Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The things that count at Te Papa

Looking at the attendance figures in Te Papa’s Annual Report we were struck by the fact that there were no figures allocated to people under the age of 16. Given the huge push Te Papa puts on education for young people, the fact that school groups at least must book in it seemed kind of weird. There was of course the possibility that Te Papa are trying to downplay the perception of them as a ‘children’s museum’.
Te Papa tells us that because of “legal reasons” (don’t ask) they can only extract a very limited amount of information from people under 16. However they “estimate” that the under 16s represented 289,845 of the 1,377,173 visitors last year (that’s only 21 percent). As to how many of those were voluntary ie don’t come on organized visits is anybodies guess – our guess is around 60,000. So why the all the dumbing down with the simplistic labels, the obvious themes, the art way up on the top floor and the fun and games in the main foyer etc?
And why is the under 16 figure just an ‘estimate’? Even if they can’t find out what the young people are up to after dark they do at least know how many of them are under the age of 16 even if it is just by elimination.
We also asked Te Papa how they actually counted people and it turns out they use “a thermal camera, with a back up intercept beam”, so it’s all very Flash Gordon at the front door.
Image: a thermal camera