Xavier - Evaluation and Lessons Learned


Evaluation method





Overview of project:

     The purpose of this class and this project was to activate an artwork, get visitors to participate in the Henry's gallery space in a unique and memorable way, and connect with the theme of Polyphonica Vortexhibition. Our group was drawn to the Xavier Veilhan sculpture "Xavier" because he is a human figure and is reminiscent of public statuary; these elements seemed to invite participation. We hoped that visitors would be similarly influenced by this piece of art and would happily engage in an activity with Xavier as the mediator.

     Throughout the duration of the project, we observed people's level of engagement, the likelihood of their participation, and their attitude toward the activity. These factors helped us conjecture about the impact of the activity  on the visitors' art gallery experience and the effect of "activating a work of art."


Our measurable goals were:        

     1. Visitors will add their voice to the exhibition by adding words to the sequence.

     2. Visitors will contribute to connections by participating in a continuous photographic record.

     3. The majority of participants will take the Flickr URL with them.

     4. Visitors will visit the Flickr site to see how their word connects to others and see how other visitors contributed. 


Evaluation method:

     Facilitator observation. The facilitator, who was stationed next to the sculpture to answer questions and take photos, noted the number of visitors, groups, and participants on a paper chart. The facilitator's chart also tracked the visitors' interactions with the activity (i.e., walked by; stopped and watched; asked questions; participated) and their attitude (smiling, laughing, helping others, frowning, or ignoring). This observational method was unobtrusive and required no interviewing. Its biggest faults and errors were due to lack of group consensus on what and how to count before beginning the project. This became evident when the number of participants marked on the chart did not match the number of photographs taken. We belatedly recognized that each facilitator tallied categories in their own way - there was particular confusion about whether groups should be marked as one participation or as though each member of the group were an individual participant. To see the charts, click here: Participation chart for Alphabet Soup with Xavier. Although a few participants declined to be photographed, we were able to keep the record continuous by taking pictures of their words. Our final and most accurate measurement of participation, therefore, is the number of photos in the Flickr stream. 



     Project participation


     What Worked:  


     What Did Not Work:



     Project Limitations:


     Artwork and Gallery Considerations:



     Although (as noted above) there were various limitations and challenges posed by the participatory activity we chose to create, upon reflection and group discussion we realized that overall we were satisfied with the outcome of the project, and would do very little differently. Perhaps the most important things the experience drove home for us were the importance of clear communication when collaborating with an institution, and when deciding what standards and processes to use in evaluation. We were especially satisfied that although the project did require a fairly high level of facilitation, it was successful in drawing people's interest without a verbal invitation on our part. We thus felt as though we had been successful in "activating" the artwork, and with more time and the same core concept, believe a similar project could be designed which would invite participation, be self-explanatory, and create documentation without the need for constant staffing.