Listening to our Communities – We need to do more!

(re-post from 5/14/2020) Museums may be closed but the voices of those we serve and hope to serve need to be heard and listened to. I hear many reasons for not doing evaluation currently because of capacity, no need, and not wanting to overwhelm attendees at virtual programming, and instead conducting what I call surface assessments that ask the feel-good questions. Sure, the feel-good responses about what we provide virtually to our audiences is great, but I argue that this is the time for museums to proactively ask our audiences about their needs and current thinking about museum participation during COVID-19 and once institutions reopen. I recently read the Informal Learning Review (ILR) Special Issue 2020 and was excited to find ideas like mine. I was particularly moved by the article on page 8 by Ellen Censky, PhD and President/CEO of the Milwaukee Public Museum, encouraging museums to engage community stakeholders just as we would if we were developing and building a new museum from the ground up.

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