A Summative Evaluation of exhibit, 'East by Northwest'

Date: 
Monday, June 7, 2010
Resource Type:
Research and Evaluation Instruments | Survey | Interview Protocol | Observation Protocol | Evaluation Reports | Summative
Environment Type: 
Exhibitions, Museum and Science Center Exhibits
Audience: 
General Public | Museum/ISE Professionals | Evaluators
Discipline: 
Education and learning science | Geoscience and geography | Social science and psychology
Organization:
University of Wisconsin
Description: 

The purpose of this summative evaluation was to find out how visitors are using and learning from the East by Northwest exhibit at the Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) in Seattle, Washington. The exhibit tells the story of Seattle's Ethiopian community, highlighting the continuity of the culture and the contribution to our shared experience. To do this, three methods were employed: 1) tracking and timing observations, 2) exit surveys, and 3) analysis of guestbook entries. A total of 188 visitors were included in this study. Data collection occurred during January, February, and March, 2010. MAIN FINDINGS Where do visitors go and where do they spend their time in the East by Northwest exhibit? Do visitors stop at least once in all three "zones" of the exhibit? Visitors spent between 4.8 seconds and 25.9 minutes in the exhibit. The mean time in the exhibit was 6.5 minutes. The average sweep rate was 261.5 sq. ft/minute, indicating that visitors are moving slowly, stopping often, and spending more than a few seconds at each stop. Twenty-two visitors (46%) stopped in all three exhibit zones at least once. Thirty-seven visitors (77%) stopped in two exhibit zones at least once. Fourty-six visitors (96%) stopped in one of the exhibit zones at least once. Are visitors able to identify at least one reason Ethiopians came to the United States? Most visitor (76%) were able to identify at least one reason Ethiopians came to the United States. Political upheaval, the search for a better life, and opportunity were among the most frequently cited explanations. Are visitors able to describe at leat one custom that continues to play a role in the lives of Ethiopians in Seattle today? Most survey respondents (82%) were able to describe at least one custom that continues to play a role in the lives of Ethiopians in Seattle today. The customs visitors most frequently described were coffee ceremony, religion and food. Do visitors recognize the impact Ethiopia's geography has had on Ethiopian culture? When presented with several choices, the influence on Ethiopian culture visitors most often identified was religion, followed by landscape and coffee. Do visitors see NAAM's attempt at an honest depicion of their experience in the exhibit? Because of a very small sample of visitors who identified as Ethiopian on surveys, we were not able to determine whether Ethiopian visitors saw NAAM's attempt at an honest depiction of their experience. When rating their opinions of the exhibit on a series of likert scales, visitors indicated that they felt the exhibit was trustworthy, unbiased, and sincere. Do Ethiopian visitors feel their experiences are valued by others? Because of a very small sample of visitors who identified as Ethiopian on either surveys or the guestbook, we were not able to determine whether Ethiopian visitors felt their experiences were valued by others. Some respondents who identified as Ethiopian recorded responses in the guestbook, such as: "Proud to be Ethiopian!! Felt like I'm back home!!!" and "Good experience to see roots." The appendix of this report includes the interview protocol, tracking & timing tool, and survey used in the study.

Funder(s): 
IMLS

Team Members

Marta BeyerMarta BeyerEvaluator
Alex CurioAlex CurioEvaluator
Julie DoughertyJulie DoughertyEvaluator
Justine WalkerJustine WalkerEvaluator
Erin WilcoxEvaluator

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