4 Important Membership Trends Every Museum Needs to Consider

Connection Cafe

It’s 2019, and a whole lot is changing in the museum and nonprofit world. That’s not to mention how strained museums already are in terms of resources. According to the American Alliance of Museums, the average museum has 6 volunteers for every paid staff member , a ratio which s oars to 18:1 in museums with budgets under $250,000. Adding to this equation, more museums are starting to unionize.

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Generational Giving at Arts & Cultural Organizations – A Donor Story

Connection Cafe

You gravitated toward the museum, zoo, gallery, symphony, cultural management organization because of your roots. Instead of an event, create a little scavenger hunt for kids to complete as they walk through your historic mansion or art museum, to make it fun for kids to explore and learn. Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh created a Summer Adventure program. As kids become teens, encourage them to volunteer with your organization.

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Year Three as a Museum Director. Thrived.

Museum 2.0

I''ve now been the executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History for three years. When I look back at some recent projects that I''m most excited about (like this teen program ), I realize that I had very little to do with their conception or execution. We talk a lot at our museum about empowering our visitors, collaborators, interns, and staff by making space for them to shine. We work hard to name and build our culture in many ways.

Games and Cultural Spaces: Live Blog Notes from Games for Change

Amy Sample Ward

Ruth Cohen – American Museum of natural History. Jason Eppink – Museum of the Moving Image. Trying to engaged the teen-to-twenty-something who normally may not use the research library. Ruth Cohen – American Museum of natural History. We are trying to change the visitors’ experience at the museum as well as ownership of what is in the museum, break down the walls between the public and the museum.

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The Participatory Museum, Five Years Later

Museum 2.0

This week marks five years since the book The Participatory Museum was first released. I wrote The Participatory Museum for two reasons: to explore the "how" of participatory design in museums, cultural centers, libraries, and science centers to create a version of this blog that was more "shareable" with organizational leaders and trustees By many measures, the book has been a success. I''m curious to know: has The Participatory Museum played a role in your work?

Why Are So Many Participatory Experiences Focused on Teens?

Museum 2.0

Over the past year, I've noticed a strange trend in the calls I receive about upcoming participatory museum projects: the majority of them are being planned for teen audiences. A large number of the collaborative projects of which I'm aware (in which staff partner with community members to co-develop exhibits or programs) are initiated with teens. Why are teens over-represented in participatory projects? Teens are a known (and somewhat controllable) entity.

How Different Types of Museums Approach Participation

Museum 2.0

Recently, I was giving a presentation about participatory techniques at an art museum, when a staff member raised her hand and asked, "Did you have to look really hard to find examples from art museums? Aren't art museums less open to participation than other kinds of museums?" In my travels and research, I've seen all kinds of museums be incredibly successful--and incredibly uncomfortable--with visitor participation. Projects participatory museum

The Next Generation of Major Donors to Museums: Interview with David Gelles

Museum 2.0

Last week''s New York Times special section on museums featured a lead article by David Gelles on Wooing a New Generation of Museum Patrons. In the article, David discussed ways that several large art museums are working to attract major donors and board members in their 30s and 40s. David describes himself as a "museum brat." David introduced me to one of my museum heroes (and his godmother), Elaine Heumann Gurian. Museums have a lot of work to do.

Six Alternative (U.S.) Cultural Venues to Keep an Eye On

Museum 2.0

I've been spending time recently interviewing people who run unusual cultural and learning venues. From a museum perspective, I think there's a lot to learn from these venues' business models, approach to collecting and exhibiting work, and connection with their audiences. In the past, I've highlighted a few--like 826 Valencia and the Denver Community Museum --that I think have already influenced the way many traditional cultural organization do business.

Museums and Relevance: What I Learned from Michael Jackson

Museum 2.0

By a strange and lucky coincidence, I was at the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum (EMPSFM) in Seattle for a two-day workshop. EMPSFM is one of a handful of museums worldwide for which the death of the King of Pop is a very big deal. They staffed talk-back tables where visitors could write on butcher paper, and outside the museum, they put out boxes of sidewalk chalk to invite people to share their thoughts. Do these teens need EMPSFM to survive?

