You might have read on our Tumblr about  Roving Gallery Conversations – these have become a weekly program that you can read about here.

As an evaluator, I have been observing these interventions since they began as a pilot program, learning many things in the process.  One of the aspects I’m most interested in, however, is what makes an experience memorable.  Rather than speaking with visitors immediately following the art intervention, I send out an online survey a little later to find out what people thought of the interaction. This lag in time between their participation in a roving and when they complete the surveys also helps us to figure out if the experience was memorable or not. The fact that most visitors can remember details about their experience, including where they were in the museum, suggests that these experiences do indeed stick in visitors’ minds; in fact, 96% of visitors who completed a survey said they considered the experience to be memorable one.

“It was unique and fun. The fact that I wasn’t expecting anything like that to happen made it more memorable”

“I still think about the time I spent listening to and speaking with the Roving gallery guide. I have visited a few museums in my 60 years. Docent talks are always lecture style. This was different and interesting”

“Absolutely! Now I can retell my experience of my visit to the museum to my family and friends and not just ‘I visited MoMA and saw paintings/sculptures, etc.”

Descriptive categories  that emerge from visitors’ explanations about their experiences with Roving Gallery Guides include: surprising, unexpected encounters, personal experiences that enhance understanding, interactive and hands-on, encounters that open up eyes and minds to see new things and consider different perspectives, socially engaged, learning experiences, chances to connect with MoMA, opportunities to talk with someone and unique occurrences. Perhaps these are the ingredients for a memorable experience?

Thinking about the experiences visitors are having with Roving Gallery Guides makes me think about my own memorable museum visits. Have you ever had a museum visit that you consider to be memorable? If you have, what made it memorable?

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