Animating Museums kicks off with a ten-day residency in Denver July 31–August 9, 2017. Fellows will work closely with the MCA Denver team and special guests, but most of all, they will work with each other, sharing examples of awesome projects and discuss the qualities that make endeavors fresh and adventurous. Together, we will work on what it takes to execute genuinely new projects within an organization, how to manage creative people, and oversee inventive work. We will talk about the personal implications of working creatively in an art museum, including how to keep your edge and manage the forces that are working against you. Finally, fellows will develop a concept and direction for their group project, to be executed in summer 2019. The ten-day residency in 2017 is the heart of the program. There will be a three-day residency in summer 2018, focused on further developing the group project, and a final three-day residency in 2019 when the project is underway.
There are four short webinars in the year following the initial residency, two to follow up on the group project, and two to check-in with fellows on their creative work within their home institutions. Virtual meetings in the year following the second residency will update fellows on the group project and explore unanticipated consequences of implementing creative thinking in museums. There will be a final virtual meeting after the group project to debrief on the process and outcome.
Who Can Apply
(And Who Is More Likely To Be Accepted)
Animating Museums is open to any current employee at a United States art museum. We are looking for people who have developed and executed inventive programs or projects and are in a position to continue to do so at their museum. We recognize that most creative projects involve collaboration and co-production, so applicants don’t need to be the sole author of a creative project. However, Animating Museums is not oriented towards professionals who primarily oversee, curate, or facilitate projects developed by other people in their museum or created by outside artists. The program is geared towards museum professionals more directly involved in conceiving and executing inventive programs, projects, and other other endeavors.
What We Are Talking About
When We Talk About Creativity
Put simply, we are interested in people who care about new ways of doing and saying things in museums. We are not interested in best practices. Fuck no. We are not interested in rules that can be applied over time and across institutions. We are not searching for people dedicated to making museums more visitor-centered, or promoting any single, purportedly innovative, strategy. We are looking for people who don’t rely upon received directives but want to make museums more interesting. We want people who continually ask the question: Why are we doing this this way? We are looking for fellows who work outside of conventional museum approaches, relying upon their own intuition and thoughtfulness.
Thanks to the generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Animating Museums program covers most of the costs to fellows. Fellows will be reimbursed for expenses related to travel (up to $500) and accommodation (up to $250/night). The program provides breakfast, lunch, and some dinners during the course of the residency but fellows are expected to pay for other living expenses. The fellow’s home institution is required to pay a $1,000 registration fee, discounted for smaller organizations:
|Less than $3,000,000|
|$3 – 10,000,000|
|Over $10,000,000||$1,000 (full price)|
Each fellow is required to have a sponsor in their institution, ideally a supervisor, department head, or the director. In the course of the fellowship, sponsors will occasionally be called upon as a resource regarding the fellow’s creative professional development. During the application process, fellows will be asked for two references. The primary reference will become the fellow’s sponsor if the applicant is accepted into the program. In the event a fellow transfers to a new organization during the two-year residency, a new sponsor will be selected from the fellow’s new parent organization.
A Little About MCA Denver
MCA Denver presents contemporary art exhibitions and scholarly publications–as a museum should. But we also present informal activities, exhibitions, events, and public programs that connect the tradition of art with a broader spirit of creative exploration. Integrating curatorial, education, communication, and audience development strategies, we are not merely a place that presents culture through exemplary art exhibitions, we are also a place that produces culture. How? Like the artists we exhibit, we routinely break rules, challenge convention, act silly and irreverent, and serve as a role model for how we can learn from artists on how to be more artistic in what we do.