Date of Award

Spring 2021

Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Honors Bachelor of Arts




Dr. John Houston

Committee Member

Dr. MacKenzie Moon Ryan

Committee Member

Dr. Rachelle Yankelevitz


Using the participatory action research model, this study gathered preliminary data to determine the Cornell Fine Arts Museum’s (CFAM) current audience and lay the groundwork for future diversity and inclusion initiatives by assessing visitors’ experience of the museum and how it might be improved. Though the museum staff’s current practices closely resemble the research model, this is the first study to use it as a framework for conducting audience research alongside the staff. As this methodology is not common within the museum sphere, this study assessed the viability of participatory action research for further use within the field. The participatory action research model consists of a spiral structure detailing repeated instances of planning, taking action, observing, and reflecting from a general assessment of the main issue to a mutually beneficial solution. This study represents the first iteration in this process, and the method’s viability was tested based on this study’s ability to produce data that will be able to shift from one iteration to the next, therefore allowing CFAM to continue researching on their own. A two-phase survey initiative was created with CFAM to test the model. The results of the second public survey successfully generated data that CFAM can carry forward into the next planning stage of the larger diversity and inclusion project, demonstrating the effectiveness and adaptability of the method to be used within the museum field.


Dina Mack served as the fourth committee member.

Rights Holder

Lindsay Fulop