Museum ‘Money Bombs’?

29 02 2012

I’ve been thinking a lot about fundraising lately (it’s kind-of my job.) My organization (DAM Contemporaries) is  discussing, like so many others, how to effectively fundraise in a changing world. And I’m not just talking about the economic climate, although it’s certainly a central issue. I’m talking about crowd-sourcing.

We can no longer ignore the power of crowd-sourced fundraising. From the ongoing success of political candidates’ ‘money bombs’ to the meteoric rise of Kickstarter it’s time non-profits took notice and learned how to bridle this power for themselves.

Take Ron Paul: his January 2012 money bomb raised $1.7 million over just one weekend. That’s serious money.

Or take Kickstarter: it is expected to provide more funding to the arts than the NEA this year.* That’s serious funding.

While non-profits cannot utilize Kickstarter itself, what is keeping us from creating money bomb fundraising campaigns in the same vein as Kickstarter? Donors love to know where their money is going, and what better way to show them exactly what they are funding than to define a very specific project for them to contribute to, at whatever level they are comfortable with?

The underlying paradigm shift here is that we could be continuing to democratize the arts with this shift in fundraising, much as I’ve already talked about with curating.

Museum peeps, what are your thoughts? Should museums try to money bomb?

*Read about this particular topic on this blog post from Talking Points Memo.

Updated 3/8/12:

The American Association of Museums Trendswatch 2012 just came out with a feature on crowd-sourced fundraising, or as they call it ‘crowdfunding’. Check out the report here: You’ll find the article on crowdfunding on page 14.


21 Days and Counting!

24 02 2012

Today’s inspiration is brought to you by the delightful delicacies of traditional kaiseki cuisine, as pictured here by Amami Onsen Nanten-en. Kaiseki has its roots in the Japanese tea ceremony, and typically uses only the freshest seasonal ingredients presented in an artful balance of color, texture, and flavor. Yum! I found this article from The Atlantic describing the history and significance of kaiseki absolutely mountwatering!

And I’m thrilled that we’ll be visiting Nanten-en for a night after we visit Koyasan!

Artist Shenanigans Post 2

20 02 2012

Part of my job is to facilitate an artist lecture series, and as a result I get to meet artists from all around the world. Which is pretty cool.
On one particular afternoon I had the pleasure of picking up a world-renowned artist just in from San Francisco en route from Singapore.  He had installed a work for the Singapore Biennale and, as he often does when installing works, had picked up the habit of smoking. A habit his wife and kids would never stand for when he got home. However, knowing that his family would be upset, he quit smoking cold turkey during his two night stop over in San Francisco.
Typically, the drive from Denver International Airport into the city is a make or break point in establishing a rapport with my passenger. It’s 45 minutes of delightful conversation or awkward silence. On this day I hit it off with delightful conversation. I learned all about his tattoo: why he got it, why he shouldn’t have gotten it, and why he’s glad he did get it. I heard about the extreme climate where he lives, and why saunas are a necessity and not a luxury. (Who  knew?)
As we were wrapping up his A/V tech check he confided that he was, in fact, very nervous about speaking in front of a group. I was shocked. He asked if I could do him a huge favor: could I find him ONE cigarette to calm his nerves before the lecture? He insisted that I not buy him a pack, because he’d end up smoking the whole thing and he’d be back where he started before he detoxed in San Francisco. I agreed.

I dropped him off to change into his lecture clothes and went back to the museum, wracking my brain trying to remember which of my colleagues smoked. When I found one, I began explaining how I had this artist that wanted to smoke to calm his nerves, but before I could finish my story my colleague told me all she had were menthols. I took one. Unsure if he would want it, I continued to search for another smoker.
Oddly enough, I ran into one of my favorite major donors in the hallway. As we exchanged niceties I realized I was in luck: she’s a smoker! But how does one approach a major donor about bumming a cigarette? There was no course in graduate school about this particular issue facing museum professionals…
After thanking her for her generosity to the institution I began explaining my dilemma to her, and she waved her hand telling me to stop talking. “Dear,” she said, “If he wants one for before the lecture then he’ll certainly want one for afterwards too, even if he’s quit.” As she handed me two cigarettes she also gave me her spare lighter, politely pointing out that I’d need something to light them with. Not being a smoker, that detail hadn’t occurred to me.
Relieved, I headed straight for the auditorium to meet the artist before his lecture. He was beyond ecstatic to smoke before, and after, the lecture – just as our donor said.
The next day I returned the lighter to the donor, who assured me that if I ever had an artist that needed a smoke I could call her; day or night. Good to know!

