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Staff Reading Group Update

February 17, 2011

It’s been a while since we blogged about our Staff Reading Group

January’s reading group featured several special guests.  We were joined by colleagues from the Crow Collection of Asian Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and the Rachofsky House for a conversation led by Nina Simon.  Nina is an independent experience designer, author of The Participatory Museum, and author of the Museum 2.0 blog which also appears as a column in Museum magazine. 

Nina selected our reading: a keynote address from the 2008 Australia Council Arts Marketing Summit, given by US philanthropy expert Diane Ragsdale, and titled: “Surviving the culture change.”   Ragsdale’s address (to greatly simplify) challenges arts organizations to adapt and to rethink their audience—what they need (and what they might not know they need), and how we can engage them in order to stay relevant.

The reading was provocative and timely, and led our group to consider behaviors and attitudes of museum visitors and to reflect on our own tendencies as museum-goers.  Why is it that we only go to concerts, museums, or the zoo once in a while if we really enjoyed the experience?  How can we make museum-going a habit—something we integrate in our lives, like an exercise class?  One of the great ideas that came from our session was that we think of going to museums/concerts/etc. like we do going to yoga—an activity that’s regularly on our calendars and prioritized in our lives. 

Ragsdale, in suggesting ways arts organizations can change in response to questions like these, shares truly inspiring examples of progressive, visitor-centered programming already in place in museums around the world.  Here at the DMA, we are pushing on our own ideas of ways to adapt programs to further visitor involvement.  We are currently in the process of refreshing Late Nights with the help of visitor voices and museum-world consultants—Nina, among them.  So look for new and exciting things to come!

And in the meantime, check out Nina’s blog to read more about great programs and experiences happening in museums.

Amy Copeland
Coordinator of Go van Gogh Outreach

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