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Museums in the Digital Age

Susana Smith Bautista, who earned her master of arts in art history at USC Dornsife, publishes a book about the nation’s most technologically advanced art museums.

By Allison Engel
January 27, 2014

Susana Smith Bautista, a USC Dornsife alumna and Provost Fellow, pens a book giving social and cultural context of how arts organizations are using new technologies. Photo by Alexander Lopez.

Susana Smith Bautista, a USC Dornsife alumna and Provost Fellow, pens a book giving social and cultural context of how arts organizations are using new technologies. Photo by Alexander Lopez.

USC Dornsife alumna Susana Smith Bautista, a lecturer at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has authored a new book about the changing roles of museums.

Bautista, a Provost Fellow, received her master of arts in art history and museum studies in 2000. She is currently interim deputy director of the USC Pacific Asia Museum in Pasadena, Calif. In 2012, she earned her Ph.D. at USC Annenberg, where she teaches a course on media and communication for social change and another on visual culture and communication.

She has more than 20 years of experience in the art world in Greece and New York City, and in Los Angeles as an art critic, curator, executive director of the Mexican Cultural Institute, editorial director of LatinArt.com and as arts and culture commissioner for the city of Pasadena.

Museums in the Digital Age: Changing Meanings of Place, Community and Culture (AltaMira Press, 2013) focuses on the museum experience in the digital age, and the social and cultural context of how arts organizations are using new technologies. The book presents case studies of the five most technologically advanced art museums in the United States: the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Brooklyn Museum.

“It is a continuing source of amazement that so few media scholars think of museums as part of the mass media, although they undoubtedly should be seen as such,”  said Larry Gross, USC Annenberg vice dean and director of the School of Communication. “Susana Bautista’s pioneering studies of five exemplary museums will help us better to understand the present state of museums’ digital engagement, and to think together about the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.”

Selma Holo, professor of art history at USC Dornsife, director of the USC Fisher Museum of Art and interim director of the USC Pacific Asia Museum, added this assessment: “Susana Bautista’s book will aid us in seeing the power of digital technology as more than a marketing tool or a glitzy program . . . This book will become one of our navigational tools, reminding us to think of museums primarily as social institutions.”