Making Museums Relevant

Katie Dune

Throughout our semester in Issues in Museums, a glaring topic that I strove to address in my analysis of the Chemical Heritage Foundation was relevance. In investigating the institution’s programming, exhibitions, and social media presence, it became noticeable that the museum was missing a key audience in today’s society: young families with children. This audience was neither represented in the museum programming or the accessibility of the museum (lack of open hours / no weekend hours.) In developing my program based on these discoveries, I have integrated both a hands-on approach, as well as an additional day in which the museum should open it’s doors, Saturday. This program will be a hands-on demo style in which staff or volunteers within the museum lead visitors in a “make and take” activity. Types of demos could involve tye dying, making crystals, and other safe scientific discovery experiments.

Throughout the development of this program, several tools for research and analysis were utilized. These included Policy Map, Culture Blocks, and logic models. Both Policy Map and Culture Blocks were vital resources used in order to explore the surrounding neighborhoods demographics and psychographics significant to both the program and museum. These sources are both free for use and can help to improve a museum’s scope of understanding of the community in which they lie.

The above maps was just two of many used from Culture Blocks. Through this site, I was able to pinpoint the other non-profit institutions, specifically museums, and parks within central Philadelphia. This information allows CHF to locate their direct competition from an overall aerial view. Another feature is to visualize the number of cultural participants within an area in Philadelphia.
These tools and concepts learned throughout the semester provided a much more in depth analysis of audience research and integration into existing institutions. Through studying ones community, we may be better able to serve and develop institutions into a more integrated and relevant source of public value and good.