Recently, this new data from Pew Research Center caught my eye.
I looked at it and thought, hmmm, interesting. And wondered how museums would rank.
So I fielded it.
I did a "large test" sample of 501 individuals from the broader population, which is enough to make this generalized comparison (though if I wanted to nail it down more precisely, I'd add a thousand respondents).
Interesting. There's some good news here and some not-so-good news.
First, the good news. We are right up there with the highest things ranked organizations that Pew measured. And, even more importantly, our "negative" rating is A-MA-ZING. We demolished the competition because virtually no one said we were, uhm, bad.
But the not-so-good news is the "I don't know" response. Nearly half of respondents didn't know. They didn't have enough information to decide we were a net good or bad thing in our country. And I find that appalling. To be fair, the other organizations on the lists had "I don't know" responses too … but nowhere near ours. The closest one is "labor unions," with 27% saying "I don't know."
There's one more way to look at the data that makes museums look pretty good, however. It is a simplified version of the "net promoter score," in that we take the positives, subtract the negatives, and come up with a score that tells us if each thing, overall, is viewed as a net good or net bad thing for our country. So let's do that:
Churches and religious organizations: 52 - 29 = 23
Technology companies: 50 - 33 = 17
Colleges and universities: 50 - 38 = 12
Labor unions: 45 - 28: 17
Banks and other financial institutions: 39 - 39 = 0
Large corporations: 32 - 53 = -21
The national news media: 25 - 64 = -39
MUSEUMS: 50 - 4 = 46
In this scoring, museums crush everyone else. And this probably has a lot to do with how much we are trusted.
So celebrate this finding … but then double-down on our ongoing challenge of broadening our reach to that nearly half of the population that couldn't answer the question in the first place.
I respectfully acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional lands of the Duwamish people. I thank them for the care of this land, and I endeavor to help museums bring forward a more complete and inclusive history and culture in their work.