James Huang The Gospel of Skills at AUXILIARY PROJECTS

Great “Rough Cuts” by James Kalm on James Huang’s brilliant sculptures at Auxiliary Projects in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Watch more on MUSEUMNERD TELEVISION here:

[Eyebeam Presents] #ArtsTech: Privacy/Identity

Copied and pasted (a bit remixed) from here:

[Eyebeam Presents] #ArtsTech: Privacy/Identity

In the age of “transparency” and big data, questions around privacy and identity loom large. While some people want to create what are essentially “driver’s licenses for the web” that will link back to your personal identity wherever you go online (i.e. Google+, Facebook profiles), others warn of the costs associated with giving up our right to anonymity and what this might mean for free speech and censorship online. This is a BIG topic that affects all of us as denizens of the web, and in this meetup we’ll merely be skimming the surface. Our panel of speakers will present a variety of perspectives on these issues to help get the conversation started.

  • Tuesday, September 18, 2012 | 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM

  • EYEBEAM | 540 W 21st St, New York, NY (map)

  • Price: $10.00/per person | Refund policy

  • Schedule:

    7:00pm – Doors. Mingling over wine and snacks provided by Tumblr

    7:30-8:45pm – Presentations and short panel discussion with the speakers

    8:30-10:00pm – Conversation continues over wine


    Museum Nerd will be giving an anonymous presentation via Skype. In lieu of a bio, he has provided us with the following crowdsourced descriptions of himself:

    “no physical description, no fixed address, no discernible motive, digs James Turrell” – @MDammit

    “social web’s most-extensive aggregator of museum exhibitions and events.” – @zoebfox

    “A source for museum-related flâneur love and general feel good art vibrations in 140 characters or less.” – @hragv

    “Museum Nerd is a nerd. A nerd of museums and the sort.” An IRL talk? Will you be wearing a mask? – @art21

    “…faster than a speeding bullet…” – @theBoBartlett

    “@museumnerd is a cultural Twitter icon (Twicon) who has been getting people interested in museums for the past [insert number] years”- @AlizaySteinberg

    “expert in collections at many museums you’ve never heard of” – @resuitener

    Since March 2010, Museum Nerd has checked in at museums 247 times on Foursquare.

    Cole Stryker is a freelance writer and media strategist based in New York City. He is the author of Hacking the Future: Privacy, Identity, and Anonymity on the Web (out this month from The Overlook Press), as well as Epic Win for Anonymous, the first book to explore the underground Internet meme culture factory called 4chan, and Anonymous, the hacktivist collective it spawned. His writing has appeared in SalonViceThe New York ObserverThe Huffington Post, and elsewhere. More at

    Kyle McDonald is a media artist who works with code, with a background in philosophy and computer science. He creates intricate systems with playful realizations, sharing the source and challenging others to create and contribute. Kyle is a regular collaborator on arts-engineering initiatives such as openFrameworks, having developed a number of extensions which provide connectivity to powerful image processing and computer vision libraries. For the past few years, Kyle has applied these techniques to problems in 3D sensing, for interaction and visualization, starting with structured light techniques, and later the Kinect. Kyle’s work ranges from hyper-formal glitch experiments to tactical and interrogative installations and performance. He was recently Guest Researcher in residence at the Yamaguchi Center for Arts and Media, Japan, and is currently adjunct professor at ITP.

Museum Press Release Clearing House on Tumblr

I started a new Tumblr to help museums get the word out about exhibits and new hires by posting their press releases in a place where interested people can find them through tagging and searching, then share them with their networks.

Just click the “submit” button, cut & paste, and voila!


Thanks, @museumtweets, for helping with the admin.

Hey Museums, WordPress now Pushes to Tumblr

Update (moments after Publishing) – Here’s what the following WordPress post looks like when pushed to  Tumblr:

What this blog post looks like when pushed to Tumblr using WordPress’s new option in the “Publicize” feature.

I just read a couple articles about the new integration of a push-to-Tumblr option for new WordPress blog posts. This may be helpful for museums who’ve established a large following on WordPress, but want to share easily with the growing community on Tumblr.

