Digital Strategy According to Museum Technology Conferences

Reading through Michael Parry’s comprehensive (and at times funny) slides from his Museums Australia 2015 talk Digital Strategy and Engagement Models reminded me of the rich vein of “what to do about digital in museums?” conference talks over the last few years. Museums and Web 2015 was particularly fertile, with a very active twitter conversation appearing under #MWchange. As was noted in Emily Kelly’s insightful museum educator’s takeaways from the conference:

“…one of the biggest threads of the conference was about how change is affecting our institutions… You’ll notice that “digital” wasn’t in that sentence, but it seems to me that organizational change is, at many institutions, being spearheaded by digital staff.”

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SFMOMA from above

three 18 three

Where I currently work (a fast expanding museum in downtown San Francisco) we’re building a lot of new things. There’s a multitude of initiatives across SFMOMA and, amongst all of those, my team is working on a new website, a new app, new onsite digital experiences and the new systems to support them. Over the last few months we’ve moved from the planning phase for many of these projects into the doing phase. I much prefer to be doing than planning, but doing without planning is seldom successful.

During all this planning, and especially budgeting, a strategy for scoping digital projects has emerged that I’m calling three 18 three. Put simply, when you are planning and budgeting a new digital initiative, don’t treat the launch date as the end date. The launch date is the beginning of three 18 three:

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Art making, viewing and collecting in the digital age

One Saturday night in late July I took part in a panel discussion “URL Meets IRL”, organised by the wonderful Willa Koerner, that dived into ideas of art making, viewing, and collecting in the digital age. I joined some really smart panelist and a very engaged audience to get into the history of making, collecting and conserving art as it careens into the digital age.

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How does a museum keep audiences interested when it’s closing its doors?

A few weeks ago I sat down with Pili Mitchell from the Interaction Consortium, a fantastic digital agency in Sydney, to begin to answer the question How does a museum keep audiences interested when it’s closing its doors for three years?

The museum I work for, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, is current closed and on the go until 2016. Which opens up an opportunity for innovation in the way a museum can provide a engaging program without a physical venue for people to visit, as well as allowing space for interesting digital experiments. In the following interview I try explain what it’s like to part of a project that includes building a…

…a seven-storey football field worth of art and storytelling in the middle of downtown San Francisco.

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Mash-up Culture Roundtable at SXSW 2014

ER&L (Electronic Resources & Libraries) organised a side event at the 2014 edition of South by South West SXSW that I was invited to be part of. It was called #ideadrop and ran as a series of live streamed talks and roundtables on themes that effect and influence the sector. I was part of a session called Mashup Culture put together by Jon Voss of Shift Design and History Pin. It sought to “explore the legal, technological and cultural framework which is creating new models of working with cultural assets in the context of mashup culture, and how libraries, archives and museums can lead the way”.

I kick off the session with a bit on my Oh So Criminal project, tune in below.



Where should you put a digital department in your museum?

Tate’s John Stack and I were featured in the most recent episode of Museopunks, the self-described “podcast for the progressive museum”. Entitled “Digital as a Dimension of Everything” it explores the questions that surround the role and placement of digital departments in museums. John talks about his experience as Head of Digital Transformation at Tate and I cover my recent experience at SFMOMA.

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A number of people have asked me why I left Sydney for San Francisco. Why my family and I left our close friends and family, Sydney’s warm climate and great food, and I left a job with a view of the Sydney Harbour Bridge to move to America. There are lots of different answers to that question, but the museum-centric one is “something old and something new”.

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On saying good bye

I haven’t had a chance to post here since leaving the Museum of Contemporary Australia (MCA) to take up the position as Head of Web and Digital Platforms at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA).

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