I’ve always felt making an exhibition was the equivalent to writing a book or making a work of art.
In other words, I expect authors and artists to express their visions and ideas. I would never dream of writing or reading a book based on reader research (although I suspect some authors of popular crime novels do exactly that).
Similarly, I’ve never liked the idea of asking actual and potential museum visitors what they want to see in exhibitions. I want to see the results of the creative work of the exhibition curators — unadulterated by focus group interviews or visitor research.
I get some support to this opinion from reading the obituaries about Steve Jobs:
Mr. Jobs’s own research and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide. When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: ‘None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.’
Rightly so — it’s not the museum visitors’ job to know what they want to see in exhibitions.