Caveat: I don’t ever recommend sharing with a community that you don’t check in on. If you’re posting on Tumblr, but not checking to see if you have messages, reblogs, etc. there, you’re not really part of that community at all. The obvious analogue for this is the infamous pushing of Facebook posts to Twitter!

The one thing which seems to be missing is a preview feature. I’ll test it out with this post and see how it looks. Apologies if it’s incoherent, but here’s hoping it looks clean and works well. Articles:

“Earlier today turned on the ability to push new blog posts to Tumblr, alongside the existing capability to do so for Twitter, Facebook, et al. This is interesting for a few reasons….” – Matt Mullenweg

“The second you publish a new post on, you can instantly share it on Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and now Tumblr with a feature called Publicize. This helps you get exposure to multiple audiences without having to manually share your content on all your favorite social sites.” – Justin Shreve (WordPress)

Best Art Exhibits 2011* – Part 2

As I’ve gotten insanely busy, I thought I’d release what I’ve completed of the follow up to Best Art Exhibits 2011* Part 1. The last part will also have my “NYC Art Exhibit of the Year.” For now, here are ten more of the best art exhibits I experienced in 2011.

In rough chronological order of the Nerd’s visits…1. “Mark di Suvero” at Governors Island: Presented by Storm King Art (NYC)

2. “Alice Austen: Her Photographic Works” at Alice Austen House Museum (Staten Island)

3.  “POWHIDA” at Marlborough (NYC), but only when paired with “William Powhida: Derivatives” at Postmasters (NYC)

4. “Washington Color and Light” at Corcoran Gallery (Washington, D.C.)

5. “Otherworldly: Optical Delusions and Small Realities” at the Museum of Art and Design (NYC)
6. “North by New York” (Curators Rob Storr and Francesca Pietropaolo) at Scandinavia House (NYC)

7. “Chelpa Ferro: Visual Sound” at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (Ridgefield, CT)

This was an art installation at the Bronx Museum, NOT my living room. I was JOKING.

8. “Taking AIM and Bronx Calling: The First Artists in the Marketplace Biennial” at Bronx Museum and Wave Hill (Bronx)

9. “Loren Monk, Location, Location, Location: Mapping the New York City’s Art Worldat Leslie Heller Workspace
10.Collecting Matisse and Modern Masters: The Cone Sisters of Baltimoreat the Jewish Museum (NYC)

It’s exciting times in nerd world these days. Stay tuned and we’ll see when I can get the next installment to you! (All of the above photos are my own, mostly culled from my Twitpic and my Foursquare.)

***edit*** Things got so busy that I never was able to add my last batch of great 2011 shows. Feel free to add your Best Art Exhibits of 2011 in the comments.

The Best Art Exhibits of 2011* – Part 1

[Part 2 (of 3) now available here.]

When asked by Artlog to come up with my 3 or 4 best exhibits of 2011, I balked a bit, knowing that there was no way I’d be able to remember to hundreds of shows I saw this year. Luckily my Foursquare “history” page acts as a handy diary of everywhere I went this year. Scrolling through all the checkins helped jog my memory. Also a quick look at Museum webpages to fill in the blanks. All photos are my own.

1. Curator Eric Doeringer’sI Like the Art World and the Art World Likes Me at EFA Studios (NYC)

2.The Making of Americans at The James Gallery, CUNY Graduate Center (NYC)
3.Bye Bye Kittyat Japan Society (NYC)

4. Alpine Desire at Austrian Cultural Forum (NYC)

5. Judith Linhares at Edward Thorp Gallery (NYC)
6. Hans Op de Beeck at Hirshhorn (Washington, D.C.)
7. R. Crumb at Society of Illustrators Museum (NYC)

8. Tracing the Unseen Borderat La Mama Galleria (NYC)
9. “Bernard Faucon: The Most Beautiful Day of My Youth  New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA)
10. Birney Imes at Ogden Museum of Art (New Orleans, LA)
11. Get on the Block at Camel Art Space (Brooklyn)

