Title:Scaling Up: Engagement Platforms and Large-Scale Collaboration
Authors:Robert Stein, Emerald Cassidy, Jonathan Finkelstein, Andrea Fulton, Douglas Hegley, Amy Heibel, Shyam Oberoi, Kate Tinworth, Bruce Wyman
Publication:MW2015: Museums and the Web 2015

In late 2013, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) was awarded a National Leadership Grant together with partners from the Denver Art Museum, Grace Museum (Abilene, Texas), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The team wondered whether a platform of engagement like DMA Friends might be applicable in other museums around the country with a wide variety of local conditions and business models. In the year since that award, the team has worked closely together to plan, develop, and soon launch pilot engagement platforms in each partner museum. To support the variety of needs and programs that each partner will pilot, the team has enhanced the existing Friends' software platform and crafted content strategies to allow the partners to create unique loyalty programs in each museum while also comparing their results directly.

In this paper, the team reviews the planning process, issues encountered during design and development, and lessons learned around the tools required to launch a large-scale collaborative program of this kind. A summary of the process evaluation methods and findings is shared, as well as plans for future site-based evaluation and data analysis. Specific to platforms of engagement, the paper describes the team-based approach to crafting a collaborative platform of this kind, challenges around reconciling requirements from multiple independent stakeholders, issues with scalability and stability when ramping up to significant numbers of simultaneous users with large data histories, and suggestions for analysis of visitor behavior across a broad partnership.