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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - Pacific Access Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Educational Administration and Leadership

First Advisor

Norena Badway

First Committee Member

Delores McNair

Second Committee Member

Carol Hackley

Third Committee Member

Dianne Runion


The purpose of this study was to analyze if, and if so, how, Smithsonian art museum administrators perceive their current Public Affairs strategies to create relationships that attract, educate, and retain Young Cosmopolitans (YoCos). Using a qualitative approach, this study reported the findings from interviews with Public Affairs practitioners, museum educators, and museum webmasters at five Smithsonian art museums, galleries and affiliates. YoCos were defined as well-educated young adults who are pan-cultural. The study found six cross-case themes. Participants in the study generally agreed about defining YoCo characteristics and reported varying degrees of interest in attracting YoCos. Some of the museums in the study used a variety of social and educational activities to convey their interest in YoCos, including late evening events and programming. While most of these organizations expressed the belief that today's YoCo was a potential donor of tomorrow, museums will also have to adapt their Social Networking/Web 2.0 tools in order to attract more YoCos to the museum setting. Currently, museums have made little effort to adapt their publicity or educational activities to the preferences of YoCos. Using frameworks from The Model of Contextual Learning (Falk and Dierking) and Relational Dialectics (Baxter and Montgomery), the study found that even when museums place a high priority on establishing relationships with YoCos, those relationships will not be static. Museums will need to continually re-define Public Affairs strategies including buzz and viral marketing, Social Networking/Web 2.0 tools, Bluetooth text messaging and more traditional forms of advertising for YoCos, to retain this demographic long enough to share educative experiences. The study concludes with recommendations for museums to build stronger and more communicative relationships with YoCos.





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