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Mixing It Up with Media at SFMOMA

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Closing keynote given at the Museum Educators of Southern California Summer Workshop on June 25, 2010. It starts with a nod to John Seely Brown and his wisdom about solution confusion in rapidly changing technological times, then explores the boundaries between traditionally siloed museum departments that are merging/under threat in this new environment. From there a brief history of the role for new media interpretation in museums (art and otherwise), a summary of the Visual Velcro idea, and the role of mobile multimedia in supplying hooks to the hookless. Finally a summary of "Making Sense of Modern Art Mobile," and the implications of taking on publication and distribution of a mobile tour in-house. Ends with future plans and questions about the integration of social media in such publications.

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Mixing It Up with Media at SFMOMA

  1. 1. Peter Samis Associate Curator Interpretation SFMOMA Mixing It Up with Media @ SFMOMA Museum Educators of Southern California Summer Institute Los Angeles June 26, 2010
  2. 2. Today we are at… the Epicenter of Confusion!
  3. 3. Opportunity comes fraught with peril: Old structures are dissolving… © Nathan Johansen, Wachovia Implosion, Atlanta
  4. 4. Ask John Seely Brown, prof at USC…
  5. 5. No wonder he calls himself “The Chief of Confusion!”
  6. 6. For example, at SFMOMA
  7. 7. even as we prepare to design & build… we’re breaking down boundaries
  8. 8. Between departments… <ul><li>Between galleries and social spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Between social spaces & knowledge spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Between exhibitions… & Live Culture </li></ul><ul><li>Between professional & public spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Between what has been hidden and what will be visible </li></ul>
  9. 9. And that’s just talking about the Physical Building.
  10. 10. There’s a whole other kind of dissolution going on…
  11. 11. lands between departments. At the Boun dary
  12. 12. Marketing/PR Media Arts Interactive Educational Technologies Web Publications Architecture & Design
  13. 13. For instance, take our blog…
  14. 14. <ul><li>Which department publishes what? </li></ul><ul><li>Is our blog a community voice or a PR Voice? </li></ul><ul><li>(Could it be both without betraying our existing community? One blog or two… why not four?) </li></ul><ul><li>Who produces video? Anyone? Everyone? </li></ul><ul><li>How long will the scholarly catalog survive? </li></ul><ul><li>Will new forms supplement or supplant it? </li></ul>We’ve been asking questions like:
  15. 15. <ul><li>Curatorial walltexts, extended labels, catalogs </li></ul><ul><li>— > </li></ul><ul><li>Education public programs with guest speakers —> </li></ul><ul><li>Mktg & PR placements —> </li></ul><ul><li>IET mobile multimedia, kiosks & Web features, YouTube or ArtBabble videos </li></ul><ul><li>Ed/Web invited blog corps </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter, Facebook, flickr groups </li></ul>Right now the digital grows out of— and augments—the analog, across museum functions: Analog Digital
  16. 16. Does a new central structure emerge, encompassing all things digital? Was there a department of pencils in the old museum? … or is it small parts loosely joined?
  17. 17. [That said, there are economies of scale: think digital infrastructure.]
  18. 18. lands Boun dary We’re in the .
  19. 19. How did we get here? Once, not so long ago…
  20. 20. Educational technologies were there to supplement the White Cube of the gallery.
  21. 21. <ul><li>Physical aspects </li></ul><ul><li>Process of its making </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships (to its maker, to ideas, to other works) </li></ul><ul><li>Documents (journals, letters, sketches) </li></ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul><ul><li>Methods of approach and understanding </li></ul>Modern art—like all the objects we exhibit —exists in a framework of meanings.
  22. 22. Of these, art museums typically strip away all but one or two. <ul><li>Process of its making </li></ul><ul><li>Relationships (to its maker, its time) </li></ul><ul><li>Documents </li></ul><ul><li>Media </li></ul><ul><li>Methods of approach and understanding </li></ul><ul><li>Physical aspects </li></ul>
  23. 23. Somewhere along the line that left us to restore the context. Experts … … … … …… Novices
  24. 24. Enter docents, & digitally speaking, the kiosk or Web feature
  25. 25. <ul><li>The ability of an image or object to grab you, stop you in your tracks, reach down into you, and stay with you. </li></ul>Visual Velcro
  26. 27. Some things have velcro even though they look clean and polished… Mirrors, for instance. Olafur Eliasson show, MoMA
  27. 28. Or even moreso, “The Bean.” 36,961 images on flickr. [These 5 by Ken Ilio.]
  28. 29. Different objects have different hooks suited to them… urbanmkr , ...in our borrowed tackle box
  29. 30. When there’s no velcro, we supply the hooks. [used by Wayne Gretzky as a child]
  30. 31. And interpretive resources make a real difference: (Statistics courtesy Randi Korn & Associates)
  31. 32. So that is one clear vocation we have as educator-interpreters. Next question: when & how to deliver?
  32. 33. When do visitors want to know most about a work on exhibit? [my hypothetical view]
