Monday, September 19, 2011

Digital-Virtual Art Exhibit at the Museum of Science Boston Thrown Under the Bus

I have terminated my internship with the Museum of Science Boston.

In February, after working together for two years on the Digital-Virtual Art Exhibit, the Program Manager of the Cahners Computer Place suddenly told me that he was retiring from the Museum in two weeks. He seemed oddly elated.

I set up an appointment with his boss, Lucy Kirshner, Manager of the Discovery Spaces, and presented the exhibit proposal to her in detail. Her reaction was that she didn't see what digital art had to do with computers. My jaw dropped. Even a quick Google search reveals that most colleges and universities offer degrees in Digital Art and Computer Science. Nevertheless I agreed to do an analysis for her of how my ArtRage interactive, one component of the exhibit, would teach computer STEM. A propos her parting shot that digital art had as much to do with computers as watching a Bruins game on a monitor, a friend commented that possibly she thought I meant finger painting.

I prepared a detailed STEM analysis of my interactive and sent it to her, along with several pages of links to web sites covering digital art and computer STEM. Digital art and STEM, incidentally, go by the acronym STE(A)M in education circles, where it is acknowledged as having the extra advantage of appealing to girls, who are under-represented in the computer field. After many weeks I finally received a reply reiterating her skepticism about digital art and computer science and asking me to fill out an in-house form showing what digital art had to do with Computer STEM. She obviously had not read my materials and gave no evidence of having even looked at my interactive, possibly lacking the software to view it.

Not only did this strike me as a runaround, but it also occurred to me that someone apparently so technologically illiterate would never have the contacts necessary to pursue funding for the project. I put this together with the fact that the Cahners ComputerPlace itself is drastically underfunded (ancient equipment held together with scotch tape and paper clips, outdated software, dim light, '50's decor) and decided that, odd as it may seem, the Museum of Science Boston appears to value neither the ComputerPlace nor visually creative computer literacy. So I terminated my relationship with them.

The strange elation suddenly made sense.

PS The Museum does have a great dinosaur exhibit. And stay tuned - I am retooling the ArtRage tutorial and will offer it on my website.

DIGITAL ART: Martha Jane Bradford
Web Site:
MJB Blog:
VIRTUAL ART: Alizarin Goldflake (Metaverse avatar of Martha Jane Bradford)
Atelier Alizarin (Second Life studio):
Anza Borrego Oak:
Acquarella:the Fable ( a Chantal Harvey machinima) (Chinese narration)
Metemspyche's Garden:
Requiem for Fukushima Daiichi:
Studio Tour:
The Maze:
The Mysterious Forest:
The Winter Bear:


  1. Aww hugs Ali - hope you do find somewhere to show your work - amazing that someone who is so ignorant of their field can be in such a high level position in a museum of science!

  2. Unfortunately this only reinforces my opinion of the people who administer museums and art galleries. Knowing 'who' to dine in order to get a job is still more relevant than what you actually know.
    It may well be a case of 'let the dead bury their dead' ... she could be stuffed and exhibited with the other dinosaurs.

  3. Well its gonna take me days to pick my jaw up off the floor...."Her reaction was that she didn't see what digital art had to do with computers."

  4. I would send your proposal to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. I would be willing to bet they would be interested.

  5. That is somewhat unbelievable ... sorry to hear that you'd put so much effort into it and it never got to set sail.

  6. So sorry to hear this, Ali. I know you've spent a huge amount of time and creative energy on this project. It's their loss.

  7. you go, Goldfishie! These are the dinosaurs of the Old Guard- in 10 years they will be begging for shows.

  8. oh my. so sorry Ali. I dont know what to say :(

  9. This is certainly one of the most valuable posts. Great tips from beginning till end. Lots of suggestions for me and for people. Superb work

    LED Sign

  10. I had fun choosing this particular painting online that now hangs in my downtown office, from, who sells canvas prints of art masterpieces. While the original is treasured in some art museum in England, my print, of this painting by Edward Burne-Jones is very much appreciated by my staff and clients. The print quality is really excellent.