Archive for 2019

Guest post: Insights from NEW INC’s Museum Technology Track

News from the larger musetch community.

This month, we’re delighted to feature a guest post by NEW INC‘s Director Stephanie Pereira.

NEW INC Director Stephanie Pereira

NEW INC is the New Museum’s incubator for people working at the intersection of art, design and technology. We recruit about 100 members each year through an annual open call process, and through our program provide shared workspace, professional development, mentorship, and participation in an exceptional community.

For the past three years, a core part of our program has been our Museum Technology Track, funded by the Knight Foundation. Members in the Museum Technology Track are provided with a fully subsidized, year-long membership at NEW INC where they participate in field-specific workshops and guest lectures, and have access to mentorship and stipends to support research, prototyping and wider participation in the museum technology sector.

During year one of our Museum Tech track, we invited six teams to join the track program. As a group, we engaged in a field study where we traveled to three cities and met with over a dozen institutions to learn about how the museum sector uses technology. Through our travels, we met with museum leadership, educators, exhibition directors, IT staffers, and development and marketing teams to learn about both the successes and challenges of employing technology in a museum setting.

NEW INC MoversShakers-Detroit

Installation view of public AR video art series NEW INC member Movers and Shakers prototyped during Detroit Art Week with partner Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. The experiment was focused on testing the idea of getting digital media artworks and other items from current shows at MoCAD out into the city.

Our key insights from this initial research period revealed quite a bit:

  1. Feelings about technology are mixed. Many museum professionals we met with reported that they’d been burned by an over investment in software or hardware previously, and are often skeptical of tech offerings as a result.
  2. Technology is not a priority for resource strapped museums, especially when previous investment has not paid off.
  3. Museums have plenty of content, but don’t know how to serve it up to their audiences in a way that is meaningful. Ironically, many people we met with felt that their inability to engage their audiences was due to a lack of understanding of who their audiences are, and what they expect from a museum…which is an issue that could potentially be solved with technology.
  4. A depth of understanding on how technology can be used by non-technical museum staff is lacking. And even in the case of staff who are technologically fluent, there is often a gap that inhibits the successful integration of technology with museum mission and goals.

Building on our year one insights, during year two we pivoted the approach of our program so that our six teams would instead focus on partnering with a small or mid-sized museum to research, design and prototype accessible, off-the-shelf technology solutions. Over the course of year two, our teams partnered with 8 museums in 3 cities. We approached each museum partner with two key questions: What are your major barriers for using technology? What are your major barriers for engaging your audiences?

sticker driven audience research

Rendering of simple, sticker driven audience research methodology that NEW INC member Dome tested with San Jose Museum of Art.

As part of their research, one of our member teams interviewed museum staff from ten different institutions and their findings consistently pointed to this issue around lack of understanding in terms of audience. Additionally, across all our work during year-two, we discovered that “access” is a key concern for museums right now. Their own inquiry questions took ours a step further: How are museums better serving and reaching more diverse audiences? How can they use technology as a tool for scaling their reach?

Using these questions as a baseline for building and testing prototypes, our teams developed six products designed with small museum staff and budget resources in mind. As part of their work, we asked them to develop a case study sharing their process for research, development and testing of their work.

All six case studies are available on our website. Take a look and let us know what you think!

Stephanie Pereira, Director
NEW INC at the New Museum


Elect your 2020 SIG Chairs!


Each December, we ask the MCN community to elect the Chairs of our Special Interest Groups. SIGs, as we call them, are volunteer-led MCN members’ communities of practice that operate under the oversight of the MCN board and Executive Director. SIGs are organized around specific topics of interest or niche practice areas that reflect the diversity of the many technology and digital practices in the museum field (curious about how SIGs are governed? Read the SIG Charter).

SIG Chairs are all volunteers with a passion for their work and for helping their colleagues and the community around their specific practice area and beyond. This year, let’s thank Angie Judge, Keith Laba, David Garfinkel, Seema Rao, Alicia Viera, Ama Iromuanya, Alexis Light and Mark McKay for their service as they step down from their role.

