Summative Evaluation: Gallery of California History

April 1st, 2011 | EVALUATION

The Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) contracted Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A) to conduct a summative evaluation of the reinstallation of the Gallery of California History (History Gallery). Timing and tracking observations were used to examine visitors' experiences in the reinstalled History Gallery. A total of 108 observations were collected in February and March 2011. RK&A conducted timing and tracking observations of visitors to the History Gallery. Trained data collectors unobtrusively observed visitors and documented time spent in the exhibition overall, exhibits stopped at, and visitor behaviors. Time spent in the History Gallery was considerable (median time = 34 minutes). As OMCA staff intended, seating contributed to visitors' long stay times. Further, content areas with activities, audio or visual components, or label books doubled visitors' stay time in the History Gallery. Moreover, one of the most surprising findings is the extent to which the History Gallery was used, especially when considering the large size of the exhibition. Interestingly, age and group composition factored minimally into visitors' content area and section visitation, dwell time, and behaviors in the History Gallery, and furthermore, no gender relationships emerged. Overall, the exhibition seemed to provide compelling experiences given the extended dwell time and attraction power of the exhibits. Seating, activities, audio/visual components, and label books were instrumental to the success of the exhibition. Furthermore, findings suggest that the variety of components in the History Gallery successfully catered to a broad range of visitors with diverse interests and needs. However, there are a few possibilities for remediation. For instance, audio/visual components in the section Before the Others Came had great holding power, but fewer than one-fifth of visitors used each of the components. Because the area with the audio/visual components is relatively small and the components are close together, it is likely that visitors bypassed the audio/visual components when they were occupied by other visitors. Since the audio/visual components seemed to provide compelling experiences, as indicated by the long dwell times, OMCA may consider how to provide more visitors access to the components, such as by increasing the space between the components.



Team Members

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


Audience: Evaluators | General Public | Museum | ISE Professionals
Discipline: Education and learning science | Geoscience and geography | History | policy | law
Resource Type: Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: Exhibitions | Museum and Science Center Exhibits