The informal learning community created a conference program that pushed the field forward by addressing the increasing interest in evaluation and growing demand for evidence. Together, we thought strategically about how to continually build capacity for evaluation, which can happen at many levels, from the development of individual skills, to fostering culture and stakeholder knowledge at the institutional or geographic level, to increasing consistency within the field.
Download the keynote presentation "Museum Evaluation: A Vehicle for Social Betterment" by Dr. Ricardo Millett.
In Milwaukee we were exposed to the latest trends in visitor research. From data visualization in the visitor context to discussions of new ways to look at individualized learning, the 2013 conference brought together emerging work from the field in an exciting and lively format.
We had a blast at our Silver Conference Anniversary in Raleigh! We reflected on our past, our achievements, and our vision of the future of visitor studies, cultural institutions, and the informal learning community.
To expand upon this community of learners, VSA's 24th Annual Conference took place concurrently with the Association of Midwest Museums (AMM) and the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) annual conference. The joint meeting was a fantastic place where members from the various associations discussed and debated issues, shared experiences, and grew together.
Identifying and measuring the value of museums for their publics has become one of the most critical issues facing the visitor studies field. What is the essential role that visitor studies can play in achieving a museum's mission? How do visitor studies make a difference in the ways museums operate? What is the value of visitor studies across museum departments and management? The 2010 VSA Conference developed on the conversations of public value from the 2009 Conference.
The 2009 conference sparked a number of engaging conversations on how to show and share what we know our organizations mean to communities, how the experiences we create relate to visitor needs, and how a program or an exhibit can bring about a change. With the impressive Gateway Arch as a backdrop, a small but lively group of 150 considered the importance of strategies and methods for defining and measuring public value.
As promised, the 2008 conference was all about meaningful dialogue. There were conversations in the hallways, in the plenaries, at the evening events. And there was dancing and limericks and
lasso-ing, too. More than 200 people from across the US and eight other countries gathered in Houston, Texas to learn about cutting edge research, to share ideas about how to apply what is known about visitors to creating quality visitor experiences, and to discuss big questions.