Measuring a Sense of Belonging at Museums and Cultural Centers
Better understanding guests’ sense of belonging can explain why some feel quite at home in museums while others would never consider visiting. To do so, we start by developing a model of belonging uniquely suited for museums and cultural institutions. Based on literature and expert interviews, it includes three elements of belonging: Inclusion, Place Belongingness and Context of the visit. This study presents an easy-to-use survey instrument designed to measure all aspects of the model. It adapts two previously published scales while introducing the Cultural Context Belonging Scale, newly developed for these settings. We tested it with 333 guests leaving a science museum and present results of a confirmatory factor analysis and criterion validation. The former showed the new scale consisted of two factors based on concepts of community and agency. Overall, community belongingness showed the most significant difference among guests’ reported sense of overall belonging at the museum. Black or African American, Latinx and Asian guests thought of community more often related to their race and ethnic identity. In contrast, White guests thought of community in terms of a place or location.