Researching local history online was top activity amongst people who engaged with heritage sites online, according to survey

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17th May 2022 08:36 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

Researching local history online was top activity amongst people who engaged with heritage sites online: A survey of adults in England has revealed that when engaging with heritage sites digitally, the most cited activity was researching their local history online. 

This was followed by taking a virtual museum or gallery tour in England (4%), viewing documents online from an archive in England (4%), engaging with content (text, image, audio, video, animation, games or podcast) from heritage sites in England (3%), or researching items from a museum or gallery collection in England online. 

Engaging digitally at heritage sites

Other digital engagement included engaging with text, image, audio, video, animation, games or podcasts from heritage sites in England, or taking a virtual walking tour of a historic town or city, heritage site, castle or monument in England. 

The Participation Survey October to December 2021 was commissioned by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport and published in April 2022. It polled 13,536 people online (83%) while 2,691 (17%) completed a paper version of the questionnaire

The research found that whilist 19% of respondents engaged with heritage services digitally, two-thirds (66%) engaged 'in person', visiting various sites in England, and 17% engaged both digitally and physically. Almost half the respondents polled (47%) said they engaged with heritage 'physically' but not 'digitally', while just 2% engaged digitally but not in person. 

Around a third of respondents (34%) reported engaging with heritage 'less than once a month but around 3-4 times a year (both in-person and online) -- the top option selected. 

The most popular attraction for heritage engagement was found to be parks or gardens with historic features, selected by 41% of respondents, followed by a 'celebrated historic city or town'(39%) and 'historic landscapes or habitats' (36%).

Looking at who engaged with heritage sites, the research revealed that while a similar percentage of men (63%) and women (64%) engaged with physical heritage sites, men engaged more digitally than women (21% versus 18%). 

Physical visits to heritage sites were the least popular with 16-24 year-olds (56%) and the over 75s (53%), compared with other age groups seeing an engagement of 66-67%.

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