Past Topics

VSA offers opportunities for professionals and students to further hone their skills through webinars, web chats, book clubs, and virtual networking. Virtual learning offerings address a variety of topics in our field and provide helpful resources and strategies relevant to a wide range of practitioners. These offerings provide opportunities for audience engagement, and provide time for participants to ask questions. Members of VSA receive discounted registration to these events, so consider joining!

If you have ideas or suggestions for future PD events, please let us know at [email protected].

We appreciate your continued support of VSA. Consider making a donation to VSA's Annual Fund which helps us continue to offer these enriching programs.

VSA offers a variety of Professional Development opportunities, including the webchats and webinars highlighted below, as well as regular Community Support Groups, Networking Game Night Sessions, Book Clubs, and Watch Parties.

Lightning Tool Share: Data Visualization + Reporting Edition
Presented Live on November 3, 2022

Got a cool technique you've used? Have a visualization example you're willing to share? Come ready to share and hear what colleagues are using to make their reporting stand out. This fast-moving web chat covers as many tools and strategies as possible in one hour. Our hosts will kick us off with some of their own tips and resources, and then we’ll turn it over to you. Each participant is strongly encouraged to bring one thing to share, whether it’s a trick, an app, a doodle, or anything else that makes your data and reporting shine.

Participants will briefly describe their tool and take a few questions before it’s on to the next one. Links are appreciated! By the end of the hour, everyone should have a wealth of new ideas and an expanded toolkit. A list of shared resources will be distributed to participants after the chat.

A recording of this web chat is available for VSA members, please email association headquarters for access.


Reading Group: “Awe & Memories of Learning in Science and Art Museums
Presented Live on September 22, 2022

Please join us for a book club-style discussion of this year’s Screven Award-winning article, "Awe & Memories of Learning in Science and Art.” The conversation will be directed by the interests and input of participants. In the first 30 minutes, we will have an open discussion about individual questions and curiosities. Two of the authors, C. Aaron Price and Lauren Applebaum, will join us for the second 30 minutes of the discussion.

What’s going on in here? Observing interactive experiences in art museums
Presented Live on August 24, 2022

Join members of the Art Museum Focused Interest Group (FIG) for a web chat about work related to conducting visitor observations of interactive experiences in art museums. FIG members Caitlin Tracey-Miller from the Cincinnati Art Museum and Alyssa Carr from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art will share a few recent case studies, then open it up for discussion. You’ll hear about their experience and takeaways from planning and conducting observations of interactive experiences, then we invite you to share your thoughts and questions in an open dialogue.

Watch Party: 1.2.3. Report! Video Course
Presented Live on June 30, 2022

Are you looking for new strategies for report writing? Join fellow VSA members for a video watch party to view a course on writing attractive and effective reports. The course focuses on simplifying and modernizing your report writing strategy through a series of short video lessons. Participants will learn how to tailor reports for specific audiences and watch tutorials of building visually appealing reports. We'll also have time for reflection discussion with fellow VSA members. Many thanks to Chris Lysy, freelance evaluator and information designer, who created this course and approved this VSA professional development session.

Developing DEAI-Focused Outcomes and Indicators: Snapshots from the Field
Recorded Live on May 10, 2022

One of the key components of supporting progress and accountability toward DEAI-focused goals is developing clear and intentional definitions, outcomes, and indicators. Yet the process for doing so is complex and there is no “one size fits all” approach. Join us in an interactive, participatory webchat to hear how two museums have been working to define what DEAI means within their institution or program, what that would look like, and how to track and measure progress.

  • Alexis Baghdadi, Carla Herran, and Imme Huttmann from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry will share how the science museum has used equity as a foundational lens for developing Key Outcome Indicators (KOIs). They will use the KOIs as a tool to monitor progress toward their 20-year vision, and to support accountability to their values, vision, and mission.
  • Caroline Fiertz from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will share about her work identifying and addressing inequitable systems as well as historic and ongoing exclusionary practices. Specifically, Caroline will share about redeveloping the museum’s internship program, co-leading DEAI efforts for the museum’s recent strategic and tactical planning initiatives, and leading the in-house training subcommittee for the museum’s Inclusion Diversity Equity and Access (IDEA) Council.

Panelists will reflect on key aspects of the process for defining what DEAI looks like for their organization and how to track and measure progress toward key outcomes. We will then open up the space to participants to ask questions, share their own experiences, and reflect on such questions as:

  • How is your organization approaching how to define and measure DEAI?
  • Who are you involved in determining DEAI outcomes and/or measures, and what has been your process? (within the organization and outside the org, e.g. community members)
  • How are you thinking about operationalizing these outcomes?
  • What resources have been most useful in your process?
  • What challenges and key decision points are you facing?

