Talk: A Startup-in-Residence

Can a museum embrace a startup mentality, or better yet, embrace an actual startup?

A startup stretching it’s cash to daring, maximum effect.

November 10, 2012 | MCN | Seattle

A museum can’t be a startup, but maybe a museum can embrace a startup mentality. Or better yet, embrace an actual startup.

This talk was part of a panel titled “Moving Forward by Looking Sideways: Creative Thinking in Museum Digital Strategy”, chaired by Sarah Hromack and Erica Gangsei. It came at a time when I was evaluating the prior five years of successes and failures at my own startup, Hol Art Bools, and looking ahead to what steps I would take with it next. My underlying idea was that there was great value in what I could do as a startup, but there were also fundamental difficulties that having access to a larger institution would alleviate. In turn, the institution could then benefit from the startup’s agility and idea generation.

In 2014, shortly after I’d left Hol to work the Getty, the New Museum formed NEW INC as the first museum-led cultural incubator, and other museums have since followed with related efforts. Check out Brendan Ciecko’s article about museums’ startup culture adoption and “museopreneurship” for more.

And as with other talks I did around this time, I created the presentation as an EPUB rather than PowerPoint slides, and presented it directly from an iPad. I also did all the stick-figure-heavy illustrations and it ended up feeling more book-like than other talks I’d used an EPUB for. It tells a pretty good story!

Panel Description

In this panel and working session, museum professionals will be encouraged to seek out new methodologies for museum engagement by looking not to one another in the field but beyond to a growing number of online initiatives whose goals and ideals may speak to the museum mission more closely than meets the eye. By considering expertise that isn’t directly rooted in museum culture, we remain open to the creative possibilities that emerge from non-institutional work environments. This session seeks to expand our collective pool of knowledge and resources – and to broaden our thinking therein.

Other Speakers/Participants

  • Sarah Hromack, Head of Digital Media, Whitney Museum of American Art
  • Erica Gangsei, Manager of Interpretive Media, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • Eleanor Hanson, The Present Group
  • Oliver Wise, The Present Group
  • Eilish Cullen, Freelance Curator, Writer, Artist and Arts Administrator

thanks for visiting!