To seed, or not to seed?

19 02 2012

It’s time to start thinking about what I want in my summer vegetable garden. I’m drawing up a map of my raised beds to chart out my vegetable garden: cool weather crops go where there’s easy access, warm weather crops are planted to take over the cool weather crops as the summer heats up, and taller crops go in the center of the raised beds.
I like to start many of my warm weather crops from seeds, and usually start them around St. Patrick’s Day so they are ready to go in the ground just after Mother’s Day. I’ve had great success with different varieties of tomatoes, peppers, beans, peas, etc., even edamame, this way.* I’m an advocate for starting from seeds and think every gardener should try it; it’s gratifying, you can keep them totally organic, and it’s very economical. I am still using packages of seeds I bought three years ago! I prefer Botanical Interests seeds; every one I’ve tried has been healthy, bountiful, and beautiful.

However, this year I’ll be out of the country for two weeks in April, unable to tend to the seedlings, which has me reevaluating my strategy. I’ll still plant my cool weather crops as always, but may purchase warm weather seedlings from a local nursery this year. I have a couple of wonderful local nursery’s with a good selection of tomatoes, melons, and peppers; even heirloom varieties if I’m feeling frisky! Or I may start my warm weather seeds mid-April when I get home, I would expect a delayed harvest but it may still be worth starting from seeds.

* Take note new gardeners: there’s no need to start cool weather crops inside (like lettuce, spinach, carrots, radishes, beets) they do best when the seeds are planted right in the ground. The same goes for voracious warm weather crops like squashes.

Is it spring yet?

18 02 2012

Okay, so spring isn’t here quite yet, but I’m starting to think about my spring garden and am doing a little routine maintenance.
Recently, I pruned my roses to approx. 12″ to promote healthy spring growth. A few of the older roses were pruned to 20″ to add height in my summer garden. I left the mulch mounded around the roses though, as we’ll certainly see freezing temperatures for a while.
I also pruned my maple tree’s new growth, nipping any stray branches growing towards the interior to allow for the tree to focus on outward and upward growth.
Early blooming hyacinths and tulips are beginning to break through the ground.
I love the signs that spring is coming!

The countdown continues!

17 02 2012

Today’s post is inspired by Kakko-Dango at Genbikei Gorge, Iwate Prefecture, Japan: known for its flying dumplings! The owners of this small kitchen send a basket across the gorge on a wire, customers place money in the basket and send it back. In just a few short minutes dumplings and green tea come back down the wire, over the gorge, just as they have done for over a century!

It’s only 21 days until the black-tie opening gala for Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective exhibition at the Denver Art Museum! I’m now more worried about this event (what to wear?!) than our trip to Japan, which is in…

28 days!

I can’t wait!

The Joys of My Job

15 02 2012

When I start to feel a bit more like a travel agent/personal assistant/paper-pusher than a ‘museum professional’ my colleagues invariably step in and remind me how cool it is to work at a museum. Yesterday my good friend and colleague in the technology department stopped by to say hi. We got to talking and he mentioned how much work he’s putting in to one exhibition in particular. Today I met my friend/colleague for a behind the scenes walk-through of the exhibition he’s been putting so much work into: Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective opening March 25, 2012 at the DAM!

My job is pretty cool after all. Oh, and the director or technology told me today: this exhibition is going to be off the chain! And he’s right. Don’t miss it.

Image credit: Black velvet sheath dress, Paris Rose Satin Bow, Paris Haute Couture Collection, Fall-Winter 1983. Photo Gilles Tapie. ©Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris.

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