In preparation for our five-year strategic planning process that begins later this year, the staff has prepared status reports on each of the current plan's four goals: Goal (1) Develop sustainable income, Goal (2) Increase audiences, Goal (3) Maintain the public trust, Goal (4) Seek technological advantages in all aspects of operation.
At the next meeting of the board, the staff will revisit the progress we have made so far on goal four. Like many museums across the country, we continue to benefit from ever expanding technological opportunities: LED lighting (which in our case has resulted in saving thousands of dollars in energy bills); enhanced surveillance capabilities to insure safety for both the collection and the visitor; and better communication capabilities that enable staff to get more done in less time.
Over the past five years, we have made a strong commitment to digital technology as a marketing tool, as a research tool, and as a mode of social communication. We have found the use of technology to be an effective means to attract visitors to our galleries, theater, and studios. As a research tool, the Internet has literally placed information at our fingertips. And as our followers on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest and subscribers to our eNews will attest, we are able to circulate information about FIA exhibitions, programs, and events efficiently and effectively.
Digital technology also offers us opportunities to interpret our collection in new ways. While using audio guides, smart phones, and other digital devices to learn more about an artwork can enhance visitor knowledge, we are mindful of the impact digital technology has on the aesthetic moment—the authentic and direct experience with a work of art—for we believe deeply in the power of great art to capture and communicate on its own terms and to engage the viewer intellectually and emotionally. Studies have shown even the millennials (those between 18 and 34) who use a smart phone for one purpose or another—nearly 50 times a day—seek moments of discovery and engagement that can be achieved when one makes a personal connection with a work of art. As valuable as technological resources have and will continue to be, we are careful not to imagine the aesthetic moment is reproducible digitally. In fact, some museums have found that digital enhancements in their galleries have created distractions or even prevented the visitor from engaging with art directly.
As a goal of our mission "To advance the understanding and appreciation of art for all through collections, exhibitions, and educational programs," the use of technology has been an effective means to attract visitors to our exhibitions, films, and studio art classes in pursuit of the aesthetic experience. As we begin strategic planning for the next five years, we will continue to utilize technology judiciously and take care to keep the spotlight shining bright on the works of art.
John B. Henry