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How Do We Prove the Value of Museums?. AAM annual meeting Friday, May 1, 2009 at 2:15pm Philadelphia, PA. Today’s Panel. Marsha Semmel , Deputy Director for Museums and Director for Strategic Partnerships, IMLS Carol Scott, Renaissance London Programme Manager for 2012

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how do we prove the value of museums

How Do We Prove the Value of Museums?

AAM annual meeting

Friday, May 1, 2009 at 2:15pm

Philadelphia, PA

today s panel
Today’s Panel
  • Marsha Semmel, Deputy Director for Museums and Director for Strategic Partnerships, IMLS
  • Carol Scott, Renaissance London Programme Manager for 2012
  • Jane Legget, Associate Director, New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at Auckland University of Technology
  • Barbara Soren, University of Toronto Museum Studies/Independent Consultant
  • Mamie Bittner, Deputy Director for Policy, Planning, Research and Communications, IMLS
questions to focus our thoughts
Questions to Focus our Thoughts
  • If museums did not exist, what would our society miss? Give one example.
  • What is one example of evidence that indicates the value of museums to communities?
  • What is one example of evidence that indicates the value of museums to individuals?

We will collect your responses following the session.

session goals
Session Goals
  • Increase awareness of studies that explore the value of museums across different dimensions (national, community, individual).
  • Identify areas for further investigation.
imls mission
IMLS Mission
  • The Institute’s mission is to help build the capacity of libraries and museums:

To connect people to

information and ideas

  • The Institute is the federal voice for the nation’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
imls activities
IMLS Activities
  • Through grant-making, convenings, research, and publications, the Institute builds the capacity of museums and libraries to serve the public. We:
    • Sustain Heritage, Culture, and Knowledge;
    • Enhance Learning and Innovation;
    • Build Professional Capacity.
imls and public value
IMLS and Public Value
  • Government Performance and Results Act, 1993
  • Perspectives on Outcomes Based Evaluation for Libraries and Museums, 2000
  • Shaping Outcomes online course on outcomes-based planning and evaluation (
grant application requirements
Grant Application Requirements
  • Mission and strategic plan
  • Community needs assessment
  • Proposed outcomes and impact
  • Dissemination and Prospects for Sustainability
grants for research
Grants for Research
  • National Leadership Grants
  • National impact
  • “Raise the bar”
  • Move the field forward
  • Up to $1,000,000
exploring the evidence base for museum value

Exploring the Evidence Base for Museum Value

Dr. Carol Scott

Renaissance London Programme Manager for 2012

London Museums Hub

London, UK

Friday 1st May 2009

AAM Philadelphia

  • Background
  • Values typology
  • Value indicators
  • Value evidence
  • A call to action

…measuring and articulating the value and impact of the sector is more than an academic exercise: given the policy, financial and business structures in which most cultural organizations operate…, rightly selecting, rigorously measuring and powerfully articulating the value and impact of the sector is one of the key pre-requisites for its sustainability (Stanziola 2008, 317)

what do we mean by value
What do we mean by ‘value’?


  • Worth
  • Importance
  • Significance
  • Meaning
  • Merit
  • Use


  • To appreciate
  • To treasure
  • To cherish
  • To attach importance to….
  • To set great store by……
what value and whose values
What value and whose values?

Instrumental outcomes

Social cohesion and inclusion



Knowledge and creative economies





hard to assess

a holistic concept of value
Instrumental value

going beyond function and having aspirations to a wider agenda of social change

Intrinsic value

inherent qualities of things, often intangible, described in affective language, without a utilitarian dimension

Institutional value

processes and practices that agencies adopt to create value for the public; rooted in the ethos of public service; Public Value

Use value

direct use, indirect use and non-use value of museums

A holistic concept of value
value indicators

Value indicators

Can we translate a values typology into assessable indicators?

use value indicators
Use value indicators

1) Direct use (physical visits)

1a) Number of visitor attendances to museums annually

2) Indirect use (use of outreach services)

2a) Number of users of outreach programs ie. number of participants to traveling exhibitions

outreach programs including lectures and workshops

2b) Number of unique visits to museum websites

3) Engagement

3a) Number of volunteers

3b) Total number of volunteer hours per annum

3c) Number of members

3d) Number of unpaid hours contributed by Boards of Trustees, fundraising groups, etc.

