Type of Culminating Activity

Graduate Student Project

Graduation Date


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Art Education



Major Advisor

Kathleen Keys


For this project, I researched, developed, and integrated, interactive and participatory educational components directly into the Boise Art Museum’s (BAM) exhibition spaces in order to create more pathways for learning about art among different types of visitors. My project is based on a review of best practices in museum education and visitor engagement, focusing on in-gallery interactive and participatory learning opportunities, as well as in-depth, onsite research conducted at five leading museums in London, England. After I returned from London, BAM received funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support the integration of in-gallery educational components into two long-term exhibitions. The funding enabled me to put my research findings into real-world practice and create new educational components tailored to the museum’s size, staff expertise, and audiences.

Based on a thorough review of best practices in museum education, the in-depth research at five London museums, and past experiences as a museum educator, I developed and implemented a range of in-gallery, interactive, and participatory educational components at BAM. These interactive components were designed to transform the traditional, passive viewing experience into an active or participatory experience in order to improve learning about art among visitors.

The extended timelines of the exhibitions, each of which was on view for approximately one year, allowed for significant testing of the interactive components and vii an in-depth assessment of the impact on visitor learning. Evaluation activities included timed observations of visitors in the galleries, randomly collected exit surveys, and visitor usage statistics and feedback from the interactive computer-based components.

The data shows that, cumulatively, approximately one-third of visitors to the exhibitions used one or more of the new educational components. Survey respondents who used the interactive and participatory components consistently referred to content available only through these components when referencing specific artworks and articulating memorable highlights of the exhibitions. The project created many options for audiences to engage with the artworks, and data from the formal evaluations suggests that the new components successfully impacted learning.

The results of this project support my belief that in-gallery, free-choice interactive and participatory educational components create more pathways for visitors to learn about artwork and lead to a more rewarding museum experience.