Bill Reid Gallery: Visitor Engagement Assessment

exhibition hall, northwest coast art

I really loved this project.

I was hired by the director of the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art to give an expert assessment of the interpretive and outreach element of the gallery.

How were the exhibit labels working? The exhibit layouts? The interpretive communications in general?

How about the website? Was it helping them reach their goals? Could their social media be more effective?

I visited the gallery multiple times and did phone or Zoom interviews with staff and board members. I dived into their target market data and put my “audience goggles” on and tried to evaluate everything through those lenses.

And best of all I got to take in four different exhibitions—and let me tell you, if you haven’t visited this gallery in Vancouver BC, you should. Fantastic, important art beautifully presented. Honestly, just go see it.

What did I discover in my evaluation? Well, most of that is between me and the client. But broadly, I found a lot of the same things I find in other small art museums. Curators and writers tend to make big assumptions about what visitors know and feel, and they sometimes leave those visitors without resources for meaning-making.

Social media often “nags” or promotes when it really needs to engage, converse, provoke, and inspire. (Honestly this is true across our sector. Why do we do such a lacklustre job with social media when we are born conversationalists?)

Wayfinding is hard. Not just when you’re a visitor who gets disoriented easily (me) but when you’re trying to map out a potential visitor experience in a space that has built-in limitations.

Anyway. Go see this gallery.

Report Excerpts

Click to enlarge

Excerpt of a project report
Bringing a little Nina Simon to the art gallery context.

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