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The Agile Museum: organisational change through collecting ‘new media art’

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posted on 18.12.2015, 10:40 by Catharina Carmel Hendrick
This thesis investigates how collecting new media art affects the museum institutionally. The aim and purpose of this research was to understand how the process of collecting new media art within two regional case study museums (one in the UK and one in the Netherlands) is changing how they operate and function. The two regional museums in this research, I suggest, are innovative and adaptable organisations with agile organisation, agile curation and an agile organisational culture and leadership. Best practice is fostered, experimentation is cultivated and staff work in a collaborative and flexible manner so that new media art can be acquired. The theoretical approach, the Congruence Model of Organizational Behavior, considers how organisations are best aligned in terms of four major components: people, formal structure, informal culture and critical tasks/workflow. The research evaluated the congruence between the four major components and signals the subtle, but important ways in which new media art has reshaped them. A case study qualitative approach was used; interviews were carried out with participants and thematic analysis was employed to analyse the data. Three broad themes emerged from the research. First, new ways of organising – agile teams with a project-based ethos were apparent. Second, collaboration inside and outside the organisation – working across units and disciplines inside the museum and building networks outside the museum which promotes knowledge exchange, learning and collaborative practice were evident. Finally, staff agency and leadership – the organisational culture facilitates autonomy for staff where informed risk-taking and proactivity flourish. This research extends our knowledge of the reciprocal relationship between new media art and how the two museums operate and function. This study has gone some way towards enhancing our understanding of how new media art impacts, in nuanced ways, the museum’s structure and culture, and skills and expertise.



Marstine, Janet; Parry, Ross

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School of Museum Studies

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University of Leicester

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