Headed to AMMC? Here are 8 Awesome Things to do in Pittsburgh

As we countdown the weeks leading to the American Museum Membership Conference, we’ve assembled our list of a few top picks, eats, and sights in Pittsburgh! In order to bridge every possible interest, in the “city of bridges”, we’ve put together a fun list of local food, museums and cultural institutions that you won’t be able to find anywhere else!

Top Technology Trends for 2019: What it means for Museums & Nonprofits

Technology is rapidly evolving the operations of museums and nonprofits. Now more than ever organizations must keep abreast of the technologies irrevocably changing the way they interact with visitors and administer services. Gartner, the global research and advisory firm, recently predicted the 2019 trends that will accelerate technological progress in years to come. This post examines which trends track with advancements in the museum and nonprofit sectors, providing a prescient glimpse into what the future may hold.

Why Every Museum Should Make Data Part of Its DNA

In the digital age, museums and nonprofits are constantly looking for new tools and approaches to improve the various pillars of their operation. From collections to marketing, education, fundraising, and all things in between, there is no denying how valuable technology and access to data has become.

6 Things You Didn’t Know About the NEA

What do Hamilton, Sundance Film Festival, and Vietnam Veterans Memorial have in common?

These world-renowned and celebrated artistic endeavors would not exist if not for the initial support from the National Endowment for the Arts!

The NEA is an independent federal agency that works to give people across America the opportunity to participate in and experience the arts.The NEA funds artistic events, concerts, performances, exhibitions and readings, and also awards grants for research on the impact and value of the arts in the United States. While these amazing and disparate groups have all received funding through the NEA, the future of the agency is uncertain; the arts are under attack.

Cuseum Powers Mobile App for the Largest Contemporary Art Museum in the Country: MASS MoCA

This past Memorial Day weekend marked a historic moment for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) as they became the largest contemporary art museum in the United States upon the opening of their newest building.

Boosting Membership & Donations Through Your Mobile App

A sure-fire way to drive more memberships and donations is to ensure the process is quick and easy for your visitor. It is crucial to break down the barriers between the visitor’s intent to support your organization and the checkout process. This is often easier said than done…

Partnering with Johns Hopkins University for Hands-On Learning

What better a way to learn something new than doing it first-hand? In January, Cuseum worked closely with Johns Hopkins University’s Museum Studies Graduate Program to embark on hands-on learning collaboration. One of their core projects focused on producing mobile content and thematic tours for visitors to the San Diego Museum of Man. Students completed the program with not only deeper knowledge of new digital tools for engagement, but also tangible proof-of-concept: a mobile app in hand.

5 Creative Ways Museums Leveraged Social Media on Giving Tuesday

Earlier in the week we celebrated Giving Tuesday, one of the biggest days of the year for nonprofits to engage the masses to open their wallets to charitable giving. This year, over $168 million was raised as result of this global initiative. Museums around the globe made their appeal over various channels such as email campaigns, phone calls, and of course: social media.

Life & Death of QR Codes in Museums

As the digital landscape in the museum space continues to evolve, we’re faced with the ongoing question of how to better serve the visitor. It’s sometimes difficult to navigate through the myriad options; deciphering what is merely a shiny object -vs- what is sustainable and will stand the test of time.

Museum as Teaching Lab: Experiments in Inclusive Design

Where do art, tech and accessibility meet? Increasingly, in the museum. Recently, the Harvard Art Museum hosted “Museum as Teaching Lab: Experiments in Inclusive Design” – a discussion addressing how art museums can expand ideas of inclusive design and access as part of HUBweek 2016.

Recap of Museums and the Web's Roundtable in Boston.


Yesterday, we joined Museums and the Web for a special roundtable in our own backyard, Boston! Members of the Cuseum team were excited to connect with friends and local museum colleagues to collectively dive into one of everyone’s favorite topics: storytelling.

Rob Stein started us off with a keynote focused on the importance and fundamentals of a great story. Rob, a museum thought-leader best known for his work at the DMA and IMA was introduced by Titus Bicknell as “an avant-garde agent of change” and his talk hit on a number of important topics. Here are a few points we found interesting.

Science → Social Change

When immersed in a great story, oxytocin is released!


Image: FastCompany

Storytelling makes you more receptive to others who are different; an increase in empathy. With that in mind, the impact of stories on society is immense and should push us to place an even higher value on storytelling in the museum.

What to expect in the future?

Fun fact: before entering the museum field, Rob worked on technology-driven experiential research projects, some including head-mounted displays for virtual reality. He shared his very optimistic view of VR for creating immersive experience at the museum, and further projected that a museum’s use of VR will someday be just as important as is social media presence is today.

Challenges for Storytelling in the Museum:

  1. Museums complicated relationship with fiction.
  2. Not enough storytellers.
  3. Buildings that are poorly designed for immersive experiences.
  4. Lack of tools to create and manage transmedia non-linear stories.
  5. Unnecessary barriers between museums and the performing arts.

Following Rob’s keynote, Sandy Goldberg, Halsey Burgund, and various audience members shared their perspectives.

“Interactivity is not just digital. It can be interaction between digital and physical space” - Sandy Goldberg, on visitor interaction.

It is always great to include the voice of an artist. Halsey Burgund questioned the notion: “Who is the expert and how can we level the playing-field for all to feel immersed?”

