About Telfair Museums

Telfair Museums, the oldest public art museum in the Southeast, have been an integral part of Savannah’s social landscape for over a century. The three Museums offer compelling expressions of visual culture – embracing three unique buildings (Jepson Center, Owens Thomas House and Telfair Academy) and three distinct collections that bridge three centuries of art and architecture in Savannah. Working independently, the museums offer a wide variety of activities and exhibitions, but management works collectively under one system. 



Telfair Museums needed an intergrated system that was more responsive in cataloging data from their POS systems as well as information about their customers, members and the museums themselves. Through their current flawed management system, which required both analog and digital methods of recording information, analyzing stats took too long and had frequent mistakes. This pinned a lot of responsibility on employees and created constant misunderstandings within the administrators of the museums. Despite the fact that the museums operate independently, we found there was a lack of daily communication between the three locations in relaying information based on sales and other metrics that affected the museums.



The project was accomplished through extensive research about the organization, frequent in person interviews, and both customer and employee observations. Such analysis allowed us to develop a deep understanding of the museums' needs which became the foundation for the metrics that were of most value for them to collect and visualize. Looking at the issue from various perspectives and through a series of co-creation sessions, we were able to synthesize and design an interactive version of how this dashboard could function. Intergrating existing data, and looking towards the future, we also developed key strategic insights that have helped Telfair Museums position themselves to successfully reach their long term goals and expand the mission and vision of the organization.


Field Research

We begun first by getting a sense of the environment in which the museums operated. We visited them all, first as incognito visitors, then as observers behind the scenes, and later as active observers to gather insights from all angles of the experience. Observing the situations broadly, gave us a good sense of how employers operated, how they interacted with the visitors, and how visitors perceived the museum.


Establishing a vision

Shauna, Manager of Visitor Services, became our main point of contact with the administrators at Telfair Museum. Learning about her position, we realized that as the visitor services manager, most of the issues with the system all fell on her. Having the responsibility to collect, analyze and structure all the data collected by their systems, was tedious and sometimes confusing. Having to later carefully explain to the museums' Director, Lisa Grove, who did not understand the current system nor knew how to use it, put pressure on her employees and herself to provide perfect records, and juggle computer and hand generated observations. These issues proved that there could be an opportunity for a different approach to managing information.

Expressing a deep interest in better understanding the museum culture, as a way to communicate strategic choices as well as their goals as an organization, we also helped Shauna develop a vision with long term objectives for the to museum establish:

Being a center for community engagement through the arts, through an innovative user-centric museum experience


  • Increase amount and activity of members in the museum
  • Increase community through returning members and new visitors becoming members
  • To continue to develop a community centered around the arts
  • Increase overall revenue to sustain the activities in the museum.
  • To communicate the professionalism and dedication of the institute through its customer service, and support services within the museums.
  • Promote the individual museum process streamlined for the community.
  • Enhance website information for the digital experience


Understanding the system

Working closely with Shauna, we learned our way around their systems. She walked us through all of the processes the museum goes through, such as issuing tickets, or collecting geographic information.  She also showed us what information they collect, and how it is analyzed and applied, and why it was important for them to collect it.

Observing how their current Alltru POS system worked and the interactions at play gave us a sense of where the root of the problem was. They were collecting a lot of good information but the system could not compare, summarize or visualize the data. Also, since not all data points were collected electronically but rather by hand, the analysis had to be done all by hand grabbing data points from different collections and comparing statistics to find correlations.

Observations and Insights

  • "Our main goal is to create a way for Lisa Grove to simply access information. To give her distance yet provide her with all the information she needs as quickly as possible".

  • Old metrics went into daily sheets, reported demographic, sales for the day (all had to be analyzed by hand).

  • A system is missing that consolidates a voice from the data collected.

  • Shauna cannot collect, overlay and synthesize data well enough to find out particular insights the museum needs.

  • A lot of oversight from administrators depends on trust, and partly luck.


Persona Development

Although the dashboard was intended for a managerial purpose, none of the managers at the museums had ever seen the experience of the museum in-depth from the eyes of the customer. To helo Shauna explain the customer experience to the directors and board members, we created two popular personas which could show them how external factors affected the customers experience and the decisions they took in the process.

Organizing data

After learning about the system and the experience, we sat down with Shauna to organize and discover the critical success factors for the museums. Critical success factors are a series of characteristics, conditions or variables that are necessary to ensure the success of a business. Taking a look at all of the existing data they had from previous years, we considered new methods of overlaying data or grouping it together to make it easier to understand. From revenue streams to customer opinions, we analyzed each specific factor carefully, and formulated a list of the most valuable ones for the museum to see in a dashboard and act upon for future success.


Defining Critical Success Factors

We asked Shauna to revise the list we developed with other Telfair managers, and decide which areas were most important to observe, and which other ones could uncover new insights. From the list we asked the administrators to collectively select the top 8 factors (from most to least) they believed were most valuable. This provided us with strong focus point as well as a level of hierarchy in which the information should be displayed on the dashboard. 

Below are the ones they selected.

1.  Managing Flow: Visualize the flow of visitors, how long they spend in museum, how often they visit it as well as how other factors (season,weather, special events) impact it.

2.  Events: Track the success and improvement of private events as well as those hosted by the museums.

3.  Visitor Satisfaction: Track and organize visitors experience and comments, before during and after visit. 

4.  Member satisfaction: Analyze behavior and activity of members as well as monitoring member growth

5.  Employee performance: Tracking and understanding employee behavior, interactions and performance.

6.  Marketing + Design : The way sales and success of each income sector impact marketing and its role for the Telfair museums.

7.  Internal expenditure : Managing and monitoring the allocation of the budget regarding Personnel, Marketing, Exhibitions, and Special Events rental.

8.  Maintenance: The upkeep and impact of maintenance regarding the museum experience.


Aligning metrics with strategy

We took these CSF's and revised them over Telfair Museums' mission, vision, values, and goals against the six perspectives of a Balanced Scorecard (BSC), a strategic planning and management tool used across industries to align business activities to an organization’s overall vision and business strategy.

Developing Key Perfomance Indicators




The KPI's are at the and provide a short term analysis of the museums' operations. Museum attendance and overall sales such as visits, 2-day passes, and memberships are updated in real time using existing infrastructure from the POS. Then these metrics are overlaid between the museums to begin visualizing charts that will allow for users to detect points or find correlations within the data.


The KRI area provides a long term overview of the museums incoming operations. A larger focus on business management and the financial data becomes available and  reliable indicators for the museums show results over longer periods of time, as well as comparisons based on previous days, weeks, months or years. Other metrics include, visitor locations, donations, and event turnout.


The Service Recovery dashboard provides the user with information for both a long and short term assessment. The goal is to keep an eye on the key metrics that affect the services which are integral to maintaining the quality and productivity of the three museums. Comments from visitors, museums expenses, as well as employee activity ensure the supervisors can recover and identify issues and foreshadow possible problems quicker.



With the help of managers, and visitor coordinators form the museums we designed two main dashboards, which together, form a comprehensive overview of Telfair Musesums' short and long term operations. Through this new dashboard Telfair Museums can increase productivity, reduce the effect of system failures and gain valuable insights in real time while allowing all locations to be connected, and access the information.


Created in collaboration with Jonathan Palacio, Austin Woodruff and Medini Cardenas. Mentorship by Xenia Viladas
A special thanks to Shauna Hicks, Manager of Visitor Services at Telfair Museums.