was confusing to visitors.  It also highlighted what visitors loved about the museum, and where the museum could work harder to gain visitors’ attention.

We submitted a range of insights and recommendations to the V&A which shed light on previously unknown visitor behaviours and navigation in the museum.