Building a Framework for Performance Measurement
at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History is one of the world’s largest museums. Each year, it serves 7 million visitors with exhibitions onsite, 700,000 visitors a year with in-depth classes and programs, and 30 million visitors to its hundreds of websites. From 2008 – 2010, the Museum undertook an ambitious revitalization of its approach to performance measurement, crafting a framework, metrics, and protocols that can be applied across this wide array of outreach efforts. The framework provides a flexible, quantifiable process for measuring the museum’s public value over time. This session will introduce the framework, the interdepartmental effort that produced and sustains it, and results from its first large-scale implementation.
Bill Watson is Chief of Onsite Learning at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. He is responsible for the development, implementation, and evaluation of onsite museum programming, including all programming in the Discovery Room, Naturalist Center, Forensic Anthropology Lab, Exhibition Based Programs, Insect Zoo, and Butterfly Pavilion. He is currently co-leading the museum’s efforts to reimagine the ways that thepublic who visit museum interact with its collections, scientists, and staff, and the opportunities they have to participate in science. The cornerstone of this work is the development of a 10,000 square foot Education Center and associated online presence. The space will include a 20,000 object open natural history collection, a 1,000 square foot lab, 100 seat theater, classroom, and forums for interactions between audiences, scientists, educators, volunteers, collections managers, and other members of the natural history community. A key element of thedevelopment of this hybrid space developing a learning research and evaluation agenda to spark innovation in public programming. Bill received his Ed.D. from the George Washington University, M.A.T. from the University of Portland, and B.S. from Tulane University.