New Art Director at ASU Miki Garcia has plans to shake up future of art museums


TED SIMONS: ASU'S ART MUSEUM HAS A NEW DIRECTOR AND SHE HAS BIG PLANS TO SHAKE UP NOT ONLY THE "UNIVERSITY'S" MUSEUM BUT THE FUTURE OF ALL ART MUSEUMS. WE WELCOME MIKI GARCIA TO ARIZONA HORIZON.

MIKI GARCIA: THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

TED SIMONS: WHY DID YOU TAKE ON THE ASU ART MUSEUM?

MIKI GARCIA: I MOVED HERE FROM SANTA BARBARA. I WAS THERE 18 YEARS. I WAS COMPELLED BY THE NEW AMERICAN UNIVERSITY. I'M TRYING TO BUILD THE NEW AMERICAN MUSEUM WITHIN THE NEW AMERICAN UNIVERSITY.

TED SIMONS: WHAT IS THE NEW AMERICAN ART MUSEUM?

MIKI GARCIA: IT'S A MUSEUM THAT MEETS PEOPLE WHERE THEY ARE. IT'S DISRUPTING THE CLASSICAL MODEL OF, WE ARE EXPERTS. YOU COME TO US. YOU ARE PASSIVE RECEIVERS OF INFORMATION THAT WE HAVE DEEMED IMPORTANT, AND IT'S A MEDITATIVE AND AUTHORITATIVE SPACE. WHAT WE WOULD LIKE TO DO IS HAVE A MUSEUM ENGAGING THAT MEETS YOU WITH YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND YOUR EXPERIENCE THAT IS ABOUT CO-LEARNING AND COCREATING MEANING TOGETHER.

TED SIMONS: AS FAR AS ASU'S ART MUSEUM IS CONCERNED, WHAT DID THEY DO WELL AND WHAT DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE?

MIKI GARCIA: THE MUSEUM DOES A LOT OF GREAT THINGS. ONE OF THE THINGS, IT HAS A GREAT COLLECTION OF OBJECTS, A CERAMIC'S SELECTION AND ARTISTS INTERESTED IN THAT. THE ART MUSEUM REALLY SEES ITSELF AS THE CULTURAL COMMONS OF THE CAMPUS BUT THE CITY OF TEMPE AND PHOENIX AT LARGE. ONE OF THE THINGS I WANTED TO CHANGE ABOUT THAT, OR ACCELERATE IS A BETTER WORD, IS THINKING ABOUT HOW THE MUSEUM CAN BE THE PLACE WHERE THE DISCIPLINE OF ALL DISCIPLINES, WHERE WE LAUNCH ARTISTS INTO ALL OF THE DIFFERENT FIELDS ASU OFFERS, AND INVITE AUDIENCES TO THINK ABOUT HOW ART CAN MAKE THEM THINK ABOUT PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE AND RELIGION AND HISTORY AND BE CROSS SECTIONAL IN THAT WAY.

TED SIMONS: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY SORT OF THING.

MIKI GARCIA: ABSOLUTELY.

TED SIMONS: HOW DO YOU BALANCE THAT WITH POPULARITY? PEOPLE LIKE TO GO TO AN ART MUSEUM AND THINK. HOW DO YOU MAKE THOSE THINGS WORK?

MIKI GARCIA: I LIKE THAT TOO. THAT'S WHY I BECAME A MUSEUM DIRECTOR, BUT I THINK THERE IS A BALANCE BETWEEN SCHOLARSHIP AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FIELD, THINKING AND HAVING ART BE EDIFYING WITH HAVING ART BE CHALLENGING AND THOUGHT PROVOKING. I THINK HUMAN BEINGS WANT TO LEAVE THEIR MARK. WE WANT TO SAY, HEY, I WAS HERE. LOOK AT SOCIAL MEDIA'S EVIDENCE OF PEOPLE WANTING TO PARTICIPATE AND ENGAGE. WE ARE LOOKING AT HOW WE CAN HAVE PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR MARK AND ENGAGE IN MEANINGFUL WAYS, AND STILL BE THE PEOPLE THAT ARE THE ARBITERS IN THE ART WORLD AND WHAT'S IMPORTANT.