12. Curator Jason Bailer Losh’s Chinese Take Out at Art in General and nearby Chinese Restaurants (NYC)
13. “George Condo: Mental States” at New Museum (NYC)
14. “The Great Upheaval: Modern Art from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910–1918” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (NYC)

15. Francis Alys at MoMA PS1 (Long Island City)
16. Richard Serra Drawing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) And… Yes… of course Alexander McQueen at the Met too.
17. Breaking Ground: The Whitney’s Founding Collection at the Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC)

18. The ‘S’ Files at El Museo del Barrio and partner galleries BRIC Rotunda, Lehman College Art Gallery

Special Mention: Public Art Fund’s “Total Recall” in Brooklyn’s Metrotech which opened in 2010, but was up for most of 2011. These Matt Sheridan Smith’s inflatable sculptures were a great source of delight as one wondered if they’d by tumescent or not upon each visit.

Here in Part 1, I’m up through June, 2011 on Foursquare and twitpics. Part 2 (coming soon) will include July-December, anything I missed here, and Museum Nerd’s “NYC Art Exhibit of the Year.”

*This list is highly personal and only includes shows I actually visited. They are almost all museum and nonprofit-art-space exhibits from 2011 listed in chronological order of my first visit. I went to many of them more than once. I left out commercial gallery shows unless there was some special reason to include them. In the case of Judith Linhares, it was pure awesomeness and underknownness.

The Walker’s New Website Is An Earthshaking Game Changer

Note: A beautifully illustrated version of this post is now on Artlog here.

The Walker Art Center’s new website,, launched December 1, represents the most forward-thinking best practices in the museum field today. If you have even the slightest interest in contemporary art and culture, you’ll want to bookmark the website regardless of whether you live in Minneapolis, Minnetonka, or Mumbai. Before I jump into the specifics of the site, let’s take a little look at how a medium-sized museum in the middle of a great, but relatively remote, city has leapt (in my estimation) to the absolute forefront of the entire museum field.

Women Directors with Cojones

Kathy Halbreich, former Walker Director looking bad ass.

The Walker Art Center had long been on my radar before I’d even visited. This image of former director Kathy Halbreich sporting a bad-ass leather jacket became iconic in my mind as the image of a director who directs. Toward the end of her 16+ years at the Walker, Halbreich led the museum through a major renovation that brought it a lot of attention and press. Halbreich left the museum at the height of this publicity to join MoMA as an associate director where she’s unfortunately a bit less visible.

On the Walker’s blog, in an August 2007 farewell letter to Halbreich, Paul Schmelzer (who’s the editor of the new website*) cited that she had implemented, “a new Walker mission statement that emphasizes the engagement of both artists and audiences and a deeper understanding of society on individual, community, and global levels.” This legacy lives on in another bad-ass woman.


Contrary to what science might lead you to believe, the current Walker director, Olga Viso, has bigger balls than any other director out there! She’s decentralized power in a move that many museum higher-ups would be terrified of trying. A lot of top museums are still clinging to their authority, not just about the art that they collect and show, but in their implicit field of expertise. This is reflected on websites that don’t allow comments and interactions from outsiders aside from blogs buried several clicks off the home page.

The Walker Gains Power by Yielding Power

The secret weapon here is that this move to include content from unaffiliated sources on the Walker’s website will actually give the Walker more—and more lasting—power, as the “Idea Hub” Olga Viso describes positions the Walker as the locus of the smartest discourse about the content areas that are central to its mission.

This Is the Future of Museums

Of course actually seeing the art in person is an irreplaceable experience. No one, (except for some fear-mongering, recalcitrant, reactionary higher-ups and board members), is suggesting that a strong institutional web presence will replace the experience of going to see artworks in person. But many completely reasonable museum people still do ask the question, “Will your tweets get us more visitors?”

Walker’s website suggests a future in which visitorship is not indisputably the most important thing. Many funders still need to catch up to the idea that the museum can serve members of the public without ever having them walk through the doors of the “bricks and mortar” museum. Before you cry foul… I know that many museums directors who may appear to be resting on their laurels where the web is concerned, are actually hampered by misinformed funders who aren’t comfortable supporting the most visionary projects.

