Looking for ways to strengthen your programs or make your exhibitions more compelling for your targeted audiences?
Community surveys, facilitated community listening sessions, and prototyping add an important dimension of research and provide fresh perspectives for exhibit and program development.
Case Study: The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center was looking to create a historic house tour that engaged visitors in deep, thoughtful conversation in the same ways that their innovative public programs do. In interviewing visitors at the Harriet Beecher Stowe birthday celebration in 2013, we learned what visitors wanted to do in the house--be more fully immersed--but also, what visitors would ask Stowe if they had the chance. Somewhat to our surprise, we realized that the vast majority of visitors wanted to know where she found the courage to write Uncle Tom's Cabin and make a stand against slavery. Our job now: finding ways to convey that passion in the historic house experience.
Case Study: The Ontario County Historical Society wanted to create a new exhibit that looked at the early history of Western New York. The major funder, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, strongly encourages the use of evaluation in project development. To better understand audiences interests, I designed a series of interactions that helped us uncover both what community members wanted in a museum exhibition and how they responded to the characters chosen to drive the story.
Talking with middle-school students, we discovered that many young people really don’t care about technology in museums—they want to see the real thing. In one-on-one conversations with adults, we found that individuals brought their own perspectives to our historic character sketches. As a result of both efforts, we identified ways to make those human connections in our exhibit stronger across time and place.