Thesis vs. The-real-world

21 03 2013

It’s humbling to find that the research I was doing for my thesis three years ago was, in fact, relevant and timely. Props to my thesis committee chair Pat Kociolek for pushing me in the right direction! In this year’s Museums special section of the New York Times there are multiple articles addressing museums’ struggle to stay relevant with changing audiences. Especially art museums.

This article in particular caught my attention: “Museums look for ways to groom repeat visitors”.  So much of what I found in my research  is echoed in this article. I hope art museums listen; audiences are changing, and so are their expectations. Perhaps we in the art world should look more seriously at the success of science museums and aquariums. After all, are we really that different? I don’t think so.

And way to go Denver Art Museum for getting a shout out in the New York Times!

(^That’s the Denver Art Museum’s director, Christoph Heinrich!)





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: http://futureofmuseums.org/reading/publications/upload/TrendsWatch2012.pdf You’ll find the article on crowdfunding on page 14.





Would you see it?

1 12 2009

I came across this piece from the New York Times, “The Manly Art of Curating” and thought it was most certainly worth sharing.

This article looks at the new “Arts of the Samurai” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has brought in an otherwise lacking demographic to the museum; middle-aged men.  The tone of the article is not too serious, but the author brings up some very real museum issues – for instance, a question we all come up against, how do we entice under-represented audience segments?

The author also jokes about other potential exhibition themes which would bring in middle-aged men, which makes me wonder how seriously we should take these mock exhibitions… it’s fun to laugh off these ideas and joke about ‘what if’, but are these a viable direction institutions should be taking, or would they be sacrificing some level of integrity in doing so?

My favorite suggestion from this article is “Stuff that Blows Up”; who wouldn’t want to see that exhibition?!





How do you use ‘curate’?

20 11 2009

I will begin this experiment in blogging by presenting an article for thought and discussion: this article from the New York Times discusses the opening-up of the word ‘curate’ in popular culture. One excerpt I find particularly worth exploring is:

The word “curate,” lofty and once rarely spoken outside exhibition corridors or British parishes, has become a fashionable code word among the aesthetically minded, who seem to paste it onto any activity that involves culling and selecting. In more print-centric times, the term of art was “edit” — as in a boutique edits its dress collections carefully.

But now, among designers, disc jockeys, club promoters, bloggers and thrift-store owners, curate is code for “I have a discerning eye and great taste.”

To my mind this brings up two important issues:

One is that this is an open critique of the perceived authority of the museum and it’s curators. Which is ok by me.

However, the other issue I see here is that this could be a dangerous development in reinforcing the perceived elite status and ultimately establishing an authority among those who ‘curate’. As the final sentence of the quote points out ‘curate’ is evolving to mean ‘having great taste’.

What are your thoughts?








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