By C. M. Schmidlkofer
If you think a visit to the Indianapolis Museum of Art involves sampling hors d'oeuvres and sipping wine while contemplating the latest exhibit – you might want to take another look at one of the largest encyclopedia museums in the country.
The IMA has been a leader in interactive audience participation on multiple levels catering to all age groups and interests - from hands-on family activities including games, tours, camps for kids, art-making and more – many free to the public.
“The museum has always been dedicated to life-long learning and engaging the community on numerous levels,” Dr. Preston Bautista, IMA deputy director of audience engagement, said.
Continuing in its effort to bring new experiences to the community, the IMA has announced the creation of a new curator position to further innovative public programming utilizing the museum’s vast resources.
Scott Stulen has been selected curator of the new audience experiences and performance division from a large number of applicants from all over the United States. He will officially begin his duties at the IMA March 17.
“The creation of this position is a significant statement and commitment by the IMA to a new way of working within the museum,” Stulen said. “While more traditional exhibitions and programs will remain, this is a move toward including new forms of audience engagement alongside the galleries. The IMA is an innovator and is taking an active role in embracing the shift to a more participatory audience.”
Working with the IMA’s curatorial and audience engagement departments, Stulen will utilize the IMA’s many resources to craft new experiences for visitors including its exhibitions, horticulture, historic preservation, conservation, research, technology programs and encyclopedic art exhibitions in settings including IMA galleries, the 500-seat Toby Theater, the 600-seat outdoor amphitheater, 52-acre Oldfields-Lilly House & Gardens and the 100-acre Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park.
“This is what attracted me to the position, the institution and Indianapolis,” Stulen said. “It’s a unique opportunity to leverage the amazing resources of the entire IMA campus and to help shape this new vision. I hope to bring a focus and identity to the programming and make the IMA not only a modern social space but a place for exploring challenging ideas in unexpected ways.”
Stulen brings more than a decade of educational, programming and administrative experience to the IMA, most recently from the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Minn., where he was project director of mnartists.org, an Internet support resource for Minnesota artists, and co-curator of the Open Field initiative, a collaborative and experimental social space on the art center’s outdoor grounds. Open Field hosted more than 300 programs over three seasons and gave rise to the popular Internet Cat Video Festival which evolved into an international tour. Also known as #Catvidfest, the festival has received national media attention.
Drawing from his extensive experience providing interactive programs to the communities he’s served, Stulen is full of fresh new ideas for the IMA.
While nothing is yet set in stone, he’s looking to offer more gathering places for people throughout the campus; work with the gardens, greenhouse and related staff more actively; involve the local food community in programming and projects; host a bicycle video festival; offer lecture series with experts from the technology and art worlds for starters.
“I want people to view the museum as a place of wonder and joy,” he said. “And we have all the pieces to make that happen.”
For more information about the IMA, Stulen’s experience and the audience experiences and performances, visit the museum Web site at http://www.imamuseum.org.