A recording of this web chat is available for VSA members, please email association headquarters for access.

Reading Group: “Social Meaning Mapping as a Means of Exploring Visitors’ Practices in the Museum”
Recording Live on April 29, 2022

Please join us for a book club-style discussion of the 2020 article, "Social Meaning Mapping as a Means of Exploring Visitors’ Practices in the Museum.” The article can be accessed here. The author, Dimitra Christidou, will join us for the discussion. Dimitra works as senior curator for learning at The National Museum of Art, Design and Architecture in Oslo, Norway, and as Associate Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway. Dimitra holds a PhD in Museum Studies from University College London (UCL), and has working experience as a researcher in the museum sector in the UK, Sweden, Norway and Greece. Her research focuses on informal learning, visitor studies, audience development and research, multimodality, and embodied interaction in museums and makerspaces.

Conversation will be directed by the interests and input of participants, but some topics we might explore include:

The author utilizes Social Meaning Mapping (SMM) and the Visitracker app in research (page 163-164). What applications might these tools have in your work? Otherwise stated, what research questions might these tools help you answer?

The data were collected in 2017. Given advancements in technology since then, what new technologies or modifications to the SMM methodology may enhance its usefulness in your work? Consider the limitation discussed on pages 176-177.

The author highlights two ways in which research participants engaged in SMM, (1) as co-creators (pages 168-173) and (2) to tell two stories (pages 173-176). How do these approaches help us deepen our understanding of museum experiences?

As noted on pages 179-180, the author used SMM and Visitracker app in an art museum for the study reported. What opportunities or challenges might there be in using these tools in other types of museums?

VSA’s Professional Development Chair Amanda Krantz will kick start the discussion and facilitate the conversation, but we encourage you to come ready to share your thoughts, and raise questions, too! Article access will be shared after registration is complete.

A recording of this webchat is available for VSA members, please email association headquarters for access.

VSA Workshop: Evaluation 101 for Grant Seekers
Recorded Live on March 23, 2022

Workshop Presenter:
Amanda Krantz is Director of Research and Practice at RK&A, and the Chair of Professional Development for the Visitor Studies Association

Part of developing a competitive grant proposal (be it to federal grant programs or private foundations) involves developing a thoughtful evaluation plan that enhances the value of the project.  This workshop is designed by an evaluator for non-evaluation museum professionals to help grant seekers consider how to strategically include evaluation in grant proposals.  Workshop participants will leave this workshop with a fundamental understanding of what grantees desire from evaluation as well as with language and tools to help them include essential information in an evaluation plan.  Participants will receive a survey prior to the workshop to help the facilitator customize the workshop (e.g., what types of grant programs do participants typically pursue (e.g., NSF, IMLS, NOAA, private funders, etc.)?; and what types of projects do they typically propose (e.g., exhibitions, programs, research, collaborations, etc.)?).

Consultants and Independent Professionals Webchat
Recorded Live on March 31, 2022

Calling all consultants and the consulting curious!

Join our webchat for a discussion among consultants and anyone interested in learning more about what it’s like to work independently in visitor studies. We’ll kick off the conversation by hearing from a panel of evaluation consultants with a range of experience, followed by open conversation during which all can raise questions and share their experiences. Come ready to participate, whether you’re an experienced consultant, just getting started in consulting, or simply want to learn more about consulting as a career path.
Enliven the conversation with your presence and join with other consultants to share tips and advice. Perhaps we can also test the waters around future meetups for VSA members regarding independent consulting.

Panelists include:

  • Jessica Sickler is Principal and owner of J. Sickler Consulting, an evaluation and research consulting firm that helps organizations uncover what works and why in their informal education efforts. After an early career as an evaluator within zoos and aquariums, Jessica moved into consulting, extending her work to support all types of informal learning venues. Before founding her own firm, Jessica was an evaluator in a variety of contexts and roles, and can speak to the range of pathways for an evaluation career. She holds an M.S.Ed. from Bank Street College of Education in museum education and K-6 teaching and a B.A. in Environmental Analysis and Policy from Boston University.
  • Lauren Holley moonlights as an independent consultant under Illuminated Ideas. She established her company immediately after graduating from her Master's program, and gained much of her early professional evaluation experience as a contractor for museums with small budgets or as a subcontractor for more established consultants. Lauren closed out her full-time consulting with the opportunity to launch an in-house evaluation program at Space Center Houston, but still occasionally takes on projects under Illuminated Ideas in her spare time. Lauren holds a M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and a B.A. in Humanities with emphases in Spanish and Psychology from University of Colorado Boulder.
  • Wendy Meluch launched VisitorStudies.Com in 1996, upon completing her Museum Studies M.A. at San Francisco State University. By that time, she was already an established non-profit professional with experience operating international educational travel programs and directing a small museum. Since then, consulting with a wide range of informal learning centers has led her to examine a huge variety of exhibition and program content and research questions. For the past six years, Wendy has also applied her skills to social service organizations and strategic planning, including an in-house role at the YMCA of San Francisco. Wendy Meluch Consulting now works with museums and other non-profits to weave research and impact into high-level organizational planning processes. Wendy also holds B.A.'s in Anthropology and Business and a Certificate of Latin American Studies from Michigan State University.

Reading Group: “Conceptualizing the Visitor Experience: A Review of Literature and Development of a Multifaceted Model”
Recorded Live on February 22, 2022

Please join us for a book club-style discussion of the 2016 article, "Conceptualizing the Visitor Experience: A Review of Literature and Development of a Multifaceted Model.” Authors and former editors of Visitor Studies, Jan Packer and Roy Ballantyne, will join us for the discussion.  Conversation will be directed by the interests and input of participants, but some topics we would like to explore include:

  • The authors summarize ways in which “visitor experience” has been defined in museums, leisure, and tourism (pages 128-129, see also Appendix A).  What definition(s) of visitor experience do you use?  What definition(s) of visitor experience do you encounter in your work?  Are there times when conflicting definition(s) of visitor experience have affected your work?  

  • The authors draw from a wide range of literature from multiple cultures (Australia, Asia, Europe, North America).  How might culture impact our definitions and thinking about “visitor experience”?  How do definitions represent a culture’s values?

  • Look at the multifaceted model of the visitor experience presented in Figure 2 (page 136).  What aspects of this model do you currently engage with (as researcher, evaluator, exhibit designer, educator, etc.)?  What aspects of this model might you have questions about?

Lightning Tool Share: New Tech Tools for the New Year
Recorded Live on January 6, 2022

Let’s kick off the new year with some tech tools to fuel our work in 2022! If you’re having trouble getting back in your work groove after the holidays, here’s a chance to get energized with colleagues while talking about some fun tools to make visitor studies easier. This is an engaging, fast-moving web chat where we aim to cover as many tools and strategies as we can in one hour. Our hosts will kick us off with some of their own tips and resources, and then we’ll turn it over to you. Each participant is strongly encouraged to bring one thing to share, whether it’s an instrument, an app, a lifesaving Excel formula, or anything else that makes your life easier.

Participants will be asked to briefly describe their tool and take a few questions before it’s on to the next one. Links are appreciated! By the end of the hour, everyone should have a wealth of new ideas and an expanded toolkit. A complete list of resources shared will be sent out to participants following the chat.

Taking Stock and Moving Forward – Reflecting on Our own DEAI Practices
Recorded live on December 14, 2021

This past year has continued to be one of renewed reflection and examination as many museums and informal learning institutions grapple with their role in perpetuating systems of power, racism, and oppression, as well as their ability to help shift narratives and engage the public in critical conversations around racism, justice, equity, and inclusion. This has included launching or reaffirming efforts to support DEAI (diversity, equity, access, and inclusion), as well as justice and belonging, creating spaces for critical conversations, producing or revamping diversity and equity statements, and/or creating cross-institutional DEAI committees or task forces. This webchat, part of the quarterly VSA DEAI webchat series, aims to support a year-end conversation to take stock of where we are on this journey – as individuals, organizations, and as a field – and what we need to commit to in the coming year to continue this work.

I See What You Are Saying: Techniques for Qualitative Data Visualization
Recorded live on December 2, 2021

Join the Qualitative Visualization Web Chat hosted by the VSA Data Visualization and Reporting Focused Interest Group (DVR FIG). Special guest and data visualization specialist Jenny Nulty (of Pivot Data Design) will cover common approaches to qualitative visualization and answer sticky questions about ways to help word-heavy data shine. We’ll discuss what works well for different types of data and messages and how to break up blocks of text with color, spacing, and graphics. See real-world examples of qualitative ‘viz in action from members of the DVR FIG. Come ready to discuss and prepare to have your eyes dazzled!

