Cultural Engineering Group

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On Museum 2.0 : five evaluation reports on participatory projects

Museum 2.0 is a great blog by Nina Simon but it’s also a design consultancy focused on creating participatory, dynamic, audience-centered museum spaces with institutions like the Smithsonian, the Chicago History Museum, The International Spy Museum in Washington D.C., the new Mint museum in San Francisco as well as local favorites like the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Tech Museum in San Jose.

She recently shared a few evaluation and research studies that have greatly informed her work (and specifically, the development of The Participatory Museum, which is going to the printer this weekend). These are all downloads, which means when you click on the link it will ask you if you want to save a document.

  1. The Catalyst for Change social impact study from the Glasgow Open Museum. 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. As founder Julian Spaulding said, « The intention was to deliver what people wanted rather than what the museum thought they wanted or what the museum thought they ought to want. »
  2. The evaluation of the first Turkish Living Library, held in 2007 at the Rock for Peace festival in Istanbul. The folks who ran this event required every single participant to fill out an evaluation form, and this report demonstrates their overwhelming enthusiasm for the program as well as the tremendous social learning outcomes. The comically positive graph at the top of this post comes from this report.
  3. Dialogue in the Dark visitor and guide impact studies. This amazing « all dark » exhibition, which visitors experience in groups led by blind guides, has reached millions of people around the world. These impact studies demonstrate its incredible power both as a memorable visitor experience and as a positive impact on blind guides’ social and professional lives.
  4. Nina Simons also wants to honor the Exploratorium, which publishes all of their research studies for public download here. One of Nina’s favourite that she has frequently returned to is Sue Allen and Josh Gutwill’s 2004 paper, « Designing for Interactivity: Five Common Pitfalls. » The content is relevant to all kinds of museums, not just science centers.
  5. A paper on « Evaluating participatory, deliberative, and co-operative ways of working, » put out by the InterAct group in England. This useful and easy-to-understand paper spells out several considerations of planning evaluation for participatory projects. Most of the examples are from British civic projects, but there’s lots of useful information and frameworks for projects in any field.

Sources : NTC, la blogosphère muséale and Museum 2.0.

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