The Vital Role of Research in Audience Development

Jessica McClaire

In studying likeability, research-informed project development, participatory strategy, and museum engagement I designed a program for the Woodmere Art Museum.  The program, Project WAM (Woodmere Art Museum), specifically focuses on teen engagement at the Woodmere.  Project WAM would produce both a teen lead exhibition and two teen programming events within a six-month period. Teens would be guided by museum education staff members and meet weekly throughout the development and implementation of the teen programming. For participants the Woodmere would recruit 10 – 15 enthusiastic community high school student participants between the ages of 16 and 18.  Incentives to join Project WAM can include a stipend, behind the scenes access points to the museum, community service hours (For college applications!) and museum membership benefits. In the timeline below you can see how the logisitics would work for Project WAM.

In order to engage teens within the museum, they must be provided autonomy and informal education based programming.  The programs should take place as well within a basic set of parameters; which comprises of reality based end goals, high expectations, working within a group setting and guidance from knowledgeable, caring staff members and relevant professionals.  In the logic model below we can see the process in which this approach to teen engagement will result in the following institutional outcomes:
– Higher teen engagement: Teen designed programming will bring in other teens.

– Enhancement of museum access points: Crowdsourcing will define exactly how a visitor population wishes to experience the museum.

– Increase in museum advocacy: Project WAM can instill a lifelong museum investment within our teens.

The program idea is based on thorough research of the institution and the audiences they currently engage.  Woodmere caters to a wide-range of audiences as a result of its variety of programming opportunities. Its primary audience is individuals 50 -70 years of age, secondary audience is artists and its tertiary audience is school age kids. By studying the institution I was able to create a relevant program that fills a community need and engagement gap. Specifically, engaging their community teen population. The concepts we have studied and the tools we have acquired in this class will help me ensure that museum resources are being used efficiently and the approach to engaging an audience is individually designed.