Cathy Sigmond

Head of Strategy | Senior Researcher


Cathy has always been drawn to museums as places that stimulate curiosity and invite discovery about both the familiar and the unfamiliar. She came to RK&A in 2014 after several years working in history, science, and art museums. These experiences gave her a strong interdisciplinary foundation which she applies to her work with RK&A’s diverse array of clients. While adept at many research methods, Cathy particularly enjoys the rapid, iterative nature of design-based research and the deep insights that come from qualitative research. Cathy has been involved in a wide variety of RK&A’s projects since joining the firm, ranging from multi-phase exhibition evaluations to mixed-method program evaluations to evaluation capacity building projects. She is currently co-chair of the Museum Computer Network’s Human-Centered Design group and regularly guest lectures for graduate programs, including the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Exhibition and Experience Design program. Outside of work, you can usually find Cathy playing soccer or exploring DC’s live music scene.

Cathy Sigmond

Published Works, Select Articles By Cathy Sigmond

“The Many Shapes of Formative Evaluation in Exhibition Development”
Exhibition, 2019.
By Cathy Sigmond

This article describes the principles that underlie formative evaluation, showcases the range of ways museum practitioners can integrate formative evaluation into the exhibition development process, and considers how we might evolve and strengthen our traditional approaches to formative evaluation by drawing on similar areas of practice such as user experience design and information architecture.

This article first appeared in the journal Exhibition (Spring 2019) Vol. 38 No. 1 and is reproduced with permission. www.name-aam.org

Full Article


“Calm Technology in Museums.”
In Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference, 2019.
By Cathy Sigmond

Inspired by Amber Case’s keynote address at the Museum Computer Network 2018 conference, this essay describes the philosophy of calm technology, or non-intrusive design, and discusses it in the context of museums.  Cathy breaks down Case’s eight principles of calm technology and explores how museum professionals can apply them to designing museum experiences – both analog and digital – that best serve visitors.

This essay was first published in Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference (March 2019; ed. Ad Hoc Museum Collective) and is reproduced with permission. The full book is available online.  Hard copies may be purchased on Amazon (all proceeds go to the MCN scholarship program).

Full Article


“Using Critical Appraisal to Inform Program Improvement.”
Journal of Museum Education, 2017.
By Cathy Sigmond, Amanda Krantz and Theresa Esterlund

This article describes critical appraisal, a method applied by RK&A to help a museum’s education department make data-driven decisions about programming. It discusses the benefits and challenges of this method from the perspective of both the educator and evaluator to highlight its potential utilization for other museum educators.