Hi, I’m Nina. 
Welcome to Museum 2.0
If you’d rather be reading my blog, click here.

Hi, I’m Nina.

Welcome to Museum 2.0

If you’d rather be reading my blog, click here.

posted : Friday, October 31st, 2008

What I Do

I have a passion for developing museum exhibitions, educational programs, and online experiences that engage visitors as co-creators, not just consumers. I’ve been called a "museum visionary" for my community-centered approach to design.

I currently serve as the Executive Director of The Museum of Art & History @ McPherson Center in Santa Cruz, California. We are working to become a thriving, central gathering place for our community around art, history, ideas, and culture—a “museum 2.0.”

From 2008-2011, I ran a design firm called Museum 2.0 that worked with cultural institutions worldwide on audience participation. For more on my background, here’s my CV.

posted : Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Presentations and Conferences


October 28, 2014 - Keynote address at Internet Librarian conference in Monterey, CA

October 31, 2014 - Keynote address and workshop at Central Coast Creative Economy summit in San Luis Obispo, CA


October 8, 2014 - workshop on community participation at the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz, CA

August 4, 2014 - keynote address at the Inclusive Museum Conference in Los Angeles, CA

May 18-21, 2014 - presentations at the American Alliance of Museums conference on “Hack the Museum Camp” and the power of small museums in Seattle, WA

April 24, 2014 - discussion at MCA Santa Barbara

March 25, 2014 - keynote address at the World Auto Museum Conference in Los Angeles, CA

January 30, 2014 - talk at Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, ON

January 29, 2014 - opening plenary at the Ontario Library Association Super-Conference in Toronto, ON

January 27, 2014 - presentation at Seton Hall Museum Studies Program in South Orange, New Jersey

January 23, 2014 - keynote at Association of Zoos and Aquaria Director’s Conference in Santa Barbara, CA

November 13, 2013 - keynote at Engagement.Next in San Jose, CA

October 25, 2013 - presentation at the Berkeley Festival of Ideas

October 19, 2013 - keynote speaker at the National Docent Symposium in San Francisco, CA

June 8, 2013 - closing keynote on Audience Revolution at the Theater Communication Group conference in Dallas, TX

May 30, 2013 - workshop at the Community Radio Conference on radical collaboration (in partnership with Stacey Garcia and Emily Dobkin)

May 29, 2013 - closing keynote at the CalPresenters conference in San Jose, CA

May 19-22, 2013 - presentations at the American Alliance of Museums annual meeting on “What Does Success Look Like?” and “Risk and Reward” in Baltimore, MD

February 21-22, 2013 - Panel discussions and closing plenary at the California Association of Museums conference in Santa Barbara, CA

November 27, 2012 - keynote speaker for the Arts Learning XChange in Minneapolis, MN

November 12, 2012 - keynote speaker for the Taubman Museum annual women’s luncheon

November 11, 2012 - keynote speaker for the National Arts Marketing Project conference in Charlotte, NC

November 10, 2012 - keynote speaker for the Denver Art Museum Symposium for museum docents

November 5-7, 2012 - keynote and workshop at the Audiences Norway and Norwegian Arts Council in Oslo, Norway

September 13-14, 2012 - panelist and workshop at Pushing our Practice conference in Sacramento, CA

September 9-11, 2012 - keynote workshop at Risk and Reward conference in Telluride, CO

April 29-May 2, 2012 - presentations at the American Association of Museums annual meeting on “Museum as Prototype" and "Straight Talk on Museum Business Models

March 19, 2012 - opening keynote at the Legal Issues in Museums conference in San Francisco, CA

February 23, 2012 - visiting artist presentation with the Visual and Public Art program of CSUMB in Monterey, CA

February 17, 2012 - panel discussion with Maria Mortati, Phil Ross, and Mark Allen on “Making the Case for Experimental Projects” at the California Association of Museums conference in Berkeley, CA

