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Visitors Study at a Museum of Asian Arts: Analytical Essay

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1.0 Introduction

An art museum or art gallery is a building or space for the exhibition of art, usually visual art. Museums can be public or private, but what distinguishes a museum is the ownership of a collection.1

Museums, galleries and science centers are experiential environments. They provide people with resources to have memorable experiences. These resources include works of art like paintings and sculptures as well as hands-on and computer-based interactives and highly advanced installations. It is largely assumed that these resources form the basis for the ‘museum experience’ (Falk and Dierking 1992) Museums are important because they serve to remind us of who we are and what our place in this world. (Davis 2007:53) ‘A museum, as now understood, is a collection of the monuments of antiquity, or of other objects interesting to the scholar and the man of science, arranged and displayed in accordance with scientific method’ (Murray 1904: Introduction)

A museum is any number of permutations of collection. There is no common understanding of a museum. What do all these collections have in common that endows them with the title ‘museum’? Are these agglomerations of artifacts and relics the detritus of a bygone age? What constitutes a museum? (Fiona McLean 1997: 2) The museum visitor trusts the museum to have superior knowledge about the object and to inform them of its history. Artifacts are mute, they cannot express their own history and that is the responsibility of the ‘interpreter’, the curator.

According to, American Marketing Association “marketing is the process of planning and executing the conception, pricing, promotion and distribution of ideas, goods and services to create exchanges that satisfy individual and organizational goals.” Nevertheless, more specifically for museums: Marketing is the management process, which confirms the mission of a museum or gallery and is then responsible for the efficient identification, anticipation and satisfaction of the users. (Lewis 1991: 26) This is the most suitable definition for museums although ‘users’ is a limiting concept since it ignores the various other publics that need to be recognized.

Marketing then is set of tools used to achieve a philosophy that sees what museums are doing through the eyes of the people they are doing it for: both the people who use museums and those who support museums. Marketing is an attitude of mind, an attitude that permeates throughout an organization. These attitudes are then transmitted into actions, which are implemented through marketing tools. According to the marketing concept, ‘an organization should try to provide products that satisfy customers’ need through a coordinated set of activities that also allows the organization to achieve goals’ ( Dibb et al, 1991: 13)

Museum managers, in general, know little about their visitors apart from attendance figures (Hooper-Greenhill 1988; Yorke & Jones 1984). The reasons that people visit museums, their expectations, and the experience they have are largely unknown by most museum managers (McLean 1994) From the definition, museums are in the administration of society, however, the individuals who are in charge of their administration don't generally recognize what society needs or anticipates from museums. One may assume that advertising be preferred by the museums since marketing is an assortment of learning management, particularly with issues of enhancing the match between what consumers need and what producers give. This is not a trivial issue because of the complex and changing nature of the product provided by the museum, and the inclusion of numerous stakeholders (including some perceived by the museums but not yet in existence, for example, future generations) with various interests. A market introduction would empower museums to see better the necessities of their partners and react to them even more satisfactorily.

Background of study

The accumulation of the Museum of Asian Art has a long history and it has been developed over time of right around 50 years. The primary thing on the record is a bronze Buddha head from the Chiengsen period (1400-1550 AD), Thailand, given to the historical center by Kun Krassri Nimanamhasminda in 1954. This commitment denoted the start of the University of Malaya Art Museum around then situated in the university’s campus in Singapore. The Buddha's head was in this manner procured quite a while before the University of Malaya grounds was set up in Kuala Lumpur in 1962. Around then an area of the university library been utilized to show the relics. The gallery's present home has been worked to suit the expansion of new procurement. In Jun 1980, the new building was built in the scenic zone between the Faculty of Economics and the Law Faculty (presently possessed by the Business and Accounting Faculty). Inside its three stories of show space, the gallery speaks to three developments; the Indian, The Chinese and the Islamic (Malay culture).

Aside from that, the museum have a rare collection of the broad water vessel (kendi) accumulation is the largest in the world with pieces dating from the eleventh century A.D. The historical center likewise houses numerous uncommon pieces, for example, the Sawankhalok stoneware manhunt elephant dolls items in Thailand amid the fourteenth and fifteenth century A.D. The important accumulations of stone carvings, copper things, and Malays’ weaponry among others are likewise in plain view as a major aspect of the university's obligations to furnish the students and nation with a message-our predecessor passing an extraordinary civilization to us.

