Project Director & Research Operations Lead
Madeline Smith designs research studies that answer our clients’ strategic and tactical questions about public engagement. Equally expert at qualitative and quantitative methods, Madeline helps cultural changemakers deepen participation, develop new capacities, and build the audiences of the future. Her projects have ranged from community engagement studies for art museum (including the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago), exhibit evaluation (including the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Iolani Palace in Hawai’i, and the Mark Bradford installation at the US Pavilion at the Venice Biennale) to studies for history, science, and industrial museums, symphonies and opera companies, foundations, and other clients.
Since March 2020, Madeline has co-led both waves of the quantitative investigation for the multi-wave Culture + Community study conducted in partnership with LaPlaca Cohen and Yancey Consulting. Culture + Community is one of the largest arts & culture studies conducted in the United States and was designed to understand what people are going through during the pandemic and how arts & culture organizations can help. In 2021, the study took on a dual focus to better understand the dynamics of race and identity in cultural engagement and the roles American expect arts organizations to play in addressing social issues in response to the murder of George Floyd which ignited a national upsell around the Movement for Black Lives. Throughout the initiative, the work was guided by the conviction that people have uniquely valuable insight into what matters most in their lives, families, and communities. Madeline has been invited to present the findings from this study to a wide range of cultural convenings, including the Wallace Foundations Re-Imagining the Future of the Arts webinar series.
Madeline earned two master’s degrees, one in modern art history, theory, and criticism and another in arts administration and policy, both from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She worked in the Art Institute of Chicago’s annual giving and membership departments and at contemporary art galleries in Chicago and Milwaukee. Madeline did her undergraduate work at the Kansas City Art Institute, earning a BFA in fiber studies. She still weaves on her Macomber loom when she’s not out enjoying Chicago’s museums and visual arts scene.