The American Association of Museums’ (AAM) Center for the Future of Museums (CFM), EmcArts and MetLife Foundation have launched a major new initiative designed to enable selected museums to design, research and prototype innovations, testing novel approaches to field-wide challenges in a laboratory-like setting.
The Innovation Lab for Museums is an 12- to 24-month program for each of the participating institutions, utilizing the expertise of CFM and the proven experience of EmcArts in incubating organizational innovations in the arts field. In this inaugural round of the Lab, three proposals have been accepted focusing on innovation in the realms of:
• Youth Education: exploring how museums can play a key role in a rapidly changing educational landscape
• Demographic Transformation: how museums can close this gap and serve a broader, more representative sample of American society
• Participatory Experiences: how museums can meet the desire of audiences for participatory and social activities in museums.
For any questions regarding the Innovation Lab for Museums, please don't hesitate to contact Liz Dreyer, Manager of National Programs at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay tuned to ArtsFwd for updates as these projects unfold!
Round 3 of the Innovation Lab for Museums: Request for Proposals
The American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) Center for the Future of Museums (CFM), EmcArts and MetLife Foundation announce the third round of the Innovation Lab for Museums and are now acc. The deadline for Round 3 proposals is June 5, 2013.
Proposals will be judged on evidence that applicants have clearly defined a major adaptive challenge and begun to develop responses to that challenge, on each applicant’s readiness for and ability to support innovative change, their current level of community engagement, the likely value of the innovation to the museum and to the field, and the capacity of the applicant to share what they learn through participating in the Lab.
We encourage you to review helpful resources available on ArtsFwd, which are made available to help you decide whether or not to apply to the Innovation Lab:
- Our podcast with EmcArts President Richard Evans, in which we review the guiding principles of the Innovation Lab and tips for developing an application
- Our DIY activity, complete with instructions and worksheets, to use in order to identify your organization's adaptive challenge
Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Museums
We are very excited to announce the three museums selected to participate in Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Museums – a unique incubation and prototyping program to foster programmatic and organizational innovation in the museum field. The three museums selected are: The Madison Children’s Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art and the National Trust for Historic Preservation with projects focused on youth education, changing demographics, and participatory experiences. The Innovation Lab for Museums is presented through a partnership between the American Association of Museums’ (AAM) Center for the Future of Museums and EmcArts, funded by a generous $550,000 grant from MetLife Foundation.
For more information on the three museums and their projects, you can view and download the press release here.
Three Museums Selected for Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Museums:
The Madison Children’s Museum, the Mississippi Museum of Art and the National Trust for Historic Preservation
We received a wide variety of applications with projects focused on varying communities from refugees to Native Americans to Latino and black populations. Museums across the nation are continuing to think about how to change the nature of their relationship with their diverse communities. The applications we read were thoughtful and deep. The institutions are striving to be conversation starters; to be relevant and central as representatives and speakers for all the voices of their communities.
Youth education also had great representation in our applications. Project-based learning, STEM and STEAM came up more than once -- young people as the voices of their communities, young people as their own ethnographers. Peer to peer learning and sharing, young people as interns and leaders of the next generation of museum professionals -- these are a few of the ideas that our applicant institutions are exploring as they work to become youth-focused not only in their education programs, but in their approach to their communities at large.
Organizations are also looking for ways to do things differently -- to reimagine how audience participation can be engaged. Whether a museum should remain open or closed. New partnerships and business models. There is an ever-growing awareness that "business as usual" is serving neither the participants in the museums nor the museum itself. Across the nation, institutions are looking to forge "next" practices and build more resilient and adaptive ways of working.
To read more about the applications we received, please download the Applicant Summaries.
Round 1 of the Innovation Lab for Museums
The inaugural round of the Innovation Lab began its work in January of 2012 with three museums: the Levine Museum of the New South, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The three museums will explore changing demographics, the nature of what it means to be a participant at a museum (not just a visitor) and how to engage and bring in younger people. The applications were thoughtful and thought-provoking, asking questions about what is the role of the museum in a changing community. What is the role of a curator, of an authority? How can a museum be representative of all the members of a community? Can it be a place for change? For sanctuary? For the education of everyone, regardless of their age, ethnicity or language?
Three Museums Selected for Round 2 of the Innovation Lab for Museums:
the Levine Museum of the New South, the Nelson-Atkins Museum and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Applicant museums were from all disciplines – history, general, art, children’s and science – and spanned both the geography of the country as well as from smaller to larger operating budgets. We’re very pleased that so many institutions took advantage of both the phone consulting and the feedback on the applications. Both the quantity and quality of the inquiries/applications reflected a high level of thoughtfulness and enthusiasm.
There were also several trends that came up throughout the applications that we think are worth mentioning. It’s interesting to note that they are not necessarily discipline-specific. It seems that the field is ready to think about these changes as a whole:
- The museum as change-agent and community representative. Many of the applications dealt with the changing nature of their communities – whether in age or demography. More than one institution feels the need to respond to the rising immigrant (or in one case, refugee) community. How can museums be the voices of the community at large and not just a small section?
- This also feeds right in to the looking at participatory experiences. If the museum is representative of the community, how is that expressed in its programs and exhibits? What is the role of the curator in that case? What is the relationship between curation and education? How is the role of the museum as expert and authority on the works changing?
- Part of the thinking and questioning around participatory experiences is to consider the role of technologies in both exhibit and curation. How can museum goers become more active in the experience? Can they add their own comments and curation? Is this one of the channels to engage a younger audience? How can museums become better engaged with bringing in young people?
These are the three areas of focus that the RFP outlined and it was good to see the applicants respond to it so avidly. It became clear that the three areas are intertwined. More than one conversation in the pre-application consultants was about how to highlight that interconnection and make it work for the institution as a whole.