It’s no secret around the Museum that I’m a huge tech nerd. One of my favorite things is finding out what apps, websites, and programs people use to get their jobs done. I’ll admit it, I’m a little bit nosy (or nebby, as the native Pittsburgher in me would say), so I find it fascinating to see how folks in any industry organize their lives and make things happen.
So it’s about time I asked staff here at the Milwaukee Art Museum what tech they use to get stuff done. You might think we museum people are all about “old stuff” (and, of course, we do love a good 500-year-old painting), but we here at MAM are pretty techie indeed. Today, I’m sharing some of our staff’s favorites apps and websites with you. You don’t have to work at an art museum to use these apps in your work or life—I guarantee it!
It’s not surprising that Museum staff love Pinterest, that visually-driven inspiration mecca for crafts and DIY. Shannon Molter, Educator for Youth and Family Programs, uses Pinterest for art activity ideas in the Kohl’s Art Generation Studio. Krista Renfrew, Director of Special Events such as MAM After Dark, says she uses Pinterest “to brainstorm themes and concepts. [It’s] a super easy way to create a look and feel, and then share—a visual way to show people the direction you are going. We had a killer board for the James Bond themed Bal du Lac.”
Timeline: Art Museum
You might think museum staff know all there is to know about art history, but there’s always more to learn! I love this app suggestion from Meghan Walsh, Tour Scheduler, who says:
“I use Timeline: Art Museum pretty much every docent lecture. I don’t have an art history background, and the app is kind of like a pocket art history text book. It lists artists in, well, a timeline—so it’s great for the times when docents say something like ‘Lucas Cranach the elder was working in Germany in the early 1500’s, so consider this work compared to his Italian contemporaries…’, I use the app to figure out that his Italian contemporaries were people like Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo, and it all makes a little more sense.”
The Mindfulness App
Sometimes you just need a reminder to breathe during a busy workday. Laci Coppins, Manager of School and Teacher Programs, uses these two apps to do just that. The Mindfulness App, she says, “reminds you to relax and takes you through strategies to do so.” And Relax Melodies, “which I particularly love, uses the sounds of nature to offer serenity during stressful times and moments of intense construction.” (That’s not a typo—we are indeed going through moments of intense construction, as Laci so beautifully put it, for our reinstallation project!)
Many of our staff are also practicing artists, so what would a MAM Staff tech list be without a Sketchbook app? Brent Henzig, Youth and Family Programs Coordinator, recommends Autodesk Sketchbook: “I turn to this app to work through ideas when a pen and paper are not available. It also allows working in layers and has an ‘oops’ step-back function to undo any mistakes without having to erase, so it’s great for ideating and working with more complex designs.”
Bonus rec from Brett: “I’ve also recently grown fond of building things in Minecraft.” And before you ask, yes, he knows about Tate Worlds—“I’ve been telling parents about that in the Studio; I think it’s helping them cope with their children’s addiction to Minecraft!”
Finally (for now, at least!), I’ll leave you with my own personal favorite tech tool to use at work: Delicious, a bookmark keeper that works across devices and computers (I like the Google Chrome browser extension). I save a TON of work-related links—research, articles, reports on everything from museums, technology, art history, leadership, feminism, education, and more, and I tag every single one. Delicious is hugely helpful when I’m writing a grant or blog post, need to cite something, and can then quickly search my links for a certain topic, trend, or tool. If you want to see what I’ve saved lately, here’s my Delicious page. By the way, now that Google Reader is no longer with us (R.I.P., my former favorite RSS reader), I get most of my museum news and articles from Twitter, another favorite tech tool of mine!
Do you have any tech recommendations for us? Leave them in the comments below so we can add some more apps to our to-download lists!
Chelsea Emelie Kelly was the Museum’s Manager of Digital Learning. In addition to working on educational technology initiatives like the Kohl’s Art Generation Lab and this blog, she oversaw and taught teen programs.