As you review this year’s slate of candidates, you’ll notice 8 new faces ready to lead your SIGs next year.

Take a moment now through December 22, 2019 to elect your preferred chairs to lead our Special Interest Groups (SIGs) in 2020.

Eric Longo
Executive Director


Recaps and reflections on #MCN2019

Conference attendees enjoy an evening at the San Diego Natural History Museum


Every year, the conference comes and goes in what seems like a blur. Filled with thought-provoking sessions, fun evening events and hallway conversations with friends and colleagues, the conference is like drinking from a firehose of #musetech and #musesocial awesomeness. Sometimes, you need some time to process all of the amazing work you and your colleagues have shared with each other. You may also need time to decompress and reflect on the year that passed to get ready for what’s next.

#MCN2019 was no different and we are happy to see the many tweets and posts coming out of this year’s conference. Below we’ve tried to compile most of them but if we’ve missed anyone please do slide into our DMs and let us know!

Lori Byrd-McDevitt’s “5 a.m. airport thoughts on community, self-care, and the ever-supportive culture of Museum Computer Network”


Rachel Ropeik’s “Sustaining and Maintenance: Reflections on MCN2019 (aka MCN should always be in San Diego) “


Jeremy aka Porchrates on twitter dot com with, “MCN 2019 San Diego thoughts from the cool rock wall at the conference hotel”


Seema Rao’s “To my conference friends 2019”

Suse Anderson’s “Because they are hard… Reflections on #MCN2019”


And now for a little art break from @thisisaaronland 



A thread by Chad Weinard


And finally a word from our new President.

Thanks Mr. President, here’s the link to the survey!

Meet the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG

A visitor interacts with a table and collections items

A visitor engages with All At Once at the Williams College Museum of Art

Thanks to an ever-growing number of interactives, apps, and online platforms, museums can engage with their audiences in more ways than ever before.

With so many tools available, staff often find themselves discussing the role technology plays in visitor learning:

  • In what ways can technology help provide inclusive and accessible interpretation of the museum’s
  • How can digital media be used to connect with visitors both onsite and online?
  • What stories can the museum’s content tell and how can we create that content collaboratively?

Conversations around these topics are the central focus of the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG. As a community of practice, our mission is to build knowledge and skills around the planning and implementation of media and experiences that support visitor’s connections to collections and ideas. Through our messaging board on Basecamp and regular google hangouts, the group addresses the role of digital interpretation and educational tools in the museum.

Interested? Come join us! We’d love to hear about your experiences and learn from each other.


SIG Chair – Alicia Viera, Interpretive Planner, Detroit Institute of Arts

SIG Co-Chair Melissa Mair, Senior Interpretation Planner, Carnegie Museum of Art



Meet Class of 2019: MCN’s new Board members!


Join me in congratulating Alexis Light, Yvonne Lee, David Nuñez and Mark Osterman who have just been appointed to serve as Directors on the Board of MCN for a 3-year term effective this November.

The Board also appointed current board member Mitch Sava to serve as Vice-President in 2020 and succeed Matt Tarr as President in 2021.

Lastly, join me in extending our gratitude to Elizabeth Bollwerk (MCN President), Deborah Howes, Greg Albers, Darren Milligan and Lori Byrd-McDevitt, who will be stepping down in November. Thank you for the time, care and efforts, you each dedicated to making MCN a stronger organization over the past 3 years.

You will get a chance to see them in person as well as current and past MCN board members, in a couple of months in San Diego for MCN 2019. We hope to see you there.

Eric Longo
Executive Director

2019 Nominating Committee

  • Elizabeth Bollwerk, President
  • Matt Tarr, VP/President-Elect
  • Courtney OCallaghan, Director
  • Lori Byrd-McDevitt, Director
  • Eric Longo, Executive Director

Yvonne Lee

Head of Collection Information and Digital Assets | LACMA (Los Angeles, CA)

Yvonne Lee

In her current role at LACMA, Yvonne Lee oversees stewardship of the art administration systems and their data and provides strategic solutions for pluralistic user needs. Before joining LACMA, Yvonne served as Research and Data Manager at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission (now Department of Arts and Culture) administering arts data that balanced accuracy with sensitivity and inclusion to develop and implement policies for a diverse constituency of 10 million individuals.

