Robert Stein will be coming to speak at the New Media Seminar on Wednesday, February 22, 2012. His talk is entitled “Conversation and Collaboration: Strategies to Cultivate Meaningful Engagement with Cultural Audiences.”

As museums and cultural organizations seek to enhance their relevance within a rapidly changing society, issues of participatory culture and engagement are becoming more and more critical. The debate about how best to build deep connections for visitors with cultural content is an important one, but concrete evidence and replicable findings about the value and methods for doing so are often hard to come by. Are the views and opinions of the general public an important part of the mission for cultural organizations, or just a societal fad that will pass? What is the responsibility of public institutions to serve and preserve the impressions of their local audiences? Does public opinion hold its value in relationship to the factual and contextual content provided by more traditional content authorities? For those institutions that are eager to embrace a participatory culture, how can they know whether or not they are being successful? What does that success look like, and why is it important?

This session will focus on the underpinning logic and assumptions implicit in a decision by the Indianapolis Museum of Art that such participation and engagement with audiences is an important part of the museum’s mission. Results from several research studies and collaborations with other leading cultural institutions will be discussed. Current work to establish a formalized program of visitor study for the purpose of deepening visitor engagement will be explained and the session will offer an opportunity for informal discussion of the challenges and opportunities involved in such a strategy.

Robert Stein is currently Deputy Director for Research, Technology, and Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, where he has worked since 2006 to develop new technologies for research, conservation, and digital media within the museum. He received his B.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois and has received grants from the Institute for Museum and Library Services (2011), the Getty Foundation (2011), and the Ball Brothers Foundation (2010). His publications include articles on “Crowd-Sourcing Art History: Research and Applications of Social Tagging for Museums” in Research Infrastructures in the Digital Humanities (2011); “Mobile Content Strategies for Content Sharing and Long-Term Sustainability” in Mobile Apps for Museums: the AAM Guide to Planning and Strategy (2011); and “Computational Linguistics in Museums: Applications for Cultural Datasets Read More: Computational Linguistics in Museums: Applications for Cultural Datasets” in Museums and the Web 2011.

Light refreshments will be served at 5:45 pm. The presentation will begin at 6:00 pm.

RSVP is required. Please click on the registration link at the bottom of this page or contact

PLEASE NOTE that our Lecture Hall can only accommodate a limited number of people, so please come early if you would like to have a seat in the main room. We also have overflow seating available; all registrants who arrive late will be seated in the overflow area.