Adventures in Evaluating Participatory Exhibits: An In-Depth Look at the Memory Jar Project

Museum 2.0

Two years ago, we mounted one of our most successful participatory exhibits ever at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History: Memory Jars. Two years later, this project is still one of the most fondly remembered participatory experiences at the museum--by visitors and staff. THE RESEARCH The challenge, of course, was to figure out how to evaluate the experience in a way that would help us identify the power of the project. A man walks into a museum.

12 Ways We Made our Santa Cruz Collects Exhibition Participatory

Museum 2.0

In the spirit of a popular post written earlier this year , I want to share the behind the scenes on our current almost-museumwide exhibition at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, Santa Cruz Collects. This exhibition represents a few big shifts for us: We used a more participatory design process. Our previous big exhibition, All You Need is Love, was highly participatory for visitors but minimally participatory in the development process.


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Quick Hit: Five Evaluation Reports on Participatory Projects

Museum 2.0

I want to share a few fabulous evaluation and research studies that have greatly informed my work (and specifically, the development of The Participatory Museum , which is going to the printer this weekend). This report, published in 2002, chronicles the history and impact of an extraordinary institution founded in 1990 to make museum collections available for use by community members for their own purposes. Tags: evaluation Quick Hits

Guest Post: Using Visitor Participation to Improve Object Labels at the San Diego Natural History Museum

Museum 2.0

Last month, I learned about a fabulous, simple participatory experiment called “Case by Case” at the San Diego Museum of Natural History that uses visitor feedback to develop more effective object labels. To date, the solution has been to put photos on the walls, pray for funding, and ignore the front-end evaluation bit. evaluation exhibition participatory museum guestpost

A Simple A/B Test for Visitor Talkback Stations

Museum 2.0

Consider three very different talkbacks in the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History''s fall exhibition, Santa Cruz is in the Heart: cocktail napkins, rear view mirrors, and refrigerator certificates. design evaluation Museum of Art and History participatory museum usercontent Let''s say you create a station where visitors contribute content. You want their stories, their feedback, their colorful drawings of the future. How do you measure success?

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The Participatory Museum Process Part 1: Overview and Statistics

Museum 2.0

This is the first of a four-part series on the behind-the-scenes experience of writing The Participatory Museum. Overview: Stages of Development and Participation Types The Participatory Museum was written over a 15 month period that began in December of 2008. Improve the section on evaluation. Track down examples from further afield, especially from smaller institutions, institutions outside the English-speaking world, and institutions that focus on living history.

What are Your Engagement Goals?

Museum 2.0

Inspired by Stacy, I wanted to share some of the work we are doing at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History to clarify what we mean by engagement. This is a big year for us in naming and evaluating our work. In early 2014, we developed a set of five engagement goals: Relevant, Sustainable, Bridging, Participatory, Igniting. Connected to our core content of contemporary art and regional history. IGNITING : Inspires excitement and curiosity about art and history.

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Participation, Contemplation, and the Complexity of "And"

Museum 2.0

Our museum in Santa Cruz has been slammed by those who believe participatory experiences have gone too far. We always knew that the inclusion of participatory and community-centered practices in arts institutions was controversial. To me, the backlash against participatory and community-centered experiences is not surprising. I''ve always understood that participatory experiences are not for everyone. "The words we use in attempting to change museum directions matter.

Yes, Audience Participation Can Have Significant Value

Museum 2.0

I can't say that any one experience--working on a collage with other visitors, swinging on a hammock, discovering a participatory display for pocket artifacts in the bathroom--directly contributed to increased attendance and giving. Our team focused this year on just three things: making the museum more comfortable, hosting new participatory events, and partnering wherever possible. Museum of Art and History institutional change participatory museum fundraising business models

Guest Post: Community and Civic Engagement in Museum Programs

Museum 2.0

Visitors bond and bridge through participatory experiences at MAH. Writing my masters thesis for Gothenburg University’s International Museum Studies program while also working four days a week as the Director of Community Programs at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History this spring was certainly a challenge but also an incredible opportunity. The value of participatory experiences is epitomized in FIGMENT , a free, creative, participatory, non-profit, community art event.

Engagement, Distraction, and the Puzzle of the Puzzle

Museum 2.0

It's a little living room in a lobby area that invites people to lounge on comfortable chairs, leaf through magazines and books related to art and Santa Cruz history, and generally hang out. I consider visitor experiences successful if people walk out inspired by art, stimulated by history, and eager to come back and share more with friends and family. An unnamed art museum once created an incredible interactive and participatory installation related to a temporary exhibition.

Answers to the Ten Questions I am Most Often Asked

Museum 2.0

I've seen this line of questioning almost completely disappear in the past two years due to many research studies and reports on the value and rise of participation, but in 2006-7, social media and participatory culture was still seen as nascent (and possibly a passing fad). In 2008 and 2009, there were many conference sessions and and documents presenting participatory case studies, most notably Wendy Pollock and Kathy McLean's book Visitor Voices in Museum Exhibitions.

Art Brings People Together: Measuring the Power of Social Bridging

Museum 2.0

So consider this just the first of many posts related to issues of cultural inclusion, evaluation, and impact. We have witnessed and experienced incredible moments of transformation: homeless people and history buffs working together on historic restoration, graffiti artists and knitters collaborating on new artistic projects, visitors from different backgrounds making collages, or sculptures, or dance performances together.

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Using Social Bridging to Be "For Everyone" in a New Way

Museum 2.0

At the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History , we''re approaching this challenge through a different lens: social bridging. What started as a series of experiments and happy accidents is now embedded in how we develop and evaluate projects. When it comes to working with intact cultural and ethnic communities, one of the resources that is helping me think through these questions is a 2004 paper by Dr. Pia Moriarty on Immigrant Participatory Arts in Silicon Valley.

