Three Weeks in Sacramento
Recently I was in Sacramento, CA for over three weeks. Contrary to popular belief I don't live there. ...but I am from there. A lot happened in those weeks. Some of it was time off for the holidays, much of it was work.
The weeks of late December and early January are often some of the busiest for museums. People tend to have more free time between holiday travel, winter breaks, and federal holidays. Weather can be iffy, and museums offer a great place to take a gaggle of kids and visitors when you've been cooped up indoors for too long.
Across this month I spoke to around 1000 visitors (and got data from about half of them). I heard from visitors who were coming for the first time. I also heard from visitors who have been over a dozen times in the last calendar year. I heard what they loved and I learned ways they want the museum to grow. Most of this is captured via survey data, and analyzing this will be the bulk of my January from here on out.
While having family local and a free place to stay made staying for three weeks in Sacramento over the holidays more justifiable, it wasn't the primary reason I was there. Leading into the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend was the first ever convening of the Forum for Leaders in Art Museum Education. It was a gathering of 30+ Directors of Education at art museums of varying sizes across the country. They were coming together to learn from one another and highlight ways they can support each other as they work within their organizations for public value and social impact. I was able to bear witness to this meeting as its evaluator. It was an honor and a privilege. The conversations are theirs to reminisce on and grow with. But I can say that there is nothing quite like being in a room of so many powerful, passionate leaders who are envisioning and realizing ways to use museums to better communities. It was inspiring and I was so intimidated. It reminded me of why I love this work (because of the visitors!), and it gave me ideas for ways I can continue to advocate and welcome others into these spaces despite now being external to them. When I'm not analyzing the tons of data I brought back to Portland, I'm going to work on translating these ideas into concrete goals for the new year. Keep an eye out - and visit your local art museum while you wait for me to get my ideas on paper!