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Self-Censorship for Museum Professionals

Museum 2.0

There are lots of things visitors can’t do in museums. But what about the things that museum professionals can’t (or feel they can’t) do? This week at the ASTC conference, Kathy McLean, Tom Rockwell, Eric Siegel and I presented a session called “You Can’t Do That in Museums!” in which we explored the peculiarities of self-censorship in the creation of museum exhibitions. Science is political, and science museums have a hard time grappling with that fact.

Teenagers, Space-Makers, and Scaling Up to Change the World

Museum 2.0

This week, my colleague Emily Hope Dobkin has a beautiful guest post on the Incluseum blog about the Subjects to Change teen program that Emily runs at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History. Subjects to Change is an unusual museum program in that it explicitly focuses on empowering teens as community leaders. One of the reasons Emily took this approach was based on what we saw in the ecology of teen programs.

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Guest Post from Museums and the Web: Bryan Kennedy

Museum 2.0

Thanks to Bryan Kennedy from the Science Museum of Minnesota for providing this overview/reflection on the Museums and the Web conference that recently concluded in Montreal. I was particularly interested in the ECHO project and Bryan's comments about the lack of in-house technical staff in museums and how that affects ability to innovate. Museums and the Web 2008 guest blogger Bryan Kennedy here. The Walker Art Center is turning its teen website over to the teens.

Crowd Fundraising for the Arts: No Running, Walking, or Freezing Plunges Required

Connection Cafe

After jumping in, you swam across the short length of the hole (about 10 yards), and emerge, wet and freezing, only to get to race through temps in the teens to try to warm up in a lukewarm hot tub. Museums, zoos, and aquariums are finding that crowdfundraising can be a strategic tool to add to their fundraising playbook. Here are 3 arts and cultural organizations that have given crowd fundraising a go for compelling causes: National Air & Space Museum.

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Community Science Workshops and Shared Authorship of Space: Interview with Emilyn Green

Museum 2.0

The people were of all ages--moms with babies strapped to their fronts, six year-olds using skillsaws, pre-teens building robots, teenagers doing homework. There are lots of great science museum resources, but not where these kids can walk after school. Do you think there is also a cultural/ethnic aspect to the kind of access and design you use? Any big museum has barriers and limitations to full community ownership.

Come Work With Us at MAH as School Programs Coordinator

Museum 2.0

But this job is really important to the future of our museum, and I’m hoping that you or someone you know might be a great fit for it. We are hiring for a School Programs Coordinator to wrangle the 3,500+ students and their teachers who come to the museum every year for a tour and hands-on experience in our art and history exhibitions. We see this job as a starting point for someone who is cheerfully obsessed with the future of museum education. I know, I know.

Games and Cultural Spaces: Live Blog Notes from Games for Change


The speakers for this panel include: Tracy Fullerton - Electronics Arts Game Innovation Lab Ruth Cohen - American Museum of natural History Elaine Charnov - The NY Public Library Jason Eppink - Museum of the Moving Image Syed Salahuddin - Babycastles Elaine Cohen: The New York Public Library 100 Years of the flagship library in New York. Trying to engaged the teen-to-twenty-something who normally may not use the research library.

Using Social Bridging to Be "For Everyone" in a New Way

Museum 2.0

Like a lot of organizations, my museum struggles with two conflicting goals: The museum should be for everyone in our community. At the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History , we''re approaching this challenge through a different lens: social bridging. Visitors now spontaneously volunteer that "meeting new people" and "being part of a bigger community" are two of the things they love most about the museum experience. Museum of Art and History programs social bridgin

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Does Community Participation Scale to Destination Institutions?

Museum 2.0

Our entire strategy at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is rooted in community participation. We invite diverse locals to share their creative and cultural talents with our greater community at the museum. Teens advocating for all-gender bathrooms. Does community participation work for big cultural destinations too? My museum can pursue radical collaboration because of our small size and local focus. The same is true for cultural participation.

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17 Ways We Made our Exhibition Participatory

Museum 2.0

It made me think in ways that I haven't before about the relation of art--as expressive culture--to democracy. Helene Moglen, professor of literature, UCSC After a year of tinkering, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History is now showing an exhibition, All You Need is Love , that embodies our new direction as an institution. The inclusion and prominence of amateur art in the museum makes a complicated statement that is worth a whole other blog post.