January 17, 2012 - keynote at the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Silicon Valley chapter meeting: "Transforming a Museum with Audience Participation"

October 11, 2011 - keynote at the Utah Museums Association conference in Logan, UT

October 10, 2011 - Stephen Weil keynote at the Mid-Atlantic Museums Association conference in Baltimore, MD

Sept 23-24, 2011 - keynote and workshop at The Future of Public History conference at University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA

May 22-25, 2011 - chairing two sessions at the AAM annual meeting in Houston: “Culture Shock: Empowering Staff to Take Creative Risks” and “Questioning Assumptions: Alternative Futures for Museums”

April 26, 2011 - panel discussion on the future of information needs in Santa Cruz (hosted by Santa Cruz NEXT, held at The Museum of Art & History)

April 22, 2011 - talk and workshop - The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in Philadelphia

April 18, 2011 - keynote and workshop - Connecticut Humanities Council in Hartford (with a lunch presentation by the Chairman of the NEH)

April 13, 2011 - keynote speaker - Cultural Alliance of Southeastern Michigan annual meeting in Detroit

March 31, 2011 - keynote speaker - Association of Swedish Museums in Stockholm

January 11, 2011 - free lecture in Chicago at the Chicago Cultural Center

December 13, 2010 - free talk and book signing at the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum in Pittsburgh, PA

December 7, 2010 - free webinar with MIDEA on Motivating Participation

November 25, 2010 - keynote speaker - NODEM conference in Copenhagen, Denmark

November 17, 2010 - free lecture at the Museu Picasso in Barcelona, Spain

November 14, 2010 - free afternoon lecture at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, MD

November 8, 2010 - keynote speaker and workshop - Smith Symposium at Balboa Park in San Diego, CA

November 4, 2010 - keynote speaker - New Mexico Museums Association in Las Vegas, NM

October 28, 2010 - keynote speaker - British Columbia Museums Association in Nanaimo, Canada

October 26, 2010 - keynote speaker - Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival Symposium in Denver, Colorado

October 22, 2010 - keynote speaker/workshop for the Libraries of Eastern Oregon in Pendleton, Oregon

October 8, 2010 - keynote speaker - Ontario Museums Association in Toronto, Canada

September 28, 2010 -  free lecture on The Participatory Museum at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor 

September 24, 2010 - keynote speaker - Alberta Museums Association in Edmonton, Canada

September 20, 2010 - free panel discussion with Kathleen McLean and Anne Bast (SFMOMA) at the Creative Commons salon at GAFFTA in San Francisco, CA

July 22, 2010 - free lecture on The Participatory Museum at the Taylor Community Center in St. Louis, MO

June 24, 2010 - workshop and lecture on design for participation - The Museum of Art & History and the Santa Cruz Public Libraries in Santa Cruz, CA

June 17, 2010 - keynote speaker - Washington Museum Association conference in Gig harbor, WA on "Collaboration with a small c" 

May 23-26, 2010 - "Design for Participation" and "Beyond the Shiny Object: Mission-Driven Museum Technology Development" - American Association of Museums in Los Angeles, CA

May 17, 2010 - keynote speaker - NYC Museum Educator Roundtable in New York, New York, free lecture on The Participatory Museum at the Whitney Museum

May 6, 2010 - free lecture on The Participatory Museum at JFKU

April 22-23, 2010 - free lecture on The Participatory Museum at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (April 22), free workshop on “Listening to Visitors” at the National Postal Museum (April 23) (slides for workshop)

April 14-17, 2010 - workshop on Design for Participation - Museums and the Web conference in Denver, CO

April 7, 2010 - guest speaker, CSU East Bay Multimedia Graduate program

March 17, 2010 - keynote speaker, “Where are Museums Going?” - Texas Association of Museums conference in College Station, TX (slides)

March 9, 2010 - speaker, “Design for Social Interactions” - BayCHI in Palo Alto, CA (slides with synced audio)

