Exhibiting Impact: A Framework for Evaluation of Community Exhibits


Author/Creator ORCID





MA in Cultural Sustainability

Citation of Original Publication


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Exhibits bring people together in a space and allows them to reflect on the exhibit objects or content. Exhibits can occur in a variety of ways and in vastly different environments. They can be formal or informal, planned or spontaneous, scholarly or communal. The processes employed by exhibition can mirror the dynamics of identity, social interaction, and experiences that occur in community. In this way, exhibits can influence the way we connect to the people and places around us. Community exhibits focused on community-oriented activities and outcomes can be a powerful tool of development used by museums and community organizations. As the landscape of public and philanthropic funding shifts, museums and public organizations face increased competition for support. The ability to implement exhibition for community impact can provide cross-sector resources and partnerships potentially attractive to an array of funders. To do so, effective and appropriate evaluation needs to occur of the various ways these exhibits impact community. This work explores cross-sector tools, methodologies, and approaches to community impact evaluation and best practices. A set of four case studies illustrate key impact areas of Social Interaction and Participation, Asset Value, Community Connection, and Community Capacity, as well as themes, modalities, and outcomes that can guide practitioners in the field.