Friday, April 1, 2011

Week 11

      Brandi and I have continued to enter items in the finding aid for the museum archive. So far we have entered over 200 files, with each file containing at least one item and most with several brochures, exhibition catalogs, press releases etc. This week we also examined the 3-D objects to be included, and discussed options for including them in the finding aid. A screen shot of the finding aid is shown below.

In addition to this there have again been several visitors from area colleges collecting information on artists and artworks for comparative essays. This week I assisted patrons in the collection of information on George Inness, Albert Bierstadt, George Bellows, and John Singer Sargent among others. 

Work on the revised Web Site also continues and a related theme to this ongoing project is the measurement of success among art museums. I was provided an essay published by Maxwell L. Anderson through the Getty Leadership Institute which suggested a new and more relevant method for the  examination of museum metrics. In this paper Anderson explained that the traditional method for measuring museum success was counted on the basis of exhibitions, attendance, and membership. While these factors are important, the author described how these can be false indicators. He wrote that exhibitions create a media sensation and develop notoriety for art museums, but they often also result in a distraction from the permanent collection and stray from the core mission of the museum. Anderson stated that attendance is flawed because these numbers do not correlate to admission fees, leading museums with large attendance numbers to falsely believe they also have larger incomes. The third factor, of membership, does not provide an accurate picture of museum success because membership prices are often set low in order to attract a greater number of members (Anderson 2004). The author explained that this resulted in a deficit, and financial strain for the institution.

Anderson offered an 11 point metric based on output and outcomes that more effectively measure art museum success. Among the 11 points are quality of experience, standards of governance, and contributions to art conservation (Anderson 2004). For quality of experience Anderson developed a survey that examined the visitor's perceptions through his/her response to the collection, retention of information, and possible future visits. With these responses museum personnel could more effectively gauge the art museum with that of other resources in the community, and provide better results to their patrons (Anderson 2004). For standards of governance the author suggested annually evaluating the museum trustees understanding of the museum's mission, and how this purpose has been advanced over the past year. This would thus illustrate success towards the established goal in creating the museum. For the assessment of contributions to art conservation, Anderson suggested an evaluation of the conservators within the museum based on number of hours worked, number of publications, and number of works cared for. These are just a few of the authors assessment marks, a partial adoption of his methods, or a modification of his ideas could be considered in the development of a broader understanding of art museum successes.

Anderson, M. L. (2004) Metrics of Success in Art Museums. Getty Leadership Institute, J. Paul Getty Trust. 1200 Getty Center Drive Los Angeles, CA 90049.                      

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