March 4-5, 2010 - keynote speaker, “Three Technologies Museums Need” - California Association of Museums conference in San Jose, CA (slides)

Nov 25, Nov 27, and Dec 14, 2009 - open seminars on “Engaging Museum Audiences” for cultural professionals at Te Papa, the Christchurch Art Gallery, and the Museum of Transportation and Technology in New Zealand. Sponsored by Te Papa National Services Te Paerangi. (slides)

December 9, 2009 - “The Participatory Museum” open seminar at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, AU

November 23-24, 2009 - keynote speaker National Digital Forum in Wellington, New Zealand - “Making Risky Projects Possible” (slides)

November 7, 2009 - panelist at The Museum Strikes Back seminar in Santa Cruz, CA

October 31-November 3, 2009 - “Designing Questions,” (slides) “Bridging Online/Onsite Experiences,” (slides) and “IMLS Report on 21st Century Skills” (report) - Association of Science and Technology Centers annual meeting in Fort Worth, TX

October 22-23, 2009 - keynote speaker/instigator at MuseumNext in Newcastle, UK (slides)

October 1, 2009 - running participatory workshop at Women in Business Leadership Forum in Santa Cruz, CA

May 31-June 2, 2009 - Creativity and Collaboration NAME retreat in Monterey, CA

May 18, 2009 -“Everyone’s Smithsonian” lecture at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (slides and video)

April 30-May 4, 2009 - “Eye on Design” (slides) and “Co-Creating Visitor Experiences” (presentation)  - American Association of Museums annual meeting in Philadelphia, PA

April 14-18, 2009 - “Going Analog” (presentation and paper) - Museums and the Web conference in Indianapolis, IA

April 1, 2009 - “Beyond the Hype: Strategic Approaches to Social Media” - Wallace Foundation Arts Grantees conference in Philadelphia, PA

March 30, 2009 - “Becoming Generous Thieves” (presentation) - keynote speaker at Museums in Conversation conference in Tarrytown, NY

March 27-29, 2009 - FooEast in Cambridge, MA

February 25-27, 2009 - “Making Web 2.0 Work for Your Institution (For Free)” and “Online Communities and the Institution” - IMLS WebWise conference in Washington DC

December 11-12, 2008 - Future of the Tropenmuseum symposium in Amsterdam, NL, organized by the Tropenmuseum

November 14, 2008 - “Ten Tips for Museums in Thinking about Social Technology” (slides) - keynote at Kom je Ook? symposium in Amsterdam, NL, organized by Mediamatic

Oct 18-21, 2008 - “You Can’t Do That in Museums!” (slides) and “Web 2.0 - What’s Next?” - Association of Science and Technology Centers annual meeting in Philadelphia, PA

June 15-18, 2008 - “Small-Scale Innovation” (slides) - Science Center World Congress in Toronto

April 27-30, 2008 - “Eye on Design” (slides) and “Charting New Territory in Virtual Worlds” (slides) - American Associations of Museums annual meeting in Denver, CO

April 5-7, 2008 - “Creating Exhibitions with Web 2.0” (slides) and “Free Tech Tools for Exhibit Design” (slides) - Creating Exhibitions conference in Philadelphia, PA

posted : Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

What I Do


> Working as the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center (since May 11)


> Consulting with the Wild Center, Balboa Park Learning Institute, and the Swedish Museum of World Cultures (March 11)

> Working with the Skirball Cultural Center on participatory elements of a forthcoming exhibition on women’s health and safety issues in developing countries (July 10 - Feb 11)

> Working with the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum to develop ways to deepen and broaden relationships with teens (May 09 - Mar 11)

> Teaching a class in Participatory Audience Engagement for graduate museology students at the University of Washington (Jan - Mar 11)

> Working with the Dallas Museum of Art to help refocus their late night program (Jan-Feb 11)

