Written by Andrea Montiel de Shuman and Andrea Ledesma, MCN 2020 Conference Program Chairs
After a lovely break, we’re kicking off the year by getting started with MCN 2020. Last year, we introduced a number of changes meant to enhance the conference experience. To all those who attended, presented, and sponsored: thank you! Your feedback helped us understand our successes, our challenges, and how we can grow.
This year we’re excited to announce two additional program co-chairs. Welcome Mimosa Shah and Meredith L. Steinfels! Together, we’re committed to designing a program that continues to be engaging and accessible, rigorous and thought-provoking. We’re eager to create a space that both spotlights innovative technologies and pressing topics in our sector and amplifies the many voices behind that work.
Also joining us is the Program Committee. They’re a fantastic crew of field experts who are crucial in deciding a theme, nominating keynote speakers, reviewing applications, ideating program changes, and more.
Get to know your MCN 2020 Program Committee below. We can’t wait to get started!
Meredith Steinfels Greetings! I’m Meredith, Digital Platforms Manager and Archives Specialist at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth. I’m responsible for the museum’s evolving digital ecosystem: the collection management system, digital asset management system, collection website, discrete digital-based projects, and digitization, as well as rights and reproductions and work on the James Nachtwey archive. I am passionate about equitable digital literacy and access to information, and the intersection of social justice and technology.
When not behind a screen, I live a largely analog life: baking, knitting, reading bad thrillers, and wrangling the raddest preschooler in New England.
Mimosa Shah Hello! I’m Mimosa, Adult Program Coordinator at Skokie Public Library, where for the past five years I’ve managed, developed, and evaluated informal learning opportunities for adults. I work in collaboration with colleagues across departments to whet our community’s curiosity, ranging from discussions around world cinema to workshops on birdwatching. I teach digital literacy classes, facilitate discussions and pop-up events, and provide advisory support. Stop by a public desk, and I’m ready to dish on the best graphic novels, the upcoming incarnation of “Blade,” or the painterly quality of Merchant-Ivory productions.
I pivot between the analog and digital in my work and beyond. Lately, my interests have focused upon media literacy and ways to deal with misinformation campaigns; digital photography and how we use various platforms to share, archive, and work against the constraints they sustain; zine-making and paper arts that memorialize stories waiting to be documented; and space-making for and with communities marginalized by aspects of their identities.
In my ‘spare’ time, I wrangle two kiddos to the best libraries, museums, gardens, and happenings around Chicago because I am a culture nerd, and hope to instill in them the same curiosity about the world around us. Having perfected my samosa recipe, I’m eager to learn how to make new street foods.
I served on MCN’s DEAI Advisory Board in 2019, and am honored to be part of the team again in 2019. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make the annual conference and by extension, our field more inclusive and welcoming. I am also very excited to be a Program Co-Chair in 2020, and to give back to a community that has provided me with such insight into how the digital transforms our organizations.
Andrea Montiel de Shuman Hola! I’m Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Mexican immigrant from beautiful Puebla, where I grew up surrounded by great food, music, colors, and museums.
As the Digital Experience Designer at the Detroit Institute of Arts, I lead public-facing digital experiences to help visitors find themselves in art. My favorite tasks are to collaborate with community advisors, user-test & fill boards with sticky notes. I enjoy engaging in sector-wide conversations discussing moral + ethical implications of technology; Knight Foundation has supported me in joining a number of these endeavors.
In recent years I’ve been collaborating with Smithsonian Latino Center in preparing the first galleries that will honor the contributions of Latinos in the history of America and also help coordinate the annual Media & Tech MUSE Awards by the American Alliance of Museums.
When not thinking about museums, I enjoy illustrating, spoiling my cat, watching 90’s Anime or hunting for green spaces, new music, indigenous art & weird art books with my partner. After a wonderful 2019, I feel excited and honored to be back this year, now with a larger team! We have so many dreams for our MCN family.
Andrea Ledesma Hi again, MCN! I’m Andrea Ledesma. I’m fascinated with how digital technologies impact how the public engages with history, culture, and each other. As the Web and Digital Project Specialist at the Field Museum in Chicago, I manage fieldmuseum.org and other digital storytelling projects. I weave together strategy, content, and design. I love a good spreadsheet. If not in a museum find me exploring the snack aisle and on Twitter at @am_ledesma.
Before the Field, I enjoyed working on digital projects for Brown University, the Tenement Museum, Digital Public Library of America, and National Park Service. Co-chairing MCN 2019 was such a wonderful experience, and I’m honored to have the opportunity again.
