Incubating thoughts and ideas for 365 days.

For the past few weeks we’ve been digital nomads, working from home, meeting online, and in coffee shops. I’ve been traveling a bit, and checking in with the team via Slack. It’s been, unsettling being out and about for this long, unsure of how things are progressing hour by hour, minute by minute. I need to learn how to let go a little and let things brew on their own.

Earlier this week we moved back into our home at NEW INC. We’re here for another year as part of the Museum Technology Track, funded generously by Knight Foundation. So, I thought I’d take a little time and update you all on how this past year has been and where we go from here. I know, I need to do this more often…

Participants at the M+ Matters Digital Hackathon in Hong Kong

This past year has been a rollercoaster of emotion, progress, success, and failure. What started out as a holdover while I searched for a new job has evolved into a real team, working with clients all over the world, and learning about all kinds of things I never expected to learn along the way. We’ve transitioned into using the “royal we” and when I show up at the office, I feel accountable, responsible, and excited to be here.

NEW INC has been an incredible home. It’s a hotbed of talent, creativity, and support. I know that on any given day I can literally pop my head up over my monitor and ask for help, find collaborators, and connect our clients to some of the best in emerging talent.

Over the past 9 months as part of the Museum Tech Track, I traveled to Philadelphia, Miami and Detroit, visiting a host of museums in each city and interviewing folks from each institution. Our goal was to find out what museums need these days when it comes to technology — what are their frustrations and how have they been successful. What I found out aligned pretty well with my vision for the Studio. Museums, big and small, need help with the basics when it comes to developing their digital capabilities. At each organization we heard the same things, over and over. Some museums felt pretty tech savvy, while others were proud of small successes. Many orgs leaned heavily on artists and designers to bring technology into their spaces, taking it with them when the shows come down, and nearly every organization cited money as the number one barrier to entry when it comes to embracing a digital-forward way of thinking.

With these feelings validated I set out to create a Studio aimed at helping orgs likes these find their way through their own “digital transformations.” I began working with our amazing designer and illustrator, Justine Braisted to create a brand and a visual language to help us communicate to these organizations in a way that is easy for anyone to understand, and in a way that isn’t scary, frustrating or “feels like this is a bigger meeting.”

We set out to try and explain what it is we do as a Studio, and along the way developed a communication tool for creating discussions around the importance of technology in cultural spaces.

Here are a few examples:

Our Studio logo and typeface is a flexible system, meant to be used in a variety of formats and orientations and colors!

Our Studio’s purpose is becoming more defined every day, but in a nutshell, we try to help cultural orgs “hold hands with technology.”

We offer services in two main categories:

  1. Regular old consulting, where we talk with you, conduct therapy sessions with your teams, and guide you toward digital enlightenment across your entire organization.
  2. We build things. Our engineers and designers make the things we dream up or haven’t thought of yet, built in a way that is sustainable and economical for the institutions we work with.

This often looks like meetings, presentations, brainstorms, but we don’t like to call it “design thinking.”

The things we build often look like well crafted APIs, collections websites and databases, as well as digital products wherever necessary.

We even train your staff, onboard new developers and help with planning and recruitment for digital teams.

Over the past year we’ve done these things with a growing selection of amazing institutions including M+ Museum in Hong Kong, The Barnes Foundation, Williams College Museum of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, ICA Miami, Nordic Museum in Sweden and many more.

We’re delighted to be coming back to NEW INC for another year. We moved a couple rows over in the office, but the feeling is the same. This year, I’m focused on developing our Studio’s practice. I want us to gel as a team, and learn how to handle many large projects at once, always communicating between team members and our clients so that everyone is on the same page, our work gets done on time, and we continue to build things in the spirit of truly helping the organizations we work with. I’m also keen to begin developing our own products and services to benefit the cultural sector. We live in a world brimming with tech, and the cultural sector needs better access to it asap.

In November we will be attending both MuseumNext in NYC and the Museum Computer Network Conference in Colorado. It’s going to feel a little different attending as a Studio vs. a museum employee, but the purpose is similar. I want to continue to bring ideas to the community that spark curiosity, and help our sector grow in a meaningful way.

And, of course, I am keen to see the Studio itself grow and scale as a business. The business aspects of running the studio have been a real learning curve for me, and so I am excited to see it develop into a better functioning machine, spinning on its own, and becoming something bigger than myself. Stay tuned…

In the meantime, if you are interested in chatting, collaborating or if you simply want to follow along, please do so. We have a weekly newsletter covering industry news and the things we’re following from the sector, and I promise (I really do!) to continue to send these updates much more frequently. We’ve also got some great stuff happening on social, developed by Meghan, our amazing Project and Team Coordinator, so be sure to follow us on the channel of your choosing.

-woosh!

Micah

AND — Here’s a few articles from days gone by….

One year ago

The idea of a studio

The studio is born

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