Museums & Galleries Qld

Gail Davitt, Dallas Museum of Art

Posted on: 21 November 2011

Thanks to the support of the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council and their International Visitor Program, M&GSQ was pleased to bring Gail Davitt to Australia. Gail Davitt, Chair of Learning Initiatives and Director of Education at the Dallas Museum of Art, USA spoke in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. Gail recently emailed to say that she and her husband were over the jet lag and she noted how much she had enjoyed meeting colleagues in each state:

‘It is certainly apparent – not surprisingly – that we are involved in many of the same types of projects and are asking many of the same questions. I brought back some of the answers that you all have explored.’

In Brisbane Gail was the keynote speaker at Museum & Gallery Services Qld’s annual seminar with University of Queensland Art Museum and UQ Museum Studies Program. Her main presentation, “From audience research to enhanced engagement” outlined how the museum used audience research to learn more of  their visitors feelings about art and to understand better their preferred experiences with art. Over 1000 visitors ranked statements about themselves and art and a cluster analysis identified 4 main visitor frameworks for engaging with art:

  • observers
  • participants
  • independents
  • enthusiasts.

The Dallas Art Museum used this information about their visitors in all their institutional decisions including: education, curatorial and marketing. Gail gave examples of  how this information was used in their exhibitions, late night events and in a separate presentation discussed their SmArt phone tours that are developed and produced in house. Gail emphasised that anyone considering undertaking a similar research program in their institution must have the support from the top and emphasised the value in the museum staff themselves grappling with the ways to apply the research learnings.

Both of her presentations at M&GSQ|UQAM seminar can be viewed at Also you can view the respondents to her presentations from QAG|GOMA and the Australian Communication Exchange ( developers of the smart AUSLAN tour).

Gail Davitt’s visit to Australia has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.


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Museums & Galleries Queensland

122 Gerler Rd, Hendra QLD 4011

Phone: 07 3059 9740

Museums & Galleries Queensland is the peak professional body for the public museum and gallery sector in Queensland.

Museums & Galleries Queensland promotes, supports and provides services to foster excellence in museums, galleries and keeping places. We strive to ensure a future where museums, galleries and keeping places are relevant, accessible and valued by their communities.

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