Program Committee Members
Adrienne Lalli Hills, Oklahoma Contemporary
Alison Koch, Playwrights Horizons
Amanda Dearolph, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Ashley Bowen, Science History Institute
Castle U. Kim, Florida State University
Cathy Sigmond, RK&A
Claire Blechman, Peabody Essex Museum
Claire Pillsbury, Exploratorium
Devon Armstrong, Boston Children’s Museum
Eric Longo, MCN
Erin Canning, Aga Khan Museum
Gavin Mallory, Cogapp
Heather White, Yale University
Jennifer Foley, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Jessica Milby, Penn Museum
Jessica Warchall, Terra Foundation for American Art
John Turner, University of Michigan Museum of Art
Max Evjen, Michigan State University
Miranda Kerr, Shedd Aquarium
Pamela Martin, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Rana Chan, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
Roger Tuan, Field Museum
Sean Blinn, Consultant
Susan Wigodner, Obama Foundation / Obama Presidential Center
The Media Production and Branding Special Interest Group (SIG) is Chaired by Kelsey Cvach and Co-Chaired by Ryan Waggoner. In this blog post they share the new ways they’re organizing to create resources for the community. Read on to learn how you can get involved. You can also check out all of the recently announced 2020 SIG Chairs.
Meet the Media Production and Branding SIG!
This SIG supports museum professionals through discussions on methods for digital media production (video, audio, text, etc.) as a storytelling and audience engagement device to manifest an organization’s identity and mission. We also maintain a technical focus on production methodology as well as developing brand identity through creation and distribution of digital content. This year, we’re piloting several new formats unique from other SIGs!
Join in our collaborative projects
We aim to collaborate on several deliverables throughout the year. Our first project, inspired by momentum from the MCN Open House, is a Best Practices for Captioning and Accessibility Guidance that can be circulated throughout the museum community and beyond. Working with expertise across many institutions, we plan to complete this project by March. If you would like to collaborate with us on this project, or have ideas/best practices to contribute, please reach out to us. Other ideas for the upcoming year are welcome! Existing SIG members can post on Basecamp or anyone can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Contribute to our Critique Corner
This is a place for members to share new or in-progress work and to receive feedback from the group. Feel free to share any relevant project for comment, and provide constructive ideas for the projects that others have contributed.
We are recruiting 6 to 10 individuals to serve on the second year of our Advisory Board dedicated to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.
Governed by a Charter, MCN’s DEAI Advisory Board is a consultative body made up of community members tasked with representing and advocating for the interests of the MCN community on DEAI matters. The Advisory Board supports and guides the work of MCN in DEAI initiatives and begin our ongoing process to make the organization—and the field of museum technology—more inclusive.
This is a two-year commitment. The Advisory Board will meet at most on a quarterly basis. We encourage one face-to-face meeting per year at MCN’s annual conference, although the ability to attend the conference is not a prerequisite for joining the advisory board.
We hope to bring on around 6 to 10 new members who represent wide-ranging dimensions of diversity, with an eye towards giving voice to under-represented groups. For our organization, diversity means a lot of things. Advisors will advocate for groups that are historically marginalized due to race, gender and gender expression, sexual orientation, ability, economic background, and age. We’re also looking for members from a wide range of cultural institutions and professional roles, considering dimensions such as subject matter expertise, organization size, and stage in career.
Chair:Katherine Nip, Manager, Digital Services at the Art Gallery of Ontario (newly elected)
Katherine is a digital strategy professional with over 15 years in corporate, higher education, and non-profit sectors. She is currently the Manager, Digital Services at the Art Gallery of Ontario, providing direction and technical expertise to manage the operations and delivery of digital products and services across the gallery. A graduate in information systems analysis and math, trained in project management and Six Sigma Green Belt certified, she enjoys working in the trenches with numbers. In a former role, Katherine has led Google Analytics campaigns to inform search, marketing, measurement and optimization of websites. Although, not a self-proclaimed expert in data and insights, she is interested in learning and advancing ways to leverage data to tell stories, convert data to actions and develop data-driven decision making organizational cultures.
Co-Chair:Chris Unitt, Founder, One Further (newly elected)
Chris Unitt is the founder of One Further, a digital analytics and user research agency in the UK. He works with organizations that want to figure out how to gain a better understanding of their online audiences and how best to serve them. He has a particular specialism in Google Analytics (along with Google Tag Manager and Data Studio), both in terms of technical implementation and extracting insights from the data. Chris has worked with cultural organizations for over a decade, from involvement in a wide range of projects to holding board positions. In the museum sector more specifically, Chris currently works with the British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Academy of Arts, Tate, and Royal Museums Greenwich among others. Outside of work (bit still on a work-related theme), Chris publishes the Cultural Digital email newsletter, rounding up tech developments in the cultural sector, speaks at conferences, and occasionally blogs at chrisunitt.co.uk.
