At Smithsonian Affiliations, we support innovation in interpretation, development processes, delivery mechanisms, and professional and operational practices. In collaboration with our Affiliates, we explore what it means to have an innovation mindset and what innovative programming looks like. We often work with Affiliates to engage their communities as innovation partners.
Innovation Mindset and Resilient Responses
We think of an “innovation mindset” as the ability to come up with new ideas and fresh approaches to problems. It is about being creative, nimble, and forward-thinking. Above all, it is about being collaborative and open to trying new things and even making mistakes.
An organization that demonstrates resilience is able to navigate challenges, such as Covid-19 pandemic and social unrest, and respond to changing circumstances with intention. Resilient organizations leverage the expertise of staff, listen to their community, reflect on systems and processes, and learn from mistakes in order to pivot, adjust and move forward with intention.
How might your relationship with the Smithsonian help your organization to develop and apply an innovation mindset and demonstrate resilience in your work?
Like all organizations, museums and educational and cultural institutions must innovate to successfully navigate the rapidly changing landscape of today’s world and to continue to serve the needs and interests of their communities. Here are a few areas we think about and work with our Affiliates to explore:
Communication Systems: How can we use online tools like electronic newsletters, video, and social media to communicate and engage with our communities? Audiences get information in many different ways today. Where is your audience and how can you meet them there?
Digital Programming: How are we currently using digital technologies to expand the reach and deepen the impact of our work? How are we—or might we—use online exhibitions, virtual programs, video, and other channels to share content with those who may not be able to visit or may want to start or continue their learning at home?
Innovative Processes and Practices: Whether it is through open access content, 3D printing or new Augmented Reality (AR) or Virtual Reality (VR) technology, the Smithsonian looks to new practices to bring life to scientific specimens, historic artifacts, and artwork in new creative ways. These approaches allow us to leverage technologies while broadening access to our research, collections, and expertise. How might your organization use these or other innovative strategies in its work?
National to Local Stories
Smithsonian Affiliations collaborates with museums and educational and cultural organizations to bring the Smithsonian to your neighborhood. We support you in articulating your story within and alongside the larger narratives told by the Smithsonian.
Here are some examples of how we have worked with Affiliates to support their work. How does this inspire you? We encourage you to include your ideas in the Statement of Purpose included in your Affiliate application.
The Draper Spark!Lab
“As an Affiliate, our Spark!Lab is the most visible expression of our partnership with Smithsonian. Guests to the Science Center ask for it by name and members return often with their kids to see what’s happening next in the space. Through the amazing interaction our Spark!Lab provides, young learners can tap into their inner creativity and dream up new solutions to age-old problems.“
President & CEO, Michigan Science Center
Smithsonian Learning Lab
The Smithsonian Learning Lab is a major rethinking of how the digital resources from across the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, 9 major research centers, Smithsonian’s National Zoo, and more, can be used together for learning. The Learning Lab inspires the discovery and creative use of the Smithsonian’s digital materials, which includes more than a million images, recordings, and texts.
Head of Community, Arizona State Museum (Tucson, AZ)
Ancient Art Meets the Future
Innovation and Resilience
This is a tool to reflect on your own organization’s work as you consider whether affiliating with the Smithsonian is right for your organization.
Ready to keep learning? Keep exploring!
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