Museums of Tomorrow Symposium
This symposium is organized around a key question: Can technology transform systems of power within culture and its institutions?
Museum directors from several continents will present along with leading artists and experts on the role of technology in shaping the power structures that are defining art and culture. How will these changes shape the future of museums and other cultural institutions? This program is organized by the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University in conjunction with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and András Szántó LLC.
The program will be presented live on the Stanford campus from the Clark Center Auditorium and the Cantor Arts Center and will be live streamed via webinar. A webinar link will be provided upon registration for those who wish to attend remotely.
Each session will be recorded and accessible for later viewing on the Fine Arts Museums and Cantor Arts Center YouTube channels. A free all-day ticket reservation is also required to visit the Cantor Arts Center. If you need a disability-related accommodation like ASL, please contact us via e-mail. We ask that requests be made at least one week in advance of the event date.
9:30–10am, Clark Center Plaza
Check-in; coffee and refreshments
10–11:30am, Clark Auditorium
Introductions: Veronica Roberts, John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University and Tom Campbell, Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Sonia Lawson, Director of the Palais de Lomé, Togo
Kamini Sawhney, Director of the Museum of Art & Photography (MAP), Bengaluru, India
Seb Chan, Director & CEO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, Australia
Q&A, moderated by Hou Hanru, writer and curator
A midday break will allow attendees to have lunch and explore at the nearby Cantor Arts Center.
1:30–3pm, Clark Auditorium
Introduction: Deborah Cullinan, Vice President of the Arts at Stanford University
Adam Banks, Faculty Director of Stanford’s Institute for Diversity in the Arts
Mimi Ọnụọha, artist
Glenn Fajardo, Stanford d.school faculty
Q&A, moderated by Ellen Oh, Director of Interdisciplinary Arts Programs at Stanford University
Roundtable discussion with all presenters, moderated by András Szántó, cultural strategy adviser
Veronica Roberts is the John and Jill Freidenrich Director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University. She joined the Cantor in July 2022 after working for nearly a decade as curator of modern and contemporary art at the Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin. In her new role at the Cantor, she has overseen the successful public launch of the Asian American Art Initiative (AAAI) and inaugural exhibitions at the museum. Founded and co-directed by Stanford professor Marci Kwon and Cantor curator Aleesa Pitchamarn Alexander, the AAAI is an ongoing, long-term initiative dedicated to the collection, preservation, research, and public presentation of Asian American and Asian Diasporic artists. Prior to joining the Cantor, Roberts held curatorial positions at MoMA, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum, and she served as director of research for the Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing Catalogue Raisonné. She received her MA from University of California, Santa Barbara, and her BA in art history from Williams College.
Thomas P. Campbell has served for over a decade as director and CEO of two major US art museums—the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 2009 to 2017, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco since 2018—and has dedicated his life to the preservation, study, and promotion of art as a gateway to human understanding. At the Fine Arts Museums, Campbell has worked with staff and board members to strengthen the institution’s ties to local communities through an ongoing Free Saturdays program, through key acquisitions and partnerships, and through the de Young Open—an open invitational exhibition that celebrates the breadth and depth of creativity in the Bay Area. Throughout a historic six-and-a-half-month closure resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Campbell stewarded the Fine Arts Museums through tremendous uncertainty while embracing heightened conversations and action around race and equity as institutional priorities.
A distinguished art historian and an authority in the field of European tapestries, Campbell was educated at Oxford and the Courtauld Institute before joining the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1995, where he conceived and organized several acclaimed exhibitions and publications as curator. Following his appointment as director, Campbell led a revitalization and modernization program embodied in award-winning exhibitions and publications, major capital projects, investment in technology and digital initiatives, and historic donations of works of art. He elevated the Met’s national and international profile through conservation exchanges in the Middle East and India; ambitious loan exhibitions in China, Japan, and Latin America; the launching of a biannual global museum directors’ colloquium; and a new international donor council. During his tenure, attendance grew from 4.5 to 7 million visitors per year.
Sonia Lawson is the founding director of the Palais de Lomé in Togo, an ambitious renovation, cultural, and environmental project that opened its doors in 2019. She was entrusted with the conception, management, design, and oversight of the former Governor’s Palace transformation into a center for art and culture after the palace lay abandoned for more than 20 years. The Palais de Lomé showcases the diversity of Togolese and African cultural production in visual arts, design, new media, culinary arts, and performing arts in diverse settings and exhibition spaces. The venue places a strong emphasis on biodiversity in its programming and in the ongoing design and care of the public space of its gardens.
In 2017 and 2019 Lawson also curated exhibitions of design and crafts from Togo at Révélations Biennale des Métiers d’Art, the international fine craft and creation biennial at the Grand Palais in Paris. She previously worked in Europe in management consulting and in international brand management at large multinational consumer goods corporations.
Kamini Sawhney, the Museum of Art & Photography's (MAP) first director, has brought together a young, inspired team focused on creating a new museum experience for audiences in India. In leading this team, Sawhney has helped shape a vision for MAP that seeks to inspire people to interact with art in ways that encourage humanity, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the world we live in. She has been a vocal ambassador for MAP, presenting the institution’s plans and aspirations at various forums at the Met, Columbia University, the Nelson-Aitken Museum of Art, the American Institute of Indian studies, and the India Art Fair, among others.
