Summative Evaluation: Art Gallery

September 1st, 2010 | EVALUATION

Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A) conducted a summative evaluation of the Gallery of California Art (Art Gallery) for the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA). The Art Gallery underwent an extensive reinstallation project, funded in part by a grant from The James Irvine Foundation. The OMCA Art Gallery reinstallation project focused on four goals: create a more welcoming, comfortable and lively Gallery of California; foster intergenerational learning; attract and engage an ethnically diverse community; and foster a personal connection between art and the visitor. The summative evaluation sought to examine visitors' experiences in the reinstalled Art Gallery in light of OMCA's goals and to inform future changes to the Gallery. How did we approach this study? RK&A worked with OMCA to tailor the evaluation methodology to the Art Gallery's unique goals and objectives. Based on the questions OMCA staff raised, RK&A determined that a mixed method evaluation was most appropriate. RK&A conducted 93 timing and tracking visitor observations to discover how much time adult visitors spent in the exhibition and the range of visitor behaviors and 73 in-depth exit interviews to investigate the meaning visitors constructed from their experience. The target audience for the interviews were drop-in, adult visitors 18 years or older who spoke English, Spanish, Cantonese, and/or Mandarin as per the Museum's request. What did we learn? Visitors perceived the Art Gallery as a lively space, spent considerable time in it, and visited numerous sections (Goal 1). Interpretive and interactive elements actively engaged families with children and stimulated new conversations and new ways of interacting with art and with their family in the Art Gallery (Goal 2). The current OMCA visitors who participated in the summative evaluation were ethnically diverse (Goal 3). Observed visitors engaged with works of art and the interpretive/interactive offerings accompanying them, and visitors' personal connection to the art was evident when they discussed their experiences (Goal 4). Evaluation findings also show that OMCA could further strengthen visitors' personal connection with the art in the orientation and specific visitor participation activities. What are the implications of the findings? The timing and tracking and exit interviews demonstrate that the reinstalled Art Gallery provided compelling and meaningful experiences for a range of OMCA visitors, including men and women, visitors of diverse ages and backgrounds, as well as adult-only groups and families with children. As such, the Art Gallery successfully achieved most of the visitor goals stated in The James Irvine Foundation Grant. This evaluation highlights the positive effect of the Art Gallery reinstallation on OMCA visitors' experiences. It also demonstrates the importance of physical and conceptual orientation in helping to frame visitors' experiences. For example, OMCA staff may wish to consider ways to increase visitors' awareness of the three Art Gallery themes (people, land, and creativity), as this would likely help visitors develop deeper connections to the art.



Team Members

Randi Korn & Associates, Inc., Evaluator, Randi Korn & Associates, Inc.
Oakland Museum of California, Contributor



Audience: Adults | Evaluators | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Art | music | theater | Education and learning science
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits