According to the Dallas Museum of Art's PR department, over the past few years, the museum has had "a 100% increase in overall attendance and dramatic increases in the Museum’s visibility, membership, and public programming participation."
Sounds just like what every museum would like to see happen! What's the secret? A major new addition by a star architect? Blockbuster exhibits? A major marketing campaign? Nope. Visitor Studies. While many museums spent the past decade or so planning, designing and building new buildings (or major additions to existing buildings), the DMA spent the 90s trying to better understand their visitors and reshaping their practices and programs to better meet audience and community needs.
Science centers and children's museums have long understood the value of understanding visitors, but this is the first time a major art museum has joined in. The DMA's new book documents their process:
Ignite the Power of Art: Advancing Visitor Engagement in Museum.
Reading the book and visiting the museum are now on my short list.
Bonnie Pitman talking about the museum: