In Lean Times, New Ways to Reach Out
Making the Art Institute of Chicago the cultural hub of the city is the No. 1 priority for James Cuno, its director, as he gears up for the opening of its new modern wing on May 16. Designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano, the 264,000-square-foot space will house the institute’s 20th- and 21st-century art collection. Its exhibitions, lectures and educational programs will include local partners like the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Goodman Theater.
“Each exhibition has a set of lectures, poetry readings and a chamber music series that relate to one another,” Mr. Cuno said. “We are also reaching out to graduate programs in the city with a series of influential art historians and professors that will be lecturing for students as part of the curriculum.”
It is also holding free lunchtime concerts planned in cooperation with consulates including Spain, China, India, Germany, Croatia, South Korea and Poland, and readings by international poets. “We want to get repeat visitors and build up a sustained relationship to the community,” Mr. Cuno said.
In Los Angeles, Michael Govan, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is gearing programs to local communities. In June, for example, the museum is presenting Twelve Contemporary Artists From Korea as a way of appealing to the city’s large Korean population.
Museums are seeking younger audiences through social networking sites. Nearly every museum has a page on Facebook. The Brooklyn Museum recently introduced a new tier of membership using social networking sites like Facebook, Flickr and the microblogging site Twitter to lure 20- and 30-somethings.
Some institutions are also using the Internet to give an exhibition an added dimension. At the Walker, for example, a traveling show called “Worlds Away: New Suburban Landscapes” has its own Web site, which includes a lexicon of terms related to suburbia. Visitors can add their own terms and can also post their personal suburban stories on YouTube, 16 of which were included in the show when it was on view at the Walker last summer. (The exhibition, which was also at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh last fall, opened at the Yale School of Architecture on March 2.) It’s just one example of many ways the Walker is trying to “merge on-site with online,” as Ms. Viso explains it.