Visitor Panels: Incorporating Evaluation in Exhibition Planning

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Presentation at the 2008 Visitor Studies Association Conference showing how visitor panels helped staff teams to plan exhibits at the High Museum of Art and the Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve

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Visitor Panels: Incorporating Evaluation in Exhibition Planning

  1. 1. Visitor Panels: Incorporating Formative Evaluation in Exhibition Planning Houston, Texas July 17, 2008
  2. 2. Our Goal <ul><li>To share the perspectives of those who have used visitor panels to plan exhibits at two very different institutions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Julia Forbes, High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Frank Lopez, Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, Huron, OH </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. High Museum of Art
  4. 4. Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve <ul><li>573 acre Reserve </li></ul><ul><li>Part of a national network that promotes stewardship of estuaries </li></ul><ul><li>The only Research Reserve in the Great Lakes </li></ul>
  5. 5. Visitor Panel Process <ul><li>ID target audience and recruit panelists using telephone screening interview </li></ul><ul><li>ID key issues, develop prototypes to present to panelists </li></ul><ul><li>Write Discussion Guide and Written Feedback (questionnaire) </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct front-end visitor panel session, record and transcribe discussion, tabulate Written Feedback </li></ul><ul><li>Read and reflect on visitor panelists’ comments, suggestions </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct debrief meeting, a working session in which team members engage in collective decision-making to plan next steps in exhibition development </li></ul><ul><li>Reconvene visitor panel for formative evaluation </li></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Louvre Atlanta </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A 3-year partnership between the High and the Louvre </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Three year-long temporary exhibits </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Staff exchange </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Joint planning with staff members from the High, the Louvre, Georgia Tech, Accenture </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3 visitor panels and 3 debriefing meetings over the course of 9 months to plan for year 3 exhibit, “The Louvre and the Masterpiece” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visitor panelists: young, tech savvy individuals </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. High Visitor Panelists
  8. 8. High Debrief Meeting
  9. 9. Three Visitor Panels <ul><li>At visitor panel 1 we presented a concept using augmented reality </li></ul><ul><li>By visitor panel 2 we had dismissed that idea and moved in the direction of a game based on the idea of forgeries and an interactive wall </li></ul><ul><li>In visitor panel 3 we refined designs and concepts for game and interactive wall with input from visitor panelists </li></ul>
  10. 10. Interactive Wall Prototype Visitor Panel 1
  11. 11. Visitor Panel 2 Interactive Wall Prototype
  12. 12. Visitor Panel 3 Interactive Wall Prototype
  13. 13. Final Version, Interactive Wall Final Version
  14. 14. Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve <ul><li>Renovation of existing Visitor Center </li></ul><ul><li>Schematic Design by outside exhibit design firm </li></ul><ul><li>Single visitor panel with debriefing meeting the following day </li></ul><ul><li>Internal team: staff from OWC and Dept. of Natural Resources, board members, local informal educators, Exhibit Works staff </li></ul><ul><li>Visitor panelists: individuals from 30 to 60 with kids and grandkids </li></ul>
  15. 15. Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve <ul><li>Visitor Exhibit Hall in DeWine Center (1,700+ square feet) </li></ul><ul><li>Last major renovation – 1985 </li></ul><ul><li>Displays focusing on natural habitats, cultural history, water quality and the NERRS partnership in Ohio need updating </li></ul>
  16. 16. Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve
  17. 17. OWC Visitor Panel
  18. 18. OWC Debrief Meeting
  19. 19. Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve <ul><li>Panel validated conceptual designs as “interesting,” adding useful elements for design development </li></ul><ul><li>Panel largely surprised that they hadn’t known about the Research Reserve </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ It’s a secret that’s too well kept!” </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve <ul><li>Panel served as our “consultants” on many aspects of our visitor services </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback based on tour of entire facility – without interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Results humbling for staff who gained appreciation of visitor perspective </li></ul>
  21. 21. Contacts <ul><li>Julia Forbes, Head of Museum Interpretation, High Museum of Art [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Frank Lopez, Manager, Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve [email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Daryl Fischer, Musynergy [email_address] </li></ul>

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