Lindow Manchester

Maths Lesson and Lindow Man Feedback

Yesterday afternoon I saw the first drafts of reports on visitor feedback for the Lindow Man exhibition for the second two quarters of last year. The feedback has been compiled from visitors’ completed comments cards. For the period July to September 2008  806 cards were collected but 79 were rubbish, i.e. they had graffiti, doodles or other meaningless scribbling on them.  The comments broadly cover two categories of information: views for and against the display of human remains and responses to the exhibition. The data was lumped together and, of the total comments,  52% of visitors wanted the bodies to be displayed.

But this is misleading because it confuses two categories of information: comments about whether or not human remains should be displayed and responses to the exhibition.

If we unpick the responses a far clearer picture emerges. 375 cards wanted human remains to be displayed, 37 were against. So out of a total of 412 cards, 375/412 x 100 or 91% were for.  Compare this with the origianl figure of just 52% of “total comments” wanting the remains to be displayed.

If we look at the cards that record qualitative responses  to the exhibition 191 were positive and 48 negative. So if we do the maths, 191 + 48 + 8 (the “not sure”s) = 247. That means 191/247 x 100 =  77% of visitor cards record broadly positive comments about the Lindow Man exhibition.

The figures for the quarter October to December 2008 can be worked out in a similar way and they give an emphatic 92% of comments about human remains want human remains to be displayed in the  Museum and 90% of visitiors had a broadly positive view of the exhibition.

I wonder if we’ve been doing ourselves a disservice in the interpretation of the cards? I checked with Cat Lumb, Lead Educator (Secondary Humanities), this morning and she thought it might be a systemic error but felt that sometimes it was difficult to tell the difference between someone wanting human remains to stay on display and responding well to the exhibition. She gave the example of a card saying “Really loved the display of Egyptian mummies”. That seems to be both for displaying human remains and a positive response to the exhibition. Could our visitor satisfaction rating based on the comments cards have been higher than we thought in the 2nd quarter of 2008?

What is even more  interesting is the comments themselves. I picked up one today that says:  “A body is a machine for living in, not a person. An old dead body is just interesting that’s all!  To which I reply, well it depends on your philosophical viewpoint, but to some people the body and the spirit are part and parcel of the same thing. That is why native American Indians or indigenous peoples in Australia feel so strongly that the remains of their ancestors should be returned to them. They are not leftover pieces of no longer functioning machinery but are deeply charged with spiritual importance for these communities.

It’s really interesting how the Lindow Man exhibition has brought out these differences in attitudes amongst our visitors. In the last month or so of the exhibition it makes me think we have contributed to the debate on this issue.


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Spoke to Piotr Bienkowski, Deputy Director of the Museum at this morning’s diary meeting about last week’s debate on human remains. His main point had been that there is link between present communities and the ancient dead through landscape. The other speaker in the debate, John Harris, who I didn’t hear unfortunately, seems to have echoed the quote from one of the comments cards I give above, saying that the dead serve society’s needs or interests, irrespective of the wishes of relatives or the community.

Comment by bryansitch

i ❤ lindow mannnn

Comment by mrs lindow

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