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Museums and the Web

An annual conference exploring the social, cultural, design, technological, economic, and organizational issues of culture, science and heritage on-line.

Blow Up Your Digital Strategy: Changing the Conversation about Museums and Technology

Abstract

How much storage will your museum need in the next 5 years? What is the best way to leverage electronic media and social networks to engage new museum audiences? When should we invest in a new online collection or a new website?  These questions and many more plague museum technology professionals who are struggling to justify the investments in technology and staff that leverage these tools for the best purposes of the museum.

At the same time many report that museum directors are often unreceptive to embracing new technology projects, and are slow to adapt to changing practices in contemporary online culture. While the status quo may be changing, communications are further complicated by the fact that most museum technologists are not represented among the senior management in their museums.

The creation of Digital Strategy documents for museums seems to be a common approach to addressing these concerns, attempting to insert thoughtful planning and strategic thinking about technology into the conversation at a senior management level. While it’s hard to argue with the logic of developing a step-by-step plan for technology investment, is it possible that by ghettoizing technology-strategy to a realm apart from the larger strategy of the museum, we will only succeed in highlighting the perceived gaps that exist between technology issues and those of real importance and permanence for the future of museums?

This paper will discuss a variety of issues that need to be considered by technology leaders when thinking about how to merge the benefits achieved through technology with the core strategic planning of the museum.  Practical suggestions about how to communicate to senior leadership about technology projects will be discussed, and specific examples regarding how to establish metrics and goals that can be indexed to the strategic plan of the museum will be given. Techniques for avoiding the “shiny-object-syndrome” of new technology projects will be important to demonstrate how technology tools can be fundamental in achieving the museum’s primary purposes of stewarding collections, engaging audiences, and promoting the mission of the museum at a global level.

Type: 

Paper - in formal session

Authors

rjstein's picture
Robert Stein is the Deputy Director for Research, Technology and Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). In that role, Stein leads a wide range of activities for the museum including an extensive effort in media, web technology and software. Since 2006, he has played a significant role...