Conference Events

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Pre-Conference Field Trip to the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium
9:00am - 5:00pm

Take the Zoo Bus from downtown to the #1 Zoo in America, according to USA Travel Guide!  Once you arrive you'll be off to discover the zoo on your own and at 2:30pm meet with members of the Evaluation Team, who will talk about some of their projects.  The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is home to more than 9,000 animals representing 650 species from around the globe. Watch a polar bear swim above your head, meet the world famous gorilla family, say "g'day" to the koalas, ponder, the giant pachyderms and be amazed by the manatees. You'll most certainly encounter some spring babies.

Location: Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, 4850 W Powell Road, Columbus, Ohio 43065
Cost: Ticket required, but admission is free with conference registration
Transportation: Zoo Bus is $4.00 round trip and Self-Parking is $10.00 per vehicle

More information about the Zoo Bus and the Zoo Bus Schedule is available by visiting HERE.

NOTE: This offer is only available for Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Limited to the first 50 people who register.

zoo pic.jpg

 Photo courtesy of Experience Columbus

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

April Awards Celebration
4:30pm - 6:30pm

Kick off the 2017 VSA conference in Columbus with a celebratory cocktail hour. Each year, the April Award welcomes and honors one outstanding emerging professional in the visitor studies field. Come toast the 2017 April Award recipient, meet our student scholarship recipients, catch up with friends and colleagues old and new, and support a longstanding VSA tradition. Additional celebrations will include a special thank you to Molly Hood, founder of the April Award, who will be joining us this year.

Location: COSI, 333 West Broad Street.
Please note that COSI is about 2/3 of a mile from the Westin Hotel. Due to construction, parking at COSI is limited and is about 1/3 of a mile from the COSI entrance. Those needing transportation to COSI are encouraged to consider a taxi or other transportation service.

We have three (3) different price points to support the ongoing fundraising endeavors of this event.

$25 ticket includes 1 drink ticket and $5 donation to April Award Fund
$35 ticket includes 2 drink tickets and $10 donation to April Award Fund
$45 ticket includes 2 drink tickets and $20 donation to April Award Fund

NOTE: This event will include light appetizers, but does not include dinner.

New Attendee Hangout
Begins at 7:00pm

New to VSA or the VSA Conference? Hang out with other new attendees and a few old hats! After the April Award Celebration, we’ll meet at the hotel lobby to walk over to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at the Commons. Jumpstart your conference with tasty ice cream and splendid conversations.

Cost: Pre-registration is required, but free with conference registration

NOTE: Food not included, but available for purchase.

Slide Clinic Hosted by the Data Visualization and Reporting FIG
7:00pm - 8:00pm

Presenters! Your session was accepted. You’ve picked out your presentation day outfit and your cat/partner/coworker has heard you rehearse at least 10 times. What else can you do to ensure you captivate your audience? Make sure your slides are clean, clear, and gorgeous! The VSA Data Visualization & Reporting (DVR) FIG will be onsite and ready to help. Bring your slide deck and spend 15-20 minutes with our slide coaches. They’ll suggest just a few, easy-to-do, last minute fixes to make sure your presentation looks its best.

Cost: Free with conference registration. Pre-registration is not required.

NOTE: Bring your laptop with the slide deck loaded.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

New Attendees Welcome Table(s)
8:00am - 10:00am

New to the conference? Sit with some of the coolest VSA members! During the morning coffee break and continuing through the Opening Keynote, we’ll have VSA ambassadors hanging out at “New attendee? Sit with me!” tables. Get to know awesome people and get your conference questions answered.

NOTE: Pre-registration is NOT required - just pull up a chair.
Evening of Creativity and Conversation at the Columbus Museum of Art

6:00pm - 9:00pm

Don’t miss a lively evening of Creativity and Conversation! Join the Visitor Studies Association at the Columbus Museum of Art for dining and discovery. CMA continues to redefine the art museum for the 21st century earning national reputation as a model for innovative visitor engagement as well as being Central Ohio’s hub for social, creative, and dynamic experiences. Engage your imagination and thinking in CMA galleries including the JPMorgan Chase Center for Creativity, an 18,000 square foot space dedicated to imaginative experiences for visitors of all ages. Ignite fresh conversations and connect with new and old colleagues while having fun exploring the activities designed for this fun-filled event.

