SUMA Unveils the Power of Podcasting at MuseumNext Digital Summit

Published: May 02, 2024 | Author: Kol Gibson | Read Time: 5 minutes

Lisa Hardy, Alek Nelson, and Emily Ronquillo record their podcast for MuseumNext.

The Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) was selected to present at the MuseumNext Digital Summit held in March of this year. At the summit, SUMA made waves by presenting unique insights into the world of podcasting, offering a fresh perspective on using the platform as a tool for enriching the experience of museum-goers.

MuseumNext, renowned for its mission to bring together the most inventive minds in museums around the world, hosted the Digital Summit. These gatherings serve as catalysts for progress within the museum community by facilitating the exchange of cutting-edge ideas and fostering thought-provoking discussions. SUMA’s presence at the summit underscores its commitment to innovation and collaboration within the global museum landscape.

Lisa Hardy headshot.Observations and Conversations”, SUMA’s podcast, was created in 2021 as a vehicle to tell more in-depth stories from specific exhibitions for visitors who want more context as well as to make the museum’s exhibitions more accessible to those who aren’t able to visit the museum in person. Guests for the podcast include artists and curators, SUMA employees, and other experts from SUU.

The museum’s presentation, titled “The Three ‘P’s of Podcasting: Priorities, People, and Packaging,” captivated attendees with its innovative approach to leveraging this increasingly popular medium within the museum landscape. Spearheaded by Master of Fine Arts (MFA) interns Lisa Hardy and Alek Nelson, and supported by SUMA’s Director of Marketing & Design, Emily Ronquillo, the presentation showcased the museum’s commitment to embracing new communication strategies.

Out of 250 applications to present at MuseumNext, SUMA was chosen as one of only 18 presenters. “Alek and I NEVER thought that we would be accepted,” recalled Lisa, who has managed the production of SUMA’s podcast since August of 2023. “MuseumNext is a global organization, so we couldn’t believe it when our hard work paid off.”

Alek Nelson headshot.“The Three ‘P’s of Podcasting: Priorities, People, and Packaging” was prerecorded for the Digital Summit on a quiet Wednesday morning in the SUMA gallery. Hardy, Nelson, and Ronquillo talked about prioritizing the stories that are told based on available resources, using the podcast to highlight the right guests in a way that speaks to the right audiences, and packaging it appropriately on social media and via email marketing to encourage followers to listen and learn.

The MuseumNext Digital summit allowed SUMA’s team to highlight their outstanding efforts, but it also gave them opportunities to learn from other institutions. “I learned that there is a lot more in common between museums and art institutions than there is different,” said Alek. “A large, well-known institution in London can have the same problems as an art museum in small-town Utah. It is all about making the most out of limited resources.”

Lisa said, “I learned that museums around the world are doing their best to adjust to so many equally challenging and exciting times. It is so important to physically show up for museums by becoming members, attending exhibitions and events, engaging with them on social media, and celebrating the museum staff who create excellent visitor experiences.”

Experiences like these are one of the hallmarks of the student experience in SUU’s Master of Fine Arts in Arts Administration program. In addition to presenting on a global scale, Lisa has gained countless hands-on experiences while working with SUMA, from planning community events, producing the podcast, creating mass communication pieces, and learning the ins and outs of administration in arts programs. “I can’t thank the leadership at SUMA enough,” she said. “Jessica Kinsey, Whitney Staheli, Emily Ronquillo, Becky Bloom, Alyssa Thomas, Mallory Sanders, Kari Heaps, and all the SUMA staff members and volunteers have made my two years in the program worth it.”

Similarly, Alek has managed SUMA’s social media content, resulting in lots of fun and creating a TikTok that has more than a million views. Working at SUMA has given him the ability to apply the things he learns in class and gain professional experience in an atmosphere that is student-focused. He said, “I have loved working at SUMA. I’ve been able to expand my resume and portfolio by working at a professional museum while in college.”

SUMA “Observations and Conversations” podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Radio Public, and Spotify. Be sure to catch the latest episode where Emily Ronquillo sits down with Lisa to talk about her approach to telling stories through podcasting as well as her reaction to presenting with MuseumNext. To learn more about the Southern Utah Museum of Art, visit


About the College of Performing and Visual Arts

The College of Performing and Visual Arts (CPVA) at Southern Utah University comprises 41 academic programs including liberal arts (BA/BS) and professional (BFA, BM, BMEd) degrees in art, design, dance, filmmaking, music, and theatre. It includes graduate programs in the fields of arts administration (MFA, MA), music education (MME), and music technology (MM). More than 60 full-time faculty and staff are engaged in teaching and mentoring over 900 majors in the College. CPVA presents over 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year which are complemented by the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA) and Shakespeare Studies at SUU, and is affiliated with the Tony award-winning Utah Shakespeare Festival (USF). Southern Utah University is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD), National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) making SUU the first public university in the state of Utah to be accredited by all four associations. For more information about the College of Performing and Visual Arts, visit

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Kol Gibson