At 11.17.04 Community of Minds: Len Steinbach, CIO, The Cleveland Museum of Art

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 11/29/2004 - 15:12.

Community of Minds hosted another great forum at Case,
partnering with REI, featuring the energetic and proactive CIO of the
world-class Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA), Len Steinbach, presenting on
innovative technologies, projects and services they’ve developed to best serve
the local community and extend their value, outreach and success around the

In a whirlwind presentation on a range of fascinating
initiatives, Len proved he is one of the most effective leaders of Information Technology
(IT) thinking and doing in this region, and he is an outspoken champion for his
organization and world-class IT. Some highlights included overviews of their
interactive distant learning programs, sharing knowledge and expertise from an
in-museum multimedia studio with libraries and classrooms wherever bandwidth is
available. He demonstrated virtual community initiatives as another outreach to
the community, and an exceptional interactive multi-player game they developed
to make learning about art fun and experiential. He showed how they have
outfitted their art galleries with interactive touch-screen computing
to assist teachers on the spot to tap into the knowledge of the
museum organization on select subjects, like African art, and he proved
videoconferencing is part of their sophisticated business processes, as with an
expert consultation on a unique type of pottery with Louvre conservators.

Out of the box, Len discussed his vision for broadening
global awareness of this special institution and using IT in leveraging distinctive
competencies like our conservation program as a service to other museums. He
made attendees realize not only is our museum world class in ways we never
imagined, but that by further leveraging our IT and human resources in this
area, like the exceptional CIA students who developed the CMA learning game,
CMA is one place where Cleveland stands to be world-leading.

Len did express some concerns worth sharing. He is
exasperated that the students who designed and programmed the game he featured
have not been able to find jobs here in the region, so may well leave for
greener pastures (I mentioned this to a local IT company CEO who plans to
address that problem). Len is frustrated people aren’t more aware of the value
of the CMA IT program, and that the museum is having to struggle to raise the
money for their expansion. But he is entirely confident of the museum’s
development plans and their leadership’s commitment to IT as part of their
future footprint on the global museum and education landscape.

At the end of the presentation, I asked Len what we in the
audience – IT professionals – can do to help him succeed with his vision. He
didn’t express any personal needs – he is concerned we make NEO a receptive
place for artistically talented IT professionals, like the students who have
helped him, and he cares that the community rally around his organization and
its expansion plans. I plan to revisit this issue with Len to explore more
about how to make his longer term vision clearer in the community, as every leader
I know supports the Cleveland Museum of Art as one of our most important
resources. For now, I’m glad to know they have such exceptional IT leadership.