Thoughts on Museum Success IV: Ten Measures of the Ackland’s Success

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Originally published in the Ackland’s Member E-Newsletter of 11 December 2014, this is the fourth in a series of ruminations on how museums measure success.

15101465249_fdeed13630_o_cropped2Dear Members,

By the numbers… As promised in the last Member E-News, this installment of my communications about measuring museum success focuses on statistics. I’ve selected a range of metrics, each with its own strong signal about how well the Ackland is doing. I’ve abstained from any commentary (every statistic can be qualified and questioned in some way!), preferring to let these figures send a straightforward, cumulative message.

At the moment, of course, we at the Ackland are especially aware of statistics about our Annual Fund and Membership renewal, and I want to take the opportunity to warmly thank those who have already made commitments and to urge generosity for those still considering! If you have not yet made your end-of-year gift, please do so now. Your support is essential in underpinning all of our successes.

As always, I’d be happy to hear from you with observations: peter.nisbet@unc.edu.

In the next Member E-News, I’ll do one more of these posts about measuring success—in the New Year, we’ll move on to other topics!

With all best wishes of the season,

Peter Nisbet
Ackland Art Museum Chief Curator and Interim Director


Ten Measures of the Ackland’s Success

1. The Ackland saw a 23% increase in attendance in the five years between 2008-09 and 2012-13.

2. Since 2011, attendance at the Ackland Film Forum (our film series in conjunction with special exhibitions) has risen 233%, from an average of 30 per screening three years ago to 108 per screening today.

3. Since 2011, our bus scholarship program, which covers the costs of schools’ activity busses, has made it possible for over 5,600 K-12 students from 23 schools to visit the Ackland—about 28% of all the K-12 teachers and students served by the Ackland in this period.

4. We are currently on track to see a 10% increase this academic year in the number of students and faculty incorporating visits to the Ackland into their coursework, compared with last year’s record of 11,121—which itself was a 10% increase over the year before.

5. We currently have 751 members of our student-affiliate group, Student Friends of the Ackland.

6. On social media so far in 2014, we have seen a 13.5% increase in our followers on Facebook and 25% on Twitter. Visits to our website increased 3%.

7. The value of donations by members of our National Advisory Board increased by 163% from 2009-10 to 2013-14.

8. Since January 2009, we have acquired (and processed, catalogued, photographed, and stored) just under 2,000 works of art.

9. 99% of the 17,000+ works of art in the Ackland’s collection have now been digitally photographed; images of 96% of the works in the collection are available in the searchable public online catalogue on the Ackland website.

10. Between 2009 and 2012, 16 Chinese and Japanese screen and scroll paintings were conserved and remounted.

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