The past year has been one of rapid and significant change. A global pandemic that has affected the lives of billions. Protests in over 30 countries that have called for an end to police brutality and systemic racism. As a result of these worldwide events, the informal learning field has seen an immense amount of change, including loss of jobs, taking on new or different roles, and helping institutions address complex questions around equity and racial justice. Now more than ever, society demands that cultural organizations support anti-racist practices that establish more equitable spaces that ultimately benefit the communities they serve. Researchers, evaluators, and all museum professionals have been faced with the question of how we can create more relevant and socially conscious organizations, but given extensive layoffs and institutional restructuring, how can this work happen with fewer resources and competing priorities? This year, the Visitor Studies Association will not only reflect on current crises in the informal learning field but also look to the future. How can we confront and dismantle oppressive structures in our field; recover from months of closures, extensive layoffs, and lost funding; and re-envision our organizations and the visitor studies field at large, ultimately rebuilding them for a better and more just society?

We invite attendees to consider how the past year of change has led (and might lead) to structural changes within their organizations and how they are re-imagining the fields of informal learning and visitor studies. This year’s conference will allow speakers and presenters to address questions like the following:

  • How has the national conversation around systemic racism played out in our organizations, and how can we continue to grow as a field to better reflect the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and continue to address systemic racism within our field and institutions?
  • How can staff engaged in (or who want to engage in) research and evaluation help guide the necessary transformation of institutions towards equitable and inclusive spaces? What data-driven approaches have worked and what have been missed opportunities?
  • How has the work of research and evaluation changed? What practices and tasks have stopped or started? What new expectations have been set regarding the quantity and levels of work when many organizations have experienced staffing reductions?
  • How do we build and report to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) or metrics of success when the goals are unclear and the ground keeps shifting? How do we measure engagement in highly digital spaces where large portions of our audience no longer attend in person? Are there new ways of thinking about metrics of success?
  • What role can organizations like VSA play in supporting the visitor research community during these times of rapid change?

Registration Rates


Student $50 *
Member $200
Non-Member $275
Already Registered for Conference? You should have received a platform access link directly from Whova - if you did not you can sign up or sign in here, using the email you registered for conference with.

*Email [email protected] to receive a code for registering at this rate

Full Conference Schedule

We've got a super cool virtual platform for the Coffee Breaks and the Poster Session where you can "walk around" (by moving your video image) to sidle up next to other people and introduce yourself. People can chat in small groups and move about easily. The audio that you hear comes only from people you're next to, just like in a real space (but without pesky background noise). Learn more about Spatial Chat here.

**All Conference Sessions will be recorded and made available on the virtual platform for 90 days post event!


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Find the 2021 Sponsorship Prospectus here!

Thank you to our Conference Sponsors!