The executive leadership at a college art museum wanted to better understand the museum’s current audience base—and the perceptions desires, and opportunities to engage those in the area who aren’t engaging with the museum.  The museum has recently seen a major influx of art, funding, and national renown, and leadership wanted to know how to better benefit the multiple communities they seek to serve—those affiliated with the campus, the community around it, and those visiting the museum unaffiliated with either the college or the town.  Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, we designed a set of distinct, but related, research studies: a year-long survey of current museum visitors; qualitative interviews with students and faculty; qualitative interviews with members of the surrounding community; a survey of teachers who have led field trips at the museum; and discussion groups with teachers from the neighboring school districts. The museum was able to immediately draw from this research to inform its concurrent strategic planning process and guide programs in development to strengthen the museum’s connections to its surrounding community—including a major partnership with a civic revitalization effort. The research has also given leadership new language and objectives around audience engagement to take to the museum’s board for buy-in at the highest levels.

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An absolute privilege to be invited to stay overnight in #FraankLloydWright's SunCottage on the campus of #TaliesinWest. I got to sit on the furniture and #explore the nooks and crannies. It is still so alive! Thank you @WrightTaliesin! #WorldHeritageSites @sloverlinett

“The cultural artifacts in a museum cannot have more value than the people who live across the street or down the road.” @PorchiaMuseM on the role of museums & comparing them to more community-centric libraries @SloverLinett #visitorstudies19

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