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The 2016 - 2017 Best Nonprofit Conferences Calendar


The Digital Media and Learning Conference is meant to be an inclusive, international and annual gathering of scholars and practitioners in the field, focused on fostering interdisciplinary and participatory dialogue and linking theory, empirical study, policy, and practice. Impact Convergence 2016 brings together leaders, practitioners, and professionals from around the globe who are interested in impact and evaluation. It is our turn to make history.

Improving Family Exhibitions by Co-Creating with Children

Museum 2.0

Every once in a while I come across a project I wish I could have included in The Participatory Museum. While the museum and the school didn't have a strong history of collaboration, this project seemed reasonable enough to try. While the exhibition report could certainly be more rigorous in terms of evaluation, I appreciated the focus not only on the children's experience but that of museum staff, school staff, and parents. Projects participatory museum

Everyone's Smithsonian: Video, Slides, and an Open Strategic Planning Process

Museum 2.0

Two weeks ago, I conducted a participatory exhibit design workshop with staff at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Every program, old and new, should be evaluated against the mission (and the business model) for soundness. future, you can also see the passion of different groups that feel underrepresented or unheard in the evaluation comments. I love that the new media team published these evaluations and responded to the individual comments.

2020: The Year that Changed Grantmaking

Connection Cafe

Grantees painstakingly provide long histories of past performance, financial projections, and thorough descriptions of expected results. CRM empowers funders to capture the data that is most essential to their decisioning, record keeping, and evaluation.

New Models for Community Partnerships: Museums Hosting Meetups

Museum 2.0

This month brings three examples of museums hosting meetups for online communities: On 8.6.08, the Computer History Museum (Silicon Valley, CA) hosted a Yelp! On 8.16.08, the Museum of Art and History (Santa Cruz, CA) hosted FreelanceCamp, a free unconference that brought 150 designers and techies from the south bay area together to talk shop. Consider the experience of the Computer History Museum and their Yelp! event, the Computer History Museum had 15 reviews on Yelp!

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Museum 2.0 Rerun: Answers to the Ten Questions I Am Most Commonly Asked

Museum 2.0

Originally posted in April of 2011, just before I hung up my consulting hat for my current job at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. I''ve seen this line of questioning almost completely disappear in the past two years due to many research studies and reports on the value and rise of participation, but in 2006-7, social media and participatory culture was still seen as nascent (and possibly a passing fad). How do you evaluate participatory engagement strategies?

State Fairs and Visitor Co-Creation: An Interview about MN150

Museum 2.0

MN150 is a newish permanent exhibition (opened in Oct 2007) at the Minnesota History Center that marks the sesquicentennial of Minnesota with 150 of “the most influential forces in the state’s history.” I was really surprised by the range and just how much people know about history. It helped a little bit in that the folks making the decisions were informed but not expert on MN history. How are you evaluating the exhibition?

The Secret To Social Media Engagement: Kiss A Squirrel!

Beth Kanter

Here’s another example of how Billboard is using nostalgia in its tweets: This Week In Billboard Chart History: TLC Takes ‘No Scrubs’ To No. Use Participatory Research Techniques To Discover Engagement Topics. “I kissed a squirrel & I liked it” #ReplaceGirlWithSquirrelInASong. Billboard (@billboard) April 4, 2014.

Guest Post by Steve Waddell: Systems Mapping for Non-Profits - Part 1

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

A Learning History of the CARE LAC - Institute for Strategic Clarity Guatemala Poverty Project. Key is a participatory development process. An evaluation a year later showed that the process was transformational from two perspectives: people had significantly changed their relationships (who they were working with), and they had significantly changed how they understood their work vis-à-vis others’. . See larger image here: Map from: Waddell, Steve. 2005.

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Guest Post: Lessons Learned Designing a Mobile Game for Balboa Park

Museum 2.0

When I worked briefly with the Balboa Park Online Collaborative to conceptualize a mobile phone-based game to connect visitors to the park to its cultural institutions and history, I knew Ken would be the perfect person to make it happen. Lesson: when your project, like GISKIN, really depends on the end experience, there’s no better way to evaluate it than to produce a bit of it and experience it complete and in situ.

Growth Hacking Your Mission With People Power

Connection Cafe

It is made by many; it is open, participatory and peer-driven.” The Networked Change Report from NetChange evaluated 47 of the most effective campaigns, ranging from the NRA to Occupy Wall Street. With only two digital staffers the campaign hosted the largest distributed political event in history with 2,700 kick-off parties in one night! Growth hacking: a process of rapid experimentation to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business (or cause!).

Six Steps to Making Risky Projects Possible

Museum 2.0

I used the example of two very different exhibitions that solicited visitor-contributed content: Playing with Science at the London Science Museum, and MN150 at the Minnesota History Center. The Minnesota History Center team solicited visitor nominations for exhibition topics and then built an exhibition out of those contributions. There are several good resources on evaluating participation. Last month, I gave the closing keynote at the National Digital Forum in New Zealand.

AAM Recap: Slides, Observations, and Object Fetishism

Museum 2.0

Visitor Co-Created Museum Experiences This session was a dream for me, one that brought together instigators of three participatory exhibit projects: MN150 (Kate Roberts), Click! A Crowd-Curated Exhibition (Shelley Bernstein), the Tech Virtual Test Zone (me), along with a new participatory research project, Children of the Lodz Ghetto (David Klevan), to talk about our lessons and struggles working with the public to create "museum-quality" exhibitions and research projects.