University of Malaya's Museum of Asian Art is an outstanding education-oriented museum. Located in the main campus of the university it aims to promote Asian art among multicultural Malaysians. The Gallery holds about 7,000 fortunes, speaking to societies from all through Asia, and spreading over 4,000 years of Asian history. Highlighting 1,500 squares feet of display space, the exhibition hall features the one of kind material tasteful, and scholarly accomplishments of Asian artistry and culture, including Chinese stoneware Hindu statuary, materials from the Malay Archipelago, and consecrated covers of Orang Asli communities. 2

Scope and limitation

The scope area of the research will be carried out at the Museum of Asian Art. This study mainly focuses about the museum visitors' preferences and the problems that faced by they. The survey is to study on the demographic of the visitors and what their intention of visiting the museum are. Interview sessions with the curator and museum staff to identify the marketing approaches that have been practiced to communicate with the visitors.

Although the research has its aims, there were some unavoidable limitations. First, the analysis study on the visitor's behavior and experiences towards the museum activities will be only carried out on a certain period from the year 2012 until 2017. This is due to the limitation of data that can be obtained from the museum staff.


The long-term goal of the research is to improve the attendance of more visitors to the Museum of Asian Art and to propose better marketing strategies to face the challenges for the museum in understanding the visitors.

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  1. To identify the management and strategies of the Museum of Asian Arts to manage the visitors.
  2. To analyze visitors' behavior and experiences towards the museum activities from year 2012 - 2017.

Problem statement

According, to Marilyn G. Hood 3, in her article Museum News (April 1983) it stated on why people might choose not to come to museums. From a survey of art museum visitors, described the demographic characteristics of museum supporters. Typically, they are in the upper education, occupation and income groups, younger than the population in general and active in other community and leisure activities. However, (Falk and Dierking 1992: 157) found that most visitors come to the museum as part of a social group; consequently, the group mediates what visitors see, do, and remember. Numerous surveys have discovered that people find museums uncomfortable place to visit.

Studies also suggest that numerous surveys on museum visitors show that people do not prefer going to a museum, especially the younger generations. There are people who do not visit museums were cited by Touche Ross (1989: 2). As giving not, enough time as of the main reasons and this also appears in more qualitative accounts (Trevelyan, 1991: 24; Susie fisher group, 1990: 44). However, the qualitative accounts also reveal other attitudes, including a feeling that museums are for people with education and specific interest, and people who want to learn. One of the major reasons why some people do not visit museums and galleries is because of bad experiences in the past. Many people still museums as they were at the time, and think that museums are austere, forbidding, dusty, empty, church-like and remote (Trevelyan, 1991: 34-6).

According to Mr. Abd Aziz Abdul Rashid the head curator of the Museum of Asian Arts, “they have been facing a hard time the whole of his career especially on getting support from the visitors where that is one of the biggest encounters they are facing apart from less support from the management site and regards the location of the museum. He also added on that students are not accessing the museum.” Generally, this research is to overcome the challenges faced by the Museum of Asian Arts mainly on its visitors.

Research Methodology

Types of research methods can be divided into two quantitative and qualitative categories. Quantitative research describes, infers, and resolves problems using numbers. Emphasis is set on the collection of numerical data, the summary of those data and the drawing of inferences from the data. Quantitative research is research in which the investigator attempts to clarify phenomena through carefully designed and controlled data collection and survey analysis. Qualitative research is dependent on words, sentiments, feelings, sounds and other non-numerical and unquantifiable components. Qualitative research is likewise look into in which the investigator endeavors to consider normally happening wonders in the entirety of their unpredictability. In this manner, past information and writing has helped me to dissect my exploration from the alternate point of view of various researchers. Research methodology for the most part includes two distinct kinds of research primary and secondary. Primary research will be inquired about we lead individually. It includes going straightforwardly to a source, for example, interviews, reviews, questionnaires, center gatherings and many more. When we conduct primary research, we will accumulate two fundamental sort of data that is exploratory and particular. Exploratory wise research is general and open-ended and regularly includes lengthy interviews with an individual or small group whereby particular research is more exact and utilized to take care of an issue recognized in exploratory research and includes more organized and formal interviews. Primary research more often than not costs more and frequently takes more time to lead than secondary research, yet it gives definitive outcomes. In contrast to primary research, secondary research is a sort of research has just been incorporated, assembled, composed, and published by others. It incorporates reports and studies. A considerable measure of secondary research is accessible on appropriate Web just by entering catchphrases and expressions for the kind of data we are searching for. We can likewise acquire secondary research by perusing articles, magazines and other educational sources. As indicated by the findings, it has distinguished qualitative and quantitative methods were used to carry out this research.

