Visitor Feedback Project: My Internship with Exhibitions at NMC

July 27, 2015

Internships are all about putting into practice what you’ve been studying. After my first year of museum studies in Montréal at UQAM, it was time to combine theory and practice during my 14-week internship at NMC.

One of my internship projects was especially formative; a task called the “visitor feedback project”. What is it? Well, with the new NMC building opening soon, we wanted to know if our current visitors were aware of our new building and measure their engagement in the project. We also wanted to evaluate a sample exhibition by gathering public opinion.

Capitalizing on NMC’s public performance space, Stage One, we used the opportunity to test sample exhibition content and design. The visitor feedback project has the long-term goal to use the visitor feedback gathered during the project to enhance exhibition content in the future.

NMC Construction Site – March 2015//Chantier du CNM – Mars 2015

Construction of the new NMC. Credit: George Weber

The basic concept of this project—collecting feedback from the public on an ongoing project—is pretty common in museums (see MoMA’s or the Museum of Inuit Art’s examples of visitor feedback projects). It is usually referred as a “formative evaluation” which implies that a first draft of the project is already created, so the public can give their opinion on a concrete example. Therefore, the team can have feedback, while still having time to make modifications.

For the project, we printed graphic designs from one of the future exhibition spaces to show visitors an example of what the content will be like in that space. Using contributions from music fans across the country, the exhibition space called “Where Music Lives” will celebrate the venues, from sticky-floored dive bars to holy shrines, where music rules from coast to coast.

My goal was to visually display it in the best way possible and to find an efficient way to collect feedback. I began by researching similar projects by other museums to learn from their successes and failures and to figure out what would work best for us on this project.

To plan the layout, I used the software program SketchUp to produce a 3D version of NMC’s performance space in order to find the best way to display the exhibition content. Aside from being free, SketchUp has the advantage of being instinctive, and therefore, pretty easy to use (both of this being extremely convenient if, like me, you have no background in graphic design).

Visitor feedback project layout

SketchUp design of visitor feedback project layout in Stage One, NMC. Credit: Auriane Gouzowski

All of this preparation work culminated in a two-day installation of the graphic design content, including taking down the previous exhibition and erecting and painting a false wall before fixing the new content to the walls.

Visitor feedback project installation

Installation of the visitor feedback project. Credit: Auriane Gouzowski

If you’re coming to NMC’s performance space in the next few months, what will you find? Content from the “Where Music Lives” exhibition is on display so visitors attending a performance or special event will have the opportunity to preview and comment on this future exhibition. Visitors can post comments, fill out surveys, or share personal stories about where music lives for them.

Visitor feedback project final install

The completed installation of the visitor feedback project in Stage One at NMC. Credit: Auriane Gouzowski

The goal of this project is twofold. The first objective is to share what the new NMC exhibitions will look like, giving the public a better picture of some of the stories that will be told in the new building. Secondly, this project is a great way for NMC to foster a participatory and collaborative relationship with the public, one of NMC’s main values. NMC’s conceptual approach of “museum as music festival”, founded on content from very diverse sources, needs the active involvement of music professionals and the Calgary community. This project will assist in continuing to build those relationships.

NMC wants your help in telling the stories of music in Canada, so the next time you’re here for a show, let us know “Where Music Lives” for you!

—Auriane Gouzowski, Exhibitions Intern

Interested in becoming an NMC intern? Visit our careers page for current postings.

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