Why should you become involved?
If you are an institution seeking to learn more about your visitors, or if you are an institution who already knows about your visitors but would like to see how your visitors and their experiences compare to those of your peers, this system is being designed for you. Being involved will not only provide data that allow you to watch for trends over time, but also present the opportunity to help shape the types of questions and strategies we explore in the near future.
How is COVES unique?
COVES is the only collaboration of its kind for museums. Although many museums manage their own audience-focused data efforts, these efforts are not generally designed for comparisons across sites. And, ongoing studies enable museums to engage in a continuous learning process through which they can test out various strategies for attracting new audiences, encouraging repeat visitation, and strengthening the quality of the visitor experience to see how visitors respond through changes in the data over time.
COVES is an “O”ngoing data collection process.
We see a field-wide need for routine visitor experience data (as opposed to every few years, twice a year or another structure that does not capture data every month). In this sense, there is only ever one survey, but the information you collect through can change over time as your museum offerings change.
COVES is based around a membership structure.
In October 2018, COVES became a self-sustaining initiative, and we had 22 museums who were paying to participate! The membership structure is based on institutional size (annual operating budget per IMLS standards), which are broken into the categories of Very Small, Small, Medium, and Large. Our hope is that we are able to reduce costs for everyone as more and more museums join, as COVES is not a for-profit endeavor.