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New book measures museums in digital age

Alumna writes about the changing roles of museums

Allison Engelby Allison Engel

Susana Smith Bautista MA ’00, PhD ’12, a lecturer in the School of Communication at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism and interim deputy director of the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, Calif., is the author of a new book about the changing roles of museums.

Bautista, a Provost Fellow, received her Master of Arts in art history and museum studies from the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. She currently teaches a course on media and communication for social change and another on visual culture and communication at USC Annenberg; she also teaches in the Arts Management Program at Claremont Graduate University.

She has more than 20 years of experience in the art world in Greece and New York City, and in Los Angeles as an art critic, curator, executive director of the Mexican Cultural Institute, editorial director of LatinArt.com and as arts and culture commissioner for the city of Pasadena.

Museums in the Digital Age

Museums in the Digital Age explores the social and cultural context of how arts organizations are using new technologies.

Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community and Culture focuses on the museum experience in the digital age, and the social and cultural context of how arts organizations are using new technologies. The book, published by Alta Mira Press, presents case studies of the five most technologically advanced art museums in America: the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Brooklyn Museum.

Larry Gross, USC Annenberg vice dean and director of the School of Communication, wrote this about Bautista’s book: “It is a continuing source of amazement that so few media scholars think of museums as part of the mass media, although they undoubtedly should be seen as such. And at the same time, many museum professionals view the mass media as foreign, and threatening to the mission of the museum. Yet museums are institutions that serve to connect heterogeneous publics with the creative achievements of past and present creators, and this is not a bad definition of mass media.

“Susana Bautista’s pioneering studies of five exemplary museums will help us all better to understand the present state of museums’ digital engagement, and to think together about the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.”

Selma Holo, director of the USC Fisher Museum of Art and interim director of the USC Pacific Asia Museum, added this assessment: “Susana Bautista’s book will aid us in seeing the power of digital technology as more than a marketing tool or a glitzy program. … This book will become one of our navigational tools, reminding us to think of museums primarily as social institutions.”

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