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Plant Shopping 101

It’s coming! You better be ready. Are you practicing balancing 5 plants in your hands at once? Are you ready to fight for the plant you want? Here’s a good way to get in condition. Go to the grocery store when you know the produce section will be extra busy. This is an excellent place to practice elbowing people out of the way. When Misty Mae tries to grab your bunch of asparagus find that tender spot in the rib cage with your elbow and show her how the pros shop. She won’t mess with you at the table of sale strawberries either. And she won’t get the last Baptisia ‘Screamin’ Yellow’ as you reach for it. Shopping for new plants should be fun but sometimes it’s a battle. Are you ready to battle, people?

Next weekend will be Perennial Premiere again. Seems only a moment has occurred since last year’s plant extravaganza but soon April 21 and 22, 2012 will be here. My good friends at Pink Glitter Farms agreed to demonstrate three important shopping strategies.

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Filed under: Current Events, Horticulture, Local

 

Super Bowl XLVI: More than a Football Game

It’s hard to believe that it has been almost four years since Indianapolis was selected to host the 46th Super Bowl. For most of us, the Super Bowl has some sort of yearly tradition tied to it. We get together with friends, indulge ourselves, laugh at a few commercials and watch a football game. It’s one day, maybe two with a lingering hangover, and one event.

For a host city, the Super Bowl is much more than this.

Super Bowl XLVI
Pictured left to right, from the IMA’s permanent collection: Untitled, plate 8, Garo Z. Antreasian, 1969. © Garo Antreatsian; Letter L, Edward Lear, about 1862; Double V, 1978; Double Shaft Pen Holder, Asian.

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Filed under: Current Events, Local

 

Is Your Community Better Off Because it has a Museum? Final Thoughts About Participatory Culture (part III)

In the first two posts of this series we examined some of the challenges and opportunities for museums and libraries in an era of participatory culture, and also highlighted a few of the more pressing questions that popped up in discussion among colleagues during a recent meeting at the Salzburg Global Seminar.

In a gathering that could ostensibly have been about how technology and social media have changed the landscape of museum practice, I was so thrilled to find that almost all of our discussion focused on how museums and libraries can make significant and lasting changes in our local communities. Working in a museum, I’ve taken that as my context, but many of these issues have important corollaries in libraries as well.

Perhaps the most useful change in my own thinking is an understanding that the era of participatory culture is not a new thing, but rather – enhanced by recent trends in technology – one that has its roots in the very reasons why museums exist in the first place.  While technology, social media, and mobile adoption influence the ways that we engage museum audiences and the expectations they bring into the museum, an attitude that invites participation has the potential to transform individual and community experiences that enhance the public value of the work we do.

Why is your community better off because it has a museum?

I’m challenged by the courage and convictions of colleagues I met in Salzburg, who take a commitment to their local community very seriously. Whether helping neighbors recover from devastating storms in the Philippines, reaching out to the homeless and poor communities in Sao Paulo, or bringing libraries to rural Kenya on the backs of camels, I found myself inspired to think about how a museum in Indianapolis can learn from such tangible demonstrations of public value.

In his book “Making Museums Matter,” Stephen Weil talked about a mandate for museums to demonstrate real value within our communities:

“Why is your community better off because it has a museum? [The answer] must necessarily be something more than, because otherwise it wouldn’t. Museums matter only to the extent that they are perceived to provide the communities they serve something of value beyond their own mere existence.”

The Occupy Museums protests demonstrate a growing frustration with the way museums see their role in today's society

This topic surfaced repeatedly during the conversations about participatory culture in Salzburg. The consensus among the group coalesced in an assertion that museums have an inherent mission to deliver public value driven by a universal right to cultural access.

It is clear to me that although museums have long enjoyed a privileged place in the public’s confidence, societal and economic changes, as well as the public’s expectation of museums, have significantly augmented the landscape of public value.  New questions about what constitutes public value and who sees the benefits of that value need to be considered seriously by those museums that want to see real impact from their effort. Lest we think that the value of museums is secure, the nascent ”occupy museums” movement reminds us that a growing frustration exists with the way museums think about their role in society.

The real test for public value is not what the museum says it is, but rather the value attributed to us by our communities and stakeholders. Simply declaring that the museum is valuable isn’t a substitute for actually demonstrating that value on a consistent basis.

At the heart of the issue is the museum community’s willingness to take a harsh look in the mirror and ask hard questions about whether or not we actually do a good job of bringing value to our constituents. In my opinion, a more wholehearted embrace of participatory culture may be the tonic we need to really delve into the ways that museums can change their current practice.  To realize the benefits of participatory culture will require an openness to welcome new opinions about the museum.

Serhan Ada, from Istanbul Bilgi University had a wonderful way of framing the difference. He notes that, “Participation occurs when someone welcomed as a guest feels as though they have become a host.” Are visitors to your museum truly guests in this sense? Perhaps the benefits of participatory culture are most easily witnessed with such a shared sense of ownership.

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Filed under: Current Events, Museum Community, Musings

 

Ten Reasons to Vote for the IMA as the BEST Museum in Indy

Today’s blog post was written by Public Affairs intern Dori Thayer. Dori is a recent graduate of DePauw University where she studied Art History.

IndyChannel recently launched their A-list ballot for 2011 – a yearly poll that highlights the best of Indy. The IMA is proud to say that we have been nominated as a contender for best museum. The wide-ranging list below, in the form of a TOP ten, are just a few reasons why you should vote in support of the IMA as Indianapolis’ BEST museum. We know you already agree but we hope to reassure you anyway.

