Tracy L. Adler, director of the Ruth and Elmer Wellin Museum of Art, presented “What I Talk About When I Talk About Art: Customizing the Visitor Experience” on April 7 at ArtTable’s Spring PechaKucka in New York City.
Inspired by the title of the memoir What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by famed Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, Adler’s presentation considered the interdisciplinary and multifaceted approach to talking about art to a wide range of constituencies.
She said that museum professionals are often tasked with talking about art, mission, programs and access in ways that engage an audience made up of donors, artists, museum and art professionals, college faculty and student docents, and children and community groups, among others.
“With such wide-ranging audiences bringing with them niche interests, we must customize the visitor experience and remain nimble and responsive if these various constituencies are to feel connected to and invested in the museum in a meaningful way,” Adler said.
She likened engaging in a lively dialogue about the museum to a type of performance more akin to improvisation than a lecture format—a interaction that’s not just about sharing information (which can be done virtually through publications, didactics, and other materials) but rather is about having a direct and quantifiable impact.
According to its website, ArtTable is a “nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing women's professional leadership in the visual arts.” The organization’s pechakuckas are “designed to encourage concise and energetic creative presentations” by the participants.