NEW ORLEANS – This week, the New Orleans Museum of Art hosted museum professionals for the Innovations in Evaluation Convening in NOMA’s Lapis Center for the Arts. The two-day-long conference, on Aug. 21–22, featured presentations from thought leaders within the field of museum evaluation, while offering opportunities for professional development.
“Bringing together museum professionals with the express purpose of knowledge-sharing and furthering the field is an important part of our role locally in New Orleans,” said Susan M. Taylor, The Montine McDaniel Freeman Director of NOMA. “Museums across the country are reconsidering how to evaluate the impact of their programs, and it’s crucial that New Orleans institutions are at the forefront of those conversations.
The program was presented with the support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), which awarded a grant to NOMA under the Museums Empowered Program to support institution-wide evaluation capacity building. With funds received from IMLS, NOMA has developed a cross-department team dedicated to embedding evaluation in all of the museum’s processes, practices, and systems.
“Evaluation is a priority at NOMA, and we are continually rethinking how we can make data-driven decisions that inform our programming and help us better work toward our mission to inspire lifelong learning through the arts,” said Kathryn Schneider, Director of Museum Projects and Initiatives. “We are thankful that the Institute of Museum and Library Services supports this work at the museum.”
The Innovations in Evaluation Convening featured presentations from three guest speakers:
- John Falk, Founder of the Institute for Learning Innovation: In his keynote address on Monday, August 21, Falk presented on the history of evaluation and where he anticipates shifts and changes in evaluation. Falk, a leading expert on free-choice learning, also presented his most recent research on the value of museums and the impact on an individual’s well-being.
- Lauren Holley, Audience and Evaluation Manager at Space Center Houston: In a talk in the afternoon of Monday, August 21, Holley presented innovative data collection methods. Holley’s interactive session provided the opportunity for participants to walk away with ten different data collection methods.
- Kate Livingston, Founder and Principal of ExposeYourMuseum, an arts consultancy with an emphasis on evaluation and organizational development: On Tuesday, August 22, Livington emphasized the importance of planning for evaluation. Livingston provided templates and tangible next steps for each participant.
Attendees came from a number of institutions, including Longue Vue House and Gardens, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and the Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses.