Our goal is to bring transparency to the process of creativity in all its facets — from architecture to technology and from planning to programming. As we onboard a growing team that will make the ICA a reality, we aim to bring a number of thought leaders to Richmond to discuss topics integral to our development and to share their expertise with our audiences.

Earlier this year we launched the lecture series, “Inventing ICA,” with a focus on technology and innovation. We began with a talk on big data presented by Robert Stein, Chief Program Officer at the American Alliance of Museums and former Deputy Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, which examined how cultural institutions can use information to become more agile and responsive. Stein shared insights from a program at the Dallas Museum of Art that provided examples of how museums can collect and analyze data to illuminate their work and enhance their impact on visitors.

The discussion of big data was followed by a conversation about perception, experience, and engagement with Philip Long, Chief Innovation Officer and Associate vice Provost for Learning, and Koven J. Smith, Director of Digital Adaption at the Blanton Museum of Art, both at the University of Texas, Austin. Long and Smith explored how museums might be able to deliberately design experiences to account for multiple ways of seeing and multiple types of attention.

Both “Inventing ICA” programs were free and open to our local Richmond community and streamed online, providing access to our colleagues who could not attend. Using Twitter, participants from across the country, including Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York, were able to send questions.

In addition to the public programs, because we are enthusiastically embracing VCU’s strategic goal to increase interdisciplinary research and programming, we invited potential campus partners to join smaller conversations that generated a number of possibility opportunities for the ICA both within VCU and among Richmond partners. Faculty, students, staff, and administrators from the School of Business, Division of Community Engagement, VCUarts’ CoLab, ALT Lab (Academic Learning Transformation), Information Technology, Academic Affairs, School of the Arts, and Biology all participated. ICA staff also spent time with our invited experts, enjoying lots of stimulating discussion about imagining our visitors’ experiences from the moment they enter our building to how we might connect seemingly disparate experiences to deepen engagement. We had some fun too. Local business leaders and our colleagues from the VMFA, the Valentine, and the University of Richmond’s university museums joined us for social events with our guests.

Inventing ICA: Museums and Big Data
Inventing ICA: Attention and Seeing, Shaping New Museum Experiences

Event: Museums and Big Data — Supporting Exploration, Innovation, and Audience Engagement in the Cultural Sector
Event: Attention and Seeing, Shaping New Museum Experiences

1. From left to right, Inventing ICA speakers Koven J. Smith, Robert Stein, and Phillip Long
2. Slide from Robert Stein’s presentation, “Museums and Big Data,” March 2016 ©Robert Stein
3. Phillip Long and Koven J. Smith answer questions following their presentation at the Depot, April 2016 ©ICA at VCU