One hundred years after the founding of our country, the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) opened its doors for the first time. Over a century later, the Museum still leads the way as the cultural centerpiece of our nation’s original capital. As the museum embarks on the creation and implementation of a new strategic plan to engage a 21st century audience, PMA turned to the expertise of Slover Linett to help them think through new ways of engaging visitors, starting first in its galleries.
The PMA has assembled one of the world’s most important collections of South Asian art and artifacts. The museum’s Indian and Himalayan Art (IHA) holdings extend to paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and textiles, representing everything from folk art to sacred ritual objects. For the first time in nearly 40 years, these galleries are set to undergo a major reinstallation. This creates an exciting opportunity to bring a fresh, dynamic approach to the interpretation and display of these exemplary collections.
Slover Linett was commissioned to undertake a front-end evaluation study of the IHA galleries, not only to inform the future reinstallation of the galleries, but also as a first step and "test case" in exploring the overall strategic questions that PMA—like many other cultural institutions—is now facing.
The project involved a combination of on-site interview constructs: side-by-side visits, which paired individuals or a group of visitors, as well as recruited non-visitors, with a researcher who would prompt them with questions to “think aloud” during their visit; and “engagement games” that allowed visitors to “play” as they visited the IHA galleries.
The project was the first one to be managed exclusively by the Boston team–associate Dreolin Fleischer and research manager Eric LaPlant. Led by vice president for art & culture, Sarah Lee, this on-site work resulted in rich, informative data and proved engaging for visitors, staff, and researchers alike. “The staff at the museum was incredibly supportive during our three days in the galleries,” says Lee. “Their investment in the evaluation process coupled with their openness to learn from both visitors and non-visitors was indicative of the whole museum’s commitment to reimagining the museum experience for its audience.”
For more information about our work with museums in Boston, Chicago, or wherever you are, please email Sarah Lee or call (773) 348-9200 x104.