Meet the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG

A visitor interacts with a table and collections items

A visitor engages with All At Once at the Williams College Museum of Art

Thanks to an ever-growing number of interactives, apps, and online platforms, museums can engage with their audiences in more ways than ever before.

With so many tools available, staff often find themselves discussing the role technology plays in visitor learning:

  • In what ways can technology help provide inclusive and accessible interpretation of the museum’s
  • How can digital media be used to connect with visitors both onsite and online?
  • What stories can the museum’s content tell and how can we create that content collaboratively?

Conversations around these topics are the central focus of the Educational and Interpretive Media SIG. As a community of practice, our mission is to build knowledge and skills around the planning and implementation of media and experiences that support visitor’s connections to collections and ideas. Through our messaging board on Basecamp and regular google hangouts, the group addresses the role of digital interpretation and educational tools in the museum.

Interested? Come join us! We’d love to hear about your experiences and learn from each other.


SIG Chair – Alicia Viera, Interpretive Planner, Detroit Institute of Arts

SIG Co-Chair Melissa Mair, Senior Interpretation Planner, Carnegie Museum of Art



Meet the Human Centered Design SIG

Human-centered design (HCD) is a process for understanding problems and creating solutions that meet real people’s needs. It emphasizes research and ideation, and can be applied to any type of product, service, or experience, inside and outside museums.   

The HCD SIG is a network for anyone who wants to learn about using human-centered design in your museum work. Anyone interested in using HCD to improve people’s experiences in museums is welcome, no matter your role or level of design experience!   


What have we been up to lately? 

Earlier this year, we hosted a webinar with Kathi Kaiser of Centralis. Kathi shared three case studies that took different approaches to usability testing and factors to consider when using this methodology.

We also publish monthly newsletters on our message board with HCD resources that catch our eye. 


What’s coming up? 

Since we are a relatively new SIG (only 2 years old!) we’re hoping to use this year’s conference to bring together existing and potential members to brainstorm and iterate on what our SIG should look like moving forward to be the most effective and useful for everyone involved. Stop by the HCD SIG area at the SIG Open House, where we’ll be applying the HCD process to our very own SIG! 

Additionally, Seema Rao will step down from her role as a SIG co-chair after this year’s conference. While we’ll be sad to see her go, we also can’t wait to meet the next SIG co-chair who will help shape and grow the SIG. If you have expertise in HCD or are simply really excited about diving deeper, consider running for co-chair next year! Want to discuss before the conference? Contact Cathy and Seema to learn more.  

Not a member of the HCD SIG yet? Sign up today!


Cathy Sigmond, HCD SIG co-chair


Seema Rao headshot

Seema Rao, HCD SIG co-chair



Meet the Digital Asset Management SIG


A group of people around a table at the Digital Asset Management SIG happy hour, 2017

Photos, videos, audio files! Every museum produces thousands of them – documenting collections, capturing events and exhibitions, marketing the work of the institution. Digital Asset Managers are here to organize, preserve and make accessible all of these priceless assets for research and reuse.  Our SIG supports knowledge sharing, strategy and best practices for DAMS based on the practical knowledge gained through years of experience implementing and working on these systems.  

We have a robust Basecamp group where members share tricky situations and pesky problems to generate solutions – there’s always someone in the group who’s tackled something similar! We also like to collaborate with other SIGs because content users, producers and intrepid IT professionals all have valuable feedback on how these systems function. 

Our interests go beyond what is already available and into what’s coming up in advances in imaging techniques, making connections in meaningful ways through machine learning and feeding new frontiers such as augmented and virtual reality.

We’re a fun SIG that likes to chat about metadata during happy hour – keep your eyes peeled for one coming up soon!

Interested in joining the DAM SIG? 

Fill out the Google form here, someone will be in touch shortly.


CO-CHAIR – David Garfinkel, Senior Digital Asset Manager Technician, The Metropolitan Museum of Art





















Meet the Digital Imaging SIG

A photographer setting up a shot for a museum object


Even if you’re not familiar with institutional digitization programs, book scanners, rapid imaging or FADGI standards, chances are you’ve seen the result of these ideas and by extension, the work of members of the Digital Imaging SIG. Images are the face of museums in the public sphere, from bus and transit ads, to instagram posts about the newest exhibition.