3e) Number of visits per visitor per year

4) Non –use

4a) Willingness to pay irrespective of direct engagement

institutional value indicators
Institutional value indicators

1) Recognition of trusted expertise

1a) Number of public enquiries annually

1b) Number of external projects for which museum expertise has been requested

2) Building relationships

2a) Number of local, national and international partnerships involving museums and other

government agencies

2b) Significance of these projects in terms of $, number and type of major stakeholders

3) Attracting investment

3a) Value of government grants (capital and recurrent)

3b) Number and value of sponsorships (cash and in kind)

4) Capacity to bequests and donations

4a) Number and value of donations

4b) Number and value of bequests

indicators of instrumental value
1) Providing educational resources

1a) Number of school students visiting

1b) Number of partnerships with education


1c) Number of adult education programs/participants

2) Knowledge building

2a) Number of research publications based

on collections

2b) Number and value of museum/university

projects funded by Research Grants

3) Contribution to tourism

3a) Number of domestic tourists annually

3b) Number of international tourists annually

3c) Number of museums that win tourism

awards annually

4) Contribution to local economy

4a) Number of EFT employed staff

4b) Value of local services purchased

5) Social inclusion

5a) Number and percentage of visitors by ethnicity

5b) Number and percentage of visitors by socio-economic status

Indicators of instrumental value
evidence of value

Evidenceof value

Does the evidence exist to support value?

where is the evidence
Where is the evidence?
  • Central government agencies eg National Bureaux of Statistics, Tourism Research Centres, Time Use Surveys
  • Government Departments
  • National Museum Bodies
  • Individual Museums
  • Evidence is dispersed; central point to collect and collate data on a regular basis
  • Absence of consensus on a set of values indicators
  • A sector-wide approach to research

-intrinsic value

-contingent valuation studies

  • Intentional planning for long term social impact is the exception rather than the norm
  • Methodological suite of evaluation methods is limited
a call to action
A call to action
  • A set of shared indicators around a holistic values framework
  • Centralised agencies charged with data collection
  • Coherent national programmes for ongoing research (a) sector-wide studies that examine the intrinsic value of museums (b) contingent valuation studies ( c) long term social impact
  • Acceptance that there are implications for our practice
thank you

Thank you

Carol Scott

+44 787041 7079

treasuring and measuring evidence from community stakeholders a case study from new zealand

American Association of Museums 2009/Philadelphia – 1st May 2009

Treasuring and Measuring – Evidence From Community Stakeholdersa case study from New Zealand

Dr Jane Legget

Auckland University of Technology

In cooperation with

The New Zealand Tourism Research Institute

NZTRI I Private Bag 92006 I Auckland 1142 I New Zealand I Ph (+64 0) 21 109 8884 I I

outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation




Community Stakeholder Findings

Concluding Remarks



What is it about museums that matters to stakeholders?

How do stakeholders make their assessments of their museum’s performance in the context of public accountability?

Identifying where community stakeholders locate their museum's value


Stakeholders in the Museum

Stakeholder Categories Involved in the Research


Friends of the Museum

English Language Schools


School Users


Iwi Maori

Staff - Paid/Unpaid


Public Enquirers

Corporate Sponsors

Lenders & Borrowers


Local/Regional Museums

Tertiary Education

Tourism Operators


Special Interest Groups





Central Government

Community Stakeholders

Museum Sector Stakeholders

Governance Stakeholders

case study concept mapping process i
Case Study Concept Mapping Process (I)

Development of Focus Group Question

Stakeholder Identification and Focus Group Selection

Stakeholder Focus Groups (SFGs)




School Users




Tertiary Users

Special Interests

Local Authority

Other Museums

Generate ‘possible performance statements’  310 Statements

case study concept mapping process ii
Case Study Concept Mapping Process (II)

1st shift & edit  207 Statements

2nd shift & edit  140 Statements

Prepare Statements for follow-up tasks

Sorting Tasks

Rating Tasks

Analysis of data via Concept System

Concept Maps

Pattern Matching

Interpretation of Results

Generate ‘possible performance statements’  310 Statements

focus group question
Focus Group Question
  • How would you know how your museum is doing?

In other words:

  • How would you know if your museum is performing effectively?

Responses effectively complete the following sentence:

  • We would know how our museum is performing by/because/if….
Examples of 140 ‘Possible Museum Performance Indicators’generated by community, governance and sector stakeholders
  • Museum’s share of the total visitor market
  • Success in applications for grants from central government
  • How culturally safe Maori feel in the museum
  • The time taken to respond to public enquiries
  • Number of repeat visits by schools and other educational groups
  • Quality of touring exhibitions loaned to the museum
  • Relevanceof the museum to its diverse local communities
  • Courtesy with which staff respond to offers of objects
  • Level of spending per visitor in shop and café
  • Range of visitors (age, gender, nationality etc.) visiting the museum
concept map showing aspects of museum

C3. Maori Confidence

C9. Maori Values

C2. Collection Management

C6. Utilization of


C8. Management


C4. Education in

the Community

C7. Reputation

C10. Visitor Demographics

Concept Map Showing Aspects of Museum

Performance Areas Identified

by Community Stakeholders:

C1. Staff & Operations

C5. Public Interactions

C11. Visitor Response


Collections - Quality and Management

Considered a safe place for Maori artefacts and human remains

Appreciation of the significance and value of items given

State of cleanliness of the displays –

no dusty birds!