In addition to serving on MCN’s Board, Yvonne is active with Los Angeles County’s Arts Datathon group and speaks regularly on data literacy in the arts, empowering cultural workers in the assessment of technology, and critically examining assumptions coded into prevailing data practices. She holds a B.A. in Art History from UC Berkeley and an MLIS in Archival Science from UCLA.

Alexis Light

Assistant Director of Communications & Marketing | Frick Collection (New York, NY)

Alexis Light

With over 17 years working in communications and marketing for arts and culture, and in her current leadership role at the Frick, Alexis brings expertise in public relations, marketing, and social media content strategy.


She received an M.A. in Modern Art, Connoisseurship, and the History of the Art Market from Christie’s, New York, in 2004, and a B.A. from Saint Louis University in 2002.

David Nuñez

Director of Technology and Digital Strategy | MIT Museum (Boston, CA)

David Nuñez

In his current role at the MIT Museum, David leads the digital+physical transformation as the museum reboots in its new location and is in the process of deploying new infrastructure to support improved collections access, innovative digital experiences, and more consistent ongoing audience engagement.

Through his consulting work, David helps organizations identify, understand, and build strategies for near-future digital approaches. Over the past twenty years working with non-profits, startups, and brands, he has developed an unwavering belief in a hands-on approach to research about digital+physical innovation: the best way to understand a topic is through rapid and soulful prototyping with upcoming technologies. Thus, he knows his hands will always be covered in source code regardless of his job title.

Previously he was Managing Partner at Midnight Commercial, a Brooklyn-based digital strategy/innovation consultancy. His multidisciplinary team of engineers, designers, and strategists invented new products, experiences, and artwork for C-suite leaders and global design teams, including digital engagement initiatives for Target, Google, Cartier, and Samsung. David held a Visiting Scientist appointment with the Opera of the Future group at the MIT Media Lab, where he explored the evocative movement of machines and robots. He was a visiting lecturer at Northeastern University, teaching programming in the College of Arts, Media, and Design. He regularly delivers guest talks for museum studies, design, and technology courses and meetups. His personal research interests include source code ephemera and esoteric programming languages, and his work seeks to illuminate the human soul that exists in all software. He built Geppetto, a platform for the computational choreography of machines and robots in performances. He is working on a text editor for live coding, kn0t, that enables human expression through the performative act of writing software.

David holds an M.S. in Media Arts and Sciences from the MIT Media Lab where he worked in the Personal Robots group. He earned a B.A. in Computer Science and Managerial Studies from Rice University.

Mark Osterman

Digital Experience Designer | Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami (Miami, FL)

Mark Osterman

A formally trained educator (Ed.D from Florida University), Mark Osterman is a museum administrator, researcher, technologist and artist. Mark recently joined the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami after 5 years at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. He brings experience in strategic planning, education, curriculum development, interpretive technologies, accessibility, volunteer management, evaluations, and DEAI initiatives related to museum practice. He previously worked at The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Museum of Art and Design, and The Wolfsonian-FIU.

Mark served as a volunteer in various capacities: Conference Committee Chair for AAM EdCom, Member of the Museum Education Division Peers Initiative for NAEA, and Grant Reviewer & Panelist for Miami-Dade Department of Cultural Affairs. He also often presents nationally on technology in museums and art educational theory and research studies, and has published work in the Journal of Museum Education, the Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia among others. Mark lives in Miami Beach.


Meet the Human Centered Design SIG

Human-centered design (HCD) is a process for understanding problems and creating solutions that meet real people’s needs. It emphasizes research and ideation, and can be applied to any type of product, service, or experience, inside and outside museums.   

The HCD SIG is a network for anyone who wants to learn about using human-centered design in your museum work. Anyone interested in using HCD to improve people’s experiences in museums is welcome, no matter your role or level of design experience!   