CARE Webinar: Psychological Science and the Visitor Experience
Recorded Line on October 20, 2021

When visitors leave a museum, in what ways are they different than when they walked in? What intellectual connections did visitors make with the ideas and artifacts with which they interacted? To what extent were visitors touched emotionally by what they saw, heard, or touched and how intense where their emotional reactions? These are some of the big questions that museums are interested in. However, answering them poses tremendous conceptual and methodological challenges. This webinar will focus on traditional and state-of-the-art concepts and methods of psychological science that museums can use to measure different aspects of the audience experience, especially those that have proven to be most challenging to measure.

A recording of this webinar can be found here.

IRB 101 Workshop
Recorded Live on June 23, 2021

Understanding Institutional Review Board (IRB) requirements is fundamental knowledge for researchers and evaluators working in the United States and is also relevant to museum practitioners interested in engaging in research at their institution. IRB boards approve and monitor research to make sure that the rights of human subjects are protected. While the intentions of the IRB are clear, the purview and requirements for studies that must be submitted to an IRB are less so and may require researchers to make an informed ethical decision. The workshop content will equip participants to navigate this decision making.

Content to be covered in the IRB 101 workshop includes:

  • History for how IRB boards evolved
  • What constitutes human subjects research under the purview of IRB
  • Completing IRB applications for visitor studies research

After attending the IRB 101 workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Determine if IRB is required for an evaluation/research study
  • Use appropriate language when speaking with an IRB about human subjects research
  • Assemble information needed to complete paperwork for exempt and expedited reviews for commonly used visitor studies methodologies

The webinar will be largely lecture-style. The presenter will take questions throughout the session and will follow-up with participants about any unanswered questions afterwards. The slides, video recording of the session, and examples of completed IRB applications will be made available to participants as part of registration.

About the Presenter:
Amanda Krantz is the Director of Research and Practice at RK&A and the Lead of VSA’s Professional Development Working Group. She has more than a decade of experience completing IRB applications for visitor studies research. She has worked with university IRBs, school district IRBs, independent IRBs, and the Smithsonian IRB among others.

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $15 for VSA Members, $30 for Non-Members

Sharing Power and Authority in Evaluation
Recorded Live on May 26, 2021

Conventional evaluation and visitor studies haven often put researchers and/or their institutions at the center of power, in that they typically define the focus of the study, research questions, study design, and methods, as well as leading the analysis and interpretation of results. This process tends to privilege white, western worldviews, and prioritizes institutional over community needs and questions. This webchat will focus on practical methods and approaches that can help shift these power imbalances, such as by collaborating with audiences to develop studies and analyze results or using photo elicitation or “untours” to center community voices and perspectives.

This webchat will feature examples from Dr. Andréa Giron Mathern (Centrality Research), who co-authored a blog post on this topic, Separation of Powers, as part of the Essential Evaluators series sponsored by AAM’s Committee on Audience Research and Evaluation (CARE); and Dr. Joe Heimlich (Center for Research and Evaluation, COSI); and Anna Rebecca Lopez (arlopezconsulting). Andrea will talk about applying Participatory Action Research (PAR) to a project at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, in which researchers worked with a bilingual Latino/a/x parent group to develop relevant interview questions to understand how this group could be better served by the museum. Joe will share examples of an “untour” and storytelling method from his work at the Philadelphia Zoo; and Anna Rebecca (AR) will focus on community organizing methods to inform the Community-Centric Fundraising movement.

We will then open up the conversation for participants to share their own examples of methods that have helped share power and authority with visitors and community members. Through an interactive dialogue, we will focus on such questions as:

  • What are some examples of how power plays out in evaluation processes at your institution? For example, who determines evaluation priorities and questions, or who leads instrument development and analysis?
  • In what ways have you or your institution been able to share power and authority with visitors or community members around evaluation / visitor studies?
  • What evaluation methods or research approaches do you feel are most empowering for visitors?
  • What challenges have you faced in co-creating or co-developing evaluations with community members? How do you compensate community members or ensure you are not overburdening them?
  • What supports do you need to more effectively shift these power imbalances that are often reinforced in evaluation practices?

A recording of this presentation is available to VSA members, please email association headquarters to receive access.

VSA’s Green Future: Reviewing past efforts, pandemic impacts, and future pursuits.
Recorded Live on Friday, April 23, 2021

How has the pandemic pushed VSA’s efforts to reduce our environmental impact? What are VSA community members’ perspectives on the doors opened – and closed – to us in light of advances in virtual conference options? In recent years VSA’s Green Team has been working to provide more opportunities for at-home virtual conference options, with the goal of reducing our carbon footprint and increasing access to the VSA’s professional development community. Please join a conversation where members of VSA will describe these recent efforts. Come prepared to share your own thoughts on the future of VSA conferencing that is accessible, inclusive, and environmentally friendly!