The Digital Imaging SIG provides a place for museum photographers and imaging professionals to discuss ideas, explore technical problems and discuss the latest color to be removed from the spectrum. We also organize dinners, happy hours and meet-ups for members to meet face to face and provide a forum for more informal discussion.


In May, we held a dinner/social event during the 2+3d conference at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and we are beginning to plan a similar even during the MCN conference in November. A new initiative for 2019 that we are excited about working on is several virtual studio tours, which will take the form of videos partially driven by member questions.


We hope this will help build a more collaborative network amongst small studios, by sharing knowledge and innovation that might otherwise be glossed over, or not mentioned in conference talks. More on this in the coming months! If you aren’t currently a member of the Digital Imaging SIG, following along on our Basecamp for updates and to join in the discussion!


Ben Cort, Collections Photographer, Portland Art Museum and SIG Chair


Christopher Ciccone headshot

Christopher Ciccone, Photographer & Digital Asset Manager, North Carolina Museum of Art and SIG Co-Chair


Join the MCN board in 2019!


We’re pleased to announce the 2019 call for candidates to be considered to serve on the Board of Directors of MCN. MCN is looking to recruit four (4) board members to replace those whose 3-year term will be ending in November.

Why serve on the MCN board of Directors?

Envisioning a world in which all museums are empowered digitally to achieve their missions, MCN’s mission is to grow the digital capacity of museum professionals by connecting them to ideas, information, opportunities, proven practices, and each other.

For many past and current board members, serving on the board of MCN is a way to give back to an organization and a community that have supported them throughout their careers in museums. It’s also an invaluable opportunity for personal and professional development: join a great team of talented museum professionals who, together with MCN’s Executive Director and staff, shape the strategic direction of the organization and continually find ways to better serve the needs of our community.

What we’re looking for?

Since the new year, the staff and board have been actively engaged in implementing the vision of MCN’s new three-year Strategic Plan (2019-2021) called “Achieving impact through inclusion, innovation, and community building”.

MCN is looking for community members from diverse backgrounds, and with varied skill sets, perspectives and voices to help MCN execute on its strategic vision and contribute their expertise to grow MCN’s capacity and impact. As a newly appointed board member, you will join us in San Diego for your first board meeting on November 4, 2019 to develop a tactical Work Plan that will guide the work of the organization and the Board throughout 2020 in support of the larger 3-year strategic vision.

While all members of the community with an interest in serving MCN are welcome to apply, this year we are particularly interested in candidates who can bring specific expertise, or have a background and experience, in one or more of the following key areas:

  • Sustainable practices, business modeling and development
    As a community organization, MCN’s sole purpose is to serve its members. Over the next three years MCN’s leadership will make strategic changes in order to mitigate risks and increase the organization’s long-term financial and operational sustainability. If you have expertise running programs or organizations that resulted in demonstrated sustainable outcomes, we want to hear from you. Skills or expertise in business development, strategic partnerships, securing sponsorships and fundraising are equally desirable.
  • Grant Writing and Fundraising
    MCN recognizes that it must diversify its revenue streams as well as leverage the organization’s non-profit status to support its expansion in various programmatic areas. We are seeking a board member who has a successful track record in securing grant funding or fundraising for program development, and can help us select funders and communicate our vision to them.
  • Program Development
    We’re seeking a board member who has experience developing organizational programs, such as professional development (that includes mentorship), designing a content strategy, events & conferences or teams that empower community members to act with more autonomy to address their needs. If you’ve designed and led volunteer programs that are anchored within the community, or helped existing programs successfully expand their capacity, we’d like to hear from you.
  • Digital/IT strategy and systems infrastructure
    Over the next two years MCN is committed to transforming our online tools to create a better user experience, and revamping our backend infrastructure to streamline organizational processes. We’re looking for someone who has experience designing or integrating backend infrastructures or architecture, or with a strong background in systems administration.
  • Marketing, Communications and PR
    Clear, effective, and open communication with our members and the broader MCN community is critical to the success of our organization. Over the next few years MCN will develop, implement and expand the range of products we offer with the goal of increasing the value of membership for MCN members. We are seeking a board member with skills and experience in marketing and communication practices to design and implement new messaging and communication practices around these products and help us demonstrate their value to our members.
What’s expected of MCN Board members?