Folks are agreeing that the Walker’s new website is a “game changer” for the following reasons:

  • It is the first major museum website with an editorial focus.
  • It is the first major museum website to feature previews of articles from nonaffiliated sources on their home page. See the section: “Art News from Elsewhere”
  • The articles include pieces from disparate sources including lesser-known blogs like Hyperallergic (for which I’ve written the occasional piece) right there next to The New York Times. 

Taking a Page from the “Start-up” Playbook: The Walker Pivots

The Walker has made a power move. They’ve “pivoted,” exchanging one set of advantages for a different set. Let me explain. The Walker has long been seen as an important place for contemporary art. They’ve staged groundbreaking exhibitions that have traveled far and wide. They’ve also had a rich programming history.

Up until now, on their website and elsewhere, what the Walker was doing was always central and was broadcast outward to spark new conversations about the art and ideas around it. This is the model that most museums follow on the web. While the Walker will no doubt continue to do these things, they are the first major museum to see the future. Museums no longer need to think of their stakeholders as the people who come through the door. The Walker has positioned themselves at the center of the global conversation about contemporary art. By placing content of others (as well as excellent editorial content of their own) right there on their homepage, they’ve created a website you want to go to if you have any interest in contemporary art regardless of whether you’ll ever visit the museum.


They’re not just positioning themselves as an arbiter of taste (the connoisseurship thing has long been in every art museum’s bailiwick): the Walker is also placing themselves at the center of the conversation that their mission is all about.

I’ve long been saying that museums need to realize they can directly fulfill their missions (especially the educational aspect of those missions) through social media. Museums have often been very slow to catch on to this and only certain places, exemplified by SFMOMA and Brooklyn Museum, have been using social media in this manner and not primarily for marketing. We all read those marketing tweets all the time and if you’re not in the city, why the heck do you want to know that members get a special discount in the gift shop when they visit the museum?!

Now I see a model for best practices for using the museum website to directly fulfill its mission, but for a global audience and a globally, digitally connected constituency. I imagine it won’t be long before Walker Art Center starts seeing donations from people who’ve never visited the museum and have no immediate plans to do so.

*Paul asked me to change the original language which misstated that he “spearheaded” the new website. Paul’s modest. He went on in the email to say, “This isn’t really true. The Walker’s new media team has been working on this for a long time, and I was just brought on in mid-September, so I can’t take credit for the design. I don’t really design stuff, as my blog shows!


On December 20th, 2010, I wrote this follow-up to my #CloughMustGo post. I never had a chance to give it a final edit and held off on posting it. Now that HIDE/SEEK: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture has opened at the Brooklyn Museum of Art, I decided to come back and release this further explanation of my initial call for the dismissal of Smithsonian Director Wayne Clough.

Brooklyn, December 20, 2010 – After a weekend morning of watching great Smithsonian videos, I’ve seen a Dr. G. Wayne Clough who is a distinguished, avuncular gentleman whom you’d want to get a beer with… who speaks eloquently about the unique educational service only museums (especially science and natural history museums) can provide. He’s also a big supporter of the educational resource that all museums can be. I’d want to play poker with him too. I’m trying to be transparent about a political strategy I’m using with #CloughMustGo. Basically, the average person has no equivalent, immediate power to, say, a U.S. Representative. To try to make a change, you must engage more powerful voices. In politics, which I usually avoid for exactly this reason, the way to get heard and get attention is to call for something extreme. It seems to me this is just what’s happened to start this whole issue.

The Catholic League, an organization that believes there should be no public funding for museums of any sort, is very uncomfortable with art being shown that depicts homosexuality, and to get that art taken off view, they inflammatorily say it is “hate speech.” The Smithsonian, reacting out of the fear that people will say, “My tax dollars are supporting hate speech at the Smithsonian,” pulls down artwork that has been willfully misinterpreted by the Catholic League to substantiate a specious claim (that the artwork is “hate speech”). What further complicates the situation is that artwork from the 80s and 90s that deals with AIDS has become an emblem of a horrible tragedy in US history. This particular tragedy is one that has been used by some to disparage gay people in the U.S., which I hope is as appalling to you as it is to me. I believe one of two things happened: either Clough handed down the decision, or NGA Director Martin E. Sullivan made the decision and Clough is admirably taking the heat. For the sake of politics, I have to take Clough as a man of his word when he says the decision was ultimately his.

