Framework for Engaging with Art

The Dallas Museum of Art’s Framework for Engaging with Art (FEA) is based on a groundbreaking, seven-year study that provides understanding of the preferences and behaviors of museum visitors. The study and its findings led to fundamental changes in all aspects of the DMA’s practices and programs.

Spearheaded by DMA Director Bonnie Pitman, the research draws on six studies (the first two studies are combined in the October 2005 report) conducted between 2003 and 2009 by the Dallas Museum of Art and the museum planning, evaluation, and research firm Randi Korn & Associates, Inc. (RK&A). Probing beyond traditional demographic studies, the research encompassed a series of qualitative questions about how visitors prefer to engage with art in the museum setting and their comfort levels in looking at and talking about art. The research identified four related, yet distinct, “visitor clusters” or types based on these preferences—thereby enabling museums to understand their audiences and better shape their offerings to address varying visitor interests and needs. (Note that the report titles reflect the former name of the DMA’s research framework, Levels of Engagement with Art.)

Audience Research: Levels of Engagement with Art, A Two-Year Study, 2003–2005 (October 2005)
Introduces the 10 statements that shaped the Dallas Museum of Art’s exploration of its relationship with visitors and describes the four audience clusters that emerged from visitors’ ratings of these statements and results from the larger questionnaire. A total of 1,120 onsite Museum visitors were interviewed for this two-part study, providing baseline information about DMA visitors. Based on the ratings of the 10 statements, RK&A instructed statistical analysis software to group visitors into four clusters, which formed the basis for future work on Levels of Engagement with Art/Framework for Engaging with Art.
This report, which combines data from the 2003 and 2005 studies, helps the DMA understand the characteristics of its audiences and their preferences for experiencing works of art at the DMA and other museums.
Levels of Engagement, 2003-2005.pdf

Audience Research: Levels of Engagement with Art, 2008 Study (August 2008)
Presents the results of the third research report, administered to 416 onsite Museum visitors during May and June 2008. The findings further deepened the DMA’s understanding of its audience in the context of the Framework for Engaging with Art. To determine if the cluster characteristics were authentic descriptions of visitor engagement, the DMA intentionally administered the study at the time of a J. M. W. Turner exhibition, knowing that the audience would likely be older and less diverse. For this phase, some questions were deleted from the original questionnaire because they proved to be less relevant to Levels of Engagement with Art/Framework for Engaging with Art theory, and 38 open-ended interviews were conducted to better understand visitors in relation to LoEA/FEA.
Levels of Engagement 2008.pdf

Audience Research: Levels of Engagement with Art and Teachers  (October 2007)
Provides information about the attitudes and perceptions of 450 Dallas-area K–12 teachers who have a professional relationship with the Dallas Museum of Art and who completed a mail-back survey. The study explores teachers in the context of the four clusters identified among the Museum’s general visitor population, with the goal of understanding teachers as important partners and supporting them more effectively.
Levels of Engagement with Art and Teachers.pdf

Web User Research: Levels of Engagement with Art and Arts Network (June 2008)
Includes data from 872 visitors to the Dallas Museum of Art Web site who completed an online questionnaire about their museum visits, art-viewing preferences, demographic characteristics, and experiences using the site. This baseline study was a first step in collecting and analyzing data about DMA Web users and their browsing habits in the context of LoEA/ FEA. The information from this study led to a redesign of the DMA Web site.

Web User Research: 2009 Survey of Arts Network Users (January 2010)
Reveals changes in the characteristics and experiences of 536 visitors to the Dallas Museum of Art Web site since the first online study in 2008. The study was completed after the new Web site was launched in summer 2008. It continues to explore viewer preferences based on the Framework for Engaging with Art, including museum visits, art-viewing preferences, demographic characteristics, and experiences using the DMA Web site. Results show that there are more male online users, that Web site visitors are younger, and that visits to art museum Web sites in general and the DMA’s site in particular are increasing.
Survey of Arts Network Users.pdf