The visitors are the great unknowns of Victorian museums. Despite the great weight of speculation, assumptions and pedagogy targeted at them by museum staff, there is very little indeed to tell us how they experienced the space, objects and ideas contained within the institutions. And yet this is central to our understanding of Victorian municipal museums. In order to function as the significant shapers of society alleged by recent studies, they would have to have been consumed in the way intended by a substantial proportion of people. With evidence so thin on the ground, at best it can only be said to be unproven; and there is some indication that at times museums may have been consumed in a way that fundamentally subverted the intentions behind them.