Chair:Susan Wamsley, Digital Asset Manager, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
I have worked for over ten years in the field of digital asset management setting up DAM systems from analog photography libraries for global companies. In my current role, I work closely with all museum departments to facilitate digital media asset submissions into the museum DAM system. Following the museum’s archival and metadata standards, I ensure the integrity and reliability of the information in the system and provide support to all users. I also research and provide recommendations on best practices for software, asset preservation and digital rights management. I have encountered and solved many implementation, workflow and user adoption issues over the years and am excited to share my knowledge.
Co-Chair:Jessica Herczeg-Konecny, Digital Asset Manager, Detroit Institute of Arts (newly elected)
Jessica Herczeg-Konecny is the Digital Asset Manager at the Detroit Institute of Arts. After undergraduate work in English and American Culture Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, Jessica obtained a master’s degree in Public History from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She has been working in the museum industry for over ten years in archives, collections management, rights and reproductions, and digital asset management. Jessica implemented the DIA’s first-ever Digital Asset Management System, founded and chairs the Metadata and Digital Assets Standards Committee, supervises rights management, and trains users and content creators for the DAM.
Chair: Ben Cort, Collections Photographer, Portland Art Museum
Ben Cort graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology in 2011 with a degree in Professional Photographic Illustration and a minor in Imaging Systems. Upon moving to Portland Oregon that May, he began working as a freelance digital tech/lighting assistant in the commercial and advertising photography markets. He also began working at the Portland Art Museum where he was tasked with constructing and implementing an in-house digital photo studio, with associated workflows, processes and procedures. As responsibilities increased from the initial grant based funding, Ben came on full time in 2016 and was additionally tasked with exhibition documentation and working with Conservation to develop a conservation imaging workflow. Ben has expanded the studio’s capabilities to include UV/IR imaging, photogrammetry and RTI in addition to continually growing the traditional capture potential of the space. Ben remains committed to further developing the imaging program at PAM, and is active in several professional imaging organizations, as well as attending conferences, workshops and seminars on cultural heritage imaging.
Co-Chair: Christopher Ciccone, Photographer & Digital Asset Manager, North Carolina Museum of Art
I have been a Collections Photographer at the North Carolina Museum of Art since 2000, and an MCN member since 2014. My current duties also include digital asset administration and I am a member of MCN’s DAM SIG. Prior to my museum tenure I worked in a variety of commercial photographic settings. Having experienced the industry transition from film to digital has given me a broad perspective on the challenges and opportunities in the field. Membership in the MCN Digital Imaging SIG has been extremely helpful to me in my profession and I am enthusiastic about contributing to its ongoing success. I’m particularly interested in encouraging more practical and technical imaging presentations at MCN conferences as well as facilitating ongoing engagement and collaboration between large and small institutions. I look forward to the opportunity to serve and will do my best to sustain the excellent leadership of our current Chairs.
Chair: Bora Sheshu, Head of UX, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (newly elected)
Bora is the Head of user experience design at The Met. She’s a multi-disciplinary designer, storyteller and researcher, who focuses on creating audience-centered and data-driven experiences. She’s devoted to advancing user experience as a practice across the museum sphere. At The Met, she has successfully implemented audience development, usability testing, and design thinking across all digital initiatives as well as non-digital practices. She’s created the User Research Lab to conduct moderated and unmoderated testing, and integrating user testing into the design process. She’s passionate about big ideas and always aiming to represent the unspoken user voice. She seeks excellence in every aspect of her work with empathy and a strong sense of design. Since starting at The Met, she’s launched redesigns for The Met’s homepage, object page, and a new digital product, The Primer, that prepares visitors for their visit based on audience engagement. Her main effort this year is establishing a Design System that incorporates UX, visual design, and voice as part of a universal system across The Met’s digital experiences to include: website, media and e-commerce in an effort to establish consistency and user-centered system of components that reflect UX best practices. Prior to joining The Met, she lead user experience at HBC Digital and NBCUniversal.
Co-Chair: Cathy Sigmond, Research Associate, RK&A, Inc.