The complete quantitative study it involved a survey instrument, which is a visitor survey (Appendix 1). The survey of demographic information, for example, likes dislikes, age, gender, factors related to their museum visit behavior and personal assessments of their museum encounters. Museums and galleries now use visitor surveys to improve their exhibits and collections and to strategize their outreach.4 for the qualitative method researcher will conduct few interviews with Mr. Abd Aziz Abdul Rashid (head curator), Miss Zahirah Noor Zainol Abidin (curator), few staffs and the visitors. The researcher have done the first unofficial interview with Mr. Abd Aziz on 1 November 2018. Examples of questions,

  1. How do you think the Museum of Asian Arts attracts and engage new visitors member?
  2. How Museum of Asian Arts increase the frequency of attendance of its current visitors and develop among its patrons?

Theoretical Framework

There is no one definition of marketing: its concepts being slotted in to fulfill with the requirements of differing situations. One concept that does reconcile the various definitions is the notion of the customer. Without people, there would be no rationale for marketing. Marketing is a process that brings together an organization and people, whether it be for profit, to satisfy their needs or wants, to increase visitor figures, etc. Working on the basis then, marketing at its lowest common denominator is about building up a relationship between the museum and the public. (Fiona McLean)

Marketing is sufficiently flexible to adapt to new situations. The history of marketing shows that its focus has changed considerably evolving through a commodity focus, an institutional focus, a functional focus, a managerial focus, and a social focus (Koter 1972). Marketing involves the use of a number of marketing tools to execute a marketing strategy. These tools together facilitate the exchange transaction between the organization and its customer. Traditionally the tools have fallen into four brought areas: product, place, promotion and price. Collectively these tools are known as the marketing mix or 4Ps. Essentially, the principle of the marketing mix is to break down an offering ‘into a number of component parts and to arrange them into manageable subject areas for making strategic decisions. Decisions on one element of the mix can be only made by reference to the other elements

The researcher will be focusing on two major marketing mix tools that is product and promotion. So the museum product can be examined in terms of the core product, namely (1) the museum building and (2) the exhibition; and the supplementary products, namely (3) the services offered.

  1. 1. Museum building
  • External appearance: banners; signage on buildings; the appearance of the entrance
  • Internal appearance: ambiance; state of repair; furnishings; layout; noise; temperature; air quality; lighting; signage.
  1. 2. Exhibition
  • Collection: presentation and interpretation; use of technology, special interpretative facilities; turnaround of the permanent collection
  • Temporary exhibitions: blockbusters; involvement of local community
  • Exhibit development research undertaken
  1. 3. Services offered
  • Facilities: an information desk; cloakroom; opening hours; the number of seats in galleries.
  • Educational services: workshops; lectures; schools education
  • Special events
  • Service quality: complaints procedure

Promotion can be broken down into (1) promotional resources and (2) the various elements of promotional activity, together with an assessment of their effectiveness.

  1. 1 Promotional resource
  • Promotional budget: decisions on budget; as a proportion of overall income; of earned income; according to needs; previous year plus inflation
  • Promotion budget analyzed by type of expenditure
  • Additional resources available
  • Desktop publishing, in-house printing, and photocopying facilities
  • Advertising agency
  • Promotional activities with other museums or organizations in marketing groups
  • Promotional objectives and relations of promotional activities of each other
  • Systems of handling customer enquiring resulting from the promotion
  • The measure of effectiveness used
  • Decisions on the design of promotions for different target markets
  1. 2. Promotional activities
  • Corporate identity: image; brand; use of logo; typeface, etc.
  • Personal selling activities: lectures; fundraising; increasing use of services
  • Promotional literature: print quantities by type of print, season, and exhibition; distribution methods and analyses of outlets
  • Use and creativity of direct mail: use of the database for target marketing; size and segmentation of mailing lists; retrieval systems and scope for personalization, use of other direct marketing techniques, such as telephone sales.
  • Advertising: advertising policies; use of paid advertising media
  1. 3. Public relations: effectiveness of media relations; effectiveness of press releases; relations with stakeholders; relations with staff.

