We’ve embarked on several research and evaluation studies with new museum clients, including the Milwaukee Art Museum, the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, and the museum access program for low-income families in New York, Cool Culture. Central to all three projects is the question of how to increase relevance and participation.
For the Milwaukee Art Museum, through qualitative focus groups with members, visitors, and potential visitors, we’re exploring how well the museum’s communications and programming meet audiences’ needs and how these could be strengthened. The findings will inform planning for an upcoming gallery reinstallation and help make the museum an active, social gathering place for the entire community.
We’ve also begun working with the National Museum of American Jewish History, which opened in 2010 on Philadelphia’s Independence Mall to national acclaim. Using ethnographic research methods to reveal the emotional, social, and cognitive components of the museum experience, we’re conducting a summative evaluation of the museum’s 25,000 square-foot core exhibition. What we’re learning will support the curatorial team’s decisions about potential enhancements to the exhibition and contribute to a broader strategic planning and branding process underway at the museum.
In New York, we’re helping Cool Culture conduct an evaluation of its keystone program which provides free museum passes to families whose children attend Head Start programs and other early childhood centers. With over 90 of New York City’s best known art and science museums, historical societies, botanic gardens, and zoos as partners, Cool Culture is a crucial gateway to informal learning, aesthetic experiences, and nature for underserved communities. Our study will reveal who uses the Family Pass program, why, and how they benefit from it.
Sarah Lee, Slover Linett’s vice president for arts & culture, is delighted to be working with the innovative, thoughtful leaders and staffs at these cultural organizations. “When museum evaluation isn’t just to demonstrate success to funders, but to create insights that lead to even broader, deeper success — that’s where the momentum comes from,” Lee says. “And that’s the case at these three new clients.”