Temple Contemporary and the Puzzle of Sharing Powerful Processes

Museum 2.0

Looking closer, I saw that each seat had its own handwritten label, telling the story of the Philadelphia cultural institution from which it originated. Every other year, they convene TUPAC, a group of 35 outside advisors, including teens, college students, Temple University professors, artists, philanthropists, and community leaders. design participatory museumThe first thing I noticed about Temple Contemporary were the chairs.

Making Participatory Processes Visible to Visitors

Museum 2.0

Let's say you spend a year working with a group of teens to co-create an exhibition, or you invite members and local artists to help redesign the lobby. The exhibition or program is of high quality, and from the visitor perspective, it may look like museum as usual. Last week I saw a powerful example of this at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg in their exhibition for children under five. youth exhibition participatory museum interactives

Framework vs. Sensibility: Separating Format from Voice

Museum 2.0

I was talking this week with Mark Allen, the founder of Machine Project (an alternative arts space in LA), about different models for community engagement in cultural institutions. A museum can be friendly, or serious, or funny, while maintaining a traditional relationship with visitors as consumers of experiences. Community galleries look old-fashioned because citizen curators aspire to emulate the most traditional vision of a museum possible. participatory museum

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Six Steps to Making Risky Projects Possible

Museum 2.0

Unsurprisingly, some of my favorite museums are small, funky places run by iconoclasts—but that’s not useful to most professionals who work for organizations in which they have little control over size or leadership matters. Third, you need to align your idea with institutional culture. I used the example of two very different exhibitions that solicited visitor-contributed content: Playing with Science at the London Science Museum, and MN150 at the Minnesota History Center.

Teenagers and Social Participation

Museum 2.0

Last week, I gave a talk about participatory museum practice for a group of university students at UCSC. During the ensuing discussion, one woman asked, "Which audiences are least interested in social participation in museums?" I immediately flashed to my work with art museums and staff members' concerns that older, traditional audiences will shy away from social engagement in the galleries. Many teens love to perform for each other.

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What Does it Really Mean to Serve "Underserved" Audiences?

Museum 2.0

Diane is both visionary and no-nonsense about deconstructing the barriers that many low-income and non-white teenagers and families face when entering a museum. Most large American museums are reflections of white culture. There are expectations around what people wear, what they can and can't do, and how they relate to each other that may be comfortable for whites while feeling alien for people who don't grow up in a white culture.

Eight Other Ways to "Connect with Community"

Museum 2.0

Last month, the Christian Science Monitor published an article entitled, "Museums' new mantra: Connect with community." It took me a couple weeks (and various museum blog responses ) to realize what bugs me about this article--it treats "connecting with community" as a marketing ploy, a "mantra" rather than a mission. While there is much talk about supporting participation and making museum content relevant, the word "community" hangs like a poorly-defined carrot on a shtick.

Meditations on Relevance, Part 3: Who Decides What's Relevant?

Museum 2.0

One of my favorite comments on the first post in this series came from Lyndall Linaker, an Australian museum worker, who asked: " Who decides what is relevant? Community First Program Design At the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History , we've gravitated towards a "community first" program planning model. Here are two examples: Our Youth Programs Manager, Emily Hope Dobkin, wanted to find a way to support teens at the museum.

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Book Club Part 6: Getting People in the Door

Museum 2.0

This week, thoughts on Chapter 12 of Elaine Gurian’s book Civilizing the Museum , "Threshold Fear: Architecture program planning." I chose to include this chapter, despite overlaps with Chapter 11 ( Function Follows Form ) and Chapter 13 ( Free At Last ), because the term “threshold fear” is an important one—not just for visitors, but for museums as well. Elaine starts by detailing a series of fears and the potential audiences who reject museums because of them.

Book Club Part 3b: Talking Institutional Change with Elaine Gurian

Museum 2.0

On Tuesday, I reviewed Elaine Gurian’s essay, Choosing Among the Options , on museum archetypes and self-definition. Today, discussion with Elaine about ways museums choose their direction, how change is possible, and new museum types to be added to the list. What if you don’t want to be identified as one type of museum? There is a museum that did that--the Strong Museum in Rochester NY. They are art museums but they’re not about collection.

Equity in Arts Funding: We're Not There Yet. We're Not Even Close.

Museum 2.0

This week, the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy released a new paper by Holly Sidford called Fusing Arts, Culture, and Social Change. Sidford makes a clear, well-researched, and persuasive argument that "current arts grantmaking disregards large segments of cultural practice, and by doing so, it disregards large segments of our society." All of these questions and barriers are worth grappling with and debating among cultural practitioners.