Display of taonga (Maori treasures) taking into account contemporary Maori perspectives

Security systems' in place

Confidence of donors in offering items for the collections

Collection’s representation of, and relevance to, the local community

Proper care and management of the objects, taonga and specimens

staff calibre management of the staff
Staff – Calibre & Management of the Staff

Whether staff can keep up with their workload

Whether staff are outward-looking, promoting the museum in the community

Whether staff share a common purpose & goals

Whether staff are well-trained in their respective fields

Maori representation

on the staff

Quality of research undertaken by museum staff

Staff giving talks, lectures on request

Museum’s ability to attract & keep high quality staff & volunteers

Level of staff satisfaction

relative importance of concepts to community stakeholders
Relative Importance of Concepts to Community Stakeholders

Community Stakeholders

  • Staff management & operations
  • Quality of collection management
  • Maori confidence in museum
  • Education in the community
  • Public interactions
  • Utilisation of collections
  • Reputation
  • Management effectiveness
  • Maori values
  • Visitor demographics
  • Visitor response

Community KRG Ratings –

Correlated with Governance and Sector Stakeholder Ratings

Governance KRG

Community KRG

Sector KRG




Staff Management & Operations

Reputation in Community

Quality of Collection Management

Public Interaction

Visitor Response

Utilisation of Collections

Visitor Demographics/Trends

Maori Confidence in Museum

Education in the Community

Maori Values

Management Effectiveness




r = .50

r = .61

future research
Future Research
  • Undertake similar exercise with two or three other museums of different scale in different parts of the country
  • Refine the performance assessment framework to articulate the value and means of assessing museums’ effectiveness in maintaining and enhancing this
  • Develop menu of practical performance indicators in consultation with NZ museum directors
thank you1
Thank You!

With grateful thanks to the US Embassy, Wellington, NZ, for assistance towards attending this conference, and the Board, Director & stakeholders of Canterbury Museum, NZ, for their participation, and Professors Kerr Inkson and Mason Durie of Massey University for their guidance.

Contact Details:


Associate Director (Cultural Heritage)

New Zealand Tourism Research Institute at AUT

NZTRI I Private Bag 92006 I Auckland 1142 I New Zealand I Ph (+64 0) 21 109 8884 I I


experiences that change visitors


evidence that indicates the value of museums to


American Association of Museums 2009/Philadelphia – 1st of May 2009


Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out

  • (7354 Cubic Meters), Museum of Modern Art
  • November 19, 2008–February 2, 2009
  • ... A printed text at the entrance asks visitors to explore the space and themselves within it, to stretch and even sing, to – yes – pour their bodies out.... after a couple of visits over the weekend I'm still under its calming influence: My body never before realized museums could be so physically rapturous and transformative.
  • Globe and Mail, Houpt, 2009

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

outline of presentation1
Outline of presentation
  • an exploration of the meaning of ‘transformational experiences’
  • ‘triggers’ for transformational museum experiences
  • two case studies describing how visitors articulate change they have experienced and actions they may take as an outcome of a museum program or exhibition visit

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009


The nature of transformational experiences:

  • provide new opportunities to invent knowledge and explore new ideas
  • create challenges to discover the interconnectedness of ideas
  • transform experiences into knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, emotions, beliefs, and senses
  • change individuals by giving ‘cognitive hooks to the hookless’
  • become more inclusive, discriminating, emotionally capable of change, and reflective

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

triggers for transformational museum experiences
Triggers for transformational museum experiences

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

case study 1 summer institutes royal ontario museum 1995 1998
Case study 1: Summer InstitutesRoyal Ontario Museum, 1995-1998

A Moving Photo Album

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

matrix to identify and predict interactions between museum experiences and transformation
Matrix to identify and predict interactions between museum experiences and transformation

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

case study 2 bridges that unite aga khan foundation canada 2008 2009
Case Study 2: Bridges that UniteAga Khan Foundation Canada2008-2009
  • an interactive travelling exhibition that invites visitors to consider Canada’s role in the world through the lens of a remarkable 25-year partnership with the Aga Khan Development Network. Built on a set of common values, such as pluralism, democracy and peace, this unique partnership is transforming lives around the world.

