what will the museum of the future be like?
Increasingly, museum professionals are challenging the old standard ways of measuring 'success'. It is hard to break the old habits of relying on attendance, revenues and gifts - but these have their limitations, as everyone knows. What are the most creative ways of measuring 'success' in museums that you've encountered? They could be measurements in the experiences of individuals or groups, either inside the museum, offsite or online? Many of these are likely to be qualitative measures to demonstrate the real impacts of museum activities on people. In time, and with dialogue across the profession, these can be turned into quantitative measures that can help direct the work and priorities of museums. They can help museums to find new ways of being meaningful in our culture(s). (This discussion is also going on in the "Museum Fostering a Culture of Sustainability" group).
This is a very timely discussion. We are currently developing a grant proposal which seeks to discover what social impact means to the museum sector and how you would establish a framework for measuring it. I will have a look at the discussion in the Museums Fostering a Culture of Sustainability group but if there are any publications or examples which you think would be useful, I would appreciate them.
As we develop the grant I will be uploading information here.
Thanks for your note. I am attaching a copy of an article that may be of interest. It is an article that has evolved over the past few years and its most recent incarnation is as a chapter in Gail Anderson's new edition of "Reinventing Museums" (which came out this past spring). There you will find some material related to the Critical Assessment framework (CAF), which was developed by the Canadian Working Group on Museums and Sustainable Communities between 2000 and 2008. It was designed as a framework that museum folk could use to develop appropriate performance indicators related to individuals; communities; organizations and relevant trends at the global level. This version of the article is available for free download through the "Journal of Culture and Local Governance". It was part of a special double issue a couple of years ago on the topic of culture and sustainable communities - edited by Nancy Duxbury and Sharon Jeannotte.
My latest experience was in the development of a center for families with children. There was a lot of competition between different originators of content. We had a good evaluation group testing approaches and materials. Staff working on the project participated in testing, although many had nominal previous floor experience. Through many small planned actions the prototypes of installations and activities were run out for the public. To me the success in the evaluation process was the input of experienced floor staff and the fruit of their cooperation with evaluators. It is easy to miss these efforts by mid and low level staff. They are, however, the right people in the right place and they made very significant contributions.
Pursuing a big success can be about knitting together the products of a number of smaller planned and hopefully creative actions that sharpen and integrate institutional communities. Recognition from the public, members, and constituents are rewarding. Recognizing daily achievement around us is also important to the meter of success in museums
All the Best,