Cultured Magazine

February/March 2016

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DIGITAL DOYENNE JiaJia Fei is one of the most sought-after museum talents you may never have heard of. Antwaun Sargent catches up with the 29-year-old as she transitions from the Guggenheim to her new role as the Jewish Museum's first digital director. PORTRAIT BY NIKOLA TAMINDZIC After five years of driving the digital voice of the Guggenheim Museum, JiaJia Fei left the institution at the start of this year to head her own department as the first director of digital at the Jewish Museum. "My job really involves looking at how digital impacts every dimension of the museum," says Fei of her new role. "I will be working very closely with curators and educators to make what they do available and relevant online to a contemporary audience." When Fei joined the Guggenheim in 2010, the museum was in the midst of an institutional shift toward digital, and only had 200,000 followers across its social platforms. Fei rose through the ranks to become associate director of digital marketing. Under her leadership, she steered the Guggenheim's social media growth by making the museum's curatorial experience available to anyone with an Internet connection. "Over time my job defined the non-visitor who would never step foot in the museum but who could still benefit from its mission of educating people about art," says Fei, whose personal Instagram account (@vajiajia) has more than 55,000 followers. "One million people visit the museum annually, and now three million visit us across social platforms," explains Fei, who recently gave a TEDx Talk on the role of art in the Instagram age. At the Jewish Museum—where she was a marketing associate in 2009—Fei will work to achieve a similar strategic digital transformation. Expectations are high: While at the Guggenheim she introduced Periscope live-streaming of museum events, started its Instagram account and organized Google Art Talks between curators. "So much good work hadn't seen the light of day because there wasn't a channel to share it," says Fei. Her social media prowess wasn't relegated only to museum endeavors. When artist Ai Weiwei was arrested in 2011, she, along with curator Alexandra Munroe, rallied more than 100,000 people to sign an online petition calling for the artist to be released. "This platform provides an opportunity to think not only about social media, but also how the content you create online can be integrated throughout the museum site," says Fei. "With any museum, whatever you do online should be authentic. The digital experience is really just taking your audience on a journey to the museum to experience art." 122 CULTURED

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