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Michael Avedon for 65CPW

After 4 years at the Jewish Museum and over a decade in museums, I’m excited to announce that I’ve launched my own digital consultancy for art.

I am deeply proud of everything my incredible team and I have accomplished — from the more “invisible” projects such as improving the UX of our website and implementing data-driven marketing strategies with Salesforce, to launching a new Mobile Tour platform and increasing our social media following by 1000%. When I first accepted my role as Director of Digital at the Jewish Museum, I accepted my first client, and my first case study for digital transformation. …


Audio guides from Jewish Museum exhibitions now streaming.

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We are living in a post-app digital world. In 2010, Apple trademarked the phrase “there’s an app for that,” which was used in a commercial for the iPhone. Since then, it really does seem like there is an app for almost everything, including every art museum. Around that same time, the Jewish Museum began developing mobile apps for exhibition audio guides, free to download on iOS and Android devices, produced in association with Acoustiguide and made possible by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

What happened to all of those apps? According to TechCrunch, last year:

  • For every iPhone sold, 119 apps have been…


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Installation view of the exhibition Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design, November 4, 2016 — March 26, 2017. The Jewish Museum, NY. Photo: Will Ragozzino/SocialShutterbug.com

The Jewish Museum just wrapped up its year of design with a trifecta of exhibitions that began in March 2016 with Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History, followed by Roberto Burle Marx: Brazilian Modernist last fall, and ending with Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design, which concluded last week. It’s been exciting to be a part of this extraordinary lineup of exhibitions presenting the work of innovators in fashion, landscape architecture, and interior design—each uniquely positioned as individual narratives about Jewish identity and its global reach. It’s what we do best.

Pierre Chareau: Modern Architecture and Design was the first exhibition in the United States to focus on the French designer and architect. Pierre Chareau (1883–1950) was a prolific furniture designer and art collector who was virtually unknown to American audiences. Although never formally trained in architecture, Chareau’s uncontested masterpiece was the Maison de Verre, the Glass House built in Paris 1928–32 in collaboration with the Dutch architect Bernard Bijvoet and the ironsmith Louis Dalbet. …


Essay for Surface exhibition at Mana Contemporary (2017)

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Sam Cannon, Self Reflection, 2017. Photo by John Berens

The history of art has long been propelled by disruptions of technology that have informed new aesthetics. From the first photograph taken in 1826 to the first motion-picture film in 1878, it took many iterations, and even generations of innovation and inquiry, for objects of technology to become studied and deliberate until codified as works of art.

In 1987, the world met the GIF. The acronym stands for Graphics Interchange Format. Commonly used to describe low-resolution, looping digital animations, the bitmap file format actually predates the web, turning 30 this year. In 1995 when Netscape Navigator 2.0 began supporting animated GIFs, the file extension quickly became synonymous with web design of the late 1990s, bouncy animals and all. …


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How many projects have been delayed or abandoned by artists, scholars, and museum professionals because of copyright concerns? According to the recently released College Art Association (CAA) report “Copyright, Permissions, and Fair Use Among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities”: one third, and, among editors and publishers: 57 percent.

Access to images of artworks is essential to the educational missions of museums as well as scholars engaged in the study of visual culture. In the digital era, the cost involved in seeking permission to reproduce images, particularly in the online space, has become prohibitive and challenging, often placing permissions over mission. As an art museum professional or scholar, working with rights organizations such as the Artists Rights Society (ARS) or the Visual Artists and Galleries Association (VAGA), who act as intermediaries between artists and arts professionals to develop contracts, seems like a necessary evil to preserve professional relationships and avoid lawsuits. Nevertheless, the costs associated with clearing image permissions are high, and dedicated staff are required to manage what is routinely a long process. …


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Cleveland Museum of Art Gallery One Collection Wall, presented at Museums & the Web Asia 2013

Since 1997, the annual Museums & the Web conference has assembled museum technologists from the around world to discuss the best digital work being done in art, science, and cultural heritage museums, and to discuss the impact of new technologies on the field. The conversation, as one might imagine, has vastly shifted from such questions as “Does my museum need a website?” to in-depth strategy discussions about mobile apps and social media, digital in-gallery experiences, and even virtual reality. Today, Museums & the Web is the largest international conference for museum professionals advocating for digital change. But such change has not evolved as quickly as the pace of technology itself. …


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Alexandra Gorcynski, PLUR Piece, 2013. Archival pigment print with embedded 9 in. touchscreen tablets playing unique videos. 48 in x 60 in (121.92 cm x 152.4 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Transfer Gallery

Earlier this year, the New York Times ran a story on the great divide between the art and technology sectors in New York. The art galleries of Chelsea and technology start-ups setting up shop around the Google mother ship may be close in physical proximity, yet the article claimed that the two worlds could not be more different or mutually disinterested. …


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In 1896, the American steel industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie launched the Carnegie International, a regularly occurring survey exhibition of global contemporary art. He had three goals: to educate and inspire the citizens of Pittsburgh and the country at large by exposing them to the best examples of international contemporary art; to enrich the permanent collection of the Carnegie Museums; and to promote international goodwill. Today, the International is the longest-running survey of global contemporary art after the Venice Biennale, which was established only one year earlier, in 1895.

Unlike Venice and most of the 200 or so more conspicuous biennials and international exhibitions that have emerged since, the Carnegie International has always been connected to and presented at the museum itself. It is, in effect, also a long-running acquisitions program, as the museum regularly purchases works from the show for its permanent collection. …


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In case you missed my last post, we established that museums have a lot of catching up to do in order to reach a new generation of native digital users — people who openly consume culture and publications online, and are heavily invested in the economy of sharing. With sites like BuzzFeed changing the game through substantial investments in technology and content designed for the sole purpose of going viral, museums must ask themselves: Are we capitalizing on the potential of technology and accessible ideas in our physical and virtual spaces? …

About

JiaJia Fei

Digital Strategist for the Art World • Founder of the First Digital Agency for Art • Formerly Director of Digital at the Jewish Museum & Guggenheim NYC

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