MCN’s board of Directors is both a governance and a working board. This means that in addition to being fiduciary guardians of this 503(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, our board members roll up their sleeves, put on their thinking caps, and dedicate a good portion of their time working on organizational projects. For most, this means taking an active role on one or more of our board committees.

As a working board, MCN Directors are expected to dedicate about 8-12 hours per month working on MCN business, including attending a monthly conference-call board call as well as other committee meetings. Additionally, you will be expected to attend two (2) annual board meetings in person: one the week of MCN’s annual conference (typically in November), and another, generally in the spring, the week of the Museums and the Web conference wherever that location may be. Directors cannot be compensated and MCN is not currently in a position to support its Directors for travel related expenses to attend these two annual in-person board meetings (expenses to attend board retreats are however fully covered).

Once appointed, MCN Directors serve a three-year term. For reference, we invite you to familiarize yourself with MCN’s By-Laws.

The MCN Governance Guidelines outline the expectations and responsibilities of board members:

  • 8-12 hours of MCN-related work per month, depending upon activities
  • Play an active leadership role in delivering on MCN’s overall business in general and on assigned strategic priorities specifically
  • Attend and prepare for each board meeting
  • Be prepared and willing to lead the board and/or a committee
  • Join and participate actively in the activities of at least one committee
  • Follow, participate and contribute to online board discussions in a timely manner
  • Make every reasonable effort to bring financial support to the organization annually from external sources, e.g. identify and introduce sponsor prospects and secure sponsorships
  • Leverage personal relationships with others (including corporations, professional service firms, vendors, foundations, and individuals) to assist the staff of the organization with implementing fundraising strategies, including adding names of potential sources of support to the organization’s mailing list
  • Actively participate in the development of the annual conference
  • Attend the annual conference (board members receive a special discounted registration rate)
  • Actively participate in MCN fundraising efforts
  • Travel at their own cost (MCN is not currently in a position to cover travel expenses for board members) to attend two (2) annual board meetings in person: one the week of MCN’s annual conference (typically in November), and another, generally in the spring, the week of the Museums and the Web conference wherever that location may be Directors cannot be compensated and MCN does not pay Directors for travel or other related expenses (expenses to attend board retreats are however fully covered).
Who we’re looking for?

MCN encourages people from diverse backgrounds, institutions, and experiences to apply. MCN does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression and identity, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.

In addition, to ensure that a diverse range of institutions are represented on the board, each individual institution may be represented by only one member of the board at any given time. Candidates are encouraged to review the current board members’ list below to check the institution that they are currently affiliated with.

What’s the nomination and appointment process?

To be considered by the 2019 Nominating Committee, please fill out and submit the online application form. If you believe someone you know would be a qualified candidate, please encourage them to apply. Applications are due Sunday June 30, 2019 at 11:59pm PT. We will let you know if we require additional information about your application.

What’s next?

MCN’s 2019 Nominating Committee will review all applications and propose a slate of candidates to the board of Directors for discussion, followed by a vote on the individual appointment of each proposed candidate for Director. We anticipate notifying successful candidates by late August 2019 at the latest (it’s often sooner). The announcement of newly appointed Directors will posted on our website and shared with the MCN community on MCN-L.

If you have any additional questions, please email the Executive Director.

We encourage all qualified candidates to apply or hope that you will refer someone you think would be a qualified candidate.

Thank you for being a part of MCN.

