In Your Customers Shoes – Northern Museums Visitor Experience Programme 2022

What is it?

The aim of the programme is to put those that come face-to-face with visitors on a daily basis in the shoes of those visiting. Developed by Museum Development Yorkshire and now rolled out across the north, the programme has been designed to help you assess the museum you are visiting in all aspects of the offer from online presence to visitor engagement on the day.

Each participating museum agrees to send its staff or volunteers to three other sites between August and October 2022. We encourage you to send front of house staff on the visits. Sometimes people make the visits on their own; often they choose to do it with friends or family. It also works well if staff or volunteers go in pairs. You are asked to undertake some pre-visit work and to submit your report via the online survey questionnaire.

In return, your museum will receive three reports from people from other museums who have visited your site. An informal group of museums across the North of England who make mystery visits to each other’s sites, assessing them against agreed criteria to offer thorough, objective and constructive feedback.

The value of the programme

We find that the staff and volunteers undertaking the visits:
• Have an interesting and enjoyable day out as part of their staff development programme
• Bring enthusiasm and ideas back to their home sites

We find that the museums being visited:
• Receive valuable comments and realistic recommendations for service improvement
• See their service in a new light
• Find that these objective reports on their services can carry weight to help influence management decisions
• Gain valuable evidence for funding bids

Which museums are eligible to take part?
All museums in the North East, North West and Yorkshire that are Accredited or working towards Accreditation. This includes Nationals and NPOs.

How far will we have to travel?

Running the programme across the north of England allows more visit options for museums close to the regional boundaries – we won’t ask you to go further than your staff and volunteers are willing/allowed to travel. We will ask you for this information when you sign up.


The complete visit programme and site reports will be seen by the programme organiser and may be seen by your regional Museum Development team. Completed site reports will be shared with the co-ordinator at the subject museum who will not be told who made the visit.

How much does it cost?

There is no charge to take part. In general, if museums are sending paid staff, they give them paid time away from their duties. Travel (at 45p per mile/standard rail travel), admission and up to £10 subsistence costs for your participants can be reclaimed from your regional Museum Development team. Use of the Northern Museums Volunteer Pass is encouraged to keep costs down. One claim per organisation if possible. (Sorry, we are unable to pay expenses for Nationals and NPOs).

Our shared commitment

This programme has been running successfully for several years. It operates on the understanding that each museum that signs up will complete its visits within the time period. However, we know from experience that unexpected events occasionally prevent museums from carrying out some or all of their visits. There is no capacity within the programme to fill gaps.
We will:

  • Check with you at the start of the programme that your allocated visits
    are acceptable and send regular reminders about the programme. We ask you:
    • To do your best to carry out your allocated visits
    • To emphasise the importance of quality to your team and to encourage
    participation in the pre-programme online meeting
    • To let the programme organiser know asap if you have any problems
    • To be understanding if you receive fewer reports than expected
    • To complete the online feedback survey to inform future programme

If there too few museums that want to take part in your area for a realistic visit programme we will be in touch with you to review options.

Find out more

All participants are invited to an online pre-programme meeting on 18th July, 2pm. This is optional but we encourage all participating museums to send at least one representative.

Please book your free place here.

Would you like to take part?

Please complete the sign up form by 15th July


  • Online pre-programme meeting 18th July, 2.00pm
  • You will be notified of your museums to visit By 1st August
  • Make the visits, and complete the online survey questionnaire by 31st October
  • We will look at the reports to check that they are complete and fairly written before sending them to the recipient site within 5 working days of the report’s submission