By Kris Wetterlund and Scott Sayre
Summary: In the spring of 2009, Museum-Ed conducted a survey of the educational programming at art museums across the United States. Ninety-eight museums replied, answering questions on nine topics: tours; informal gallery learning; libraries in museums; community, adult and family programs; classes and other public programs; partnerships with other organizations; school programs; online educational resources; and social media. The 2009 survey expanded on a similar survey conducted in 2003 by Museum-Ed.
About the Survey
Between March and April of 2009, 98 art museums1 across the United States completed an online survey regarding the principal types of programs currently undertaken by their education departments. The 2009 survey repeated many of the questions that appeared in an earlier survey undertaken by Museum-Ed in 2003.2
Both surveys asked museum educators what their museums participated in or offered in seven areas of programming: tours; informal gallery learning; community, adult and family programs; classes and other public programs; partnerships with other organizations; school programs; and online educational resources. The responses available to educators in 2009 were updated to include popular fill-in answers from 2003, as well as technology and social media (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc) that simply did not exist in 2003. In addition, a section was added in 2009 to ask educators about programs with libraries in museums. For many art museums, libraries have the potential to become sites for programming, especially if they are open to the public.3
The 2009 survey was publicized through the Museum-Ed Discussion List and targeted emails to those museum education departments who had completed the 2003 survey. Both surveys used LimeSurvey, a free, open source survey tool that was hosted on the Museum-Ed Web server.
As in the 2003 survey, a broad range of museums responded to the 2009 survey: from small museums with only one part-time educator on staff to the Metropolitan Museum of Art with 65 full-time educators on staff. The median was four full time staff, one less staff person than the median in 2003. The size of the museums participating in the survey ranged from 5,300 square feet to five city blocks, and the size of the museums’ collections ranged from less than 100 objects, to six million objects (The National Postal Museum). The median museum collection size was 9,000 objects. The annual operating budgets of museums completing the survey ranged from $200,000 per year to $35 million per year (less than 2003’s 49 million). The median annual operating budget was $4,000,000. Annual visitors ranged from 6,000 to 4.5 million people, the median being 100,000 visitors.
1 See appendix 1 for a list of U.S. museums who responded to the survey.
2 The 2003 survey report is available at: http://www.museumed.org/content/view/63/53/
3 See appendix 3 for a complete copy of the 2009 survey.
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