NMAD Conducts Exhibit Testing with the National Museum of American History’s Spark!Lab

On July 31, 2018, the National Museum of American Diplomacy made its second visit to the National Museum of American History’s Spark!Lab to test content for its future exhibits. Museum visitors viewed four historical and current stories of American diplomacy and were invited to participate in a word association exercise. Over 500 visitors walked through the exhibit, and almost 250 surveys were taken. Of note:

  • Over 95% of visitors indicated foreign initiatives of development, democracy, and security are very important to the United States’ domestic economy and security.
  • There was a strong belief that promoting free speech in other countries is important to the United States’ interest.
  • A strong majority of participants saw diplomacy as “very important” to their home state. However, a handful of visitors did not see a connection between diplomacy and the prosperity of their home states. Understood in conjunction with the other data, this indicates visitors feel American diplomacy is important to the nation as a whole but less so to the economy of his or her particular region.
  • Visitors had some knowledge of current events related to the State Department, a good understanding of Consular Affairs, and the Department’s range of impact, but were confused about how it relates to military operations.

These strong emotional responses are a positive sign of the enthusiasm for our core themes and interest in American diplomacy and its impact. The exhibits that we tested are currently being developed in partnership with Smithsonian. The exhibit is scheduled to be installed in the National Museum of American Diplomacy Pavilion in late 2019.