TED SIMONS: THERE IS A PARTNERSHIP AT THE L.A. COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART. WHAT IS THAT ABOUT?

MIKI GARCIA: DR. CROW AND DR. GOVERN THE DIRECTOR OF THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY MUSEUM OF ART ARE BOTH DISRUPTERS, VISIONARIES, AND I THINK THEY ARE THINKING ABOUT WHAT ARE THE INSTITUTIONS OF THE FUTURE GOING TO LOOK LIKE? WHAT ARE LIBRARIES GOING TO LOOK LIKE AND WHAT ARE MUSEUMS GOING TO LOOK LIKE IN THE NEW CENTURY? THAT HAS A LOT TO DO WITH DEMOGRAPHICS. IF YOU LOOK AT ART MUSEUM DEMOGRAPHICS, NOT ONLY ARE THE MAJORITY BOARDS ALL WHITE, WE ALSO DISCOVERED RECENTLY, THROUGH A MELON FOUNDATION SURVEY, 86% OF ALL LEADERSHIP IN MUSEUMS ACROSS THE COUNTRY ARE WHITE, 86% OF THE PEOPLE IN POWER. WHAT'S STARTLING, 79% OF ALL AUDIENCES THAT COME TO ART MUSEUMS ARE CAUCASIAN. WE CLAIM TO BE DEMOCRATIC AND OPEN SPACES. I DON'T KNOW WHAT WE ARE DOING AS GOOD A JOB AS THAT.

TED SIMONS: HOW DO YOU -- I ASSUME YOU DON'T WANT TO DRIVE CAUCASIANS AWAY, BUT HOW DO YOU EXPAND AND DIVERSIFY AND DO WHAT YOU THINK SHOULD BE DONE?

MIKI GARCIA: IT'S ULTIMATELY NOT GOING TO BE A BLACK/WHITE ISSUE. I THINK its PSYCHO GRAPHICS. WHO IS INTERESTED IN THE SOCIETY? THAT'S WHO WE'LL GO AFTER. WE HAVE TO BUILD PIPELINES. THIS IS A LONG TERM COMMITMENT TO FACING NEW REALITIES, REALITIES OF THE MILLENNIAL GENERATION AND DEMOGRAPHICS IN ARIZONA AND CALIFORNIA IN PARTICULAR. WE ARE THINKING ABOUT JOINING FORCES. WE ARE NOT THINKING ABOUT IT, WE HAVE JOINED FORCES TO PRODUCE A MASTER'S PROGRAM. WE HAVE FELLOWS AT THE ART MUSEUM. LACK MA HAS THEIR FELLOWS AND A CO-HOR T WILL BE THE FUTURE LEADERS OF ART MUSEUMS IN AMERICA.

TED SIMONS: LAST QUESTION, BEFORE WE GO, WITH EVERYTHING YOU HAVE TALKED ABOUT, WHAT MAKES A GOOD MUSEUM EXHIBIT?

MIKI GARCIA: WHAT MAKES A GOOD MUSEUM EXHIBIT, ONE THAT LINGERS LONG IN YOUR MIND AFTER? WE KNOW FACTS MOVE US ONCE IN A WHILE. IF I KNOW SUGAR IS BAD FOR ME, WHY DON'T I STOP EATING SUGAR? ART MUSEUMS MOVE VALUES. IT'S WHEN SOMETHING IS VALUABLE TO YOU THAT YOU ARE CHANGED. IT'S WHEN YOU LOOK ACROSS THE TABLE TO UNDERSTAND SOMETHING OR SOMEONE IN A WAY YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE, THAT'S WHAT THE POWER OF ART HAS.

TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS GOOD. GOOD TO HAVE YOU HERE. THANKS FOR JOINING US.

MIKI GARCIA: THANKS FOR HAVING ME

Miki Garcia, formerly the executive director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara, is taking on the role of director of the ASU Art Museum. She has plans for how to push it into the future.

“I was compelled by Dr. Crow’s vision of the New American University,” Garcia says. “I’m trying to build the New American Art Museum within the New American University.”

Her model of a new art museum consists of meeting people where they are. She says it’s about disrupting the classic model of experts and passive receivers of information. The museum will be engaging and allow people to co-learn and co-create.

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Miki Garcia: Director, ASU Art Museum

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