If you follow CFM regularly, you know we love Susie Wilkening and James Chung of Reach Advisors. Of course I mean we love their work–notably their CFM report Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures. Come to think of it, we do love James and Susie, too. They are smart and passionate, knowledgeable and articulate about the importance of museums. What’s not to love?
Anyway, I am excited to help spread the word about a free research opportunity Susie and James are offering to museums. They are preparing a research project that will dig deeper into their observation (described in Lifestages of the Museum Visitor) that certain kinds of museum experiences are critical catalysts for turning kids into life-long museum geeks– what Susie and James call Museum Advocates. So Reach Advisors is recruiting museums across the country to participate in a national study. Participating museums will contribute access to their contacts (email lists, Twitter followers, Facebook Fans etc.) and in return get free data they can use about their museum and overall comparables from the other participants to use for benchmarking. The findings will also be shared widely with the field. Follow the Reach Advisors’ blog for updates on the project as it evolves.
The current trends in museum visitation are troubling. There is a growing disparity between the demographic profile of museum visitors (largely Caucasian) and the demographics of the US population as a whole, which will be majority minority by mid-century. Even now, we can document a decline in arts participation for reasons that are probably relate both to generational and cultural demographic shifts. This makes it incredibly important that we explore how to nurture the next generation of museum-goers. I encourage museums to participate in the Reach research project–the resulting data may be crucial to our future as a field. And James and Susie do great work.