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Great Debate

Page history last edited by Susan Chun 9 years, 10 months ago

Session title: Inside Out's Pros and Cons: A Great Debate


Moderator: Susan Chun (Independent Researcher and Consultant)

Debaters: Erin Coburn (Chief Officer for Digital Media, The Metropolitan Museum of Art), Rob Stein (CIO, Indianapolis Museum of Art), Leonard Steinbach (Principal, Cultural Technology Strategies), Beck Tench (Director for Innovation and Digital Engagement, Museum of Life and Science), Bruce Wyman (Director of Creative Development, Second Story Interactive Studios)


In the conference's closing plenary, leading museum thinkers will team up to participate in formal, Oxford-style debates about thought-provoking questions faced by today's museum professionals. This year's debate topics are:

  • Museums that are not run as businesses will ultimately fail.

  • Engagement with online-only visitors is as important as engagement with those on site.

After brief opening statements from the debaters, audience members will have an opportunity to raise questions and address the debate teams. In addition, the audience will determine the winners of the debate, by voting--both before and after the discussion--on the propositions.


Session Info


Type: debate

Relevance: anyone interested in the future of museum technology




Susan Chun will serve as the debate moderator. Confirmed debaters include Erin Coburn, Rob Stein, Leonard Steinbach, Beck Tench, and Bruce Wyman.


Susan Chun

Independent Researcher and Consultant 

Susan Chun is a researcher and consultant to cultural heritage organizations (including museums, libraries, and funders) specializing in print and electronic publishing; intellectual property policy; information management and advanced search strategies; and multilingual content development and management. She is the founder of Steve: The Museum Social Tagging Project, a collaboration of museums and information professionals investigating the potential of social tagging to enhance access to museum collections and engage visitors, and currently serves as the project lead and co-principal investigator for Steve in Action, a National Leadership Grant funded by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. She is an instructor in the graduate museum studies programs at the Universita della Svizzerà Italiana, and at Johns Hopkins University. Until 2007, she was General Manager for Collections Information Planning at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and has also been employed at the Asia Society, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Alfred A. Knopf. She has written and spoken frequently on social tagging and museum cataloguing and documentation, open content initiatives, and museum publishing.


Erin Coburn

Chief Officer for Digital Media, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Erin Coburn is the Chief Officer of Digital Media at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Erin is responsible for the direction, oversight, management, and electronic production of documentation and interpretative material on the Museum's collection, including delivery of this information to a variety of audiences, both in the networked environment and in the galleries. She oversees information and collections management, application of standards and best practices, and digital media initiatives.  Erin is currently President of the Museum Computer Network; Special Liaison to the International Committee for Documentation (CIDOC) Board; and Co-Chair of the CIDOC Data Harvesting and Interchange Working Group.


Robert Stein

CIO, Indianapolis Museum of Art

Robert Stein is the Chief Information Officer at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  In that role, Rob leads the museum’s IT, Web, and New Media teams and has played a significant role in helping the IMA become a leader in the use of technology among museums. Under Stein’s leadership, the IMA has received many awards and attention in the press regarding their achievements. Mr. Stein was elected by his peers to the board of the Museum Computer Network in 2008 and has been actively involved in serving the museum community and his local community for many years. In 2006, Stein served as Project Director of the Steve.Museum research project, leading eight of the nation’s art museums in researching the impact of social tagging. In 2009, Stein led the creation and launch of ArtBabble.org, a video website focused on art which brings together 21 leading cultural organizations to create a destination for art video online.


Leonard Steinbach

Principal, Cultural Technology Strategies

Leonard Steinbach is a technology strategy consultant to museums and other cultural organizations. He also teaches “The Business of Museums” for the Graduate Program in Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University. He has served as Technology Coordinator for the French Regional American Museum Exchange (FRAME), a consortium of French and American museums, for whom he recently directed The Mourners Photography Project which created high resolution, 3D and stereoscopic images of medieval sculptures for presentation on the web and as a public and scholarly resource. Steinbach has been a technology manager for more than 25 years including CIO positions at The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (NY). He is a past president of the Museum Computer Network and currently serves on the Boards of several cultural institutions. His essay, Analyzing Return on Investment….Process of Champions, appears in Museums in a Digital Age:A Think Guide, published by the American Association of Museums.


Beck Tench

Director for Innovation and Digital Engagement, Museum of Life and Science

Beck Tench is a simplifier, illustrator, story teller and technologist. Formally trained as a graphics designer at the University of North Carolina’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, she has spent her career elbow deep in web work of all sorts – from the knowledge work of information architecture and design to the hands dirty work of writing code and testing user experiences. Currently, she serves as Director for Innovation and Digital Engagement at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC where she studies and experiments with how visitors and staff use technology to plan, enhance and share their everyday lives.


Bruce Wyman

Director of Creative Development, Second Story Interactive Studios

As the Director of Creative Development at Second Story, Bruce provides strategy, vision, and leadership for the studio’s creative output. He establishes new initiatives and creative directions, along with providing leadership to oversee the efficient, collaborative execution of the interaction design process. Formerly, Bruce was Director of Technology at the Denver Art Museum, overseeing all the technology of the museum, including new media experiences, infrastructure, and business systems. He has spent much of the last two decades doing exhibit design, exhibit content development, and user experience design. 


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