Case Study: Building A Brand New Campus Tour With The Division of the Arts At UW–Madison

Taylor Gmahling


Marketing Representative

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is a picturesque college campus, resting in the heart of the state’s capital. Bordering Lake Mendota on one end and downtown Madison on the other, UW – Madison is a naturally attractive option for high schoolers deciding where to spend the next chapter of their life.

During the summer of 2018, we traveled to the Midwest to work with the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Arts Institute (recently renamed the Division of the Arts).

Why did the Division of the Arts at UW–Madison call us?

They wanted us to help them build an awesome arts-focused campus tour that would engage and especially appeal to prospective and incoming students.

Here’s the thing: the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s campus tour was already really great, but it didn’t do enough to specifically highlight the school’s arts departments. So, the division staff decided it was time to create a new tour – the Creative Campus Tour!

Staff had a simple goal for the Creative Campus Tour: to showcase all the arts offerings on campus with the goal of attracting new students to their programs.

Our creative consulting team was more than up to the task. After all, helping organizations build awesome one-of-a-kind tours from scratch is what we do best!

Abraham Lincoln sits atop Bascom Hill on the heart of UW – Madison’s campus.

A One-Day Workshop In Tour Design

Helping the team at the Division of the Arts develop the Creative Campus Tour required a full-day intensive workshop. Here’s a quick breakdown of our day on campus:

Part #1: Learning New Skills

We kicked off the day by teaching the UW team new skills and techniques to better engage with visitors in a meaningful way on tour.

We focused on our “5 Elements of a Hack “storytelling method and various activity design strategies (both of which we use IRL to create our own renegade museum tours!).

Here’s an excerpt from our CEO, Tasia Duske, about how our team modeled out-of-the-box Museum Hack-style tour activities for the Division of the Arts team during the workshop:

“On my mini-tour, I played a game with the workshop-ees in the Chazen Art Museum called #ShoppingforSellery (the name of the arts dorm building that houses the Arts’ Live-and-Learn-Community is Sellery Hall and pronounced like the vegetable celery). I paired everyone up and asked them to imagine they were chosen for a Sellery dorm room and they had to go shopping for dorm art with their partner AKA new roommate. They could use any art in the gallery with their partner and needed to come up with why they picked that together during their Sellery Shopping.”

📸: Mary Ladoni,  UW-Madison Division of the Arts

Part #2: Practice Makes Perfect

It is super important to us that everyone walks away from our workshops feeling confident in their ability to put their new skills into practice with a live audience right away!

How do we make this possible?

PRACTICE!

We encouraged everyone on staff to create their own personalized tour stop using our “5 Elements of a Hack” storytelling method and then share it out in front of their peers and our team for immediate feedback.

Through practice and feedback workshop-ees mastered the following:

  • How to use our methods of storytelling and engagement in the context of a university campus tour
  • How to use passion and personal experience in storytelling to create more engaging and meaningful interactions with new students
  • How to use pacing and other storytelling techniques to make every interaction with their audience dynamic and unique
  • How to use fun, interactive activities to keep their audience intrigued

Part #3: Building The Bones

Throughout the day we created and practiced ten different tour stops using our signature storytelling methods. These core ten will be the bones of the Creative Campus Tour.

After the workshop, our creative consultants continued to work with key staff members to finalize the Creative Campus Tour program.

We recently reached out to the dedicated team at the Division of the Arts at UW–Madison to find out how the Creative Campus Tour is going!

 

Check out what they had to say about their tour design workshop and how they’ve since used their new skills to create an awesomely unique experience for their future students!

“We had a great time hosting Tasia. Her energy and passion was refreshing and invigorating. We all enjoyed brainstorming and flexing our creative muscles together. I really valued how each workshop participant was required to create a tour stop/hack. It gave me confidence to see that if we could do that in an afternoon, we could surely develop the fully-fledged tour over the following few weeks! I also greatly valued the fact that we developed activities for the actual spaces we identified for the final version of the tour.

Since the first tour launched on September 1, 2018, we have held 9 tours, serving over 60 prospective students and campus visitors. We continue to work with our partners to develop the script, and have given our student tour guides the chance to take ownership over the content. The tour has generated buzz on campus on a higher administrative level as well, and one Dean has even mentioned the possibility of making the tour mandatory for all new arts students!”

We’re so thrilled to hear that the UW – Madison team had a great time working with and learning from Tasia! If you’re interested in developing your own signature tour, we can help! Check out https://museumhack.com/workshops/ for more information.

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