The Utilization of Science Museums by African Americans: Factors Influencing Free-Choice Visitation

June 1st, 1991 - November 30th, 1992 | PROJECT

This research is to examine free-choice leisure behavior of African Americans as it relates to the utilization of science museums. Hard statistics for African American museum visitors are not available; but preliminary data based on visitor profile studies undertaken by individual organizations suggest that of the three categories of visitor frequency, most African American visitors fall into the lower two: infrequent (one or two times per year) or not at all. (The vast majority of frequent visitors are non African Americans.) The purpose of this research is to dig deeper into the question of the utilization of science museums by African Americans. Not only will the relationships between variables identified in previous studies (socio-economic, cultural/ethnic, institutional, and regional factors) be examined but others such as how individuals learn about museum programs and the structure of the African American family (household) will also be included. The research will begin by collecting base line visitor profiles at a zoo, aquarium, natural history museum, and a science center. Detailed information relating to the past history of museum-going will be collected by means of interviews of randomly selected African American and White family visitors at several science museums. Finally, indepth interviews regarding leisure time activities and preferences will be conducted in six African American and racially mixed communities representing different socio-economic levels. The ultimate goal is to analyse the attitudes of African Americans toward museums and to provide an understanding of the variables involved that will be of use to museum program planners and educators as they design their activities. The desired result is for this segment of our society to have a better opportunity to benefit from the rich resources of these informal science education institutions.

Project Website(s)

(no project website provided)

Team Members

John H Falk, Principal Investigator, Institute for Learning Innovation Incorporated


Funding Source: NSF
Funding Program: ISE/AISL
Award Number: 9153972
Funding Amount: 49968


Audience: Educators | Teachers | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | General STEM
Resource Type: Project Descriptions
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Programs | Public Programs