Nine Free or Nearly Free Ways Museums Can Take Advantage of Web 2.0

July 15th, 2008 - Posted in 2008, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

By Jim Spadaccini
From ASTC Dimensions
July/August 2008

As the Internet continues to evolve, it seems like I hear about a new web site or software service just about every day. The vast majority of these are free to use. Many of these sites or software packages are produced by start-ups looking to gain first-time customers. Others are created by one of the giants—Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft—that are trying to achieve market dominance. Either way, they are essentially giving away their products, at least for now.

Whether you want to promote your events on the Web or expand your educational activities in social networking and file-sharing sites, there are web services and software you may want to consider. Here are nine free or nearly free ways to take advantage of these new developments on the Internet.

From Intent to Impact: Building a Culture of Evaluation

May 16th, 2008 - Posted in 2008, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

May/June 2008Dimensions cover

Science centers regularly collect data about exhibits and programs, documenting how visitors respond to what the institution offers to public audiences. But once the report is filed, what happens to this knowledge? Is it used to inform daily practice, influence future planning, or demonstrate to a funding organization that the institution is meeting both its own goals and theirs? Many museum professionals think it’s time to apply a strategy of mission-based evaluation to all operations. To accomplish that, staff must first look inward. In this issue, we explore how museums within and outside the science center field are striving to make self-evaluation an integral part of their institutional culture.

To What End? Achieving Mission Through Intentional Practice, by Randi Korn, with Mission Evaluation: An Annotated Bibliography
• Learning from the Process: Developmental Evaluation Within ‘Agents of Change,’ by Myrica Gration and Julie Jones
• Striving for Sustainability: A Self-Assessment Tool for Museums, by Charlie Trautmann
• The Funder’s Perspective: IMLS, Evaluation, and Public Value, by Marsha Semmel
• Planning for Family Learning: Research, Evaluation, and Decision Making, by Julie I. Johnson and Kirsten Ellenbogen
• The Funder’s Perspective: Measuring Progress Toward Mission, by Ann Stone
• Scitech’s Effectiveness Review: Appraising the Present, Planning for the Future, by Suzannah Lyons
• The Three Questions, by Carolyn Meehan

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To What End? Achieving Mission Through Intentional Practice

May 16th, 2008 - Posted in 2008, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

By Randi Korn
From ASTC Dimensions
May/June 2008

At museum conferences these days, people are talking about accountability, public impact, and relevance. These ideas are not new. A decade ago, in a 1997 keynote address for the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums’ 50th anniversary, the late Smithsonian scholar Stephen Weil spoke of the “in-your-face, bottom-line, hard-nosed questions”—the ones that museums often hope to keep under wraps: “Do museums really matter? Can and do museums make a difference?”In arguing that some museums do make a difference, and that all should strive to do so, Weil supported the notion that “the very things that make a museum good are its intent to make a ‘positive difference in the quality of people’s lives.’” He borrowed this last phrase from the United Way of America, which was then challenging its grantees to document the benefits a given program had made in their lives. (more…)

‘My Museum’: Serving the Member Audience

March 17th, 2008 - Posted in 2008, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

Dimensions coverMarch/April 2008
In This Issue

Is membership the key to moving “beyond the gate”? Should we be building deeper relationships with our most loyal customers? In recent years, ASTC Dimensions has examined such audience segments as early learners, female visitors, teachers, and adults aged 50+. In this issue, we focus on a group often taken for granted: the individuals and families who join our science center as members and renew their memberships year after year. Articles highlight member audience research and approaches to membership fulfillment across a spectrum of ASTC science centers. Together, contributors examine what turns a casual visitor into someone who speaks with pride of “my museum.”

• Breaking the Mold: The Science of Retooling a Membership Program, by Heather Calvin and Deborah Kulich
• Passport to Science: Member Benefits That Travel, by Diane Frendak
• The Continuum of Museum Membership: What Research Tells Us, by Susie Wilkening
• Value Added: Membership Strategies That Work, by Kelly Brault, Michael Conley, Tara Keblish and Steve Jacobson
• A Member-Shaped Museum: The New Science Center of Iowa, by Sara Scallon
It Feels Like Home: The Core Value of Community, by Paul Tatter and Kristin Leigh
• Membership Resources

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It Feels Like Home: The Value of Community

March 17th, 2008 - Posted in 2008, Dimensions by Christine Ruffo

By Paul Tatter and Kristin Leigh
From ASTC Dimensions
March/April 2008

“This is a wonderful atmosphere. Can I live here?” (Visitor comment card)

At Explora we think of membership as a sense of belonging. “Belonging” comes from an old English word meaning a close and secure relationship. Relationships of belonging are personal. They are about you, me, and the stuff of the world that is the medium of our activity.

Being a member has deep roots in belonging, trust, comfort, genuineness, safety, acceptance, and sharing resources. Developing personally meaningful relationships takes time, as reflected in these notes from visitors: “My husband and I have come here before and couldn’t wait for our daughter to be born so that we could share with her what fun we had! She’s now two years old, and we all had a blast. We’ll be back!” “Siempre estamos encantados” (“We’re always charmed”). (more…)

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