Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Advocate! Let Artists Get Tax Deductions for Donations to Museums

AAM, museums, advocacy, maria mortati This is weird, because I already thought this was possible, as it just seems fair, and similar to other areas of tax practice. Anyway, the gist of it is that the AAM worked with Senators to draft a bill that would enable artists to get a tax deduction when they donate their work to a museum. This has been before the legislature 5 times! Let's get it passed now. Here's the skinny from the AAM:
"Artist Museum Partnership Act Introduced The Artist-Museum Partnership Act of 2009 - S. 405, sponsored by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Robert Bennett (R-UT) and H.R. 1126, sponsored by Representatives John Lewis (D-GA) and Todd Platts (R-PA) - would allow a fair market value tax deduction for charitable contributions of literary, musical, artistic, or scholarly compositions to collecting institutions such as museums, libraries, and archives. In the 110th Congress, the House version of the bill had 111 cosponsors; a similar Senate bill has passed the Senate five times in previous Congresses. Now that a new Congress is under way, cosponsors are needed to help advance this legislation. AAM worked with the Association of Art Museum Directors to provide this draft letter that you can use to encourage your legislators to co-sponsor the bill. With just a few clicks here, you can help move this legislation forward."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Maker Faire San Mateo Coming Soon

maker faire press, museums, maria mortati
For those of you in the Bay Area, mark your calendars for the last weekend in May! Maker Faire 09 will be at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. Go here for more info:
For museums, it's a wonderful resource for inspiration and more.
maker faire, public programs, museums
PS: if you're planning on coming to the fair, let me know! I can't be there for the whole event, but I will be there for some. Plus, it's not far from where I live.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Citizen Scientists Right Under Our Makeup Brushes

makeup, skincare, citizen science, national science foundation, NSF, museums, maria mortati
Last week, I was dinking around online looking for user-generated content on women's skin care products. Yes, I use them. I wanted to know what's working and what's b.s.
The biggest discovery wasn't that the cosmetics industry is based on hype, but rather, there is a whole universe of women (and v. few men) who are testing products, chemicals, solutions, sharing their findings, and iterating their approach based on the shared data.
I think that if a bit more organized, these folks could make a passionate, ready-made group for citizen science, and would be thrilled to find out a way to broaden ...and validate... their reach.
Plus I'd bet they'd love to get their hands on some real information that might give them real results.
Anyone from the NSF wanna bite?

Monday, April 6, 2009

Case Study

case study, denver art museum, maria mortati
Some of my favorite exhibit cases don't feel like a case at all. Case in point, the above display from the Denver Art Museum. I like this example because:
  • case is highly edited, not packed with artifacts too numerous to digest
  • hardware, graphics, stands, etc. are minimal, leaving the focus on the artifacts
  • the lighting is bright, and focused where necessary
  • the placement of the objects is varied, creating interest and placed relative to human scale
Now, not all of us can afford that type of custom casework. So let's look at the key principles that make their system effective, and maybe they can be applied to less costly cases with similar payoff:
Careful editing
The more you can edit the objects to match the message, the better. Do you want to say "Look at the incredible diversity of artifacts from this culture?" or "Can you tell the progression from style A to style D?" and so on. If it doesn't support the story, take it out.
Maximize what you want the visitor to focus on The cases above use the simplest of materials for mounting, displaying, and holding things together. It's also incredibly consistent, which leaves all the focus of variety to the artifacts. See the below detail– they're using a shaft collar on a tube to hold up some of the shelves, and simple, clear plex bases for smaller artifacts:
case study, denver art museumLighting
There is nothing like a good lighting designer. If you can afford one, use them. When you can't, then experiment until you get it right. Lighting 3D objects is tricky business. Whole tomes have been written on the topic.
Embrace drama
Create variety with scale, placement, isolation and orientation. Who says everything has to fit on a grid?

Friday, April 3, 2009

Green Fridays: Building Supplies

Maeryta Medrano just sent me this link to Green Depot. Think the 'Home Depot' of green building:
"Green Depot is a leading supplier of environmentally friendly and sustainable building products, services and home solutions. Our primary goal is to facilitate green living and building in communities so that it is easy, affordable and gratifying."
They offer solutions that could be applied to any built environment- commercial or residential. I really like their "primary" goal. Sounds museum-y.