Dallas Museum of Art Receives Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant

Dallas Museum of Art Receives Institute of Museum and Library Services Grant To Research Its Engagement and Membership Program with Partner Institutions: Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Grant to Support New Technology for Audience Engagement Initiatives

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has awarded the Dallas Museum of Art a National Leadership Grant of more than $450,000 to support the research and expansion of a platform of engagement based on the Museum’s Friends membership program to three partner institutions: Denver Art Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

The DMA Friends program approaches membership as an opportunity for engagement and is intended to build long-term relationships with visitors and emphasize participation over the transaction-based membership model that has become common practice among museums. The free membership is availab le to anyone who wishes to join, and includes opportunities for increased access to Museum programs and staff through an à la carte rewards system determined by active participation. Since the DMA launched its Friends initiative in January 2013, more than 27,000 visitors have enrolled in the program.

The Denver Art Museum (DAM), Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA) represent diverse models of membership and admission common to major U.S. art museums, with both fee-based and free programs. Each museum exists in a large metropolitan region, has encyclopedic collections of art, and devotes significant resources to education programs focused on audience engagement. All recipients have a strong desire to form long-term relationships with visitors while offering them value and benefits tailored to their experience and engagement with the museum.

The grant, which will be accomplished in a two-year time period, will support the creation of replicable models of visitor engagement inspired by the DMA’s Friends program in each of the partner museums. After a year of research, the teams will refine and pilot aspects of the program at each partner institution with a goal of determining what activities and tools could work broadly across the museum field. The money will also be used to improve the system for compiling and analyzing data on visitor participation—gleaned from the program—and document critical factors that have an impact on audience engagement at museums. The research, which will be led by Rob Stein, the DMA’s Deputy Director, will establish a dataset that will yield important information on the strengths and weaknesses of museum programming and the degree to which audiences are connecting and engaging with an institution.

“We are grateful to IMLS for this generous grant and for the opportunity to work with the leadership at Denver, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis on new initiatives that will improve audience engagement at our institutions and beyond,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, the Museum’s Eugene McDermott Director. “We

are looking forward to building on the visitor research and data collection that Rob Stein has conducted at the DMA, and continuing to evolve a culture of participation that is increasingly important in our digital world.”

Over the course of the next few months, the leadership teams at the DMA, DAM, LACMA, and MIA will work together to identify the techniques and tools necessary to create replicable platforms, tailoring the system that was developed for the DMA to fit the specific technology, staff, and requirements of each institution. Through this process, the teams will work to determine the ease of compatibility between systems, with an eye toward future expansion within the larger museum field.

“We are excited to partner on this groundbreaking project to learn how we can better create authentic, engaging experiences with our community,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the Denver Art Museum. “The valuable data gleaned from these pilot programs will help us to stay connected to the pulse of our community and continue to be a place for transformational experiences with art.”

“LACMA is pleased to partner with the DMA and our peers at the Denver Art Museum and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts,” added CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director of LACMA Michael Govan. “This project is a great opportunity for LACMA to further explore the use of technology to deepen our relationship with our young members and their parents via our free NexGen program. Our goal, as always, is to engage our visitors in ways that are fun, memorable, and meaningful, and to continually evolve museum education programs to respond to each visitor's personal interests.”

“We are thrilled for this opportunity to work in close collaboration with our partners at the Dallas Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art in this innovative venture," offered Kaywin Feldman, MIA’s Director and President. "By working together and exploring variations to the model, we will create and share new ways to deepen engagement and increase participation of our audiences, now and in the future.”

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 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit imls.gov and follow IMLS on Facebook and Twitter.

About the DMA Friends Program
The free membership program encourages and recognizes visitor participation as an essential ingredient of the museum experience. Through this groundbreaking new approach, the DMA encourages a vibrant

and connected community as part of the Museum, and strengthens the larger cultural community in Dallas, as well.

At the time of enrollment, new DMA Friends receive a card allowing them to track their engagement with the Museum, both on-site and online. As members visit exhibitions, attend programs, share their experiences online, and participate in other local arts events, they earn credit for participation that can be converted into a variety of

rewards. Each DMA Friend can choose whatever rewards best reflect his or her interests. Discounts, access to special programs, free tickets, and other opportunities are among the many ways the DMA says “thank you” to visitors who enrich the experience of the Museum by their participation. DMA Friends can manage their engagement with the Museum through kiosks located along the Museum’s Concourse, a smartphone app, and a web portal housed on the Museum’s website.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. The Museum’s global collection encompasses more than 22,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually. In January 2013, the DMA returned to a free general admission policy and launched DMA Friends, the first free museum membership program in the country.

About the Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum is one of the largest art museums between Chicago and the West Coast, with a collection of more than 70,000 works of art divided between 10 permanent collections including African, American Indian, Asian, European and American, modern and contemporary, pre-Columbian, photography, Spanish Colonial, textile and western American art. Its holdings reflect the city and region—and provide invaluable ways for the community to learn about cultures from around the world. The museum’s mission is to enrich the lives of present and future generations through the acquisition, presentation and preservation of works of art, supported by exemplary scholarship and public programs related to both its permanent collections and to temporary exhibitions.

Since its inception in 1965, LACMA has been devoted to collecting works of art that span both history and geography-and represent Los Angeles's uniquely diverse population. Today, the museum features particularly strong collections of Asian, Latin American, European, and American art, as well as a contemporary museum on its campus. With this expanded space for contemporary art, and innovative collaborations with artists, LACMA is creating a truly modern lens through which to view its rich encyclopedic collection.

About the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), home to one of the finest encyclopedic art collections in the

country, houses more than 80,000 works of art representing 5,000 years of world history. Highlights of the permanent collection include European masterworks by Rembrandt, Poussin, and van Gogh; modern and contemporary painting and sculpture by Picasso, Matisse, Mondrian, Stella, and Close; as well as internationally significant collections of prints and drawings, decorative arts, Modernist design, photographs, textiles, and Asian, African, and Native American art. General admission is always free.


For more information, please contact:

Jill Bernstein
Dallas Museum of Art