Johanna Plummer is Curator of Education and Engagement of the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a museum educator, she is passionate about creating innovative, interdisciplinary programming that connects people and art. She is committed to building community partnership and to providing engaging learning opportunities for all audiences of all ages. With almost 20 years experience in museum education, she envisions the ICA as a dynamic forum for cross-disciplinary dialogue that fuels innovation and imagination.
From 2009 to 2015, Plummer served as the Georgette Auerbach Koopman Director of Education at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut where she was responsible for developing and launching the museum-wide Community Engagement Initiative (CEI) based on input from local constituents. New initiatives included: artist residencies that connected artists Claire Beckett, Jan Tichy, Deb Sokolow and Virgil Marti with the local community groups; the Connections Gallery, a series of experimental, cross collection installations that invited visitor participation; Second Saturdays for Families, a monthly program offering free admission and hands-on art making activities that encourage families to experience art together; Museum on the Move, a 4th grade multi-session art and literacy outreach program; the Community Arts Program that engages local youth both at the museum and off-site; and the Summer Pre-Collegiate Program that awards high school students with scholarships to a summer program at the Hartford Art School.
While at the Wadsworth, Plummer engaged evaluation consultants Randi Korn & Associates to clarify the intended impact of the Community Engagement Initiative, defining the desired effect on the target audiences served. An impact statement and framework with program outcomes were developed and new surveys aligned data collection to demonstrate key results. She was also responsible for developing interpretative strategies and a strategic digital plan in preparation for the museum’s Contemporary and European reinstallations in 2015 that resulted in the development and installation of interactive touchscreens in the Cabinet of Art and Curiosities, a mobile tour and game, and a MATRIX digital timeline.
Prior to the Wadsworth Atheneum, Plummer worked at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania as the Curator of Education from 2002-2009. At ICA Philadelphia, she was responsible for expanding targeted college audiences through programming and marketing. She developed and implemented Penn First Wednesday, a monthly program aimed at undergraduates, which resulted in deeper student engagement with exhibitions and a 16% increase in student visitation. Programming, marketing, and evaluation were supported generously by The Spiegel Fund, a new gift given to support campus-wide arts programming.
At ICA Philadelphia, Plummer also built community partnerships in collaboration with artists. She partnered with the Department of Human Services’ Achieving Independence Center (AIC) to develop exhibition interpretation and a documentary for the exhibition she co-curated, Trials and Turbulence: Pepón Osorio, an Artist in Residence at DHS. During exhibition planning, she conducted community focus groups and implemented recommendations to produce programs and interpretation that gave a voice to AIC members—youth transitioning out of foster care. She partnered again with AIC members and local filmmakers to produce a documentary with, and about, exhibiting photographer Zoe Strauss.
Plummer is recognized as a leader in her field for creating innovative and sustainable programming in art museums. She has also served as head of education at the Museum of the Contemporary Art Cleveland, Harn Museum of Art at the University of Florida, and Miami Art Museum (now the Perez Art Museum Miami). She holds a B.A. in History of Art from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.A.T. in Museum Education from the George Washington University.