Another thing I learned watching those videos on youtube is that Clough does not rhyme with “though,” but is more like “cough” or “bluff.” Speaking of which, let’s get back to poker. The reason I’d like to play poker with Wayne is not because playing poker with a guy named “Wayne” has a keen, crazy-raisin’ appeal, but because even when short-stacked by far, you can bluff Wayne Clough and he’ll fold. That’s why #CloughMustGo has been cancelled and replaced with #Let’sBluffClough!

In the end, #LetsBluffClough didn’t last very long and was probably too unwieldy to explain and have catch on. I certainly never meant any harm to the man himself, but thought it was very important to make a strong statement about the kind of leadership we need for museums in Washington.

28 Twitter-Sourced Destination Museums

ADDED 10/4/2011 – Link to an organized spreadsheet of these museums and more is HERE! Special thanks to superstar digital interns @PtheFigg, @MELgoesROAR, and @MarDixon. Additional assistance and teasing provided by the indefatigable @MuseumSukkel.  – MN

Original Post:
Today I asked twitter friends to help me think of some “destination museums.”

Without a definition beyond the implications of the examples, responses were all over the map (literally and figuratively). Here are the responses pretty much in the order I received them and unedited.* All twitter handles should work as hot links and the date stamps should link to the original tweets.

o5man: Museums in Doha, Qatar @QatarMuseumsAut @MathafModern @MIAQatar #destinationmuseums22 minutes ago

jermychrstpher: the Ludwig Museum in Cologne Germany to see Kienhotlz’s portable war memorial.1 hour ago

joanieStudio:and on the outdoor note, opening a new 7 acre addition tomorrow. They have indoor space 2.2 hours ago

agasab: I’d add the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark to the list. Have you been? Beautiful setting, amazing art.2 hours ago

studiowatermark: “destination” museums: @the_clark, Dalí Museum in Figueres, Spain; Castelvecchio Museum (Scarpa), Villa Rotunda (Palladio) –  2 hours ago

holartbooks: a couple destination museums that come to mind: @inhotim (Brumadinho, Brasil), and @crystalbridges (Bentonville, AR)2 hours ago

rwetzler: Tate St Ives?2 hours ago

cindyhwang: Cornell’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum – they’re opening a new wing in October too!3 hours ago

kaylarak: Cornell’s Johnson Museum is @HFJMuseum…. it’s where i cut my #museumnerd teeth. “Gorges” IM Pei building1 hour ago

NoGoPhoto How about @StormKingArtCtr? Not a traditional idea of a museum, but still…3 hours ago

sirintugbay: Istanbul Modern (Istanbul), Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)?
4 hours ago

CRHolland: James Turrell Museum in Colomé, Argentina:
4 hours ago

TheodoreArt: how about @serralves_twit?4 hours ago

zoesalditch: Uffizi (Florence)4 hours ago

mambolica: There’s @ROMtoronto (Toronto) @Civilization (Ottawa/Hull) @metmuseum (NYC) and @rijksmuseum (Amsterdam) for a start.4 hours ago

gmdlt: Benesse House Museum, Naoshima Islamd, Japan. Designed by Tadao Ando4 hours ago

Jamesmartincole: Dan Flavin institute?4 hours ago

tricia_gilson: Surely the Vatican Museum is a destination museum. The museum itself doesn’t tweet but the Vatican does @news_va_en4 hours ago

l_wil: The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art in Auburn, AL.4 hours ago

kholdesign: add storm king sculpture park, milwaukee art museum for architecture – 5 hours ago

And a bonus link to a New York Mag article on destination museums from Erin Goldberger a.k.a. thescrambledegg: i remembered reading this awhile ago when searching for bilbao…4 hours ago

* While I can’t imagine anyone coming to New York City just to go to the Metropolitan Museum, I’m sure it happens. I’d been thinking about museums that are pretty much the main or only major attraction which brings visitors in from out of town. I went to Minneapolis for the Walker, but also for Minneapolis Institute of the Arts, Minnesota Historical Society, Soap Factory, and a bunch of other places.