In a previous role, Sawhney was the head of the Jehangir Nicholson Art Foundation—one of the premier private collections of Modern Indian Art—at the CSMVS, Mumbai, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum. Bringing institutions together in collaborative projects has been one of her special skills, giving audiences in India the opportunity to enjoy several exhibitions in collaboration with Tate (London), Foam (Amsterdam), Duke University (Durham, NC), the KNMA (New Delhi), and more. She was selected as one of the first candidates for the Brooks fellowship at Tate Modern, London, in 2014 in collaboration with the Delfina Foundation. In a previous avatar as journalist and television anchor, Sawhney was the bureau chief of NDTV, Mumbai, one of India’s leading news channels, where she reported on a range of events, both political and cultural. She has also worked on the media team for a project on artisan development supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Seb Chan, director & CEO of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, Melbourne, was previously a key part of the team behind the organization’s renewal project underpinned by co-design methodology, which transformed ACMI into a multi-award-winning, multiplatform museum. He is currently the National President of the Australian Museums and Galleries Association.
Prior to joining ACMI, Chan led the digital renewal and transformation of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum in New York (2011–15) and the Powerhouse Museum’s pioneering work in open access, mass collaboration, and digital experience during the 2000s. His work has won awards internationally in the museum, media, and design spheres. Chan is adjunct professor, School of Media and Communications, in the College of Design and Social Context at RMIT; an international advisory board member of Art Science Museum (Singapore); and board member of the National Communications Museum (Melbourne). He is an alumnus of the Getty Leadership Institute, Salzburg Global Seminar, and UNSW. He also leads a parallel life in digital art, writing, and music.
Hou Hanru is a prolific writer and curator based in Paris and Rome. He was the artistic director of the National Museum for 21st Century Art and National Museum of Architecture (MAXXI) in Rome from 2013 to 2022.
He has curated and co-curated over 100 exhibitions in the last three decades across the world including: China/Avant-Garde, National Museum of Art of China, Beijing, 1989; Cities on the Move, 1997–2000; Shanghai Biennale, 2000; Gwangju Biennale, 2002; Venice Biennale, French Pavilion, 1999; Venice Biennale Z.O.U. – Zone Of Urgency, 2003, Chinese Pavilion, 2007; 2nd Guangzhou Triennial, 2005; 10th Istanbul Biennial, 2007; Trans(cient)City, Luxembourg, 2007; 10th Biennale de Lyon, 2009; 5th Auckland Triennial, 2013; Open Museum Open City, MAXXI, Rome, 2014; Transformers – Choi Jeong-hwa, Didier Fuiza Faustino, Martino Gamper, Pedro Reyes, MAXXI, 2015–16; Istanbul: Passion, Joy, Fury, MAXXI, 2015, Please Come Back: The world as prison?, MAXXI, 2017; Home Beirut, MAXXI, 2017–18; The Street, Where the World Is Made, MAXXI, 2018, Art and China after 1989: Theater of the World, Solomon Guggenheim Museum, 2017, Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, 2018, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2019; Growing in Difference, 7th Shenzhen Hong Kong Bi-City Biennial of Urbanism and Architecture, UABB, 2017–18; The D-Tales, video art from the Pearl River Delta, Times Art Center, Berlin, 2018–19; A Story for the Future, MAXXI’s First Decade, MAXXI, 2021; Thomas Hirschhorn: Purple Line, MAXXI, 2021; Usage of Uselessness, Times Art Museum, Guangzhou, 2021; Cao Fei, Supernova, MAXXI, 2022; Wong Ping: Ear Wax, Times Art Center, Berlin, 2022.
Hanru is an adviser to numerous cultural institutions including Times Museum (Guangzhou), Rockbund Art Museum (Shanghai), and Solomon Guggenheim Museum (New York). He frequently contributes to various journals on contemporary art and culture and lectures and teaches in numerous international institutions. His books include Hou Hanru (Utopia@Asialink, and School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, 2014), On the Mid-Ground (English version published in 2002 by Timezone 8, Hong Kong; Chinese version published in 2013 by Gold Wall Press, Beijing), Curatorial Challenges (conversations between Hou Hanru and Hans-Ulrich Obrist, in Art-It magazine as “curators on the move,” Japan, 2006–12; Chinese version, Gold Wall Press, Beijing, 2013).
Deborah Cullinan is one of the nation’s leading thinkers on the pivotal role artists and arts organizations can play in shaping our social and political landscape, and she has spent years mobilizing communities through arts and culture. She joined Stanford University in early 2022 as the first full-time vice president for the arts. Previously, she was CEO of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA), where she launched several bold new programs, engagement strategies, and civic coalitions. Prior to joining YBCA in 2013, she was the executive director of San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts. She is a co-founder of CultureBank and recently served as co-chair of the San Francisco Arts Alliance, vice chair of the Yerba Buena Gardens Conservancy, and secretary of the Community Arts Stabilization Trust.
