Visitor Data Policy

The Museum is always looking to improve the visitor experience. We need to understand the different needs, preferences and expectations of our visitors in order to improve and create new experiences, services and products for you.

To do this we undertake a number of activities that make use of personal information you provide to us and anonymous data we collect about your experience at the Museum, before, during and after your visit.

This Visitor Data Policy explains what data we collect, what we do with the information you give us and your rights over that data. We are committed to protecting the privacy and confidentiality of your personal information and we undertake to ensure that all personal information in our possession is processed in accordance with the principles of the UK Data Protection Act 1998.

Information we collect about you

The Museum’s registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office defines the purposes for which we can lawfully collect and process personal information. You can see a full copy of the Museum’s Registration on the Information Commissioner’s Office website.

Depending on which experiences, services or products you use, we will hold different kinds of information from or about you.

Information that you give us

We may collect information such as your name, age, contact details and payment card details that you give when you:

  • • ask us for information
  • • make a booking with us
  • • purchase items from us
  • • visit us at the Museum
  • • send us an email
  • • register or sign in to our digital services, including email, Wi-Fi and website
  • • use any facilities or services in any format or media we or our selected third party providers may supply
  • • apply for Membership of the British Museum Friends
  • • make a donation to us
  • • join or subscribe to our social media channels

The payment card information you supply to us for any online transaction is used solely for the purpose of processing that transaction.

Information that we collect

We collect anonymous information when you use our services such as our website, our Wi-Fi service, or in-gallery technology such as audio guides.

Ways in which we collect this data

We collect information from or about the devices that you use such as the hardware model, operating system version and network information.

Some of our products and services store certain information in server logs. Examples include:

  • • details of how you used our service (such as Wi-Fi and the audio guides)
  • • the locations and time stamps of your device in the Museum to understand the paths visitors take, improve wayfinding and help reduce overcrowding in the galleries
  • • internet protocol address (IP address) so that we can find out where you are from and understand our global reach
  • • device event information, such as crashes, system activity, hardware settings, browser type, browser language, the date and time of your request and referral URL
  • • cookies that do lots of different jobs. Please read our cookies policy to find out more.

Information that we receive from other sources

We may collect information you have provided to other third party companies with which we work to help us better understand our visitors and to provide us with additional information that you may not have given to us such as your postal address.

Using your information

We use your information, both personal and anonymous in five ways. These are to:

  • 1. provide a service or product you have requested
  • 2. communicate with you
  • 3. improve existing experiences, services and products or to create new ones
  • 4. measure the effectiveness of our digital marketing
  • 5. report to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), government and other stakeholders

The five ways we use information:

1. To provide a service or product you have requested

The Museum offers a range of services and products where you will have provided information to us. We will use this information:

  • • to administer your Membership
  • • to administer gifts, bequests, donations and legacies made by you or on your behalf
  • • to supply you with goods or services ordered from us

2. To communicate with you

There are a number of ways that we may communicate with you. We use information you have provided to:

  • • communicate with you by telephone, social media, text, email and/or post about the Museum’s activities, promotions and events in accordance with any preferences you have set
  • • deliver service emails such as purchase confirmation emails
  • • contact you and ask you to respond to surveys such as pre and post exhibition visit surveys
  • • inform you about Museum services and products we think you may be interested in, if you have opted to receive such notifications.

3. To improve existing experiences, services and products or to create new ones

We undertake research and analysis on the experiences, services and products we offer. We do this so we can understand how well we are performing and to help create a better experience for you. For example, to inform future decisions on localisation the Museum analyses the languages visitors use across products, such as the website.

4. To measure the effectiveness of digital marketing

Where we advertise upcoming exhibitions or events on the internet, we use cookies and other technologies such as pixel tags and tracking links to help measure the effectiveness of our advertising campaigns.

5. To report to the DCMS, government and stakeholders

We provide anonymised data to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on key statistics such as visitor numbers. Statistics on visitors are published in our Annual Report and Annual Review. We also analyse the performance of services and products and provide information to our stakeholders and funders as part of our on-going relationships with them.

Storing your information

The Museum’s preference is that data we collect from you is stored in the UK/EEA (European Economic Area). Where your data is transferred and stored outside the UK/EEA, we will take all steps reasonably necessary to ensure that any data processor we use provides an adequate level of protection for your data.

Disclosing your information

Any personal information you provide to us and which we otherwise collect will be shared with the British Museum’s wholly-owned affiliates and with other organisations which provide services to us. We will only disclose your information to companies who act as "data processors" on our behalf, some of whom may be outside the UK/EEA. We will never sell your personal information to any third party organisation.

Direct marketing

You may indicate your preference for receiving direct marketing from us, our affiliates or any partner organisations with whom we may work and whose goods or services we think may be of interest to you. You will be given the opportunity to indicate that you no longer wish to receive our direct marketing material or that sent by third parties on our behalf each time we contact you, whenever you log into our services or make a payment to us. Once properly notified by you, we will take steps to stop using your information in this way.

Accessing your information

You have the right to ask in writing for a copy of the information we hold about you, to find out for which purposes it is being processed, to whom it may be disclosed, and to correct any inaccuracies You should make your request for access to your personal information in writing to the Information Manager, Legal Services, British Museum. We will respond within 40 calendar days from the date of the request (please note we may charge a fee of up to £10 for the reasonable costs associated with the processing and provision of the information).

The Information Manager is the Data Protection Officer for the Museum and has responsibility for this Visitor Data Policy and for ensuring compliance with the Data Protection Act and for the Museum’s Registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office.


We do not routinely collect data about children under 16. There are a limited number of activities we undertake that require data about children to be collected and held. For example:

  • • the Young Friends programme
  • • photo and other permission forms
  • • safeguarding reports

Information about children is stored securely, can only be accessed by staff with a current Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and is destroyed as soon as it is no longer needed.

If we need to collect information from children, other than in the circumstances described above, we will ensure that such information is handled in accordance with this policy.

Our data policy for British Museum Friends

For specific information about how data regarding your British Museum Friends membership is managed, please see the Terms and Conditions of Membership on the British Museum website

Changing our policy

We review this policy regularly and we reserve the right to change it from time to time. We will place any updates we make to this policy on our website.

For changes in the policy affecting your British Museum Friends membership please refer to the British Museum Friends section above.

This policy is effective from July 2016.