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Education & Interpretation Assessment

Description

This assessment helps a museum evaluate how well it is carrying out its educational role and mission, and meeting core standards for education and interpretation. In addition to looking at the museum’s current content delivery vehicles such as its exhibitions, tours, and programs, the Education & Interpretation Assessment considers these in context with the museum’s community, audiences, and other aspects of operations so the museum can be a responsive, relevant, and trusted source of learning and educational partner in its larger education ecosystem. The assessment also looks at the museum’s educational content creation and delivery from the perspective of diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.

“As the director of education for the David Owsley Museum of Art at Ball State University (DOMA) in Muncie, Indiana, I am always on the lookout for resources to help us meet new challenges. The Museum Assessment Program offers important tools that have benefited my museum in the past, so when I heard MAP was developing a new Education & Interpretation Assessment, I knew that we would apply!”   Tania Said

Read Tania Said’s full  blog article about how her museum is meeting new challenges.

Purpose

This assessment can improve ability to:

  • Align programs and events to target audiences
  • Improve interaction and engagement
  • Design educational materials (such as gallery activities, lesson plans, exhibit guides or teacher resources)
  • Develop an Interpretation Plan
  • Support training for front line staff and volunteers
  • Design program evaluation strategies
  • Analyze the current inclusion of diverse voices

Scope

This assessment will examine:

  • How educational content is planned, informed, created, delivered, and evaluated
    • Plans and policies
    • Who is involved internally and externally
    • Delivery formats (exhibits, programs, tours, off-site school visits, etc.)
    • Goals, success measures, impact
  • Alignment between educational programs, collections, exhibitions, and mission
  • Community and audiences: composition and needs; what do you know about them and how; alignment with them and your educational deliverables
  • Partnerships and work with local educational ecosystem / how the museum is seen and used as an educational resource
  • DEAI issues: physical and intellectual accessibility; inclusion of diverse voices—who has a voice in your museum’s interpretation/content and what voices are you choosing to amplify or share? What story are you telling?
  • Organizational resources devoted to carrying out educational role (money, people, facilities, collection)

Like all MAP assessments, this one:

  • Is grounded in the Core Standards
  • Includes Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion (DEAI) issues as they relate to the assessment focus
  • Helps museums look at both functional and strategic aspects of their operations
  • Uses an online platform to move through modules with narrated presentations, resources, and required activities throughout the entire year
  • Requires an internal MAP team to lead the museum and be responsible for the bulk of the online work, required activities, site visit organization, and action plans

Before Applying

  • Review the main MAP Eligibility Requirements
  • Your institution MUST have a formal and approved mission statement which has been recently reviewed
  • Your institution MUST have staff position(s) (paid or unpaid) dedicated to education, interpretation, and exhibits; these roles can be separate or combined into one or more positions
  • Ensure that your institution and key stakeholders are committed to a year-long process of assessment and taking action.

Note: The new MAP Education & Interpretation Assessment is being developed in consultation with the museum field. A convening of thirteen MAP Peer Reviewers who were subject matter experts and belonged to AAM’s relevant Professional Networks (Education Committee (EDCOM), National Association of Museum Exhibitions (NAME), and Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation (CARE)) was held in March. They represented a wide mix of museum sizes, types, and governance systems from all regions of the country employed in a variety of museum positions. The MAP Education Assessment Convening Report contains Event Highlights and Key Findings, as well as a section on Next Steps.

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