A recording of this presentation is available to VSA members, please email association headquarters to receive access.

Lessons Learned About In-person Data Collection During the Pandemic
Recorded Live on February 25, 2021

Nearly one year into the pandemic, evaluators have been adapting tried-and-true in-person data collection methods to work with COVID-19 restrictions across the country. In this session, you will learn about in-person methods and protocols that are working, what has not worked as well, and worries that turned out to be non-issues. If you are getting ready to embark on in-person data collection, bring your questions!


  • Claire Thoma Emmons is the Research and Evaluation Associate at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis. Despite initial concerns about conducting any face-to-face data collection during the COVID-19 pandemic, evaluators and exhibit developers have now successfully completed several front-end, prototyping, and user-testing studies on the museum floor. She will discuss the methods chosen or adapted for each of these studies as well as strategies and tips for recruiting visitors from the floor.
  • Kari Ross Nelson is the Research and Evaluation Associate at Thanksgiving Point Institute, a Farm, Garden, and Museum complex in Lehi, Utah. In efforts to help understand visitor experiences as museums reopen with health and safety protocols in place, she has conducted short interviews and timing and tracking in multiple venues. Kari will share what we did and what we learned from these evaluation activities.
  • Meghan Kroning is the Project Coordinator and Jenn Shepard is the Project Evaluator for Visitor Research and Evaluation at the Exploratorium. While the Exploratorium closed to the public in March 2020, the museum’s new exhibit development continued. To evaluate exhibit usability while meeting regional COVID-19 health and safety regulations, Megan and Jenn piloted a new method of outdoor-only, socially distant exhibit testing. They will share the planning and logistics behind this method, as well as lessons learned along the way.

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members

The State of DEAI in Museums and What it Means for Visitor Studies
Recorded Live on February 10, 2021

A national landscape study from the Cultural Competence Learning Institute (CCLI), published in 2020, was the first comprehensive, multi-sector study to examine the state of DEAI efforts in U.S. museums. Led by Dr. Cecilia Garibay and Jeanne Marie Olson, this seminal work, which included survey responses from 580 museums and informal learning organizations, has significant implications for the visitor studies and museum evaluation fields. According to study results, most museums (89%) have not established metrics around DEAI to track progress; only about a quarter of museums reported that they gather demographic data from visitors, and only one-third collect data from those who do not currently visit (Garibay and Olson, 2020).

Join us for a conversation with Dr. Cecilia Garibay to collectively reflect on the study’s findings and their implications for the visitor studies field. A panel of evaluators and practitioners from a variety of museum settings will share thoughts on how the study resonates with their experience, ways in which they’ve worked to address the data gap to support DEAI efforts, and reflections on what this means for the visitor studies field. Guest speakers include Dr. Rabiah Mayas (Museum of Science and Industry), Ken Morris (Detroit Institute of the Arts), Elizabeth Bolander (Cleveland Museum of Art), and Sena Dawes (Feeding America).

Though an interactive dialogue, we will focus on such questions as:

  • How do the study’s findings resonate with your own experiences at the institutions you work with?
  • What is the “call to action” for visitor studies professionals, for VSA, and for the field as a whole?
  • What specific examples and practices exist that can help address some of the data gaps identified in the study?
  • What is needed to shift institutional practice around gathering data to inform DEAI efforts and/or establishing clear metrics to track DEAI progress, and how can we be more effective in supporting these efforts?
  • What do you need from VSA to better support change within your own practice or advocacy at the institutional level?
  • What are the key barriers and how can we individually and collectively address them?

Please come with your ideas and questions related to the CCLI National Landscape Study, hear examples and resources from peers, and help determine how VSA and the visitor studies field might play a stronger role in supporting DEAI efforts and organizational change within museums and other informal learning institutions.

A few items noted in the presentation: Cultural Competence Learning Institute (CCLI) and CCLI Landscape Study Report.

A recording of this web chat can be found here and a copy of the slide presentation can be viewed here.

Google Analytics 201: Behaviors and Data Visualization
Recorded Live on January 12, 2021

Ready to try some new things in Google Analytics? Using case studies from the Cleveland Museum of Art, Elizabeth Bolander, Senior Director of Philanthropy and External Relations, and Jim Reynolds, Patron Information Data Analyst, will share a few tips and tricks in this workshop. Panelists will share examples of how to look more closely at website and app user behavior and how Google Data Studio can be used to analyze and visualize Google Analytics data. During an extended q&a session, participants will have a chance to bring ideas and issues from their organizations to the panelists and other participants.

