February 8, 2013

Visitation isn't the only metric

The Virginia Gazette leads its piece on Colonial Williamsburg with the headline "Colonial Williamsburg paid attendance tumbles to 40-year low."Visitation is important, but the organizations other metrics are substantially more positive:
  • The foundation's endowment value rose to $730 million with a 13.1 percent return on investment. 
  • Donor gifts rose from $40 million to $63.7 million with 18,000 new donors.
  • Internet traffic and educational outreach both increased.
  • More people played the RevQuest game, which begins online and ends in the Historic Area.
This sounds to me like Colonial Williamsburg managed its finances very successfully, has made a strong case to donors that what it does is important and valuable, and has staked a claim in the online world. A more nuanced and balanced analysis of these metrics might tell us that Colonial Williamsburg is actually doing a a good job of achieving their mission and balancing their budget, despite steadly declining attendance. Far from "tumbling," it sounds like they are doing a good job adapting to new realities.

Visitation isn't the only metric, especially in an increasingly uber-connected world.

Escher as architect

From the New Yorker

February 4, 2013

The Met adds a visitor-friendly plaza

The Met just broke ground on a new visitor-friendly design for their Fifth Avenue plaza. Designed by OLIN, the new plan creates many more places to sit and a new emphasis on the street level entrances that have long been there, but were not readily apparent. The iconic steps will remain, but, with luck, may not be as crowded.

I'll have to see it in person, but the ideas seem simple and sensible. I like that. The Brooklyn Museum tried to solve some of the same problems in a much more radical way with generally disappointing results. Images via the NY Times.