Directors do it. Educators do it too. So do curators and marketing folks. What is “it” you ask? “It” is pondering and questioning what visitors like and dislike about exhibits, programs, facility amenities (or lack thereof) and all of the many other components that make up the visitor experience at a museum or site.

Most Visitors’ Voices members would certainly agree that our group’s focus―audience research and evaluation―is woven into all areas of operation including the more obvious ones of education, exhibitions and marketing. As a result, for the past several years we’ve made a concerted effort to work with other AASLH affinity groups so that discussions and projects within Visitors’ Voices benefit from the expertise in those groups and, hopefully, vice versa. Most recently, we enjoyed working with the Small Museums Community on a multi-year project about visitor surveys for small museums that culminated in the free webinar, “Jump Right In and Get Your Feet Wet” this past summer.

“Greater than the Sum of Our Parts” is the theme for the 2014 AASLH annual meeting next September 17-20. I know September sounds like a long ways away, but session proposals are due very soon. November 15th to be exact. With a theme that could also serve as the Visitors’ Voices motto, I encourage members to consider submitting a session proposal for the conference.

St. Paul promises good history and good times so begin planning now to attend the conference and let’s make sure we get some audience research and evaluation-related session proposals submitted by November 15.

Cherie Cook
AASLH senior program manager and staff liaison for Visitors’ Voices