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members

Lightning Tool Share: The Social Distance and Civic Activism Version
Recorded Live on December 9, 2020

In 2019, we hosted a lightning tool share to help us work more effectively and efficiently. Given the challenges of 2020, this year’s lightning tool share is focused on two things:

  1. Social Distance: What tools have you found useful in helping you collect data while social distancing?  For example, are you using new technologies, implementing specific cleaning protocols, using different methodologies to help you practice social distancing?

  2. Civic Activism: What tools have you found useful in helping you engage in civic activism through visitor studies?  For example, are you asking different questions, engaging audiences in different ways, presenting results to stakeholders differently?

Our hosts will kick us off with some of their own tips and resources, and then we’ll turn it over to you. Each participant is strongly encouraged to bring one thing to share, whether it’s an instrument, software, an app, a data viz technique, a trick in Excel, or anything that has helped you in your work as related to social distancing and civic activism. 

Participants will be asked to briefly describe their tool and take a few questions before it’s on to the next one. By the end of the hour, everyone should have a wealth of new ideas and an expanded toolkit. A complete list of resources shared will be sent out to participants following the chat. To keep the conversation flowing we will not enable screen sharing during the chat. Instead, feel free to bring links that can be quickly pasted in the chat box so that participants can explore the tools on their own while you talk.

A recording of this web chat can be found here and the Lightning Tool Share Resource List can be found here.

You Can Do This! Submitting a VSA Session Proposal
Recorded Live on December 2, 2020

Thinking about submitting a proposal for VSA 2021? You can do it!

New to the field? This webinar is for you! Experienced presenter? It's for you too! We'll walk through the proposal process - including articulating a topic, finding co-presenters, and writing a motivating narrative - and share feedback from reviewers about what makes a strong proposal.

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Transferring Skills: Connecting Visitor Studies to Other Fields
Recorded Live on November 18, 2020

Throughout the pandemic Museums, Zoos, Aquariums, and other cultural centers have continued to be impacted by closures, loss of revenue, and staffing reductions. Many VSA members and other research and evaluation staff have found themselves laid-off, furloughed, or otherwise without work. In these uncertain times it can be difficult to find new, exciting, and rewarding positions within the museum field. Join VSA for a 1 hour webchat with a panel of researchers and evaluators as they discuss their experience transferring visitor studies skills into different industries and fields.

Topics to look forward to include:

  • Articulating your why for moving to a new field.
  • Resume verbiage and helpful tips for drawing comparisons to visitors studies and other fields.
  • Identifying opportunities to build your portfolio.
  • Retaining a sense of self and passion for the field while operating outside of it.


  • Taline Kuyumjian | Kuyumjian Consulting
  • Ivel Gontan | Association of Science-Technology Centers
  • Sara Davis | Centene Corporation
  • Michelle Nguyen | HubSpot
  • Julia Miller | Outreach

A recording of this presentation is available to VSA members, please email association headquarters to receive access.

Witnessing Visitor Experience: First Person Video Technology for Museum Research
Recorded Live on November 10, 2020

In recent years, numerous research teams have experimented with using video research methodologies to understand visitor experiences in museum settings. Bringing together researchers with recent publications in this area, this webinar will focus on how these researchers used video technology in innovative ways to record minute visitor experiences and the major benefits and limitations of video-based data sets. Our hope is this webinar will inspire others to consider video methodologies for their own visitor research interests.

Our presenters are:

  • Alice Anderson - Minneapolis Institute of Art
    Used wearable Go Pros to record maker activities on a museum floor from the childs view.
  • Dr. Michael Garbutt - University of New South Wales
    Captured visitor gaze with Mobile Eye Tracking technology in an art exhibition.
  • Dr. Ben Rydal Shapiro - Georgia State University
    Utilizes video to capture the collaborative and geographic nature of learning in museums

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members

Share your Voice! Town Hall on VSA’s DEAI Priorities and Action Steps
Recorded Live on October 14, 2020

As VSA continues its work to center diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI) in its organizational practices and policies, outreach and membership offerings, and leadership in the visitor studies and informal learning fields, we want to make sure that the voices of members and professionals in our community are engaged and included in the process. As part of our quarterly DEAI Webchat series, we invite you to a free web chat designed to:

  • Gather feedback and input on a draft of VSA’s DEAI Priorities and Action Steps document, based on our work to date
  • Better understand the implications and needs surrounding these priorities for members and professionals in our field
  • Refine and strengthen the priorities and action steps
  • Create opportunities for involvement in multiple DEAI efforts

The DEAI Task Force invites you to join us for a participatory dialogue to help inform VSA’s DEAI initiatives, share knowledge and insights, and help shape the next steps along this pathway. Please come with your ideas and questions related to the VSA's DEAI Priorities and Action Steps document.