Cullinan was the inaugural National Field Leader in Residence at Arizona State University’s National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation and a former innovator-in-residence at the Kauffman Foundation. She served on Mayor London Breed’s San Francisco Economic Recovery Task Force and also on Governor Gavin Newsom’s Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery. Her passion for using art and creativity to shift culture and advance equity and justice has made her a sought-after speaker at events and conferences around the world.
Adam Banks—a committed teacher, midnight believer, and a Slow Jam in a Hip Hop World—is professor and faculty director of the Program in Writing and Rhetoric and the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. He also serves as an affiliate faculty member of the programs in African & African American Studies and Science, Technology & Society. Prior to arriving at Stanford he served on the faculty of the Department of Writing, Rhetoric & Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky and the Syracuse University Writing Program. In addition to these academic appointments, he served as the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor of English at the University of Kansas, and jointly with Andrea Lunsford as the inaugural Rocky Gooch Visiting Professors for the Bread Loaf School of English.
Banks is a former national chair of the Conference on College Composition and Communication and the founder of the Smitherman/Villanueva Scholarly Writing Retreat, designed for emerging scholars of color working on their first book in areas related to rhetoric, composition, language, and literacy. He is the author of Digital Griots: African American Rhetoric in a Multimedia Age and Race, Rhetoric, and Technology: Searching for Higher Ground, which was awarded the Computers and Composition 2007 Best Book Award. His most recent book is a collaborative effort with Keith Gilyard, On African American Rhetoric, published in 2018. He is currently working on a book under advance contract with Routledge, titled Black Intranets: Dimensions of African American Digital Rhetoric.
Mimi Ọnụọha is a Nigerian American artist (b. 1989, Italy) who creates work that questions and exposes the contradictory logics of technological progress. Through print, code, data, video, installation, and archival media, Ọnụọha offers new orientations for making sense of the absences that define systems of labor, ecology, and relations.
Ọnụọha's recent solo exhibitions include bitforms gallery (USA) and Forest City Gallery (Canada). Her work has been featured at the Whitney Museum of American Art (USA), the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (Australia), Mao Jihong Arts Foundation (China), La Gaitê Lyrique (France), Transmediale Festival (Germany), The Photographers’ Gallery (UK), and NEON (Greece), among others. Her public art engagements have been supported by Akademie der Kunst (Germany), Le Centre Pompidou (France), the Royal College of Art (UK), the Rockefeller Foundation (USA), and Princeton University (USA).
Ọnụọha earned her MPS from NYU Tisch's Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she has taught as an assistant professor. She is a Creative Capital and Fulbright-National Geographic grantee. She is also the co-founder of A People's Guide to Tech, an artist-led organization that makes educational guides and workshops related to emerging technology.
Glenn Fajardo connects to create, exploring how we can be creative together when we are far apart and in different cultural contexts. He has been part of the Stanford d.school teaching community since 2014 and was the d.school’s Distributed Learning Teaching Fellow in 2020. He has co-led classes such as Design for Learning, Design Across Borders, and the Reimagining Campus Life series.
For 14 years, Fajardo has been a practitioner of virtual collaboration, working across six continents with people and organizations engaged in social impact work. Glenn is the co-author (with Kursat Ozenc) of Rituals for Virtual Meetings: Creative Ways to Engage People and Strengthen Relationships.
He was formerly the director of Co-Design Practice of the TechSoup Global Network at TechSoup, a nonprofit social enterprise founded on the belief that technology can be a powerful enabler of greater social change. Formally trained in nuclear engineering sciences and public policy, Fajardo also plays electric bass and likes to cook in other people’s kitchens.
Ellen Oh is an arts administrator and cultural producer with more than 25 years of experience working in arts organizations of all shapes and sizes. During her tenure at Stanford, Ellen has developed and led visiting artist programs, large-scale public events and installations, professional development classes and programs, student Arts Immersion trips, alumni engagement initiatives, and interdisciplinary faculty programs and grants. Her past experience includes serving as executive director of Kearny Street Workshop, associate director/marketing of Sundance Institute, and senior marketing associate for the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. She is currently a board member of Root Division, a San Francisco–based visual arts and education nonprofit, and has served as an adviser and juror for arts organizations throughout the Bay Area. Oh has an MA in arts administration from Columbia University and a BA in organizational studies from Northwestern University.
András Szántó advises museums, foundations, educational institutions, and corporations on cultural strategy and program development, worldwide. He earned his PhD in sociology from Columbia University. A widely published author, his writings have appeared in the New York Times, Artforum, Artnet News, and the Art Newspaper, among other publications. As a consultant, he advises some of the world’s leading cultural institutions and corporate art programs. He has lectured on art business at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art and has directed the National Arts Journalism Program at Columbia University. At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, he helped launch and oversee the Global Museum Leaders Colloquium, a series of seminars for museum directors. He is a frequent moderator of the Art Basel Conversations series. Born in Budapest, Szántó has curated exhibitions on Hungarian art of the 1960s and ’70s. His most recent books are The Future of the Museum (2020) and Imagining the Future Museum (2022). He lives in Brooklyn.