VISITOR BEHAVIOR ))) Winter 1989 Volume III Number 4 Page 6
Evaluation of the Creating and Evaluating
Asian Human Connection Labels the Asian Landmark Map
South Gallery of the Fifth Floor Fifth Floor Denver Art Museum
Denver Art Museum Donna M. McElroy
Donna M. McElroy Sangre de Cristo Arts Center
Education Curator Pueblo, Colorado
Sangre de Cristo Arts Center
Pueblo, Colorado Using orientation research from other museums and
research information from the DAM's audience, it was
Through research the Denver Art Museum found that the DAM visitor wants and/or needs certain
(DAM) found that art novices and average information about the Asian Collection:
visitors want to make a human connection when • Clarification of which countries are included in the
looking at art. Labels were created to fulfill this term "Asian."
need. The subsequent label evaluation focused • Information on where to locate the "ancient
on how the human connection label met this objects."
need. Information the evaluation wanted to • Identification of collection highlights, key themes
obtain was: and ideas.
• Were the labels being used? • Physical layout of the galleries.
• How were the labels being used? • Interpretive aides to carry, such as self-guides or
• Did the labels help the audience to make the human gallery maps.
connection? To help meet these needs and wants, a self-guide
To answer these basic questions, two "bird's-eye view" map was created to orient the visitor,
evaluation instruments were used: (1) unobtru- especially the art novice, to the Asian Collection.
sive behavioral observations and (2) personal Information to be included on the map was selected
interviews. Each instrument was pre-tested and through previous visitor behavior pattern studies and input
designed for ease of use by trained evaluators from curators, docents and guards. This information
and for the least amount of intrusion into the focused on those objects most valuable to the collection,
audiences' museum visit. Both samples were those objects which were the oldest and those objects
taken at random, and one-half of each sample which were the most popular. Also to aid in orientation
was "cued." There was a 50-person sample for were locators and facilities.
the direct observations and a 40-person sample Evaluation was through personal interview. Because
for the personal interviews. Previously this was an experimental project, a formative testing
established DAM demographics and visitor system was used. There were 10 interviews, revisions to
patterns were used as guides to validate the the map and then 10 more interviews. After 20
audience samples. interviews, it was determined that a valid map was in
It was found that the labels were being used place.
and the use depended on: Interview questions concerned how the map was used,
• The labels being found. (Their subtle design makes ease of visitor comprehension for the map, ease in
them blend into the surrounding environment.) physical use of the map and commitment to use maps of
• Audience interest in the art object associated with this type on all floors of the museum. Interviews were
the label. pre-tested by trained interviewers and necessary revisions
• The amount of time the audience is willing to to the interviews were made. Interviewees were selected at
spend in the gallery. random, given a map to use while in the galleries and
Those who used the labels valued most the interviewed after using the map. To prevent biasing, no
label information concerning use of the object, instructions were given to visitors about using the map.
how the object was made and how the object fit Findings were that visitors had little trouble in
into the culture. "reading" the maps; they noticed the drawings first; they
From this information it was determined that used it as a guide and orienteer; they preferred the "bird's-
the labels are fulfilling their goal to make the eye view" over a flat map; and they would use other maps
human connection. However, it was recommend- of this type. One recommendation was to add text
ed that the DAM audience needs to be made more concerning "why" the art objects were important to the
aware of the presence of these labels. q Asian Collection. q