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The Art of Relevance

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  351 ratings  ·  56 reviews
What do the London Science Museum, California Shakespeare Theater, and ShaNaNa have in common? They are all fighting for relevance in an often indifferent world. The Art of Relevance is your guide to mattering more to more people. You'll find inspiring examples, rags-to-relevance case studies, research-based frameworks, and practical advice on how your work can be more vit ...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Museum 2.0
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Aug 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: boekenkast, academic
I really love the way that Nina Simon writes - this book is such an easy and fun read, which makes it fantastic because now everyone in museumland can read this and DO this.. I wish. I so deeply agree with all of The Art of Relevance, but it makes me so sad that so much of this is not happening in museums and I am too small a person to make it happen. Oh, if only I were a director.. ;)

Side-note: I really missed the academic underpinnings in this book. Although now it really was an easy read, a l
Jasper Visser
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
"Communities are people. They are not abstractions. They are not rhetoric. They are human beings."

Nina Simon has again written a smart, anecdote-filled, activist and (I have to say) relevant book for all professionals in the arts, culture and heritage who want to invite more people into their world, be more welcoming, and change the world for the better. The book is a pleasure to read. Short and snappy, its message is crystal clear, and you can get through it in one proper sit.

I'm aware the mess
A must-read for any institution attempting to reach marginalized populations.
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely devoured this book! It is such a breath of fresh air! Full of meaningful insights, quirky witticisms, and relevant case studies, this book shows the importance of making your work relevant to your community, the current zeitgeist, and potential demographics of people!
Elizabeth Bostelman
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Museum/non-profit peeps, read this book! It helped me to see relevance not as a "thing" to be chased and change but something that is always there you just need to give the public a key to what is cool about your institution! Read it!!!
Sian Lile-Pastore
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I liked this - a good one for musuem workers. Easy to read, accessible with lots of good stories and examples. Do think it was a little bit surfacy and the whole key/room analogy went a bit far. Also thought it probably could have done with some references. But really liked It and it has lots of valuable insights.
Katherine McCauley
Some good points, some less good points, but big ups for being so readable.
Bob Garrett
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Museum professional Nina Simon is big on community engagement for museums.  She loves to talk about museums "building rooms" and "building doors" and giving community people "keys" to the magnificent doors to these magnificent rooms.

"The more someone uses a key, the more it becomes a part of them.  The room changes them, and they change the room."  So sayeth Ms. Simon.

If this sounds very "hippie dippie," then, well, that's because it is.  It's not nonsense, mind you, and this book does provide s
Elizabeth Schlatter
I feel guilty not giving this book 5 stars because Simon has enabled anyone to read it for FREE, which is wonderfully generous. It's a nice companion to Simon's "Participatory Museum," which focuses on interactive strategies for all sorts of museum exhibitions, programs, collections, PR, etc., you name it. This book is more focused on how to find out what sorts of communities (plural by all definitions) could find resonance with your institution, and how to go about finding those communities, le ...more
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
The Art of Relevance made some interesting (and sometimes profound) points that encouraged me to turn my gaze inward and examine where I currently stand and - more importantly - where I'm willing to go, but it also felt uncomfortably at points like it was preaching to the choir. I will say that Simon's writing style is infinitely accessible to the seasoned museum professional and wider community members alike.
Jonathan Frederick Walz
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Inspiring. Highly recommended.
Heather Hope
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am a fan of Simon's work. While she writes mostly about museums, her work and thoughts apply equally across the arts and across ther nonprofit sector. This book is very conversational, filled with stories and imagery and ideas, but it's also very engrossing and grabbed me from the beginning. I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about inclusion and community and the dreaded it-word "relevance."

This book doesn't have the academic approach you might be looking for - there's no statistical ana
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Not a book I would normally pick up, but it left an impact. In a nutshell the message is: does your work have relevance? Using case studies nationally and through her own work at the MAH Simon dives into what it means for an organization to be relevant to the community it serves. I definitely thought about this connects to the world of education, and understood how this impacted the work I did in the classroom. A good read for someone who wants to understand how to connect with their community, ...more
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great book! Very accessible- Simon uses short chapters and plenty of examples to help express the idea of relevance. How to provide new keys/doorways to your institution, building trust and community, "buying in", etc. I found this incredibly useful and thought provoking in my own work. It now makes me look not just at my programs, but at my building itself, in a new light. I can see myself referring back to this book many times in my future. Highly recommended, particularly for anyone wo ...more
Jun 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Excellent, thought-provoking, and easy to digest. Quite different from the Participatory Museum which has taken me some time to get through. Many chapters are brief and, I believe, former blog posts. Some great examples from the museum field and other areas (such as her Dad who is in the band ShaNaNa, how awesome is that??) to illustrate her points. One criticism, I do wish the key/door/room theme was not so prevalent because it became hackneyed very quickly.
Heather G
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
Simon's message and approach resonate beyond museum applications. This book is highly relevant (sorry!) to broader cultural studies fields -- such as my own: cultural sustainability. It's so important to engage the communities we work with as partners...

Like other reviewers here, I would have appreciated more in terms of theory or citations for publications that informed Simon's thinking. That said, the book is highly accessible and lays important groundwork that will inspire.
Jan 03, 2020 rated it liked it
This is an interesting read about how to improve museums in regards to their cultural significance, and Nina Simon is a great speaker and authority on what these changes look like. I enjoyed her use of non-museum examples, though I feel like those working front-line staff at museums will just silently nod in agreement about how much has to change.

The biggest thing about texts like these is that the people who need to read them don’t, and the people who do read them already agree.
Amber Nagy
May 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this book as much as I did. Only started reading it for a book club at work, and enjoyed the short vignettes on relevance in the public sector. Each section is pretty short and includes an example of an actual museum or program, so the book flows really well. Definitely recommend.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I heard the author speak at our state library conference and I'm finally reading the book. This is something I can dip into again and again as I think about what step to take next at the library. Filled with interesting examples and thought provoking questions I can't wait to discuss this with someone! I especially appreciated her analogy of doors and keys.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I saw Nina Simon speak at the ILA 2016 Conference in Rosemont. She was a fantastic speaker and energizing in how libraries can move into space for the people, rather than we own the space and the people just use it. Her book was interesting and a recap of her ideas she talked about, but a little too case specific.
Hannah Hethmon
Sep 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This isn't just for museum people. Simon distills what it takes to be relevant down to its core, and leaves you with something that can be applied to any endeavor. If you are working in the public interest, this is a must-read.
Colleen Frakes
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
A quick and engaging read with a lot of good information relevant to libraries, museums and public institutions.
Leah Rachel
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Opening doors to relevance

I loved the use of the door metaphor to explain how institutions can work to welcome diverse groups of people and help them take ownership of th
Jul 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was interesting to read about how different people came up with sulutions to the problem of connecting to their community or the community they want to reach.
anna b
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Enlightening and totally relevant!
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Gave me so much to think and opened my eyes to see the work of cultural institutions in a new way.
Mar 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: brainy, museums, projects
A useful read for anyone looking to add, define, or cultivate relevance in work or life. Now, to take the lessons, the activities, the case studies and make them my own.
Great read for any public institution!
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Entretaining, full of well researched insights and useful to the reality museums face everyday. The study cases where amazing, and very much on point.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great examples of what some institutions are doing to stay relevant. Quick chapters, quick read, and fairly engaging.
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