Stewardship > Interpretation


Introduction to Museum Evaluation, Resource Report. American Association of Museums / Committee on Audience Research & Evaluation (CARE), 94 pages pub date 1999

What your visitors think is important! This collection of articles explains how visitor studies can influence and improve museum exhibits, program planning, and services. In simple language, the articles cover different kinds of evaluation, from “front-end” to “summative,” and discuss how to convince decision makers of the merits of conducting evaluation. The articles are supplemented with practical case studies that demonstrate the benefits of evaluation in museums, and lists of reading materials, organizations, and resources.
paper 94 pages pub date 1999

Practical Evaluation Guide: Tools for Museums & Other Informal Educational Settings. Judy Diamond
AltaMira Press / American Association for State & Local History, paper 192 pages pub date 1999

Visitor evaluations provide clues to the effectiveness of exhibits and programs, and provide insights into how people learn in informal educational settings. This title presents the basic principles and techniques needed to design, implement, and present an evaluation project. It is a clearly and simply written guide with sample questionnaires that should prove an invaluable resource for competent, reliable evaluations in informal educational settings of any kind.

Questioning Assumptions: An Introduction to Front-End Studies in Museums. Lynn D. Dierking & Wendy Pollack, Association of Science-Technology Centers, 131 pages pub date 1998

Research that is done at the very beginning of the planning process is often called “front-end studies.” Although they are most often associated with exhibition development, such studies are equally useful in planning programs, marketing campaigns, or entirely new institutions. Based on written reports and interviews with those who implement studies, this book discusses how people learn; their understandings, attitudes, and beliefs; and why they visit museums in the first place. It is sure to challenge museums’ traditional approaches to exhibit and program design.

Current Trends in Audience Research & Evaluation, V15. AAM Committee on Audience Research & Evaluation. spiral bound 97 pages pub date 2002

Includes papers presented at the 2002 AAM Annual Meeting in Dallas. Two broad categories are examined: new trends in audience research and evaluation and lessons from the field.

Interpreting Historic House Museums, edited by Jessica Foy Donnelly. AltaMira Press / American Association for State & Local History, 326 pages 2002

Fourteen contributors to Interpreting Historic House Museums consider the history of house museums and the need to look at familiar issues from new perspectives and using new methods. If your site isn’t using a comprehensive interpretive plan, how can you create one? While doing so, how do you address contemporary issues like race and gender? Don’t forget the physical either—does your property need a landscape plan as well as a furnishings plan? And, when your visitors arrive to see all your hard work, how accessible is your property? If the answer is “not very,” what can and should you be doing to address that? Once inside, how good are your tours and guides, and does your furnishings plan allow visitors to maximize their experiences in areas without guides? Interpreting Historic House Museums captures the big picture and the important details. Its discussion of contemporary issues and successful programs, practical guidelines and information, up-to-date references, and lively illustrations will make it useful and relevant for both students and practicing professionals.

Public Institutions for Personal Learning: Establishing a Research Agenda, edited by John H. Falk & Lynn D. Dierking. American Association of Museums, 143 pages 1995

This landmark publication identifies strategies for determining the extent and content of museum learning and the visitor experience. Takes into account prior knowledge and experience; subsequent, reinforcing experiences; motivation and attitudes; culture and background; social mediation; design and representation; and the physical setting. Includes possible measurement techniques for the museum context, and recommendations for future research in museum training.

Excellence & Equity Education & the Public Dimension of Museums, edited by Ellen Cochran Hirzy. American Association of Museums, 28 pages 2000

This landmark report affirms the contributions museums make to the educational needs of the nation. The report helps museums define how well they are carrying out their educational mission and serving the public. The principles are accompanied by specific recommendations, which museums can implement to meet challenges as the stewards of educational excellence and equity.

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