Does Your Institution Really Need to Be Hip? Audience Development Reconsidered

Museum 2.0

Last Friday night, my museum hosted a fabulous (in my biased opinion) event called Race Through Time. When Friday night rolled around, we did see a crowd that skewed decidedly younger and hipper than our standard museum audience. Yes, there was the 40-ish lawyer who effused that she'd never seen so many young people in the museum before. Performances just for teens. Late night mixers at museums for young adults. Museums are not for specific crowds alone.

Betting on Braincake: Interview with Jen Stancil

Museum 2.0

Last week, Elaine Gurian and I talked about radical change in museums. Former museum start-up queen, Jen is taking a small organization whose goal is to promote girls’ involvement in math and science through research and programming to new, innovative, exciting places. Braincake isn’t some fakey attempt to pander to teens. It reflects the GMSP’s—and Jen’s—commitment to creating a set of programs by and for its audience: teen girls. Museums have a dual challenge now.

Are the Arts Habit-Forming?

Museum 2.0

Maybe it's a live music concert, or a museum visit, or a play. Museums and other venues are offering special programs for teens, for hipsters, for people who want a more active or spiritual or participatory experience. Sometimes these innovations are woven into the institutional core programming, as at the redesigned, highly interactive Oakland Museum of California. What are museums and arts institutions doing to tap into these forms of motivation?

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Don't Talk to Strangers? Safety 2.0

Museum 2.0

The recent flurry of restrictions that has sent teens fleeing? into the museum is the potential to encourage more positive in-museum interactions among strangers. I want in-person museum experiences to be more like experiences on social sites like Flickr, where strangers connect and form relationships around content. By the standard set by a culture that judges MySpace as dangerous, perhaps these in-person interactions are even MORE dangerous.

Let's Stop Talking about What People Need

Museum 2.0

How many times have you heard this phrase in the context of cultural institutions? It''s presumptuous to suggest that we know what people "need" in a cultural context. Very, very few museum visitors are in the "dog and baby" category. It is incredibly valuable for cultural institutions to present experiences that might be surprising, unexpected, or outside participants'' comfort zones. It''s depressing to imply that culture is not what people "want."

Sustaining Innovation Part 3: Interview With Sarah Schultz of the Walker Art Center

Museum 2.0

This post features an interview with Sarah Schultz, a museum staffer at one of the institutions Light profiled in the book (the Walker Art Center). It's easier to secure grants for community-based programming or exhibitions, but it's not easy to get funding for some of the core work that museums do. In the 1990s, we decided we wanted to engage a teen audience. We created a teen arts council, invested in staff, and invested in programming.

Pokemon Go and Nonprofits

Beth Kanter

It became an overnight viral sensation and cultural phenomena. Museums , gardens, and parks have jumped on it. As a parent of two teens, I was curious if there were any potential safety issues to discuss with them or if they had downloaded or wanted to play. Pokemon Go , the latest installment in the best-selling Pokémon video game series, launched as a smartphone app using augmented reality.

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What's a Virtual Visitor Worth?

Museum 2.0

Every museum has a number for its operating cost per visitor. Most museums don't strategically set this number--too many operating costs are fixed by building needs--but they can use it to assess how expensive each visitor interaction is and evaluate the efficacy of programs. Many museums are trying to think strategically about how to maximize value online in serving visitors. How much do we value bringing global cultures and opinions into our institution? $5.33.

When in Your Life Were You Most Afraid to Talk to Strangers?

Museum 2.0

For me, the experience changed my perspective on what teens want from social environments and encounters. Frequently, when cultural professionals talk about making museums and libraries more open to young people, we focus on social events and on the idea that these are people who would really LIKE to interact with others in the cultural space. This is a cultural thing. Yesterday, I did a workshop with some local teenage girls in an after school program.

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The Birth of a Field: Digital Media and Learning

Beth's Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media

This morning I attended the MacArthur Foundation Digital Learning briefing that was taking place at the Natural History Museum in NYC. Henry Jenkins notes that it isn't about the tools and that it was more about the culture growing up around the technology. "We are in a moment of time where 57% of teens produce and share media. Jenkins from MIT described something called "convergence culture." That's my avatar, I'm live blogging from Second Life.