Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Nina Simon on Abbott Square: Not your typical museum expansion

Sara Isenberg
Founder, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Santa Cruz Tech Beat

June 22, 2017  — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo source: Abbott Square Facebook Page.)

[Note: It’s not tech but from time to time we publish community-oriented news that has an impact on the lives of those of us in the local tech/business ecosystem.]

Taking the museum outside

You may know Nina Simon as the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. She’s also the  author of two books, a prolific blogger, an eloquent speaker, and the consummate geek. Simon has been sharing a series of blog posts leading up to the opening of Abbott Square in Santa Cruz. Her insights into the process of giving birth to Abbott Square contain wisdom that can be of value to any leader of a startup or established organization.

Simon started the Series last March:

My organization, the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History (MAH), is in the home stretch of a major expansion project. Over the next two months, as we head towards opening, I want to share some of the stories of this project and the process behind it.

This is not your typical museum expansion. When the construction is complete, we will have added zero square feet of gallery space. No new classrooms. Not an ounce of storage space, office space, nor exhibit prep space.

Instead, we’re spending five million dollars to take our museum outside. We’re transforming an underutilized downtown plaza next to the MAH, Abbott Square, into a creative town square. We’re gutting an adjacent office building to host a new public market with five mini-restaurants and two bars. We’re planting gardens, painting murals, chalking out performance stages, and hanging market lights. The goal is for Abbott Square to become a new creative heart of our county, a town square that brings together art, history, food, play, and community.

How to birth a public square

  1. Introducing Abbott Square – welcome to the blog series
  2. Why We’re Expanding in Public Space – and Why You Should Consider it Too – if our community lives beyond our walls, shouldn’t our work go outside too?
  3. Community Participation Builds a Community Plaza – how we involved community stakeholders and citizens from day 1
  4. The Most Important Question to Ask in a Capital Campaign – what is your project worth?
  5. What a Board is For – how trustees help you go beyond your limits
  6. Two Prioritization Techniques We Used to Negotiate a Great Lease – how can you decide collectively what you value most?
  7. How Getting Sued Ruined My Vacation and Taught Me about Stress – a cautionary tale
  8. From Mine to Ours – Sharing Ownership of Our Expansion – when and how do you bring your staff into a new project?
  9. Think Like a Real Estate Developer – a new way of looking at opportunities on the horizon
  10. What’s More Inclusive: Food or Art? – questioning long-held beliefs about gentrification and inclusion
  11. Why We Moved the Abbott Square Opening – A Mistake, a Tough Call, & a Pivot

Additional Links:



Related Posts

Sign up for our free weekly email digest!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Follow Now

Facebook Feed

This message is only visible to admins.
Problem displaying Facebook posts.
Click to show error
Error: Server configuration issue