Cathy Sigmond is a Research Associate at RK&A, Inc., a firm in Alexandria, VA and New York City that partners with cultural organizations across the country on intentional planning, research, and evaluation. In her work as an evaluator, Cathy helps museum professionals think strategically about the audiences they intend to serve. She is a strong advocate for integrating research and evaluation into all aspects of museum work– particularly, exhibition and program development — to help practitioners understand how the interplay of design, messaging, and the built environment affect the visitor experience. Most recently, she evaluated approaches to digital interactives at a children’s museum, conducted message testing for an exhibition on fossils and climate change, and assessed usability and messaging for an exhibition on the future of New York City. Cathy has spoken about the value of evaluation and design research for museums at a variety of conferences and universities, including the Museum Computer Network, Visitor Studies Association, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. Prior to joining RK&A, Cathy earned her master’s degree in Museum Education from Tufts University and worked as an educator and researcher in a variety of science, history, and art museums.
Chair: Melissa Mair, Senior Interpretation Planner, Carnegie Museum of Art
For the past seven years, Melissa Mair has worked in museum interpretation and education, focusing specifically on visitor engagement. Her projects have included in-gallery digital interactives, videos, and a gold MUSE award-winning immersive audio walk. She currently works as the Senior Interpretation Planner at the Carnegie Museum of Art, where she is leading the interpretive and evaluative efforts on an upcoming reinstallation of the Decorative Arts and Design Galleries. Prior to coming to CMOA, Melissa was an Interpretive Planner at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and worked in the education and curatorial departments of the Norwich Castle Museum and Michael C. Carlos Museum. Melissa takes an active role in both the MCN and Interpretation communities. For the Association for Art Museum Interpretation, Melissa currently serves on the membership committee. She also served on MCN’s program committee for both the 2018 and 2019 conferences. This year, she was the co-chair for the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG, and she hopes to continue her leadership into 2020.
Co-Chair:Devon Armstrong, Exhibit Mentor, Boston Children’s Museum (newly elected)
My name is Devon Armstrong, and I am running as co-chair for the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG. I hold a Bachelor’s in Anthropology, Classical Archaeology, and Museum Studies from Beloit College, a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from Tufts University, and am pursuing a Master’s in Classical Archaeology. I have worked in museums since 2010, beginning as an attendant at the Wright Museum of Art and volunteer at the Logan Museum of Anthropology, before moving to Boston and working at the MIT Museum and Tufts University Art Gallery. I also volunteered on the MCN 2019 Program Committee. MCN means a lot to me, both as a professional organization, and as a collective of my friends and colleagues. As such, I hope that you will consider me for SIG Co-Chair this next year.
Chair: Margaret McKee, Digital Asset Manager, The Menil Collection
Margaret C. McKee is the Digital Asset Manager at the Menil Collection in Houston, Texas. Her department oversees rights and reproductions, and she co-authored the institution’s internal fair use policy. Previously, she worked in photographic and imaging services at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. She holds an AA from Bard College at Simon’s Rock, a BAFA in Art History from the University of New Mexico, and an MS in Information Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. This spring she will complete a two-year term as co-chair of the Visual Resources Association’s Intellectual Property Rights Committee.
Co-Chair: Margaret will be looking to appoint someone to join her as co-chair during 2020. If interested in serving, please reach out to her directly.
Chair: Janice Craddock, Information Technology Director, Amon Carter Museum
As Director of Information Technology, Janice heads a department of three to provide technical support for about 120 staff. In her thirty years at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, she has seen firsthand how technology has changed, evolving into an increasingly vital role supporting the institutional mission—a change she has also witnessed during her twenty years involved with MCN. As IT SIG chair, Janice’s aim is to support new IT professionals and engage those with more experience in ongoing conversations about the fundamentals of IT operations and emerging technologies.
Co-Chair: Brian Dawson, Chief Digital Officer, Ingenium (Canada’s Museums of Science and Innovation)
Brian is the Chief Digital Officer at the Canada Science and Technology Museums Corporation, which also operates the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum. As CDO, Brian drives the development and implementation of the strategy for digital platforms, content, distribution and engagement throughout the organization, leading a team of information technology, digital media and exhibition specialists. Prior to joining the museum, Brian worked at Nortel Networks in telephony software development and process improvement. Brian holds a Bachelor of Computer Science from the Dalhousie University (Technical University of Nova Scotia) and a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Cape Breton. Brian is keen to help keep connections alive and conversations going through the year, with a regular rhythm of topic discussions, leverage tools such as the Basecamp platform more fully, and sounding out the SIG on additional ideas.