>Consulting with the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Museu Picasso, and the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum (Nov/Dec 10)

> Working with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to design an online community for aquarium professionals about communicating climate change to visitors (Oct 09-Dec 10)

>Providing workshops on participatory design for the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Minnesota Historical Society (June 10)

>Providing workshops on participatory design for the Smithsonian, the Noyce Leadership Institute, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the New York Hall of Science (April-May 10)

>Providing workshops on participatory design for the Levine Museum of the New South, the Museum of Life and Science, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and the Ontario Science Centre (Jan 10)

> Providing workshops in design for participation for museum, library, and cultural professionals throughout New Zealand and Australia (Nov-Dec 09)

> Serving as an advisor to the Statens Museum for Kunst in Denmark in support of their SMK.dk digital initiatives (Oct 09)

> Working with the Balboa Park Online Collaborative to develop an alternate reality game around several Balboa Park cultural sites (July-Oct 09)

> Designing a 6-day urban science adventure camp for 8th grade girls with the Girls Math and Science Partnership (April - Aug 09)

> Running a workshop to help the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History explore social participation in future galleries (May 09)

> Serving on the IMLS task force on 21st Century Skills, which resulted in this report and institutional assessment instrument (July 08 - Aug 09)

> Teaching a course on Social Technology at the University of Washington graduate Museology program (April - June 09)

> Running a workshop to help Historic New Harmony reenvision audience engagement with their visitor center (March 09)

> Running a workshop to help the Denver Art Museum develop multi-platform, participatory techniques in adult programming (March 09)

> Running a workshop on participatory design techniques for American history exhibition with the Chicago History Museum (Feb 09)

> Working with White Oak Associates on the strategic plan for a new Canada Science and Technology Museum (Nov 08 - ongoing)

> Helping the Boston Children’s Museum develop an online/onsite game experience to encourage green behaviors (Nov 08 - Jan 09)

> Leading interpretative design for The Mint Project as part of their development of a San Francisco city history museum (Sept 08 - Dec 09)

> Designing participatory experiments (like this) for the Oakland Museum as part of their redesign of the Natural Sciences gallery into a visitor co-created space (Nov-Dec 08)

> Strategic consulting with TELUS World of Science - Calgary on social technology integration into their new science centre (Sept 08)

> Design and implementation of a media exhibit design institute for teens at the Chabot Space & Science Center (July - Aug 08)

> Exhibit development support for the Monterey Bay Aquarium's 2010 exhibition on climate change (July 08 - Feb 09)

> Leadership, design, and project management for multi-platform exhibit development of The Tech Virtual Test Zone at The Tech Museum of Innovation (Sept 07 - June 08)

> Creative narrative game design for the CSI:NY virtual experience with The Electric Sheep Company (June - Sept 07)

> Experience design for Operation Spy at the International Spy Museum (Aug 05 - June 07)

posted : Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Publications and Blog

You can find hundreds of weekly essays on the Museum 2.0 blog.  You might also enjoy my book, The Participatory Museum.

Here are other recent papers for download:

Going Analog: Translating Virtual Learnings into Real Institutional Change, published in Museums and the Web Proceedings, 2009.

Discourse in the Blogosphere: What Museums Can Learn from Web 2.0, published in Museums and Social Issues, Volume 2, Number 2, Fall 2007.

Beyond Hands On: Web 2.0 and New Models for Engagement, published in Hand to Hand, Winter 2007, Volume 21, Number 4. Reprinted with permission from the Association of Children’s Museums, Washington, DC.

I also write a syndicated column for the American Association of Museums magazine, Museum, based on Museum 2.0 blog posts.

posted : Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


I am is based in Santa Cruz, California.

You can reach me:

at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History - 705 Front Street in downtown

by phone - 831.331.5460, or skype ninaksimon

by email - nina@museumtwo.com

on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter

posted : Tuesday, October 28th, 2008