What have we been up to lately? 

Earlier this year, we hosted a webinar with Kathi Kaiser of Centralis. Kathi shared three case studies that took different approaches to usability testing and factors to consider when using this methodology.

We also publish monthly newsletters on our message board with HCD resources that catch our eye. 


What’s coming up? 

Since we are a relatively new SIG (only 2 years old!) we’re hoping to use this year’s conference to bring together existing and potential members to brainstorm and iterate on what our SIG should look like moving forward to be the most effective and useful for everyone involved. Stop by the HCD SIG area at the SIG Open House, where we’ll be applying the HCD process to our very own SIG! 

Additionally, Seema Rao will step down from her role as a SIG co-chair after this year’s conference. While we’ll be sad to see her go, we also can’t wait to meet the next SIG co-chair who will help shape and grow the SIG. If you have expertise in HCD or are simply really excited about diving deeper, consider running for co-chair next year! Want to discuss before the conference? Contact Cathy and Seema to learn more.  

Not a member of the HCD SIG yet? Sign up today!


Cathy Sigmond, HCD SIG co-chair


Seema Rao headshot

Seema Rao, HCD SIG co-chair



Meet the Digital Asset Management SIG


A group of people around a table at the Digital Asset Management SIG happy hour, 2017

Photos, videos, audio files! Every museum produces thousands of them – documenting collections, capturing events and exhibitions, marketing the work of the institution. Digital Asset Managers are here to organize, preserve and make accessible all of these priceless assets for research and reuse.  Our SIG supports knowledge sharing, strategy and best practices for DAMS based on the practical knowledge gained through years of experience implementing and working on these systems.  

We have a robust Basecamp group where members share tricky situations and pesky problems to generate solutions – there’s always someone in the group who’s tackled something similar! We also like to collaborate with other SIGs because content users, producers and intrepid IT professionals all have valuable feedback on how these systems function. 

Our interests go beyond what is already available and into what’s coming up in advances in imaging techniques, making connections in meaningful ways through machine learning and feeding new frontiers such as augmented and virtual reality.

We’re a fun SIG that likes to chat about metadata during happy hour – keep your eyes peeled for one coming up soon!

Interested in joining the DAM SIG? 

Fill out the Google form here, someone will be in touch shortly.


CO-CHAIR – David Garfinkel, Senior Digital Asset Manager Technician, The Metropolitan Museum of Art





















Drumroll: the MCN 2019 program is live!


That’s right: after reviewing proposals and solving the puzzle that is the conference schedule, we’re thrilled to announce that the MCN 2019 program is now live: view program and schedule here.

Congratulations to all our presenters. They bring a variety of themes, topics, and formats that will surely make for both an exciting conference and impact on our sector. 

This year, in addition to searching the program by speaker, date, etc., you can also search by track. Content, experience, systems, strategy, and evaluation—each track describes session’s primary theme. MCN’s SIGs endorsed sessions, as well. Check them out: 

  • Data & Insights: Data governance, ethics and privacy
  • Digital Asset: Designing DAMS for Storytelling
  • Digital Imaging: High-quality Imaging in Small Museums: Making It Possible
  • Human-Centered Design SIG: Designing through Centering: A Community Engaged Approach
  • Educational & Interpretive Media: One Size Does Not Fit All: Turning Constraints into Opportunities
  • Intellectual Property: Open Access 2.0: Rethinking Open Access
  • Information Technology: So many files! Structuring the Lifecycle of User Files in a Museum Network Environment (on-prem and cloud)
  • International Image Interoperability Framework SIG
  • Media Production and Branding: Heroes to Pixar: Strategies for Creating Stories Using Your Collections
  • Social Media: How to Avoid, Handle, and Recover from Burnout in Digital Communications
  • Strategy: When culture eats strategy, make sure it’s delicious

We’d also like to recognize the many contributions of the MCN 2019 Program Committee. They’ve dedicated hours to reviewing sessions, defining our theme, establishing tracks—and more. Thanks to their support and hard work, we are able to deliver a program we are truly proud of.

