Principal, Brilliant Idea Studio
Seema Rao is the Principaland CEO of Brilliant Idea Studio (BIS) helping museums, non-profits, and libraries bring their best ideas to light. BIS specializes in content development and strategy; change facilitation; and inclusive community.
With nearly 20 years of museum experience, Ms. Rao has extensive experience in interpretation and programming from leading content development for all audiences. Ms. Rao led the development for many digital projects including the innovative Gallery One, Studio Play, and Asian Odyssey.
Along with these digital project, she was instrumental in developing mobile and off-site museum spaces, such as note-worthy Studio Go. She has worked assiduously to include new audiences from serving as the museum’s access specialist, developing community engagement programming, and creating teen programming.
Her work has won numerous awards including 6 Muse awards from the Alliance of American Museum as well as been reviewed in the New York Times, Fast Company and the Wall Street Journal. Beyond accolades and reviews, her work has directly impacted millions of museum visitors. Ms. Rao holds a Master’s degree in Art History from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a Master’s degree in Information Science and User Experience Design.
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Trust the Revolution
Portland Art Museum
Museums need a revolution of trust. The word trust is a common one in the museum field, embedded in mission statements and uttered by venerable directors. However, in both instances, museums use the word most commonly in terms of their holdings. Museums keep collections in trust for people. Spend a moment considering that language. Museums hold important artifacts of history, human or natural, for us.
In other words, like a trust fund, the collection is kept safe and protected, for the next generation of beneficiaries. This is, of course, commendable. Collections are often the body of museums. However, collections are not the soul of museums—ideas are. These ideas are brought to collections by people: curators, educators, and visitors, amongst others. Here lies the crux of so many challenges in this sector.
Trust is something that museums offer their collections, but don’t offer much of their staff or their visitors. Without that trust, the people involved in museums cannot bring their best ideas to the fore, leaving collections poorly activated. The issue of trust is at the center of many of the internal problems of museums.
Find out how museums can overcome their fear of change and make the transformation from places that hold collections in trust for people to places that trust people with collections.