Professional Development

Data Visualization + Reporting Resources

At the Visitor Studies Association conference every July, I get to take a deep-dive into my specialty where I get to share ideas, take the temperature of the field, and engage in some scintillating discussion. Despite the "Everything's bigger in Texas" adage, museum and audience evaluation isn't huge in Houston, so I sympathize with those who aren't able to connect in person.

This year, the Data Visualization and Reporting (DVR) Focused Interest Group (FIG) hosted the 2nd annual DataViz and Reporting Games workshop. With my co-hosts, Claire Thoma Evans and Taline Kuyumjian and the help of the DVR FIG Chair, Kate Livingston, we assembled a DVR resource list to help evaluators and anyone hoping to amp up their reporting/presentation skills! We're excited to share this resource with you. Click through for a download.


Take your best guess...

We played a Movie Title DataViz game in our workshop. Can you guess the movie title I visualized?

My Four Values

To kick off this year, my mentor Kate Livingston, founder of ExposeYourMuseum, hosted me in Austin to reflect on what I've learned in 2015.  Evaluators don't often get the opportunity to turn our focus inward, but when we do, we ask ourselves tough questions!

A week later, I keep reflecting on our discussion about the values we hold professionally. Many believe that evaluation or research offers an objective perspective of programs, exhibits, or a concept. Although our work provides insight into a variety of key perspectives, these are filtered through the interpretation and viewpoint of the analyst, the reporting technique, the methodology used, and the people hearing the message.

To some degree, accounting for these biases requires exposing our own filters. With that in mind, these are my four values I strive to bring to my work and life.

Improvement: There is always something that can change for the better. We achieve most when we are open to change. 

Impact: Be aware of your influence on the experiences of other people.

Transparency: Strive to be clear, open, and honest.

Connection: Provide people with points of connection, build their comfort, and offer understanding of various perspectives.

Although I try to live by these values every day, writing them down brings them into focus. Having a written-out list will help me underscore these features in my work.

What values will you incorporate into your work this year?

The Value of Evaluation at the Story of Texas

Last week I had the pleasure of presenting a session on evaluation at The Story of Texas workshop with my co-presenter, Barbara Judkins, site manager at Starr Family Home. I was blown away by the number of attendees in our room-- we even had a few left standing in the back! What an encouraging sign that non-evaluators are enthusiastic about learning from visitors!


It was an honor to meet such wonderful professionals in Texas and to hear their experience diving in with evaluation at their historic sites. Please visit the resources page to see the list  Barbara and I complied to help distill the wild, wonderful world of evaluation.

Are there any great evaluation resources you like to use? Post your favorites in the comments below to share with others!

Middle School Cafeteria, or Art Gallery?

Will you be at the Visitor Studies Association conference this year in Indianapolis? 

I will! I'm bringing along a poster on my Master's thesis, and might try to convince you that a contemporary art gallery without well planned interpretation for visitors is like an unsupervised middle school cafeteria. It's just a bad idea, and somebody's gonna get hurt. Well, maybe that's an exaggeration. But why risk it, right? 

Find my poster, glance at the pretty colors, and try to stump me with questions like:

How do visitors connect (or don't) with contemporary art?

What can we do to eliminate barriers for casual (infrequent) museum-goers?

Who has the hardest time with contemporary art, and why? 

Come and check it out, and you might even walk away with my lunch money...


P.S. Can't make it to VSA? Did you go to VSA and miss my poster!? (Say it's not so!) Do you think my analogy is completely devoid of context? (Ironic, eh?) Not to fear. I'll update with a post that gives away ALL THE ANSWERS! Hang tight.