Mastering the Art and Science of Formative Evaluation in Art Museums

In a world of evolving visitor needs and expectations, it is increasingly important for art museum professionals to be agile in the design process. Initiating a dialogue with audiences early on can help maximize the emotional impact and educational effectiveness of nearly any museum project, including high- and low-touch interactives, labels, websites, and mobile apps. In this “how-to” session, participants learn about ways to integrate formative evaluation techniques into their development process as a way to link audience needs with the goals of museum initiatives.

Presenters share how the Cleveland Museum of Art uses formative evaluation to inform a multitude of museum-wide projects. They explore the various components of this type of evaluation and guide participants through potential applications. Through hands-on activities, attendees have a chance to work in small groups to execute a formative research project from issue identification through presenting results. Additionally, participants learn how to conduct formative evaluation at a rapid pace and in a low-cost manner, allowing for the utmost level of customization and flexibility. Evaluators and non-evaluators alike leave ready to add formative evaluation to their development toolkit.