Denver Museum of Nature & Science Receives $245,000 Grant to Better Understand Community Needs

Denver Museum of Nature & Science Receives $245,000 Grant to Better Understand Community Needs

The Institute of Museum and Library Services will support the 15-institution Denver-area Evaluation Network's two-year initiative

DENVER-November 1, 2012-The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded a $244,897 grant to the Denver Museum of Nature & Science (DMNS) and 14 metro Denver partners, known collectively as the Denver-area Evaluation Network (DEN), in order to conduct a broad study of what audiences want from their local cultural institutions.

"This is an unprecedented and enviable opportunity for Denver's diverse cultural institutions to band together to better understand what our visitors value about us-and why," said Kathleen Tinworth, director of the Audience Insights department at the DMNS and project leader. "It also gives us the potential to improve our performance, better meet the changing needs of our community, and build new audiences."

During the past two years since DEN was formed, the collaborative has learned together about visitor demographics, why people value different institutions, and what motivates a museum visit. The two-year IMLS grant will continue this work and equip cultural institutions of varying sizes, budgets, and disciplines with the skills and resources needed to ask questions of visitors and potential audiences. DEN partners believe that asking questions, truly hearing the answers, and taking action to change will pave the way toward more responsive, innovative, and relevant museums that will enhance the educational ecosystem of Colorado, the mountain and plains region, and potentially the nation.

George Sparks, President and CEO of the DMNS, said, "With increasing competition for leisure time and many learning opportunities available online and through mobile technology, the DMNS and our partners recognize the importance of public opinion and aligning with community needs and interests."

Although 15 institutions are funded through the grant, DEN intends to get other museums involved. An online toolkit will give museums across the country access to free, tried-and-tested surveys, interview questions, and other resources that they too can use to learn about their audiences. DEN will promote the toolkit and share results online, in publications, at local meetings, and through presentations at regional and national conferences.

"Evaluating our offerings and responding to community needs is important to all museums regardless of size or scope," said Nathan Richie, the Executive Director of Golden History Museums. "The collective, regional impact this grant will have on our capacity as institutions to understand and respond to evaluation will be like the tide that raises all ships." 

Denver-area Evaluation Network (DEN) Organizations

Buffalo Bill Museum and Grave, Butterfly Pavilion, Children's Museum of Denver, Clyfford Still Museum, History Colorado, Colorado Railroad Museum, Denver Art Museum, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Museum of Nature & Science, Denver Zoo, Four Mile Historic Park, Golden History Museums, Lakewood's Heritage Center, Longmont Museum and Cultural Center, and Molly Brown House.

About The Institute of Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 122,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.  Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grantmaking, policy development and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. 

About Audience Insights at Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Established in 2007, Audience Insights is a recognized leader in the field of visitor studies and audience evaluation-locally, nationally, and internationally. Through an array of methodologies their work elevates visitor and community voices, advocating for a continuous cycle of internal reflection, growth, and improvement.

About the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

The Denver Museum of Nature & Science is the Rocky Mountain Region's leading resource for informal science education. A variety of engaging exhibits, discussions and activities help Museum visitors celebrate and understand the natural wonders of Colorado, Earth and the universe. The Museum is located at 2001 Colorado Blvd., Denver, CO, 80205.  To learn more about the Museum, check www.dmns.org, or call 303-370-6000. Many of the Museum's educational programs and exhibits are made possible in part by the citizens of the seven-county metro area through the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District.

Media Contact

Charlotte Hurley, Charlotte.Hurley@dmns.org, 303-370-6407

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