Over the next two weeks I’ll be travelling to Berlin and London attending various conferences and talking to interesting folks. I’ll be blogging as I go so you won’t miss out on anything. You can also follow me on Twitter (@lyndakelly61)
Berlin – attending The Connected Audience Conference, organised by Kulturagenda and the Jewish Museum Berlin. Here’s my abstract:
#epicfail: Has audience research become irrelevant in museums?
A recent report, Evaluating evaluation: Increasing the Impact of Summative Evaluation in Museums and Galleries (Davies and Heath, 2013) questioned the role of museum evaluation as a tool to enact change. The report was in response to the “… impression that despite the substantial resources that are spent on the summative evaluation of museums and galleries the research has little impact and largely remains ineffectual.” (p.3). In an earlier paper (Kelly, 2005) I argued that the shift in museums from mission-led program development to balancing content and audience needs through a transaction approach required a broader research-focussed agenda for museum evaluation. I noted that while traditional ways of conducting evaluations were necessary and useful, to remain viable audience research needed to be more strategic, working across the sector in new ways and utilising new methods. Given the concerns raised by Davies and Heath, and the fact that many museums still provide visitors with less than satisfactory experiences has audience research failed to make any kind of impact on museum practice? In a world where we are constantly switched on, and our visitors both expect and demand museums to be more participatory and transparent, what does audience research have to offer staff developing a wide range of programs both onsite, online and via mobile devices? This paper will raise questions around the role of audience research in a digital age and asks: are we experiencing an #epicfail?
From #myspace to #sharedspace: Has tech changed our relationships with visitors?
Facebook has turned ten, myspace is no more, Flickr has had a revival, Instagram and Pinterest are some of the fastest growing social network sites, MOOCs are changing the nature of higher education and phablets are the new smartphone. What do all these trends mean for how museums relate to their audiences? In the age of instant feedback (good and bad), many-to-many communication and sharing content at the click of a button, what role has audience research to play in understanding our tech-savvy visitors? This paper will discuss the key trends around tech and museums and how audience research could assist in redefining museums’ relationships with visitors. I will also ruminate on the themes and issues arising from the conference for discussion.