Past Conferences

New Pathways in Visitor Studies
Columbus 2017


The Data Revolution
Boston 2016

The 2016 conference focused on data use, access, and our understanding of it. Data has always been at the heart of what we do. However, as our world becomes more connected than ever before, a massive amount of information is being generated, collected and studied as we enter a new era of Big Data. Along with the promise of this Data Revolution come challenges - collecting and make meaning of large amounts of data with limited resources; identifying the best strategies for communicating data to our stakeholders; pooling data, to offer insights into visitor experiences; and more. across our institutions? IThe 2016 conference considered these, and other, questions about the present and future implications of collecting, interpreting, and communicating data in our field.

Download the Conference Session Abstracts
Check out session and poster materials
Download the Conference Program


Taking Action for Improvement, Growth, and Social Change
Indianapolis 2015

The 2015 conference emphasized the ways in which we can take action through our work. To take action, we need to develop ourselves as creative and dynamic leaders, as individuals and within institutions and organizations dedicated to supporting informal learning opportunities; this is the key to fulfilling our potential for public service. 

Download Conference Session Abstracts
Download the Conference Program


Building Capacity for Evaluation: Individuals, Institutions, the Field
Albuquerque 2014

The informal learning community created a conference program that pushed the field forward by addressing the increasing interest in evaluation and growing demand for evidence. Together, we thought strategically about how to continually build capacity for evaluation, which can happen at many levels, from the development of individual skills, to fostering culture and stakeholder knowledge at the institutional or geographic level, to increasing consistency within the field.

Download the keynote presentation "Museum Evaluation: A Vehicle for Social Betterment" by Dr. Ricardo Millett.
Download a copy of the 2014 abstracts
Download a copy of the 2014 on-site program


Where Innovation Meets Rigor: Shaping the Next Decade of Visitor Studies
Milwaukee 2013

In Milwaukee we were exposed to the latest trends in visitor research. From data visualization in the visitor context to discussions of new ways to look at individualized learning, the 2013 conference brought together emerging work from the field in an exciting and lively format.

Download a copy of the 2013 abstracts


Knowing Our Past, Shaping Our Future: What's Next for Visitor Studies?
Raleigh 2012

We had a blast at our Silver Conference Anniversary in Raleigh! We reflected on our past, our achievements, and our vision of the future of visitor studies, cultural institutions, and the informal learning community.

Download a copy of the 2012 on-site program
Download a copy of the 2012 abstracts


Sustaining a Community of Learners
Chicago 2011

To expand upon this community of learners, VSA's 24th Annual Conference took place concurrently with the Association of Midwest Museums (AMM) and the Illinois Association of Museums (IAM) annual conference. The joint meeting was a fantastic place where members from the various associations discussed and debated issues, shared experiences, and grew together.

Download a copy of the 2011 on-site program
Download a copy of the 2011 abstracts


Building Shared Agendas: Conversations on the Public Value of Visitor Studies
Phoenix 2010

Identifying and measuring the value of museums for their publics has become one of the most critical issues facing the visitor studies field. What is the essential role that visitor studies can play in achieving a museum's mission? How do visitor studies make a difference in the ways museums operate? What is the value of visitor studies across museum departments and management? The 2010 VSA Conference developed on the conversations of public value from the 2009 Conference.

Download a copy of the 2010 on-site program
Download a copy of the 2010 abstracts


For What it's Worth: Wrestling with Relevance, Public Value and Impact
St. Louis 2009

The 2009 conference sparked a number of engaging conversations on how to show and share what we know our organizations mean to communities, how the experiences we create relate to visitor needs, and how a program or an exhibit can bring about a change. With the impressive Gateway Arch as a backdrop, a small but lively group of 150 considered the importance of strategies and methods for defining and measuring public value.

Download a copy of the 2009 on-site program
Download a copy of the 2009 abstracts


Theory, Practice & Conversations
Houston 2008

As promised, the 2008 conference was all about meaningful dialogue. There were conversations in the hallways, in the plenaries, at the evening events. And there was dancing and limericks and lasso-ing, too. More than 200 people from across the US and eight other countries gathered in Houston, Texas to learn about cutting edge research, to share ideas about how to apply what is known about visitors to creating quality visitor experiences, and to discuss big questions.

Download a copy of the 2008 on-site program