Creating a Culture of Evaluative Thinking and Strategy
Sunday, May 7, 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Presenters representing a zoo, historical society, and art and science museums will share how they each conduct their evaluation work, how to complement external evaluators and market researchers, how to build institutional culture and consistent habits even when an evaluation team is small with no dedicated staff, and how to define success and relevance. Participants will discuss inclusive evaluation practice and use a worksheet designed by the presenters to outline action plans for their organizations.

Ethics and Responsibility in Museum Research and Evaluation
Sunday, May 7, 2:30-3:45 p.m.
Whether conducting a federally funded project, a visitor experience study, or prototyping an exhibit or program, we all strive to ensure that our research and evaluation activities do no harm to our visitors, staff, or institutions. But how do we plan and undertake these efforts ethically and responsibly while managing our resource and time constraints? In this session, a diverse group of professionals will discuss their experiences, debate perspectives, and provide resources regarding this field-wide challenge.

Getting Started on Evaluation Methods…Just Not Surveys
Monday, May 8, 1:30-2:45 p.m.
In this Getting Started session, museum evaluators will share other methods that organizations can use to engage audiences in providing information, which can then be used to make data-driven decisions. This session guarantees an overview of methods to gather information from individuals and groups, such as interviews, card sorting, prototyping, observations, prioritization methods, and quick integrated feedback. Attendees will then break into smaller discussion groups with expert evaluators to explore the methods in meaningful ways, empowering participants to use them immediately in their organizations.

Leveraging Insight with Analytics for Data Driven Decisions
Monday, May 8, 8:45-10 a.m.
Explore the innovative insights that are possible when a museum uses analytics to uncover connections between visitors and their experiences via onsite and digital channels. Referencing case studies analyzing visitor behavior, the panel will discuss pathways to success for museums that thrive through deep engagement with increased visitation. From journey maps and persona research to digital confidence, best practices, and privacy principles, this leadership panel delivers a global perspective.

Researchers and Practitioners: Can We All Get Along?
Sunday, May 7, 4-5:15 p.m.
Interaction of researchers and practitioners-from mutual awareness to full-blown partnerships-may yield myriad benefits, such as applying research findings to design problems on one side and developing better research questions on the other. In this panel and audience discussion, we will consider benefits, challenges, and audience members’ positive and negative stories of museum research and practice informing one another. The session will be recorded for an article in Curator: The Museum Journal.

The Line between Creepy and Cool: Getting Data Driven Decisions Right
Monday, May 8, 1:30-2:45 p.m.
As museums continually work to understand their audiences better, how might data about visitor behaviors and preferences become an integral part of their planning process? What does it mean to make decisions informed by data? While data can help us optimize our financial performance, can it be used to improve how visitors learn and experience the museum? This session argues for using data to help learn from audience behavior and preferences to provide better and more personalized museum experiences.

Using Data to Evolve a Membership Program
Monday, May 8, 1:30-2 p.m.
The membership program at Longwood Gardens was not able to support future growth while providing an extraordinary member experience. Using data mining, focus groups, member surveys, model testing, and an analysis of member behaviors, Longwood, with the help of consultants, began crafting a new model for membership that would lead us on a path of continued growth. This session will discuss how data informed the evolution of the program, including membership levels, benefits, and events, as well as tactics to ensure success.

Using Experiments to Improve Visitor Experience
Wednesday, May 10, 11:15-12:30 p.m.
Learn about three experiments: a course that integrated research into training museum studies students; the exhibition created by these students, which was used as a laboratory experiment in visitor behavior; and a year-long survey study of visitors conducted by museum staff. These are linked by IPOP, a theory of experience preference that identifies four key dimensions of experience-ideas (conceptual thinking), people (emotional connection), objects (visual language), and physical (somatic experience). It maintains that individuals have preferences among these dimensions, which affect how exhibitions are created and experienced.

Using Visitor Data to Inform Decision-Making
Tuesday, May 9, 8:45-10 a.m.
Unfortunately, museums vary widely in their capacity for data collection devoted to understanding their visitors-who is visiting, why they visit, and how they feel about their experience. Recent efforts to build evaluation capacity through shared measures of visitor experiences have attempted to change that. In this session, presenters will share their stories about participating in and learning from multi-institutional data collection, detailing lessons learned both about their experience collecting data and how they’ve begun using those data.