© 2019 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Collections can be a ‘mystery’ to many museum visitors, which makes investing in behind-the-scenes tours an opportunity for increasing awareness of the role museums play in scientific research. Drawing on the theories of contextual learning, situated learning, and legitimate peripheral participation, we offer insights from an exploratory study that investigated the potential effectiveness and practicalities of using behind-the-scenes tours to improve visitor understandings of museum research. This forum paper reports on emerging results from visitor questionnaires and staff interviews across six museums where we explored the experience offered by behind-the-scenes tours as an effective learning environment. These results suggest that behind the scenes tours remain under-researched and highlight the need for further investigation into the value of this visitor experience.