MCN 2019 Nominating Committee
Elizabeth Bollwerk, President
Matt Tarr, VP-President Elect
Lori Byrd-McDevitt, Director
Courtney OCallagan, Director
Eric Longo, Executive Director

Current MCN Board members list with terms
  • Elizabeth Bollwerk (2015 – 2019), Thomas Jefferson Foundation
  • Greg Albers (2016 – 2019), The Getty
  • Lori Byrd McDevitt (2016 – 2019), Children’s Museum Indianapolis
  • Darren Milligan (2016 – 2019), Smithsonian, Center for Learning & Digital Access
  • Deborah Howes (2016 – 2019), Johns Hopkins University
  • Matt Tarr (2016 – 2020), American Museum of Natural History
  • Keir Winesmith (2017 – 2020), Winesmith Digital Studio
  • Samantha Diamond (2017 – 2020), CultureConnect
  • Susan Edwards (2017 – 2020), Hammer Museum
  • Desi Gonzalez (2017 – 2020), City of Austin
  • Mitchell Sava (2017 – 2020), Museum of Life and Science
  • Mara Kurlandsky (2018 – 2021), National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Courtney OCallaghan (2018 – 2021), Freer Gallery of Art & Sackler Gallery
  • Nathan Adkisson (2018 – 2021), Local Projects
  • Doug Allen (2018 – 2021), The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art
  • Kai Frazier (2018 – 2021), Curated x Kai



Meet the Strategy SIG

Strategy is integral to the success of our projects and organizations. The Strategy SIG brings together change-makers to learn from one another’s experiences in developing and  implementing strategies.

The Strategy SIG strategy

Since the Strategy SIG is about strategy, we thought that we should have a … strategy. Like any good strategy, ours starts with our objectives which are to facilitate the sharing of experience and expertise; and create opportunities for community and collaboration around the conference.

With these 2 goals, we have come up with the following 4  tactics to achieve them.

– Professional development  via online meetings

– Basecamp conversations

– Promote conference proposal collaboration

– Meetup for dinner or drinks at the conference

April 2019 update

– This month we have a professional development call Strategies for Preserving Digital Assets. We’ll be recording the webinar and posting it to the Basecamp, in-case you miss it.

– It’s conference proposal season. Conversations are happening on Basecamp. Got an idea or looking for someone to partner up with? Post to Basecamp.

– We’re planning an offsite for the conference. We’ve got San Diego native Nik Honeysett planning a social. More details to come and guaranteed to be a good time.

– Not a member of the Strategy SIG? Click here to sign up by filling out our Google Form


Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference

Post by Suse Anderson


MCN’s 2018 conference, Humanizing the Digital, explored how museums can use technology to foster human connection and dialogue, advance accessibility and inclusion, and champion inquiry and knowledge. After witnessing the presentations and rich conversations that arose from them, a group of practitioners came together to explore how best to capture and disseminate the learnings that occurred at the conference. The outcome was a decision to solicit and publish a book inspired by the conference and its ideas.

A call went out in December requesting submissions from both conference attendees and presenters. Essays were encouraged to synthesize an idea that emerged over the week, dive deeper into a conference session, or speak broadly on the theme, including opportunities for non-traditional submissions.

The result, released this week, is Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference. The book contains 17 conference-inspired responses to the state of museum technology in 2018, including essays, reflections, case studies, conversations, and an experimental in-book zine. The topics explore areas as diverse as calm technology, Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, visitor-centered communication, interpretation and programming, empathy, inclusion and slow change.

It is worth noting that we were midway through the process before it occurred to us that it might be a good idea to notify MCN that we were doing this. Thankfully, MCN thought that this kind of community-driven effort was worth embracing. Though unofficial, it is definitely aligned with MCN’s mission of connecting people to ideas and each other. It is also a great example of the kind of community MCN has developed; one that is deeply collegial, true to its grassroots origins, geared toward action, and likely to ask for forgiveness before permission.

It is also worth noting that our editorial process followed (or, at least, tried to follow) those same principles. Editors and authors volunteered their time to this publication, which involved a social-media-based Call For Proposals that was open to anyone willing to put in the time and energy to turn something around within a matter of weeks. We did a bit of peer review for clarity, but relatively little editing of our submissions, so what you are about to read represents the varied voices and styles of the authors. While not every initial proposal ended up in this collection, we heartily thank all the members of the MCN community who shared their thoughts with us.

Humanizing the Digital: Unproceedings from the MCN 2018 Conference was produced using Quire™, a digital publishing platform created by Getty Publications and owned by the J. Paul Getty Trust. Thank you to our Production Editor, Greg Albers (also an MCN Board member), whose work was invaluable in turning our idea for a responsive unconference publication into reality.

