The Permanent Museum Visitor Studies Laboratory is part of a line of research with a long history, begun at the beginning of the 20th century in American museums. In Spain, visitor studies began in the 1980s, due to the spontaneous interest of museum professionals, keen to learn about the visitors. Most of these studies did not meet the required scientific standards, but they were convincing proof of the need for them. During the 1990s, a considerable number of Spanish museums developed, more or less successfully, investigation, assessments and research to learn about their visitors. At the end of that decade, the Sub-directorate General of State Museums carried out a pioneering study on the characteristics of the visitors to four state museums. Since then, and on the initiative of the Sub-directorate, specific visitor studies have also been carried out.
Nevertheless, despite this growing interest, to date there has been no permanent and scientifically valid system to provide us with updated and comparable data about the visitors to each and every one of the state museums, a gap that we hope to fill with the Permanent Museum Visitor Studies Laboratory.