Holiday Gift

Few people are really spending time investigating professional reading at this pre-New Year moment. However, for anyone who stumbles across this, here’s a Holiday gift.

In November I had the opportunity to hear Nina Simon’s keynote address at the NAMP conference in Charlotte. While several others (notably Ian David Moss in Createquity) have already pointed to her presentation about the transformation of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, it is worth duplicating here if you have not seen it. The video is of Ms. Simon’s TEDx Santa Cruz Talk, a version of what she did in Charlotte. In it she presents two basic principles that have supported the transformation of the MAH. First is inviting active participation. Not just comment cards but meaningful, substantive contributions to the work of the museum. Second is viewing the museum’s artifacts as “social objects”–means of stimulating conversation (and eventually relationships) among museum visitors.This need not simply be a museum-specific phenomenon. Works of performing art can also be contextualized to foster communication among audience members before, after, and occasionally during–think “twitter seats”–performances.

I would argue that an underlying value that makes these two principles work is respect for those who come into the museum. It also appears to me that Ms. Simon is making practical application of the construct developed by Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center of the museum as Container, Connector, Convener, and Catalyst for community improvement. The video is good fun, inspiring, and thought-provoking. Take a look.

Enjoy . . . and engage!


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