  33. 34. Enter: the mobile tour.
  34. 35. 2010: A rare opportunity to focus on the permanent collection
  35. 36. Bringing it all back home. <ul><li>Developed more than 135 add’l stops & 75 sub-levels </li></ul><ul><li>Purchased and adapted previous Antenna content </li></ul><ul><li>Totals well over six hours of content on all 5 floors </li></ul><ul><li>Mix of voices & perspectives </li></ul><ul><li>Publish on demand NOUSguide CMS software </li></ul><ul><li>Offered FREE to our visitors </li></ul>
  36. 37. Drawing on the Audio-Video archive <ul><li>Ansel Adams * </li></ul><ul><li>Robert Arneson * </li></ul><ul><li>Matthew Barney * </li></ul><ul><li>Vija Celmins * </li></ul><ul><li>Chuck Close * </li></ul><ul><li>Bruce Conner * </li></ul><ul><li>Imogen Cunningham * </li></ul><ul><li>Jay DeFeo * </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Diebenkorn * </li></ul><ul><li>Marcel Duchamp * </li></ul><ul><li>Felix Gonzalez-Torres * </li></ul><ul><li>Dan Graham * </li></ul><ul><li>Philip Guston * </li></ul><ul><li>David Ireland * </li></ul><ul><li>Chris Johanson * </li></ul><ul><li>Frida Kahlo * </li></ul><ul><li>Ellsworth Kelly * </li></ul><ul><li>Jeff Koons * </li></ul><ul><li>Dorothea Lange * </li></ul><ul><li>Sol LeWitt * </li></ul><ul><li>René Magritte * </li></ul><ul><li>Brice Marden * </li></ul><ul><li>Barry McGee * </li></ul><ul><li>Nicholas Nixon * </li></ul><ul><li>Robert Rauschenberg * </li></ul><ul><li>Ed Ruscha * </li></ul><ul><li>Robert Ryman * </li></ul><ul><li>Doris Salcedo * </li></ul><ul><li>Richard Serra * </li></ul><ul><li>Kiki Smith * </li></ul><ul><li>Kara Walker * </li></ul><ul><li>Andy Warhol * </li></ul><ul><li>Edward Weston * </li></ul><ul><li>* Stop contains audio or video of the artist </li></ul>
  37. 38. [Also online for your use at www.sfmoma.org/explore]
  38. 39. Videos, yes…
  39. 40. But first & foremost, audio… Crafting commentary for just-in-time use, when visitors need it most, in the gallery.
  40. 41. Sub-levels allow you to Go Deeper.
  41. 43. Followed by a Guest Take in the tradition of SFMOMA Artcasts: Cellist Zoe Keating
  42. 45. <ul><li>Create our content when we want to </li></ul><ul><li>… and own the rights to it when we do </li></ul><ul><li>Choose which exhibitions to cover—with visitor experience trumping profitability </li></ul><ul><li>Engage Guest Take commentaries & creative responses from the community </li></ul><ul><li>And in the future: </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for download or streaming to personal devices </li></ul><ul><li>Potential for 2-way dialogue with visitors </li></ul>Transition to Making Sense of Modern Art M obile
  43. 46. <ul><li>Research </li></ul><ul><li>Scripting </li></ul><ul><li>Design </li></ul><ul><li>Production </li></ul><ul><li>Deployment </li></ul><ul><li>Distribution </li></ul><ul><li>Upkeep </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluation </li></ul>WARNING: Bootstrapping in the Mobile space may be harder than it appears! with a little help from our friends… Substantial added responsibilities…
  44. 47. 2 primary creative partners/collaborators: <ul><li>NOUSguide, Vienna Earprint, San Francisco </li></ul>
  45. 48. In-house buy-in: changes & adjustments <ul><li>CURATORIAL: Recording conversations among colleagues in the galleries </li></ul><ul><li>IT: Reconfiguring the Wi-fi network for updates </li></ul><ul><li>DESIGN: New object label templates </li></ul><ul><li>VISITOR SERVICES: Adding distribution duties & staffing </li></ul><ul><li>MARKETING & COMM: Promoting to our visitors </li></ul><ul><li>FINANCE: Renouncing revenue from tour sales… at least for starters </li></ul><ul><li>DEVELOPMENT: Fundraising for sustainability </li></ul>
  46. 49. Takeaways from the Team: <ul><li>People love the “ go deeper ” option—especially after a short top level. </li></ul><ul><li>Casual & conversational is a good tone… 1st person, too </li></ul><ul><li>Focus groups say they don’t want to hear from “ any Joe Schmoe ” </li></ul>
  47. 50. Next Steps/Some options to explore: <ul><li>Analyze logs & do thorough visitor evaluation </li></ul><ul><li>Add navigation options including wayfinding & bookmarking </li></ul><ul><li>Add Family Tour , more music, & Guest Takes </li></ul><ul><li>Offer channels through this rich content mix </li></ul>
  48. 51. Robert Rauschenberg, Trophy IV (For John Cage) , 1961 Some things a visitor can’t do… or see:
  49. 52. So we’ve brought the audio tour function in-house and made it multimedia.
  50. 53. <ul><li>How do these authority voices tie in with visitor construction of meaning? </li></ul><ul><li>How are they tied in fruitfully with blogs & social media? </li></ul><ul><li>How do community voices come back to us? </li></ul><ul><li>Who’s curating whom? </li></ul>But that still leaves questions:
  51. 54. And does all this have to happen at once?
  52. 55. Capability - Maturity Model <ul><li>Initial phase: “heroic” </li></ul><ul><li>Managed phase: “1-deep” </li></ul><ul><li>Defined phase: Processes in place </li></ul><ul><li>Quantitatively managed: metrics </li></ul><ul><li>Optimizing: metrics feed back into system </li></ul>Don’t skip the steps. Just set your sights on the step you’re at, and the next.
  53. 56. “ I’m gonna learn about Technology and he’s gonna learn about Education .” The Two Jasons
  54. 57. That’s enough for now. Let’s talk.
  55. 58. www.sfmoma.org/explore Peter Samis San Francisco Museum of Modern Art [email_address]

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