Digital technology at the Cleveland Museum of Art enhances visitor engagement
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Digital technology at the Cleveland Museum of Art enhances visitor engagement
74% of participants felt that ARTLENS Gallery encouraged them to look closely at art and notice new things. Photo courtesy of the Cleveland Museum of Art.

CLEVELAND, OH.- The Cleveland Museum of Art released findings from a two-year study that measures the impact of digital technology on art museum visitors’ experiences and learning. The resulting white paper, Art Museums and Technology: Developing New Metrics to Measure Visitor Engagement, explains the potential benefits for art museums that are adopting digital technologies such as the CMA’s ARTLENS Gallery. A multifaceted, innovative digital experience, ARTLENS Gallery is designed to enable the visitor to look closer, dive deeper, and have fun discovering the museum’s collection. ARTLENS Gallery opened in 2012 thanks to leadership funding from the Maltz Family Foundation and was re-imagined in 2016 with additional support from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation.

The CMA’s Research and Evaluation team conducted the research in partnership with Rockman et al, a research and consulting firm with offices in San Francisco and Bloomington, Indiana. Generous funding from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) ArtWorks program supported the project.

“The Cleveland Museum of Art is proud of its international leadership in the use of technology to enhance and help deepen the visitor experience,” said Director William M. Griswold. “Over a two-year period, our team gained valuable insights into the ways that our visitors engage with digital interactives, most notably in our award-winning ARTLENS Gallery. The gallery’s goal has always been to provide visitors with the ability to feel comfortable exploring the museum.”

Researchers sought to answer several questions, including how digital interactives extend and expand visitors’ relationship with the museum and its collection; whether new visitors and/or millennials are more likely to visit due to these types of technology; and the value of interactive engagement, as well as which metrics best measure this value.

Among the findings:

· 76% of participants agreed that their visit to ARTLENS Gallery enhanced their overall museum experience.

· 74% of participants felt that ARTLENS Gallery encouraged them to look closely at art and notice new things.

· 78% of participants agreed that the gallery increased their perception of the CMA as a place that is welcoming to a wide range of visitors.

· After a single CMA visit, ARTLENS Gallery visitors substantially increased their art understanding and knowledge compared to those who did not visit ARTLENS Gallery.

“We are fortunate to have this study as a resource and validation of how a thoughtful, impactful, and iterative approach to digital has a positive impact on visitors’ understanding and engagement with art collections,” said Chief Digital Information Officer Jane Alexander. “Not only does this help improve upon the CMA’s future innovative initiatives, it provides a roadmap for peer institutions to model.”

The white paper (available here) provides information on the methodology and important takeaways from this study.

As an addition to the study, the CMA and Rockman developed a complementary tool kit to help other museums and cultural institutions measure the impact of their own technology on visitor engagement. The Art Museum Digital Impact Evaluation Toolkit (AMDIET) examines key areas such as visitor behavior, context of the digital experience, attitudes and ideas about art museums, and overall experience and impact. Each section also includes an explanation of each metric, how the research was implemented and examples. AMDIET is available for free on the CMA’s website here.

“The CMA is proud to share this knowledge with our museum colleagues, and it is our hope that institutions can use the toolkit to create their own study, collect findings, and quantify the impact of their digital interactive technologies,” says Elizabeth Bolander, director of audience insights and services. “Illustrating value and sharing data will help propel our collective knowledge forward and engage wider, more diverse audiences around the globe.”

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