Attention Art Museum Professionals: Here’s a Thesis Research Survey on Financials & Attendance

I feel lucky to be a part of the museum community. Museum professionals are a supportive, tight knit group. While our collections, missions, and strategic plans may differ – we can all agree on one thing – what we do is pretty darn great.

This career path takes passion, dedication, and gusto.

From curators to educators to marketing, from visitor services to exhibit designers to fundraising, each of us, as individuals, brings our own unique skills, talents, and expertise to the table and we work together to advance our museums, and, in turn, the communities that we serve. Beyond our institutional walls, museum professionals branch out and establish professional networks (within national, regional, and local associations/conferences, through LinkedIn and Twitter, and of course, who could forget those infamous listservs) that ask big picture questions. These questions, discussions, and hopefully outcomes, have real power to advance the field. The Pew Research Center, the NMC Horizon Report, and countless graduate theses provide reports that can help us not only look back on what has been done but also prepare for the future and move forward.

Which brings me to the request below.

Sherry Shaffer, a second-year MBA student at University of Wisconsin School of Business, Bolz Center for Arts Administration, reached out to me last month regarding her thesis project. Sherry seeks to collect information on art museums exclusively, to find out to what extent they experienced any significant financial and attendance issues between 2007 – 2013, what was done to counteract any adverse issues, and if those measures were effective.  It is her hope that by speaking with individual art museum professionals she might be able to draw common threads between effective strategies, giving museums that may be in the midst of problems some guidance on how they may succeed.

The survey is a first step in her graduate thesis study – collecting general information anonymously for baseline statistics and giving the opportunity for respondents to opt-in for a more in-depth interview.

If you work in an art museum and have a few moments to complete Sherry’s survey, click here (I know she would appreciate it). And if you aren’t in an art museum, but have contacts who are, please share the following link:

Studies like this one are incredibly important for helping the museum community learn about itself, celebrate and strengthen achivements, and correct mistakes or redirect course (when necessary). What’s the last survey you participated in/contributed to? What’s the last valuable report you read and what did it teach you?

Please note: While there will probably be publications as a result of this study, your name will not be used. Only group characteristics will be published. Data will be stored for seven years in an online, secure data management system approved for use in research by the University of Wisconsin.

You may ask any questions about the research at any time. If you have questions about the research after you leave today you should contact the Principal Investigator Erica Halverson at 608-263-4161. You may also call the student researcher, Sherry Shaffer at 608-263-4161. If you are not satisfied with response of research team, have more questions, or want to talk with someone about your rights as a research participant, you should contact the Education and Social/Behavioral Science IRB Office at 608-263-2320.

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