Young women in embrace having photo taken in front of Bruce Nauman’s neon word sculpture, Having Fun/Good Life, Symptoms.

Visitors in CMOA galleries. Photo: Bryan Conley

Engagement and Participation: Strategic Plan, 2018–2020

Increase audience engagement by 50%. At its heart, effective audience engagement produces active, memorable, and emotional experiences, and encourages repeat visitation. We will develop mission-focused exhibitions, installations, digital initiatives, and programs that connect with visitors in truly meaningful and relevant ways. In order to better understand how our offerings can have a deeper and lasting impact, we will establish new models of evaluation so that we can effectively listen to and collaborate with audiences.

Key Strategies

  1. Develop a formally accepted metric to measure audience engagement and participation. CMOA has some methods of measuring participation and engagement; however, the museum has no formally accepted comprehensive audience score. We will develop this score through surveys, attendance, and other metrics. Then, with the strategies we’ve outlined in our plan, we’ll identify the best ways to increase the score. We will continue to use quantitative tools like Qualtrics and Traf-Sys as well as qualitative methods to truly understand our impact on visitors. Marketing, curatorial, education, and visitor services staff will work closely to ensure that the metric we develop is strongly mission-focused.
  2. Build strategies for strengthening audience engagement and participation beyond our walls. Perceptions about the museum are often seeded long before a visitor walks through our doors. Some visitors may never enter our building, engaging instead with cmoa.org, Storyboard, our social media platforms, and other online resources, or participating in a community-based program or initiative. It is critically important that CMOA engages with online audiences as well as those who attend offsite programming. We will build consideration of these distributed models of engagement into the early stages of our exhibition, program, and installation development processes. This will allow us to co-develop digital initiatives alongside our onsite and in-gallery content, encouraging curatorial-digital partnerships that use existing technological assets and, when necessary, establish new ones. Embracing this concept of a distributed museum, an institution that is connected with audiences before they arrive and after they leave, is key to keeping CMOA front of mind as an invaluable community resource that is more than a physical destination.
  3. Develop and continually enhance active, memorable, and emotional experiences with art. We will create and experiment with participatory gallery activities that prompt audiences to connect with one another around themes presented by the museum’s collections and exhibitions. We will create learning outcomes for all projects, including mediated and non-mediated programs, and replicate successful experiments in other galleries and programs. We will iterate and continually improve on engagement scores in order to increase our reach by 50% by 2020.
  4. Collecting Experiences. Beginning in 2019, CMOA will rethink its traditional mode of programming by creating a dedicated space for experimentation and learning. Twenty-five hundred square feet of gallery space, adjacent to collections from the Renaissance through contemporary, will become a laboratory for exploring innovative and engaging ways for visitors to interact with and respond to art. Through systematic evaluation, both qualitative and quantitative, we will build new bodies of knowledge about our visitors’ experiences with art and with CMOA as an organization. This data and the experimental ethos of Collecting Experiences will influence future CMOA exhibitions, installations, programs, and events far beyond the bounds of our laboratory space. We will also share our findings with the museum field at large so that other communities can benefit from the experiences we’ve collected.