This post is written by Carol Scott, author of Museums and Public Value. It originally appeared on her personal website. Carol Scott is speaking at this year’s American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
Evidencing change: how do we measure social value?
This is the title of the session that I am curating with Randi Korn (Founding Director, Randi Korn Associates) and Deborah Schwartz (President, Brooklyn Historical Society) at this year’s American Alliance of Museums annual conference in Atlanta, Georgia.
The conference theme is the social value of museums. Creating positive social change is forging new directions for 21st century museums. But evidence to prove that change occurs remains elusive and approaches to measuring it are a work in progress.
At the heart of the issue is the question: ‘do museums make a positive difference to society as a whole?’ If we want the answer to be a resounding ‘yes’, how do we translate museum activity into measurable evidence of social value- and- what are the implications for planning and evaluation?
Our session is going to look at these questions through three lenses. Passion is needed to effect social change. Our museums need to resonate with and be relevant to our communities. Deborah Schwartz heads one such museum- where passion and commitment to the community are paramount. But passion needs to be directed. It needs to work in tandem with results-based planning and evaluation measures to achieve its social goals, a subject which is at the heart of Randi Korn’s work.
At a national level, the sector as a whole is challenged to find a narrative to demonstrates that museums create value that makes a difference in the public domain. Do museums contribute to the well-being of populations, their connectedness to one another and to communities, to an active, engaged citizenship? Where is the evidence to prove this and how do we capture it? This is the subject of my presentation.
Our session is on Monday afternoon, the 27th April from 1:45-3:00 p.m. in Room B405 at the Georgia World Congress Center. We look forward to meeting you in Atlanta.