Chair: Emmanuelle Delmas-Glass, Collections Data Manager, Yale Center for British Art
Emmanuelle is currently the Collections Data Manager at the Yale Center for British Art, where she started working in 2006 as the Collections Catalog Specialist. In her current role, she oversees the creation of and access to the museum’s collections data. She plays the lead role in ensuring its intellectual and technical integrity. She identifies and implements new data standards and technologies to disseminate to as wide an audience as possible as well as to support the scholarly mission of the Center. She is currently the Secretary for the International Image Interoperability Framework, and has been an ICOM CIDOC board member since 2013. She previously worked at the Williams College Museum of Art and the Louvre Museum. She has a Master’s of Art History from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Co-Chair: Stefano Cossu, Software Architect, J. Paul Getty Trust
Stefano Cossu was Director of Application Services at the Art Institute of Chicago from 2012 to 2018 where he oversaw the implementation of a DAMS for the Collections and the publishing of 100,000 collection images online using IIIF. He recently joined the Getty Trust as a Software Architect, where he is collaboratively implementing a large-scale consolidation of the Getty’s visual materials, many millions of images from several Getty programs that will be served online via IIIF. Stefano is an advocate of open source, open access, open standards, and digital literacy in the humanities. He is currently a member of the Fedora Steering Group, the IIIF technical review committee, and chair of the MCN IIIF SIG. He has spoken at MCN and other digital cultural heritage conferences about Linked Data, repository technologies, DAM, and IIIF.
Chair: Kelsey Cvach, Digital Content Producer, U.S. Department of State
Kelsey Cvach is passionate about digital storytelling, communicative design and user experience. She’s also excited about leading museums in communicating their value and creating compelling, mutually beneficial experiences for their target audiences. In my past 18 months at the United States Diplomacy Center, a new museum in development in Washington D.C. telling the story of American diplomacy and inspiring discovery of its global impact. I lead our museum’s rebrand, built and implemented style guide, redesigned and launched our website in WordPress, and wrote our digital strategy and the digital components of our museum’s interpretive plan. I also led other projects, such as our first hackathon, and exhibit testing at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. In my three previous roles, I also led branding efforts, including implementing website redesigns, building style guides, leading mission and vision defining activities, and unifying sub-brands.
Co-Chair: Ryan Waggoner, Creative Services Manager, Spencer Museum of Art
Ryan Waggoner is a visual storyteller with a passion for art and museums. He is currently Creative Services Manager at the Spencer Museum of Art, leading a team of employees in video production, collection photography and graphic design. Waggoner is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the Getty Leadership Institute.
Chair: Emily Haight, Social Media Manager, New-York Historical Society
Emily Haight is currently the Social Media Manager at the New-York Historical Society. Previously, Emily managed social media, e-communications, planned advertising, and designed and coordinated graphic materials at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. She also previously managed social media at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, collaborating and planning the museum’s #5WomenArtists social media campaign. She currently serves on the board of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Media & Technology Professional Network. She values cross-institutional collaboration through social media, sparking dialogue with online audiences and diverse communities, and creative uses of tech in museum spaces.
Co-Chair:Jonathan Munar, Director of Digital Media and Strategy, Art21
Jonathan Munar is the Director of Digital at Art21, heading the organization’s digital presence across Web, social media, and related platforms. Previously, Jonathan was a member of the Website department at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. He has served on the board of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Media & Technology Professional Network and has been a presenter, guest lecturer, contributor, and panelist for organizations such as New York University, Baruch College, Art Dealers Association of America, Museum Computer Network, Museums and the Web, the New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report, and the New York City ArtsTech Meetup.
Chair:Tricia Robson, Director of Digital Strategy, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Tricia Robson is a strategist and team lead with over a decade of experience in digital strategy and production, contemporary art history, and project management. As the current Director of Digital Strategy at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (the de Young and Legion of Honor museums), she manages the overall strategy, content production, development, scheduling, and budgets for the museums’ chief digital channels, including websites, digital interactives, tech partnerships, video production, mobile/apps, and onsite digital signage. Prior to the Fine Arts Museums, she worked at Google, the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. She has her Masters in Contemporary Art History from the University of Colorado at Boulder and her Bachelors in Art History and English from the University of San Diego.
Co-Chair: Douglas Hegley, Chief Digital Officer, Minneapolis Institute of Art
Douglas Hegley joined the museum sector in 1997, after previous stints in higher education and pediatric research. During 14 years at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, he helped create collaborative technology operations and deliver engaging digital content to visitors. In 2011 he joined the Minneapolis Institute of Art, where as the Chief Digital Officer he sets the vision and strategy for all digital media and technology efforts, and aims to deliver engaging stories to all audiences via digital channels. Mr. Hegley has been recognized by his peers as a leader in the field, and has served on the boards and committees of several cultural heritage organizations, including the Minnesota Association of Museums, and MCN.
Don’t belong to a SIG yet? Want to join one or more? Click on the SIG links above and you’ll find a signup form on each SIG’s page, you can join as many SIGs as you like!