1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Museums after COVID:
Innovations for the Next New Normal


About the Session

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced museums across Canada to innovate and find new ways to engage audiences. While this challenge has led to projects and programs experiencing varying degrees of success, some are attracting more interest and engagement than ever before due to increased accessibility in the virtual sphere. This Lightning Talk session features examples from four Canadian institutions that have delivered programs in virtual or alternative ways. Each presenter will explore the successes in the development and response to these new experiences, and consider: what if it is actually better this way?


Lightning Talks 

Video Games by Artists: Using Video Games as a Collaborative Creation Platform during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cat Bluemke, Digital Operations Coordinator, and Jonathan Carroll, Digital Programs Coordinator, MacKenzie Art Gallery

Digital artists and curators Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll will discuss the strategies they employed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to bring opportunities, funds, and focus to the digital arts. Using their digital-artists-in-residence programs at the MacKenzie Art Gallery as a case study, they will explore how isolation measures strengthened the support of digital art programs and how these programs should be continued beyond the pandemic.


Image courtesy of Cat Bluemke and Jonathan Carroll.


Opening Hearts and Minds - At Home!

Abbey Lee Hallett, Audience Engagement Coordinator, Art Gallery of Windsor


Image courtesy of Abbey Lee Hallett.

At a time when the closest one could get to community connection was distanced beers and porch visits, the team at the Art Gallery of Windsor (AGW) put enhanced efforts into community-centric programming. Their work got results: the AGW moved from an exclusively in-person presence to a gallery that has welcomed over 5,500 guests to its virtual programs since the beginning of 2021 alone. Learn how the AGW went from opening crates in the gallery to opening hearts in the community - even while working from home!


What If It's Actually Better This Way?

Vincent Houghtaling, Administrative Assistant, Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery


Image courtesy of Vincent Houghtaling.

When the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery (MJMAG) innovated with new, alternative delivery methods, both their online programs as well as a series of art classes delivered by phone proved so successful that audiences expressed interest in keeping them this way. Looking to the future, the MJMAG is now considering continuing with either the new model or a hybrid delivery, and the value of determining specific audience needs and how they can be met with programs like these.


How the Pandemic Built Resilience and Agility in Our Donor Relationships

Constance Scarlett, Government & Community Relations, TELUS World of Science  - Edmonton


Image courtesy of TELUS World of Science - Edmonton.

Every part of museum operations has shifted over the past year, including how we build relationships with donors and community. At TELUS World of Science - Edmonton, the pandemic has forced their team to focus on individual donor relationships, use new tools to maintain those connections, and leverage community partnerships for greater impact. From virtual fundraising events that expand their reach to one-on-one donor conversations that deepen their relationships, the science centre has changed the way they engage their donors. The result? In 2020, their donor base grew by 500%. These are tactics we can use to build a more resilient future for our organizations.


Questions to Consider

  • Have you been surprised by new audiences and successes during the pandemic?
  • Have you made new connections with other institutions or organizations that you hope to maintain in the future?


About the Speakers


Cat Bluemke
she / her

Cat is an artist and educator for digital technologies. She works primarily with video games, performance, and virtual and augmented reality, through which she explores the dichotomy of work and play in contemporary culture. She graduated in 2018 with her MFA in Design for Emerging Technologies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited internationally at institutions such as the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, Kunsternes Hus (Norway), and the New Museum (New York) through Rhizome.



Jonathan Carroll
he / him

Jonathan is an augmented-, virtual-, and mixed reality artist and developer creating games and software. With a foundation in performance art, his practice evolved from creating applications to facilitate audience-performer interaction to focus on building engaging interactive experiences for mobile, desktop, and headset platforms. His projects explore concepts of power present in the fields of art and technology, emphasizing opportunities to hack existing hierarchies. His work has been shown at the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and through Rhizome in partnership with the New Museum.



Abbey Lee Hallett
she / they

Abbey Lee is a Lebanese-Canadian person who, as the AGW's Audience Engagement Coordinator, has fostered long-lasting, meaningful relationships with local organizations and community members through the AGW's heart-opening virtual programs. As someone fascinated by many different sectors, Abbey Lee has worked in marketing at the Stratford Festival and the Sundance Film Festival, created wellness initiatives with Jack.org and LGBT Youthline, and worked as a historical interpreter and tour guide at Fort Henry and the Haunted Walk of Kingston. In her spare time, you can find Abbey Lee singing too loudly to the Hamilton soundtrack, eating Lebanese food, or watching Schitt's Creek  for the millionth time.



Vincent Houghtaling
he / him

Vincent has a Master's in Arts Leadership from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, having focussed primarily on the interaction between major and planned gift fundraising and the succession planning process for artistic leadership. He has worked at SK Arts, Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame, and Swift Current Museum, and currently sits on the boards of CARFAC Saskatchewan and the Museums Association of Saskatchewan.



Constance Scarlett
she / her 

Constance has over ten years of experience in the arts and heritage sectors with a focus on non-profit / museum management, fund development, and stakeholder relations. She has led the fundraising strategies of numerous cultural organizations, including a $41.5 million capital campaign for TELUS World of Science - Edmonton. Having held positions as a funder and fundraiser, Constance has a unique perspective on both sides of the funding relationship. In her current role at TELUS World of Science - Edmonton, Constance builds relationships and collaborates with community to strengthen the organization's relevance and sustainability.





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