2010-01-28Zeitschriftenartikel DOI: 10.18452/8654
Ivory tower or welcoming neighbor? Engaging our local communities
The Yale Peabody Museum is situated in the economically and ethnically diverse urban environment of New Haven. For over ten years the museum has run extremely popular cultural festivals that attract a diverse audience of thousands, but we discovered that attendees rarely came from the city itself. Clearly, having high-quality programming was not enough to attract our local community. To investigate this issue the museum launched a year-long research study to address the following questions: What is the perception that residents have of the museum and what are the barriers to their engagement with the museum? How can we serve visitors from our neighborhood? How does being part of Yale University affect people’s relationship with the museum? Our results were comparable to other studies by urban institutions but there were some differences that are of particular interest to university museums. For example, we discovered that negative opinions about the university were a significant barrier. There was also confusion as to our target audience, and a perception that our programs would not be of interest to “regular” people. University museums need to make considerable efforts if they hope to attract and serve non traditional museum goers – particularly changes in how they communicate and partner with the community. New initiatives at the Peabody include programming for local teenagers, diversity training for frontline staff, new outreach programs, and targeted marketing plans.
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