Social Impact Study

UA&M Receives IMLS National Leadership Grant to Expand Social Impact Study


The Utah Department of Heritage & Arts (DHA) is pleased to announce that the Utah Division of Arts & Museums’ Office of Museum Services has received a Museum National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. 

The federal grant is the first of its kind for DHA, and the first National Leadership Grant awarded in Utah in more than ten years. Co-authored by Liz Kinne with Grant Pro Group, the grant will enable the Office of Museum Services, in partnership with Thanksgiving Point, to expand on their pilot of the Social Impact Study, which ran from 2017-2019 and sought to measure changes to individuals in categories such as “Health and Wellbeing” and “Intercultural Competence” as they visited a selection of Utah museums. This new, nationwide research project will involve 30 museums from across the country as they investigate the social impact of their organizations on individuals in their communities. The $500,000 grant will fund the research project for three years, until 2023.

"As pillars of our communities, libraries and museums bring people together by providing important programs, services, and collections. These institutions are trusted spaces where people can learn, explore, and grow,” said IMLS Director Crosby Kemper. “IMLS is proud to support their initiatives through our grants as they educate and enhance their communities."


According to the results of our pilot Social Impact Study, museum visitation is correlated with statistically significant increases in health and well-being, intercultural competence, strengthened relationships, and continued education and engagement. We undertook this project with Thanksgiving Point — the Utah County nonprofit farm, garden, and museum complex that deployed a similar survey in 2015 — to help participating institutions better understand and serve their audiences and to develop a tool we can replicate for museums big and small. We were spurred on by Thanksgiving Point’s research and its recognition of the value and challenge of measuring social impact. With our help, eight museums used the “end of experience” survey, which measured 104 indicators of social impact and collected data from nearly 400 individual survey respondents who visited their “host” museum at least three times over three months. With these results, we are now working to create an adaptable social impact survey tool that will be available to all museums in the state. 

The 8 institutions participating in the study include:
Utah Museum of Fine Arts
Springville Museum of Art
Clark Planetarium
Brigham City Museum of Art & History
Tracy Aviary
Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art
Red Butte Garden

See Our Findings
Read Our Report

Our museums specialists collaborated on an article about the Social Impact Study in the May/June 2019 issue of Museum, the member magazine of the American Alliance of Museums. 

Read the Article


Emily Johnson
Field Services