Seema Rao - MuseumNext

Seema Rao

Principal, Brilliant Idea Studio

Seema Rao is the Principal and 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 content 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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Speaking at...

Hack The Bureaucracy

MuseumNext London

The Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

The 21st century museum could be characterised as increasingly digital, more brand-savvy, and globally-facing. This boom period for the field has not, however, changed elemental organisational structures, processes policies. Museums have maintained many of their historic academic bureaucratic underpinnings.

Therefore, there are inherent contradictions between the current state of work in museums and their organisational structures. Museum professionals seeking to accomplish their mission-driven goals find themselves at odds with the imposing and monumental nature of the status quo.  As a result, many museum staff members find themselves in the precarious cultural position, as staff-revolutionaries, change agents, and agitators. They often take on these roles unwillingly, or even unwittingly, and as a result they can feel disenchanted and impotent.

This interactive session will focus on empowering change-makers to consider non-oppositional and constructive means of transitions. Rather than the pugilistic strike first style of change-making, a balanced, strategic style of change will be advocated. Consider the metaphor of tai chi, the Eastern practice sometimes called pushing hands, in which practitioners learn balance through action. In many ways, the ideal type of change moves in sustainable ways, combining existing norms with future desires. Rather than fighting The System, these methods work with the grain of the slow bureaucracy.

This process-based change can be slow but also allows holistic change to affect the organization. The contention is that this is more effective than showy, swift change which can burn bright for a few years but often fizzles out as the change-agent moves on or the project funding finishes.