Video: Museumhive Hangout with Nina Simon: Relevance and the Distributed Museum

Great Hangout with Nina Simon last night on our first Museumhive meetup! Nina shared her perspective on the distributed museum with thoughts drawn from her new book, The Art of Relevance. To take it a step further, you can browse sample content and purchase the book in print and digital form at

And here’s the archived video of the Hangout, with notes below to make it easy to scan to sections you’re especially interested in. As you watch, think how this impacts your work, and add some notes in the comments section below. Help build the hive!


  • 00:00 – Brad Larson: Intro to the Hangout
  • 01:45 – Nina sets the context. “Relevance is the key that unlocks meaning”
  • 05:20 – Cornerstone Theater example: co-create play along community topics
  • 06:25 – Laundromat Project – making art in existing community places
  • 07:25 – Popup Museums – ceding authority; not colonizing other spaces; learning and being of service in other parts of the community
  • 09:30 – Question from Adrienne: How does the “distributed museum” apply to very place based institutions like historic houses?
  • 13:00 – Question from Audience: Is there a successful model that you’ve seen being relevant/distributed in a purely digital form?  (Wikimedia, Brainscoop at Field Museum, podcasts that are now aggregating into clusters)
  • 15:40 – Ed Rodley: more info on Brainscoop, and Mike Edson’s essay “Dark Matter”
  • 16:30 – Question from Twitter/Elisabeth Nevins: What’s the motivation to change? Are we the change makers? Disrupters?
  • 19:30 – Question from Brendan/Cuseum: What role does public art play in the distributed museum?
  • 22:30 – Question from Dan Yaeger: What models are out there for museum comparable bookmobiles and food trucks? (Oakland museum, bikes. Invite people to make it their own and distribute it themselves)
  • 25:13 – Question from Alicia: What ways can we turn the lens of relevance internally in a museum, looking at institutional practices, diversity in staffing? (Cultivating empathy who are outside, building awareness of our own blind spots, cultivating partnerships, hiring practices)
  • 30:25 – Ed Rodley: How an institution can be more open to grassroots efforts, ceding authority. (Being springboards, not arbitrating the art). Ed: Pain – now or later (Judy Rand quote). Nina: appeal to people’s generosity, their bravery, and when necessary, “bless and release”.
  • 37:55 – Question from Cierra: How can museums be more supportive of good ideas coming from the community? (Be facilitators, allow people to step into their own power in our space.  Outcomes are not “learning”, but social bridging and empowerment. Empower people and shift to backseat role.
  • 42:55 – Question from Twitter/Monica: Why is attendance the only measure of success? (Good at beginning, then shift to representation, then shift to impact). Different measures at different times)
  • 45:40 – Question from Matt Kirchman: What is the intersection of permanence and relevance in exhibits? (Exhibits as generally wasteful — often don’t continue beyond display of exhibit. An event-driven focus can be less wasteful).
  • 49:00 – Brad Larson wrapup: how to use this on YouTube. Next steps for the hive…think about this content and come back with comments…create the hive.

So…wow! A lot of insightful material from Nina and our audience.  Looking through this all — what stands out to you? What resonates with your direction?  Please add comments below…