National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel (NCRM)
Memphis, Tennessee

The National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee used the Visitors Count! program to help with a major strategic planning initiative involving the renovation of their permanent exhibitions and a new master interpretive plan. In 2008, NCRM was beginning the reinterpretation and redesign of their primary exhibition space. As they prepared to select a design firm, staff needed more information about who their visitors were and what they expected and wanted from their museum experience.


In their first survey from 2008, NCRM determined exactly what visitors were looking for:

  • A chronological approach to the Civil Rights Movement instead of a thematic one
  • More artifacts and film footage
  • Increased attention to the Lorraine Motel’s significance as the site of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination

This was crucial information because staff were contemplating moving to a thematic approach of teaching the history of the Civil Rights Movement. The survey also identified that the Lorraine Motel was a Key Driver for visitors and a major association for the physical location of the museum and its connection to the Civil Rights Movement. Knowing this, the NCRM began using the Lorraine Motel more prominently in their marketing material. For example, on the website they refer to themselves now as The National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

In 2010 NCRM had finished with its new strategic interpretation plan for the permanent space. They conducted their second Visitors Count! program to test how visitors responded to their interpretive plan in the current space (pre-renovation). They were able to use these results as a baseline for how to plan the new space. The newly designed space will open in Spring 2014. NCRM plans to use Visitors Count! a third time after the grand opening to again measure visitors’ experiences and compare the data with the 2010 results.

Visitors Count! also helped NCRM create, for the first time, a visitor demographic matrix. Now, NCRM knows the exact demographics of its visitors, what they are looking for, and how they change throughout the year. This information can be used for strategic planning to ensure high and consistent attendance.

NCRM staff were also able to establish their economic footprint on the community. This data, along with the visitor demographic matrix, allows for better fundraising and gives development staff solid information when making local requests for support. When fundraising for the renovation, NCRM was able to use this data to secure not only local sources of revenue, but national funding as well.