Members of the Ad Hoc Museum Collective will be at Museums and the Web, the American Alliance of Museums conference and MCNx New Orleans and will have copies of the book available for purchase for a special price of $10. You can also buy the book from Amazon now. If you’re looking for another way to access the essays, we plan to make the full collection available online and for download for free in time for MCN 2019.

All proceeds from the sale of the book go to support the MCN scholarship program.

Ad Hoc Museum Collective Editorial Team

Suse Anderson, Isabella Bruno, Hannah Hethmon, Seema Rao, Ed Rodley, and Rachel Ropeik.

Production Editor

Greg Albers


SIG Corner: Meet Information Technology!

Stock image of a right hand typing on a keyboard
The IT Special Interest Group focuses on the nuts and bolts of everyday management of IT departments as well as emerging technologies, all while members help members by being a sounding board, giving advise, and sharing our experiences. Our group holds monthly online meetups, including a live intranet software demo in February.
In March we’ll host a roundtable discussion on current technology issues. Just in the past month our Basecamp chats included the topics of intranet technology, email security, music performance rights, information security consulting, ticketing systems and more.
Sound up your alley?
Janice Craddock headshot
Janice Craddock (Chair)
 Brian Dawson headshot
Brian Dawson (Co-Chair)

The Museum Technology Charter

A visitor engages with technology and the collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art

By Koven Smith

The nature of how museums use technology and digital tools has changed significantly in the last ten years. Perhaps even more critically, the expectations of what museums should be able to produce using digital tools have increased significantly in the last decade. Given this, what is a museum of the 21st Century expected to do in order to deliver on these increased expectations? What is required for a museum to be digitally literate, and what are the appropriate means for achieving this literacy? These questions are particularly acute for smaller museums, who often lack the resources to investigate these questions, or even to assess their own digital literacy. Sector-wide publications like the Horizon Report: Museum Edition once provided peer-reviewed resources (and a critical lifeline) to these museums. These publications no longer exist, but the need they satisfied still remains.

In seeking to address this sector-wide need, the Museum Computer Network is developing a prototype online publication called The Museum Technology Charter, which will be unveiled at MCN 2019 in San Diego. The Charter will be a handbook for museums seeking to develop their own technology and digital capacities in effective and ethical ways. As the end result of six months of deliberation and discussion among leading thinkers in museum technology, the Museum Technology Charter will serve as a sector-wide benchmark against which a museum’s own digital efforts might be evaluated.

The Museum  Technology Charter will be an online publication consisting of four primary components:

  • The Technology “Stack”: The first component of the Charter will be a comprehensive list of technology elements that project participants consider to be sufficient (and in some cases critical) for the normal operation of a museum. These elements will be inclusive of more obvious considerations (websites, mobile apps) to the less obvious (time-based media acquisition strategies), to the future-focused (AR/VR implementations).
  • Values and methodologies: There are multiple ways to implement a given element in the technology stack, some of which are consistent with museum values and some of which aren’t. The goal of this component of the Charter will therefore be to identify values that are non-negotiable (such as accessibility) and those that might be ideal and reflective of a more digitally mature organization, but not necessarily critical  (such as open licensing of digital collections).
  • Maturity matrix: Once the technology stack elements and values have been identified, these two components will be combined into a matrix that will allow a museum to self-assess its own “technological readiness.” This matrix will, in effect, have capabilities on the x-axis and values on the y-axis, allowing a museum to take both elements into account when assessing its own maturity.
  • Skills identification: The final component of the report will be to identify skills that are necessary for moving between capability areas of the Maturity Matrix. This will help museums to better understand what training might be required or what roles may need to be hired in order to improve their overall technological maturity.

With these four components identified, the hope is that The Museum Technology Charter will provide a comprehensive accounting of the state of museum technology and digital efforts circa 2019. Stay tuned for more updates as this project evolves leading up to MCN 2019.

The Museum Technology Charter is made possible with the support of MCN (Museum Computer Network) acting as fiscal sponsor.


The #MuseTech Water Cooler

If you have an update or announcement, an upcoming event or call for proposals, a new job, an important blog post or other museum technology content that you’d like to share in our monthly newsletter, submit it using the form below no later than the 10th of each month.


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