Nina Simon has been described as a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine for her community-centered approach to design. She is the Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, where she led an institutional turnaround based on creative risk-taking, grassroots participation, and unexpected community partnerships. Nina is the author of The Participatory Museum (2010) and the popular Museum 2.0 blog. Nina is a passionate activist for the integration of social, dynamic, participatory experiences into cultural practice, especially in institutions that are seen as out of touch with contemporary issues.
Previously, Nina worked as an independent exhibition designer with more than 100 museums and cultural centers around the world, including the Boston Children’s Museum, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Experience Music Project, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, and the National Gallery of Denmark. She worked on staff at The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose and the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC, focusing on new interactive formats for visitor engagement. Nina is also an adjunct professor at the University of Washington Museology program, teaching a course on Social Technologies in Exhibition Design.
Before working in museums, Nina was an electrical engineer at NASA and an award-winning performance poet. She lives off the grid in Santa Cruz in a community of chickens and tree houses.