What is COVES?

COVES (“Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies”) is a system that provides for the ongoing collection of meaningful data about science center visitors, allowing museum leaders to make data-informed decisions, while providing relevant points of comparison within our industry.

This system builds from and extends the work done through a prior IMLS-funded National Forum Grant, Creating a Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (C-COVES) (LG-66-12-0634-12), which focused on convening a forum of experts to discuss the possibility of creating a collaboration like COVES.

Why is it needed?

This system is designed by museum professionals, for museum professionals. By leveraging research tools within the field where they exist, we can build evaluation capacity where it doesn’t—and we can also stay true to the measurement issues that matter most to us.

COVES is designed to unite science centers across the country in launching an effort to systematically collect, analyze, and report on visitor experience data. By facilitating collaboration, developing common instruments, and providing training on how to use these instruments and make sense of findings, COVES enables science centers to become data-driven organizations focused on their audiences and allows museums to learn from one another.