Pictures of Pictures: A Response to Edward Winkleman’s “What Has Art Become to Us?”

Edward Winkleman’s “What Has Art Become to Us?” blog post today addressed two current trends in the way the public interacts with art. The first is a tendency to see art as an investment commodity more stable than gold, and the second is the tendency for people to take digital photos of the art they’re looking at. I’m more interested in the latter trend and in a particular distinction Winkleman makes between art viewing venues. He suggests that people are more likely to photograph art in museums than in galleries. He also considers this to be a kind of art viewing “via a digital filter.” He also suggests that museum environments sometimes have qualities similar to amusement venues, qualities that might contribute to this as a preferred way of art viewing for museum visitors.

I snapped this photo of a visitor snapping a photo at MoMA for the purpose of showing people that the painting is actually much smaller than the reproduction they saw in all of their friends' college dorm rooms.

While I’m ambivalent (agree in some cases, not in others) about Winkleman’s observations about museum environments, I’m not convinced that one kind of viewing supplants another. I may take  pictures for reference and/or sharing, (which I’ve certainly done at galleries and countless museums) but would never consider that experience as a replacement for longer, considered looking without a digital device involved. I do agree that this looking at a tiny digital version of what is in front of you can in fact be a way of viewing art. Sometimes, the digital filter, or more so, framing an image of a work of art (especially a three-dimensional work), may actually add to one’s understanding of the artwork. This could, of course, only happen if there is a significant amount of time spent actually looking directly at the work of art as well.

Winkleman references Roberta Smith’s September 4th, “When the Camera Takes Over for the Eye” piece in the New York Times. Smith acknowledges that the omnipresence of cameras at the Venice Biennale can be read as a dismaying sign of superficial experiences, but also notes that:

…a photograph of a person photographing an artist’s photograph of herself playing a role is a few layers of an onion, maybe the kind to be found only among picture-takers at an exhibition.

Art fairs may be the most photographed art venues of all. Perhaps fair-goers wander through them as digital collectors, capturing art that they aren’t likely able to purchase. Winkleman likely has more considered insights into why that may be the case.

I am interested in thinking more about why more people take pictures at museums than at galleries. It seems like it should be the other way around if photos were to be usually used primarily as a sort of note taking which is my oft-used defense. Since large art museums are likely to have an online image of what a visitor deems to be a photo-op worthy artwork, why bother snapping your own crummy camera phone version?  If people actually do take photos more often in museums (which I agree seems to be the case) this suggests to me that people most frequently snap shots of paintings as a sort of “capturing” of their experience. What’s dismaying is if what’s being captured is an empty experience that didn’t include an actual considered sensory intake of the artwork itself.

I know that I do go back to pore over photos I’ve taken of art shows (regardless of the type of venue) to remind myself of what I’ve seen, but I also use my photos to show others art that I’ve seen and been affected by. I also admit to deriving a great deal of satisfaction from sharing photos of art as I’m seeing it via twitter. I imagine that if you are reading this, you’ve likely seen a twitpic or two of mine. I’m not interested in sharing the image as a trophy proving I’ve been there and seen an artwork, but rather because I relish the feedback I get from people who can enhance my knowledge of what I’m looking at. While I like getting comments like, “Awesome painting,” I’m driven by comments like @Ada_Lio‘s recent, “You find the most obscure museums! Never heard of @TheAldrich. Exhibitions sound interesting. Thanks for tweeting about them.”

I tend to post photos of works which interest me with the intent to share them with people who may never make it to see them, but even more so as though I’m sharing a tantalizing blurb from a novel I hope you’ll read yourself. I earnestly hope that sharing a quick snap of a work of art might inspire one to go see a museum exhibit or a gallery show. That’s why I’m taking pictures of pictures. Why are you doing it?