Arkansas State University Museum has been selected to participate in a nationwide research project that will examine the impact American museums have on their communities.
Known as MOMSI — the Measurement of Museum Social Impact — the project is funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS), and is being led by the Utah Division of Arts & Museums in partnership with Thanksgiving Point, a major museum complex south of Salt Lake City.
Social impact is the effect of an activity on the social fabric of a community and the well-being of those who live there. The MOMSI study will use surveys to measure social impact that museum visitors garner through strengthened relationships, health and well-being, continued education and engagement, and intercultural competency.
ASU Museum is one of 38 subject museums that will participate in the study. The MOMSI researchers’ ultimate goal is to develop and refine a standard means of measuring social impact that could be used broadly. An initial study was conducted in select museums in Utah. This phase of the study will guide ASU Museum and the 37 other museums through recruitment of people from their communities who will visit the museums and answer questions about their experiences. Only the researchers in Utah will have access to the data collected, and participants remain anonymous. The MOMSI researchers will analyze the data, and use the results to develop a tool kit that museums throughout America can use to assess their impact within their own communities.
As a subject of the project, ASU Museum will recruit at least 100 volunteers who want to participate. The volunteers must visit the museum at least three times, complete surveys about their visits, and submit their responses directly to the researchers in Utah. At the end of the study, ASU Museum will receive the conclusions (not the data) from the lead researchers. The results will apply specifically to ASU Museum’s social impact within its own service region, but also will contribute to the research project.
“Participation in this ground-breaking study will help us and other museums answer the ultimate question: What good are we?” said Dr. Marti Allen, director of ASU Museum. “Knowing the Museum’s social impact locally will help us understand our strengths and weaknesses and thereby be of critical value in both planning and funding our future.”
ASU Museum will begin recruiting volunteers to participate in the MOMSI project in late July or early August. Those who complete the study will receive vouchers for a gift of appreciation and an opportunity to opt into a free drawing for a monetary prize. More information and instructions on how to join this research effort will be announced once recruitment opens.
“Participating in this research will be a great adventure, not just for the Museum but for volunteers in our community,” said Jill Kary, curator of education. “We are very excited to embark upon this extraordinary quest and look forward to building a pool of volunteers who share a desire to do something truly great for our community.”