Literature review

Museums and their Visitors, Eilean Hooper-Greenhill

Visitor research is an essential management information tool. It should include both qualitative and quantitative research, and be carried out as part of a systematic and planned program. In the past, museums and galleries have seen this as expensive and time-consuming, but as museums strive to get closer to the audiences, they need to know first who they are, and second, what they think, will become more and more imperative. Therefore, museums and galleries are institutions with an almost unimaginable potential for enabling learning and enjoyment. At most, of institutions now, money is short, and hard decisions have to make over priorities. What structures need to be placed to manage effective museum communication and to identify useful actions?

Marketing the Museum, Fiona McLean

Although the museum should select the most appropriate promotional mix elements, there is one function that every museum should undertake, of developing a corporate image. From that image comes the predominant message, which then needs to be used throughout all the other promotions, even though each individual promotion may have its own message to communicate. To ensure consistency, there must be an overall message underlying specific individual messages. All museum staff are ambassadors for the museums; they each should contribute their own way to the marketing of the museum. The staff well trained to have a positive effect on the visitors, encouraging them to return and to recommend that their friends visit.

Appendix 1

Questionnaire for self-completion

The Museum of Asian Arts

The Museum of Asian Arts is anxious to keep improving its facilities and services for visitors. To help us we would appreciate a few minutes of your time to answer the following questions. Please circle your response otherwise stated.

  1. 1. Have you been to the Museum of Asian Arts before?
  • Yes 1
  • No 2
  1. If YES, how many times have you visited the museum in the last 12 months, including today’s visits?
  • Once 1 5 - 9 times 3
  • 2 - 4 times 2 10+ times 4
  1. 2. How did you FIRST hear of this museum?
  • Poster 1
  • Brochure 2
  • Advert/article in magazine/newspaper 3
  • From friends/relatives 4
  • Known from school/college visits 5
  • Tourist information 6
  • Saw it when passing by 7
  • Other 8
  1. 3. Are you visiting this museum by yourself or with someone?
  • By myself 1
  • With myself 2
  • With friends/ business associates 3
  • With an organized group 4
  1. 4. How did you travel here today?
  • Car 1 Train 3
  • Bus 2 Foot 4
  1. 5. Did you have any difficulty finding the museum?
  • Yes 1
  • No 2
  1. 6. How long have you spent in the museum today?
  • 10-20 minutes 1 1-2 hours 4
  • 20-40 minutes 2 More than 2 hours 5
  • 40-60 minutes 3
  1. 7. Which of the following areas of the museum have you visited today?
  • The special temporary exhibition 1
  • The Collections galleries 2
  • The special exhibition and collection galleries 3
  1. 8. What facilities are not included in the museum, which you would use?
  • A cafe 1
  • Guide book 2
  • Other 3
  1. 9. How would you rate the following in the museum?
  • (Please indicate on a scale of 5 to 1, 5 being very satisfactory, 1 being very unsatisfactory.)
  • Presentation of exhibits 5 4 3 2 1
  • Labeling in the museum 5 4 3 2 1
  • The artifacts, ceramics 5 4 3 2 1
  • The available staff 5 4 3 2 1
  1. 10. Do you find the present opening times convenient?
  • Yes 1
  • No 2
  1. 11. Which aspect of the museum did you find enjoyable or particularly interesting?
  2. 12. How likely are you to visit this museum again?
  • Very likely 5
  • Likely 4
  • Unlikely 3
  • Very unlikely 2
  • Do not know 1
  1. 13. Do you have any suggestions for improvement?
  2. 14. What is your intention of visiting the museum?
  • Finally a few details about yourself
  1. 15. Gender
  • Male 1
  • Female 2
  1. 16. To which age group does you belong?
  • Under 16 1 25 - 34 4 55 - 64 7
  • 16 - 18 2 35 - 44 5 65+ 8
  • 19 - 24 3 45 - 54 6
  1. 17. Please state your occupation, being as specific as possible. If you are a STUDENT, RETIRED or UN EMPLOYED please state your previous occupation.
  • Thanks for completing this questionnaire.


  1. O'Reilly, D and Kerrigan, F (2010) Marketing the arts, A fresh Approach. New York, NY: Routledge
  2. Greenhill, E.H (1994) Museum and their Visitors. New York, NY: Routledge
  3. McLean, Fiona. (1997) Marketing the Museum. New York, NY: Routledge
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