Recently I saw a Facebook post from a museum boasting about how exciting a day they were having due to a large group of school children visiting. The post continued to mention just how “thrilled” and “engaged” the students were in all of the activities. Accompanying this language were pictures of the children at various activity stations.

At quick glance this seemed sweet. It appeared to be a positive post about the successful connection between the museum and their audience. However, a closer look at the images revealed droopy faces, heads slumped over, and glazed-over eyes. The images simply didn’t match the words. Did this institution completely fail to review the images they were posting?

It got me wondering, just how do often museums misread their audiences’ reactions. Many museums provide evaluations or other feedback loops to capture visitor responses but how often are images used as an evaluative tool? Have any of you utilized photos of your visitors during their visits as a means to learn more about their interactions? I am not suggesting replacing other evaluation methods with images alone but I do think it could be worthwhile. Snap some shots throughout the day. What are your visitors looking at or doing? Do their facial expressions match your expected outcomes/ emotions?

And once you snap those pictures, share them. In a visual culture that thrives on social media, photos of visitors are gold. Just be sure that what you say is happening in the image is in fact reflected in it.