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

triggers for transformation
triggers for transformation
  • shifts in attitudes about international development work today
  • changes in awareness of the impact of grass roots development work on diverse cultural communities
  • emotional responses to stories of people living in developing countries and interns working in communities abroad
  • motivation to continue the conversation and contribute to a more pluralistic, tolerant and equitable world

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

evidence of changed values
evidence of changed values

Culture module:

  • unexpectedly beautiful images of the lush garden in Baghe Babur highlighted cultural change (e.g., the look of the garden before and after the reconstruction)
  • connecting emotionally with photographs in the Culture module (e.g., going back to see the restoration in ‘stone town’ related to images of Zanzibar; having a sense that the “place looks tough” – it would be “hard living there”)
  • attitudinal shifts in the jobs and training opportunities for local Afghans, and restored hope that Afghanistan could rebuild with dignity

The garden in Baghe Babur

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

evidence of changed values1
evidence of changed values

Rural Development module:

  • better understanding of grass roots cultural change
  • changes in attitudes about how effective rural development work can be when there is a “bottom up rather than a top down approach” for helping people
  • unexpected realization that “Everyone can speak here in the circle;” “It gives them hope;” It is “good to see everyone working together;” There is a “feeling of self-reliance and ownership.”

Aga Khan Rural Support Program

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

visitor questions continuing the conversation
visitor ‘questions’continuing the conversation ...
  • What is Canada‘s role in a world where poverty and hopelessness thrive?
  • Where difference is seen as a threat, not an asset?
  • Where progress means rejecting the past?
  • What do YOU think is the most important question of the 21st century?

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

motivational triggers and behavioral change
Motivational triggers and behavioral change

Behavioral changes needed to sustain and grow Canada’s role in international development through, for example:

  • ensuring sustainability and reducing poverty
  • promoting diversity, pluralism and tolerance
  • reducing violence, security, conflict, and war
  • becoming proactive in international

development work

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

current research
Current research
  • continuing to explore triggers for transformational experiences through a two-year NSF project focused on the Discovery Center’s Living Laboratory at the Museum of Science, Boston (2007-2009)
  • potential triggers for transformation:
  • unexpected (having a child participate in a study in a Living Laboratory)
  • behavioural (coming to better understand the process of cognitive research)
  • attitudinal (finding out that at 15 months there is ‘a theory of mind’ and younger children may have abstract or causal thinking)
  • motivational (wanting to observe children differently at home)

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

AAM Annual Meeting 2009

thank you2
Thank you!
  • With grateful thanks to the Aga Khan Foundation Canada Bridges that Unite team for inviting me to evaluate their project and consenting to have material from evaluation reports included in this presentation

Contact Details:

Barbara J. Soren, PhD

comments and thoughts for the future
Comments and Thoughts for the Future

Mamie Bittner

Deputy Director for Policy,

Planning, Research, and

Communications, IMLS

museum service act
Museum Service Act
  • Public service role – connect whole of society to cultural, artistic, historic, natural and scientific understandings
  • Education – in partnership with schools, families, communities
  • Conservation
  • Leadership innovation and use of technology
  • Management (ease burden of increasing public use)
  • Partnership
office of policy planning research and communications
Office of Policy, Planning, Research, and Communications

Analysis of impact of museum and library services

  • shall be conducted in ongoing consultation
  • shall identify national needs for, and trends of, museum and library services
  • shall report on the impact and effectiveness of programs
  • shall identify, and disseminate information on, the best practices.

(from the Museum and Library Services Act)

five areas for future exploration
Five Areas for Future Exploration
  • Contribute to field-wide measures of social sector effectiveness and value
  • Define museums as a sector
  • Field-wide studies
  • Use existing community value metrics
  • Research the intersection between formal and informal learning
contribute to field wide measures of social sector effectiveness and value
Contribute to Field-Wide Measures of Social Sector Effectiveness and Value
  • Accountability for public dollars
  • Create the language of public value
  • Grantee reporting: outcomes and outputs = results
define museums as a sector
Define Museums as a Sector
  • Museum Data Initiatives
define museums as a sector1
Define Museums as a Sector
  • Exhibiting Public Value: Government Funding for Museums in the United States
field wide studies institutions
Field-Wide Studies - Institutions
  • True Needs, True Partners
  • Heritage Health Index and Connecting to Collections
use existing community value metrics
Use Existing Community Value Metrics
  • Museums and Libraries Engaging America’s Youth
    • Positive Youth Development
  • Museums, Libraries, and 21st Century Skills
    • Global awareness, tech literacy, critical thinking, etc
  • Museums in the Neighborhood
    • Social and economic impact
research the intersections of formal and informal learning
Research the Intersections of Formal and Informal Learning

Putting Learner at the Center Transforms Practice

  • Partnership for a Nation of Learners
  • Why Zoos and Aquariums Matter
  • BOSS
inventory of assets
Inventory of Assets
  • Infrastructure
    • Size and scope of sector
    • Collections - Places
  • Expertise/Quality/Content
    • Staff
    • Practice
  • Relationships/Community
    • Deep community connections
  • Power to Transform
    • Experiences that inspire learning
    • Lead to creative action


  • What we collect defines us
  • We are just beginning to understand the power of the museum sector