On Museums and Data

We love museums. And we strongly believe that museums are capable of significantly impacting the lives of individuals and our communities through their work. How? 

Because we believe museums:

  • Are capable of opening up the world to children and adults
  • Contribute to our individual development as humans by sharing the stories and experiences of others
  • Open minds, promote greater understanding, and engender more compassion towards others
  • Keep the spark of curiosity burning


Yet we also realize that we are outliers, and most people do not feel the same way.  Even regular museum-goers do not necessarily connect museum experiences with specific outcomes in their life.

That is where research comes into play.  Through thoughtful lines of inquiry, it is possible for individuals to begin to articulate the role museums have, or have not had, in their lives.  Or to gain a better understanding of how museums can serve their communities more effectively.  To connect experience to outcome.

It isn’t easy work, but the thriving museum of the future understands that this kind of research and data is important.  That research and data are tools for thoughtful decision making, enabling a deeper fulfillment of the mission in meaningful, affective ways.  And that data and research can also help us provide evidence to stakeholders of the impact museums can have on individuals and communities.

But research and data are only tools.  It is what we do with them that really matters.  It is how we take the knowledge accumulated, interpret it, and share it in a way that enables confident decision-making.  That’s Knowledge Curation™, the unique experience and thinking that we provide to museums.

A Statement on Data and Research

The data generated by Wilkening Consulting, whether for custom client engagements or in field-wide studies, is designed to serve this field.
Here’s what that means:

  • Broader findings are shared, including through publications, presentations, and in media interviews.  Keeping findings behind a proprietary wall is a disservice to this field.
  • Raw data, however, will not be released and is considered proprietary to Wilkening Consulting and its clients.
    Why?  Because:
    • Raw data contains quantitative and qualitative responses by individuals, and these are always kept confidential; Wilkening Consulting will never publicly release individual responses without the consent of those individuals. You can find more information on data privacy and confidentiality here. 
    • Raw data also contains research findings specific to individual institutions; results specific to an individual institution will not be released by Wilkening Consulting except upon the request of that individual institution.
  • While we believe sharing data is valuable, and we want to help museums, we cannot serve as data librarians to the field.  Please see the services page  for details on submitting data queries.