This viewpoint falls inline with shared authority, a current trend in the museum and historical space to open up interpretation with the public.

As the conversation opened up to the audience, the topic of nonlinear (contextual) storytelling and immersive experiences was further discussed.

Even though the event has passed, please join in on Twitter to follow and voice your thoughts: #MWBoston

…the event was wicked awesome. Thank you Museums and the Web for continuing to stimulate, challenge and facilitate conversations that are integral to the museum community. We look forward to seeing again in Los Angeles this April!

Highlights from Art Basel Miami 2015


Early last month we were in Miami for Art Basel, one of the most exciting happenings in the art world.

Since 1970, Art Basel’s goal has been to connect the world’s premier galleries and their patrons, and serve as a meeting point for the international art world.

Not only do leading contemporary galleries convene in Miami, but so do countless directors, curators, and influencers from various museums and cultural institutions. From fine art to large-scale public artworks, film, performance, and graffiti all become a part of the Miami landscape.

Miami Museums

During our time in Miami, we made sure to visit several museums between the art fairs and gallery tours, including the Perez Art Museum, Frost Art Museum, MOCA, ICA Miami, and Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

We particularly enjoyed exploring the grounds of Vizcaya after dark during an evening reception. Aside from the gorgeous gardens and architecture, we were wowed by the performance art that evening. A projected audio/visual piece portraying the mansion’s original architecture drawings, broken glass and letters between Vizcaya’s original owner and mastermind, James Deering, and his architect, builders and craftspeople. Check out the clip to see for yourself!

A video posted by Brendan Ciecko (@brendanciecko) on Jan 21, 2016 at 10:11am PST

Art is for Everyone

At Cuseum we’re all about making art and museums accessible and available to everyone, so naturally we were overjoyed by the public art across Miami Beach as well as the many conversations surrounding the topic of making art accessible to all.

Miami’s public art scene is top notch and takes a form all of its own during Art Basel. Collins Park and SoundScape Park are hotspots for large-scale outdoor sculpture and murals flank the sides of skyscrapers in Miami Beach and warehouses across Wynwood.

For the third year, the fair’s Public Sector is curated by Nicholas Baume, Director and Chief Curator of the Public Art Fund. Baume brought together artists from 11 countries to create 27 site-specific artworks and installations for the outdoor show, which transformed Collins Park into a massive sculpture park filled with large-scale installations, kinetic artworks and an array of performances.

“It’s there for everybody that has the time and inclination to check it out,” Nicholas Baume on public art in Collins Park as part of Art Basel Miami Beach.


Image via Hyperallergic / Artwork by Sterling Ruby, “Big Yellow Mama” (2013)

Another public art event that really stood out to us on this trip was the Visionaire 65 FREE Public Art Installation in partnership with Stella Artoisa at Faena Hotel Miami Beach, which offered artwork by famous artists to the public for free! Yes, that’s right… free art for all!

Visionaire, an art publication, offered its issue for free in the form of artwork from 12 distinguished artists for this installation. The artists, including Marilyn Minter, David Salle, and Glenn Brown, are some of the most renowned and sought-after names in the art world. They generously contributed highly-covetable artwork to the issue in order to give back to the Miami community and art lovers from all over.


Inspiring Takeaway

One of our most inspiring takeaways was from the panel discussion on “Education in the Contemporary Art Museum” with Heidi Reitmaier (MCA Chicago), Jason Yoon (Queens Museum), Pablo Helguera (Museum of Modern Art), and Joanne Lefrak (SITE Santa Fe) at the UNTITLED Art Fair in Miami Beach.


Image from UNTITLED Art Fair via Art Daily

The discussion with museum educators centered around several questions including:

  1. How can museums invite audiences to be a part of the process?
  2. What’s the point of being if people can’t cite your museum’s relevancy in their experience?
  3. How do you open up and design opportunities for different kinds of audiences to work together to create a space which they own - in terms of their passion and love of art?

Jason Yoon described how he looks at museum education at the Queens Museum. “Something we’re thinking about a lot as museum educators is that museums are buildings and institutions that are about more than physical objects and collections. They are also about human interaction and services to people and interacting with people and being in dialogue with them.”

Data, Data, Data.

Joanne Lefrak cited LaPlaca Cohen’s Culture Track stats:

“87% of people who come to museums, come to museums to have a social experience. 76% come to have a new kind of learning experience that’s fun or playful.”

Museum educators and those creating technology for museums are in a unique position to help create thoughtful learning experiences for visitors!

At Cuseum, we engage museum goers in new ways to help them develop a deeper connection with their museum experience. Our mobile guides not only guide visitors through a space, but also allow them to interact with and comment on works that they find most interesting. This is very much in line with “shared authority” - a current trend in the museum space.

Shared Authority

Heidi Reitmaier from MCA Chicago emphasized how this concept embraces that “the multiple perspectives of people who come and experience the art is equally as valuable as the institutional perspective.” We couldn’t agree more, Heidi!

Listen to the entire panel discussion online here for more insightful tidbits about education in the contemporary art museum.

This discussion and the many incredible artworks, fairs, and, of course people, we encountered in Miami left us inspired for what’s to come in 2016! Big thanks to everyone who took the time to meet with us and show us around!

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