10. First and foremost, the IMA is an ART museum, even though it provides films, talks, events, galas, and workshops that may convince you otherwise, the enormous and comprehensive collection is at the heart of our existence. The IMA strives and achieves in providing an art museum environment that is friendly and non-threatening to those without an artistic background, embracing the community as a whole. Those with a love and passion for the arts can mingle amongst peers and schedule an entire weekend of events solely with IMA activities.

9. The IMA has had a remarkable year which included a recent performance at the Venice Biennale, representing the US on a global venue. As you know, the IMA has been working tirelessly on this event, which has garnered amazing responses to Allora & Calzadilla’s works. The IMA represented Indianapolis and the US in an authentic and innovative way through this artistic duo. Did I mention the IMA represented the ENTIRE UNITED STATES? Just checking.

Photos by Andrew Bordwin.

8. In recent years, the opening of the Randall L. and Marianne W. Tobias Theater, aka The Toby, has drawn some big-named speakers into our Indianapolis sphere. Most recently Stefan Sagmeister came to speak about design and happiness from his personal studio, Sagmeister Inc, which was founded in 1993. Sagmeister has designed for the likes of The Rolling Stones, HBO and the Guggenheim with his maxim’s made of both conventional and unconventional mediums using his words and design as a “tool for social renewal.” The Toby has also hosted, Temple Grandin, a woman living with Autism, who is praised with her humane design for handling livestock facilities. An HBO film biography on her won seven Emmy awards! With an amazing turn out for the Toby’s first year (almost 37,000 visitors) the future only looks brighter. Who will the Toby draw in next?

Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial7. Not only does the IMA host galleries filled with ancient arts and artifacts from cultures around the world, it also hosts its own contemporary art wing from a world-wide net. Do-Ho Suh’s contemporary work, Floor is  a very awe inspiring piece. Viewers are allowed and meant to step upon this expansive platform where hundreds of male and female figurines seemingly hold you up. The hundreds of figures that cover the underside of the 32 individual squares allow each viewer’s weight to be held up by their tired plastic arms. The IMA has a contemporary collection worth noting as well as artist showcases, presently being Mr. Thorton Dial—whose exhibition Hard Truths runs through September 18.

6. Spring has sprung and summer is fully fledged! 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park is an amazing outdoor experience that is definitely worth its own visit to the IMA. On these beautiful Indianapolis summer days, 100 acres is a perfect getaway from the bustle of the city (even just for a few hours)! With eight sight-specific works commissioned, the park shows how art and nature intertwined in a contemporary style. Joep van Lieshout, with his studio Atelier van Lieshout, created Funky Bones, and interactive large-scale sculpture of a Halloween-esque skeleton to be multifaceted, as both art and as functional benches. Plus, where else can you row out to an artist-inhabited island? Pretty sure we’re the only one.

5. In 2008 the IMA was named an Energy Star partner with a pledge to reduce energy consumption. In turn, we reduced natural gas consumption by 48 percent and electricity by 19 percent. In 2010 the IMA was named one of 11 museums to receive recognition by the Environmental Protection Agency which sparked the IMA’s own “greening committee”- displaying art and protecting the environment, one day at a time.

4. We love to collaborate! The Indianapolis International Film Festival has again paired with the IMA’s Toby theatre and DeBoest Lecture hall and will be running from July 14-July 18. This festival will show films from all over the world of varying genre, skill level and lengths. From one minute films (Check out Dinosaur Ballet) to full length feature films, this festival will have a film to suit everyone’s taste. The IMA bringing a small piece of the world to you through this collaboration is sure to be an eye-opening experience. (It also includes a film by one of the IMA’s own staff, be sure to check out Type A!)

3. A certain buzz has been generated from the unveiling of the enigmatic Miller House and Garden in Columbus, Indiana. This acquisition marks an expansion that the IMA knows no bounds and will restore and display art of many forms while also showcasing Indiana’s architectural gem, the city of Columbus itself.

2. Summer Nights is a summer film series that has been widely received by the Indianapolis community. Not only can you sit amongst your friends, and enjoy a great film in the evening, but you can lounge in an amphitheatre setting reminiscent of the ancient Greeks and enjoy food and refreshments. This series is widely popular and lets you escape from the air-conditioned doldrums of the standard blockbuster while enjoying an acclaimed film and a nice summer breeze. Are you convinced yet?

1. In the words of a beloved YELP reviewer: “…an art museum that’s free? Must be a joke or not worth going to. Turns out that I was wrong.” You heard right, to everyone’s utter amazement and enjoyment, admission is FREE! VOTE NOW for the IMA as the BEST Museum in Indianapolis!

Filed under: Around the Web, Current Events, Local, Polls

 

A Virtual Trip to Venice

It’s a bit quieter around the office this week, though my inbox is no lonelier. From curatorial staff to exhibition designers, public affairs representatives and IT staff, the IMA has a mighty team of Biennale ambassadors overseas. They’re hosting VIPs, recording videos, taking photographs, installing work, and surely doing a list of other necessary tasks that I am unaware of. While it may seem like the whole Museum boarded a plane, that’s certainly not the case. Many of us (most of us, really) are here manning the fort.

So what are we up to back in the motherland? A few things really…

While our traveling cohorts organize and gather the documentation materials, a team of us are ready and on-hand to help get that content to you (and our friends in the media) as quickly as possible. Working within a system that includes a 6 hour time difference isn’t always easy, but multiple process meetings prior to the trip has made for smooth sailing (knock on wood).

Most of my job entails getting the content out to you, our online audience. From updating the website with videos, images, and information to managing our Facebook and @imamuseum Twitter account, my work is 90% online and 10% meetings about the online material. I sincerely love this job and it’s because of this job that I feel like I am in Venice along with everyone else.

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Filed under: Around the Web, Current Events, IMA Staff, Venice Biennale

 

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