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Evaluation Goals, Methods, and Ongoing Insights for Widening Access and Relevance in the Smithsonian’s Fossil Hall
Recorded Live on September 30, 2020

Members of the team tasked with renovating the Smithsonian’s Hall of Fossils – Deep Time exhibition share the struggles, lessons learned, and findings from their seven-year mammoth project. Topics include key takeaways from audience research, communication of challenging topics like climate change and evolution, and keys to broadening accessibility and inclusion. The group will also share methodological considerations and lessons learned from the exhibition, audience research program, and accessibility project.

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Culture Track: A Two Part Series

In this time of upheaval, museums, zoos, aquariums, and cultural organizations have wondered how they can best support and remain relevant to their communities. Join VSA's two-part series on Culture Track: a national study led by LaPlaca Cohen and Slover Linett to uncover how organizations can be responsive to and benefit their communities while grappling with adjustments in light of COVID-19.

Culture Track Part 1: Findings and Methodologies for Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis
Recorded Live on September 9, 2020

Members of the Slover Linett and LaPlaca Cohen teams provide an overview of key takeaways for organizations looking to better understand and connect with their audiences as well as the general public during Covid-19. The group will also share methodological considerations and lessons learned from designing, coordinating, analyzing, and reporting on a field-wide initiative that scaled from an initial expected 10,000 responses to over 120,000.

Panelists include:

Jen Benoit-Bryan, Slover Linett
Madeline Smith, Slover Linett
Kriti Mira Adhikari, LaPlaca Cohen

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Culture Track Part 2: Interpreting and Implementing Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis
Recorded Live on September 16, 2020

A panel of cultural industry professionals discuss how their organizations have used the Culture Track study to inform decisions during Covid, and how findings fit with other research studies undertaken during Covid-19.

Panelists include:
Caroline Goeser, Museum of Fine Art, Houston
Lindsay Maldonado, Shedd Aquarium
Sunil Iyengar, National Endowment for the Arts
Jen Benoit-Bryan, Slover Linett

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

VSA’s Zoo & Aquarium Focus Interest Group (ZAFIG) Virtual Mini Conference!
Recorded Live on August 26, 2020

While we can't meet in person this year, VSA’s Zoo and Aquarium Focused Interest Group (ZAFIG) wanted to provide a virtual opportunity for our community to present work being done in zoos and aquariums from the past year. Focusing on hot topics in the zoo-aquarium field, this conference-like web chat will include 5 mini-sessions that allow for sharing, learning, and dialogue. Our exciting slate of presentations includes:

  • The Impact of Human-animal Imagery on Public Attitudes Towards Zoos and Wildlife- Meghan Shaw, Zoos Victoria and Deakin University
  • Community Co-Design of Educational Programming with an Undeveloped Zoological Park- Amy Niedbalski, Saint Louis Zoo, Director, Conservation Audience Research & Evaluation (CARE)
  • Exploring the Relationship Between Empathy for Animals and Environmental Self-Efficacy in Zoo and Aquarium Visitors, Linnea Johnson, M.A. Museology and Emerging Zoo & Aquarium Evaluator and Communicator
  • Community Engagement through Facebook Live During a Worldwide Pandemic- Nichole Nageotte, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Conservation Education Researcher
  • Cracking Open Old Reports: Revisiting Past Data to Guide Future Directions-Emily O’Hara, Detroit Zoological Society, Curator of Exhibit Design
A recording of this presentation is available to VSA members, please email association headquarters to receive access.

Conducting Community-Based Research: What We Learned as Beginners
Recorded Live on August 19, 2020

In this convening, community partners and Exploratorium researchers will describe an NSF-funded exhibition and research project, called Middle Ground. The Middle Ground experience is facilitated by community partners and includes exhibits that support exploration of social science research into bias and stereotyping, humor and generosity, how we work together, and how we pull apart into tribes.

Audience researcher and consultant Cecilia Garibay will describe key principles for conducting community-based research and evaluation that attends to and incorporates community context while a panel of presenters will share examples of implementing these principles in practice. We will conclude by sharing challenges and insights from this approach.

