Baseline National Survey

Chris Barr provided leadership for this survey report when he was the Director for Arts and Technology Innovation at the Knight Foundation. The field survey was a partnership with the American Alliance of Museums, capturing data from 480 museums of all sizes across 50 states.

30% of respondents were art museums, 38% were historic institutions and sites, and the remaining 11% were science museums and others. Survey respondents – 65% of the institutions were small museums, with annual budgets of USD 5 million or less and had fewer than 49 employees. Museums responded to this survey before the COVID-19 pandemic.

In October 2021, I served as the Co-Chair the Leadership and Strategy channel of the Museum Computer Network conference. Through this professional development opportunity, I was able to work with Chris Barr, after he had completed this important work with the Knight Foundation.

While the report outlines that those museums with dedicated resources and larger budgets fare better on this continuum, I am curious to know if there are outliers where a museum can demonstrate its ‘secret sauce’ to stay connected with audiences and communities.

Key Chart provides a Continuum Matrix

This chart on page 5 of the report classifies museums along a continuum of untapped, emergent or realized for the following aspects:

  • Strategy
  • People
  • Practices
  • Audience
  • Partnerships
This chart on page 5 of the report that classifies museums along a continuum of untapped, emergent or realized for the following aspects

Closing Reflections

It was interesting to read this paragraph in the closing reflections of the report:

In this uncertain and truly difficult time for cultural institutions, the pandemic is forcing
many institutions to adopt new ways of designing programs and exhibitions, and centering
digital outreach as a core museum activity. Constructing cross-departmental teams to
focus on digital, and providing training for that effort, will enable museums to be more
resilient to a hybrid in-person/online dynamic that may become commonplace in the next
few years.

Closing Reflection – page 10 – Digital Readiness and Innovation in Museums, a Baseline National Survey, October 2020, Knight Foundation

As an example of constructing cross-departmental teams, with a focus on digital, we have created another insight that explores software tools and strategies to work across silos within a museum.

Is the size of the museum the crucial element or is there a secret sauce in terms of talent, strategy, process or technology tools? Are there examples of small to medium-sized museums that are rocking the digital game?

In my work with small and medium-sized museums, galleries and other cultural organizations, I am often curious to find examples of excellent practices amongst GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums). I am curious to see how time spent on social media versus your website translates into increased revenue, visitation and awareness in your community.