McConnell Library Scholars Repository

Bridging the Past with the Future: Applying Innovation to Increase Awareness, Relevance, and Engagement in Small Museums

Stephens, Jocelyn E and Arbury, Andrew S (2019) Bridging the Past with the Future: Applying Innovation to Increase Awareness, Relevance, and Engagement in Small Museums. Masters thesis, Radford University.

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Abstract

Small museums are in charge of preserving our past, recording our present, and inspiring our future. Though with continually changing visitor interests and demographics, they can be difficult to sustain, which is attributable to a disparity in generational appeal. Often the qualities that attract one generation can feel extraneous to the next. This leads to a disconnect within the community. This study serves as a qualitative analysis of a small museum that has seen a steady decline in both visitors and membership numbers, which is caused by diminishing relevance, engagement, and awareness within the community. The platform for this research is the Historical Society of Frederick County, established in 1892, which is a nonprofit educational and cultural organization that preserves and shares Frederick County’s history through public exhibits and programs. This research is qualitative in nature and employs design thinking strategies. This approach is invaluable in reversing problems by watching and listening to your visitors. When visitor needs are clearly understood, user-centered solutions can be generated to meet the needs of both the museum and the community. The purpose of this study is to explore why small museums are important, understand the current landscape of revenue streams, examine why visitor numbers and memberships are declining, and apply design thinking to inspire innovation. The study is broken into four stages, each employing methods from the Luma Handbook of Human-Centered Design. The data collected was analyzed by looking for pattern and themes, revealing insights. Design thinking is an invaluable tool for increasing awareness, relevance, and engagement in small museums. The data collected corroborates the claim that this methodology can be applied to better understand a small museum’s current landscape, interests of visitors and non-visitors, and stimulate the community to play a more active role with small museums.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: UNSPECIFIED
Depositing User: Jocelyn E Stephens
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2020 20:17
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2020 20:17
URI: http://wagner.radford.edu/id/eprint/507

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