The Walker Art Center’s new website is blowing my mind. I’m still making my way through all of the features but with each click my inner museum geek squeals with delight. Already on my list of favorite art museums, the Walker Art Center is once again demonstrating that its mission to be “a catalyst for the creative expression of artists and the active engagement of audiences” isn’t mere lip service.
Having been part of a museum web development team I know how challenging it is to accomplish a website redesign. Making seismic shifts in the virtual realm mirrors the effort in the physical as museums–particularly larger institutions–tend to be bureaucratic monoliths that dig in their collective heels at even the thought of change, much less its actual execution.
Museum leaders have begrudgingly accepted that websites and social media are a necessary evil but it is evident that many believe the purpose should be purely advertorial and the conversation primarily one-way: “Let us tell you what we’re doing and how amazing we are and why we’re the experts. Now give us your money.” And to make matters worse, only certain staffers are typically allowed to contribute to that discourse, providing an even more limited viewpoint.
As Museum Nerd noted in a great post about the website launch, the Walker Art Center has completely upended those antiquated practices, proving that shedding an insular, myopic and top down leadership model results in creativity, innovation and engagement.
Museum leaders take heed: it’s time to step your game up.
See also: Seb Chan’s interview, “The Museum Website as a Newspaper” for background info on the development process.
Asking me to choose my favorite art museums is like asking someone to pick their favorite child.
Actually, that might be easier.
But as part of the 31 Days to a Brand New Blog Challenge, we’ve been tasked with writing a list post, so I thought I would go with a subject that is near and dear to my heart:
My 5 Favorite Art Museums (for now)*
As if being literally a stone’s throw away from my job wasn’t great enough, this cozy museum presents thought-provoking exhibitions while effectively highlighting its permanent collection. Crowd-sourcing an exhibition of its volunteers’ favorite works and highlighting local artists earns this museum high marks.
My first visit to this museum took place during an AmeriCorps Habitat for Humanity Build-a-Thon. After spending five days constructing houses in the spring heat, it was a welcome respite. I was totally won over by Late Nights, my first up-close viewing of work by Edgar Degas and the museum’s support of young visual artists.
This is the place where my pop culture references collide. Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic. Ivan Albright’s masterfully grotesque Picture of Dorian Gray (which gave me nightmares as a kid after watching the movie.) Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. My beloved A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat.
For some reason, university art museums seem to get lost in the shuffle. Located on the main University of Kansas campus, I spent a lot of time in the galleries as a woefully shell-shocked (and broke) freshman. Even though it’s close to home, I don’t visit nearly as much as I would like. Thankfully, the Spencer Art Minute keeps me connected to the collection.
Much more than “just” an art museum, the Walker presents a steady stream of dynamic exhibitions, lectures, films and performances. Innovative programs like Open Field and Walker Art Center Teen Arts Council (WACTAC) solidify its place as an industry leader.
*excluding my place of employment due to conflict of interest 🙂
Tyler Green (Modern Art Notes) is hosting a favorite museum deathmatch contest. What place makes your inner art geek swoon? Please share your favorite art museums in the comments.