FCNY18 & The Campus Visit: The Whitney Tour

Render followers know we're fans of the Fast Company Innovation Festival. This past October, Render's Brittney Joyce spent a week in NYC traversing the city to pick up lessons from the world's most innovative brands.

Couldn’t tell you anything about this piece other than a quick story on how the artist replicated an exact copy of the living room seen from the show displayed on the television set. Stories matter.

Couldn’t tell you anything about this piece other than a quick story on how the artist replicated an exact copy of the living room seen from the show displayed on the television set. Stories matter.

We've been publishing a series of blog posts with lessons from #FCFestival. What did we learn that can be applied to the campus visit?

When a fast track at #FCFestival includes the word "tour," you know we're there. This session was a tour of "Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965-2018" at The Whitney.

Did the tour go well? The short answer is: no. Ironically, this fast track reinforced a lot of our Render "no-no's" when it comes to staging an engaging, memorable experience. In particular, the visit checked off three of our biggest tour blunders:

  • No setting of expectations
    • Our guide dived right into walking us through the exhibit space without explaining why this timeframe or artwork was chosen and why we had elected to participate in this tour. Why is this important, and why should we care? And what do we hope to gain out of this visit? All questions that needed to be asked.
  • So. Many. Facts.
    • We get that it is a museum exhibit tour. But going into detail about how every piece of art is installed gets a little mundane after a while (and we imagine isn't unique to The Whitney or this particular exhibit). We heard very few stories, but for the pieces with stories attached, those were the memorable ones.
  • No opportunity to sit.
    • After 45 minutes, we were all exhausted. Everyone started to lean against walls, move on to other pieces before our guide was finished with the current one, and asking about bathrooms/beverages.

Translation for the visit: We often go on these kinds of tours outside of higher ed to see how they make us feel. Most of the time, the tour was boring (and we love art), and we walked away frustrated without having learned much that couldn't be found online or in the exhibit brochure.

TL;DR: If you are staging a visit that is only self-serving and full of information that can be found online/in a brochure, you'll turn off your guests. Guest comfort and their interests come first.

One of the only pieces where we remember a story associated with it: many of the TVs are vintage, and The Whitney team had to scour antique stores and eBay to find enough to create this installation.

One of the only pieces where we remember a story associated with it: many of the TVs are vintage, and The Whitney team had to scour antique stores and eBay to find enough to create this installation.