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Reflections on “Racism, Unrest, and the Role of the Museum Field”
Recorded Live on July 29, 2020

In the midst of global anti-racism protests and civil unrest, many museums and informal learning institutions have publicly committed to supporting racial justice and rejected the idea of returning to “business as usual” as they begin to reopen. Inspired by the recent AAM panel, “Racism, Unrest, and the Role of Museums” (Lonnie Bunch, Johnetta Cole, and Lori Fogerty), this web chat will focus on questions around the role of visitor studies and evaluation in supporting transformational change in the museum field, such as:

  • What is the nature of conversations in your institution around racism and social justice?
  • To what extent are museums addressing racial inequity within the organization and supporting racial justice movements in the broader community, and how can visitor studies and audience research inform these efforts?
  • How can evaluators help to hold our informal learning institutions accountable for anti-racist statements and commitments?
  • Finally, as Dr. Lonnie Bunch asks of museums, how should the visitor studies field respond to these social crises and what should be our role in the struggle against systemic racism?

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Conducting Focus Groups In-Person and Online
Recorded Live on July 8, 2020

Focus groups are a key visitor studies methodology, although they can be costly. In this web chat, presenters will provide tips for budget-friendly focus group approaches that can be employed both in-person and online. The goals for the web chat are to:

  • Share examples of how internal evaluators have executed focus groups in a budget-friendly manner
  • Provide tips for effectively conducting focus groups in-person and online
  • Discuss challenges, opportunities, and ways participants have been adapting focus group methodologies with respect to the current environment of reduced budgets and social distancing

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members.

Remote Formative Evaluation
Recorded Live on June 10, 2020

Pre-COVID-19, formative evaluation often involved in-person data collection with visitors recruited on the museum’s floor. Evaluators would guide visitors through testing out manipulative prototypes and/or responding to design materials for an exhibition or program. Given the pandemic, formative evaluation has had to be rethought.
A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Google Analytics 101: Understanding Your Visitors’ Behavior Online
Recorded Live on May 21, 2020

Learn ways that Google Analytics can help you uncover insights into your website visitors and app users. Presenters will share examples of how they use it to understand visitor behavior online.


  • Elizabeth Bolander, Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Sewon Barrera, Exploratorium
  • Sandra Kaiser, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum


  • Elizabeth will start by sharing a step-by-step look at some of the most popular and basic Google Analytics features that the Cleveland Museum of Art team utilizes in their work monitoring websites and the ArtLens App.
  • Sewon will share key Google Analytics tips to analyze and curate visitor experience on a museum website.
  • Sandra will discuss a case study of how analytics has guided content and production work for online resources at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
  • Participants will also have a chance to swap ideas for other potential Google Analytics uses to inform visitor studies and ask questions of the panelists.
A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $20 for Non-Members.

Attending to Diversity, Equity, Access and Inclusion in the Time of Coronavirus
Recorded Live on April 29, 2020

Featuring Dr. Cecilia Garibay (The Garibay Group).

During this web convening, we discussed the following:
• Support conversation and dialogue around DEAI efforts in the time of Coronavirus
• Share challenges and reflect on strategies for focusing attention on DEAI at the institutional level
• Envision the role that visitor studies professionals can play in advocating for or supporting DEAI efforts during this time and into the future, as museums and other informal learning institutions begin to redefine who they are and how they serve communities

A recording of this web chat can be found here.

Culturally Responsive Visitor Studies: An Interactive Workshop with Dr. Katrina Bledsoe
Recorded Live on February 12, 2020

Join the Visitor Studies Association (VSA) for an interactive webinar focusing on the considerations and potential challenges relating to cultural responsiveness within the evaluation process. Dr. Katrina L. Bledsoe, a leader and expert on issues surrounding cultural responsiveness and equity-focused evaluation, will present this virtual workshop, providing examples from her professional experience. Participants will work together to think about how evaluators and informal learning professionals can identify and address the culture and context that exist within the evaluation process. Participants will also have the opportunity to think about how they can integrate cultural responsiveness into evaluation practice. The webinar will utilize presentation, large group discussion, and breakout rooms to:

  • Discuss the terminology, definitions, and personal perspectives surrounding Culturally Responsive Evaluation
  • Examine a case study evaluation project from a cultural responsiveness lens
  • Develop an evaluation plan that considers the needs and perspectives of various stakeholders
  • Share and compare ideas from small group discussions
  • Reflect on the case study as a whole, paying attention to how culture, context, and equity are addressed

A recording of this webinar can be purchased here. $10 for VSA Members, $15 for Non-Members

Looking for something more historical? Email association headquarters for assistance.