Exhibit evaluation brings your visitors’ voice to the table during all phases of exhibit development to ensure that the exhibition is relevant, useable and understandable. Evaluation also examines visitor impacts to document success, inform future projects, and bolster funding requests. We have extensive experience with front-end, formative, remedial and summative evaluation. Commonly used tools include surveys, structured interviews, in-depth interviews, group interviews (“focus groups”), tracking and timing studies and targeted observational studies.
Program evaluation is also best done iteratively to inform development and assess impacts. We have a track record of effective formative and summative evaluation efforts with all manner of facilitated experiences including field trips, family programming, afterschool programs, teacher professional development institutes, on-line learning and social media gaming.
Audience research helps you understand your audience, who they are and what motivates them to visit your facility. When you understand visitor expectations and needs, you can examine how well they are being met currently, and identify what more or different support people need to have a satisfying experience at your institution. Audience research can investigate satisfaction with and explore improvements to your membership program. Findings can also assess the efficacy of your marketing efforts and indicate ways to hone your messaging. We use focus groups, interviews, and surveys to help institutions learn about their audiences and how best to serve them.
Of course there are times when outside help is necessary, but there are plenty of visitor studies which your staff can conduct in house. Advising your team on Do-It-Yourself evaluation projects builds your internal capacity for evaluation and makes your team, exhibits and programs more effective. We also design and present in-depth professional development workshops, usually as a part of designing and conducting on an evaluation study together.
Take a look at this beginner-friendly manual for an evaluation primer and detailed information about in-house evaluation and visitor studies projects. It was created for the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art as part of a professional development project funded by the Irvine Foundation.
Project goals, desired impacts, and evaluation plans must be well crafted to make your grant proposal competitive. In most cases, when VisitorStudies.com is named as the project evaluator, we can advise or draft these sections of the grant narrative, including assisting with logic models, free of charge.
I have a lot of fun “preaching the gospel” of visitor studies and evaluation! I am a frequent guest speaker at universities and associations, and often lead workshops and sessions at professional conferences. In addition to visitor studies and evaluation, I enjoy helping emerging professionals learn the ropes with my Networking 101 workshops.