To build your own network for increasing evaluation capacity at your historic house museum, the Denver Evaluator’s Network recommends that it is best to start small with only a few partner organizations that hold the same degree of enthusiasm as the leadership museum. Once a network has successes under their belt, and once some of the obvious logistical kinks are identified and straightened out, participants will then have hard data that will be able to attract and excite other organizations. These new partners will be better prepared to jump in to a successful program and transition into an effective partnership.
Specifically at the Molly Brown House Museum in Denver, one of the participating historic house museums, the evaluation undertaken through DEN gave us immediate feedback on what guests enjoy and do not enjoy with tours. It has helped us evaluate our tours and tour guides and also look for new ways to integrate emerging ideas into the guided house tour and other programming. Museum staff found it was helpful to have partners with a baseline of similarities in the early stages of network development.
The added bonus of working together as a network is the opportunity to learn about evaluation by doing studies together. Conducting studies together allows network members to pilot and practice together, learning about the successes and challenges of implementing methods at each institution. Having a team of partners will provide a forum of ideas and will provide a sounding board if motivations are needed for institutions of different types and sizes. The added bonus of doing studies with other organizations is that a community of institutions will have a great set of data that can be shared and learned from, providing a community to better understand the audiences it serves.
Learn more about the Denver Evaluation Network’s successes, download the toolkit, and find tips to start your own evaluation network at www.denverevaluationnetwork.org.