This White Paper summarizes the work of C-COVES, a two-year IMLS-funded project designed to Create a Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies. Specifically, C-COVES was intended to research the feasibility of creating a multi-institutional network of science centers across the country united in studying the visitor experience within and across organizations nationwide. In August of 2013, 27 museum professionals from 11 science centers ranging in size, community context, and evaluation capacity, as well as 3 consulting or industry organizations, came together to elaborate the various objectives, outcomes, and pitfalls of a potential collaborative. The document presented here highlights the insights and suggestions from the many professionals consulted throughout the C-COVES project in establishing such a collaboration, establishing what we believe to be key elements and decision points to establish this vision for the science museum field, as well as a roadmap to help guide other types of institutions seeking to embark on similar efforts. As a result of this work, IMLS has also funded a follow-up effort to carry out the work presented in this White Paper. No longer "creating", the Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES) project began in October of 2014 and will build-up over three years. Organizations interested in learning more or becoming part of the collaboration can find contact information on page 13 of the document.
Award Number: MG-20-14-0060-14
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