Location: Columbus Museum of Art – 480 E Broad St, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Cost: $50 ticket includes bus transportation to CMA, heavy hors d’oeuvres, one (1) drink ticket, and one (1) ticket to a CMA special exhibition.

CMA pic.jpg

 Photo courtesy of Experience Columbus

Friday, July 21, 2017

Get to Know VSA Happy Hour
6:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.

VSA’s Membership Committee invites you to attend a Happy Hour! Hangout with other attendees and VSA members to get to know them and the organization better while enjoying tasty food and drink. Drop off your business card for your chance to win a door prize. VSA leaders will be on hand to chat about VSA and the variety of ways members can volunteer! Perfect for new attendees as well as long-time members!

Please check the registration table for suggested directions. It is a seven minute walk southwest from the hotel, near the intersection of S Wall Street and W Brewer Street.

Location: Basil Restaurant – Brewery District, 460 S Front Street, Columbus, Ohio 43201

Cost: Pre-registration is required for food count, but event is free with conference registration.

NOTE: Light hors d’oeuvres provided, other food and drink available for purchase.  Limited to the first 80 registrants.

Dining Discussions

Consider joining a Dining Discussion on Friday evening. The purpose of these participant-led conversations is to provide informal networking and socializing opportunities for attendees who share a common interest. Find the list of topics, and sign up at the registration table starting Thursday morning. Diners will meet at a local restaurant at the designated time to dine, discuss and pay for their own dinner. Spots are first-come first-served!

We are pleased to offer four exciting Dining Discussion topics this year.

Art Museum Evaluators Dining Discussion- Hannah Ridenour, Elizabeth Bolander, Maia Werner-Avidon
A continuation of last year's Dining Discussion, join fellow art museum evaluators to network, share challenges and ideas, and explore possibilities for collaboration. All are welcome whether you are an in-house evaluator or consultant focusing on art museums.

Reducing Carbon Emissions of VSA Conference- Josh Gutwill
Our conference travel produces a huge amount of carbon each year. Join a brainstorming conversation about ways to reduce travel-based carbon emissions for VSA participants. For example, explore the ideas of simultaneous regional conferences, hybrid real-virtual conferences, and more.

VOICES in Our Communities- Deborah Wasserman, Joe E. Heimlich,
Steve Gavazzi

Join us for a discussion and an opportunity to contribute to a new instrument that draws from community leaders to examine the quality of relationships between informal learning institutions and their audiences. The discussion will allow the diners to address such questions as: 

    • Whose voices aren't usually heard? 
    • What types of  audiences (cultural institutions, other non-profits, government agencies, population communities, and key informants would you want to hear from?
    • How would you identify which communities are key? Which organizations within communities? Which key informants within organizations? How would you decide?


Visitor Studies in a Time of Fake News, Alternative Facts, and Rising American Nationalism- Steven Guberman
What are the responsibilities, opportunities, and challenges of museums and those who study them following the election of Donald Trump and the rise of fake news, alternative facts, and populist nationalism? The foundation for this discussion will be a recent article in the influential journal, Cognition and Instruction: “The Learning Sciences in a New Era of U.S. Nationalism” by the Politics of Learning Writing Collective (Vol 35, No 2, 2017). In that paper, the authors argue “that the rise of nationalism across the globe demands more explicit attention to how power imbues the purposes, mechanisms, and consequences of learning, as well as our approaches to the design, study, and theorization of learning environments.” Let’s consider these and related issues from the perspective of visitor studies. Participants should read the article prior to dinner and consider how we and our museums are connected to and challenged by the current political context. A version of the article is available here.

Locations: TBD by Dining Discussion leaders

Cost: Attendees are responsible for paying for their own food and drink.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Closing Plenary & Breakfast
8:00am - 9:30am

Listen to closing remarks from VSA leadership and our invited local speaker, Sathya Gopalakrishnan representing The STEAM Factory at The Ohio State University, over a plated breakfast.

Location: Grand Ballroom

Cost: Pre-registration is required for food count, but event is free with conference registration.

To register for the 2017 VSA Conference, click HERE.