For questions about your session(s), and specifically change requests, please use the Program Change Request form (not email).

For questions about registration, email [email protected]. And now, make sure you register and book your hotel.

We’re counting down the days until San Diego!


Your MCN 2019 Conference Program co-chairs
Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Andrea Ledesma, and Eric Longo


Meet the Digital Imaging SIG

A photographer setting up a shot for a museum object


Even if you’re not familiar with institutional digitization programs, book scanners, rapid imaging or FADGI standards, chances are you’ve seen the result of these ideas and by extension, the work of members of the Digital Imaging SIG. Images are the face of museums in the public sphere, from bus and transit ads, to instagram posts about the newest exhibition.


The Digital Imaging SIG provides a place for museum photographers and imaging professionals to discuss ideas, explore technical problems and discuss the latest color to be removed from the spectrum. We also organize dinners, happy hours and meet-ups for members to meet face to face and provide a forum for more informal discussion.


In May, we held a dinner/social event during the 2+3d conference at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and we are beginning to plan a similar even during the MCN conference in November. A new initiative for 2019 that we are excited about working on is several virtual studio tours, which will take the form of videos partially driven by member questions.


We hope this will help build a more collaborative network amongst small studios, by sharing knowledge and innovation that might otherwise be glossed over, or not mentioned in conference talks. More on this in the coming months! If you aren’t currently a member of the Digital Imaging SIG, following along on our Basecamp for updates and to join in the discussion!


Ben Cort, Collections Photographer, Portland Art Museum and SIG Chair


Christopher Ciccone headshot

Christopher Ciccone, Photographer & Digital Asset Manager, North Carolina Museum of Art and SIG Co-Chair


Get ready for a great program in San Diego!

post it notes

Hey MCNers!

The 2019 annual conference program is complete!

Andrea, Eric and I spent the first weekend of June in a dull meeting room at the Newark airport Hilton to build the program schedule for this year’s conference. The program will be available late June/early July. In the meantime, we wanted to share some behind-the-scenes moments and give you a sense of what to expect.

MCN2019 conf program volunteers

First, our gratitude to the MCN 2019 Program Committee members who thoughtfully reviewed and rated the first batch of 170+ sessions submitted during the April call for proposals.

The overall quality of proposals combined with fewer available session slots in the new conference blueprint, made the process highly competitive. To guide us through the day, we set a few ground rules to keep us on the same page for what we wanted the program to reflect. Nevertheless, we had to make some tough calls. Our deliberations were honest, respectful and always incredibly measured.

We experimented a bit by looking at the MCN experience holistically and distributed sessions carefully considering emotional engagement and brain exhaustion. We believe this approach will make room for enriching and candid moments during our time together in San Diego.

When we publish the program, pay close attention to Tuesday and Friday. You will notice that we intentionally saved some of the most interesting and promising conversations to keep you engaged from Tuesday morning to the last minute of the conference on Friday. Truly, you do not want to miss a thing.

Tonya Nelson

Tonya Nelson

On another note, we’re delighted to announce that Tonya Nelson will deliver the keynote address this year (she will also stay for the whole conference!). A self-defined ‘culture hunter’, Tonya has a long career in the cultural sector and recently joined Arts Council in England as its first Director of Arts Technology and Innovation. Tonya navigates questions across the metrocultural spectrum, seeking to make sense of why culture matters and how to use it to create a better society. Check out some of her writings and interviews.

In the end, we believe we put together a strong, innovative, inspiring program that reflects the key issues currently facing our sector while presenting a range of perspectives from a diversity of voices within our community and beyond. We can’t wait to share it with you and we sincerely hope that you’ll find it as inspiring as it was exciting for us to conceive.

So what’s next?
  • Expect to hear from us about the status of your session(s) by early next week.
  • Registration opens June 28 – as last year, 150 Early Bird tickets will be available, so make sure you grab one while they last!

Questions? Comments? Email us at [email protected].

We can’t wait to see you in San Diego!


Your MCN 2019 Conference Program co-chairs
Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Andrea Ledesma, and Eric Longo

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