Understanding Audience Experience: A BPCP Project

By Celeste Dewald, Executive Director, California Association of Museums

Why do people visit museums? How do we create unforgettable moments?

A 2009 report released by the National Endowment for the Arts found that the number of American adults attending arts and cultural events has sunk to its lowest level since 1982. Understanding who visits museums and why is more important than ever for the future health of museums and other cultural institutions.

The good news is that several California organizations are collaborating and utilizing technology and innovative learning strategies to present the 2010 Smith Leadership Symposium, titled Motivations, Interactions, and Impact: Understanding Audience Experience.  On Monday, November 8, at three sites throughout California, participants will explore current research into why people visit museums and how they engage in, and benefit from, the experience.

This symposium features key thought leaders Salvador Acevedo, President of Contemporánea Marketing Communications; Dr. John Falk, Sea Grant Professor in Free Choice Learning, University of Oregon; and Nina Simon, Independent museum design, gaming, and social media expert.  The program will also include the release of a landmark collaborative audience-research study recently completed in San Diego’s Balboa Park with 12 participating organizations. Not just for museums—this event also explores how audience motivation and engagement relate to other types of arts, science, and cultural experiences.

The program is based at the San Diego Natural History Museum with dynamic satellite convening sites in Los Angeles at the Museum of Contemporary Art and in San Jose at the Children’s Discovery Museum.  This blended-learning experience will use both live streaming technology and in-person breakout sessions to dig deeper into the ideas presented by the featured speakers. Symposium sessions will explore how cultural institutions can encourage and facilitate social engagement among visitors, how understanding experience can help us better reach diverse audiences, how moments in the museum can be unforgettable, and how audience research can inform the exhibit design process. An online version of the program is also available to those not able to attend a convening site.

Program partners include the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, California Association of Museums, the California Exhibition Resources Alliance, Museum Educators of Southern California, Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose, Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, San Diego Natural History Museum, Cultural Connections of San Francisco – and many others.

We will post a full debrief of the program on Westmuse after the symposium – so stay tuned!

For more information, or to register for this unique learning experience, please visit www.learningtimes.net/bpcp/.



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Just want to see if you are a robot.