Founder and principal of Ideas in Things, Matt Singer has decades of experience as both an on-staff and independent writer, curator, educator, and coordinator and presenter of public-programs exploring and illuminating art, design, and architecture and the ideas and histories they embody and evoke.
He served as Senior Museum Writer and Communications Officer for the Philadelphia Museum of Art from 2001 through 2015. At the PMA and elsewhere, Matt has worked in words to raise public awareness and philanthropic support for the full range of offerings shared by arts and culture organizations–collections, exhibitions, public programs, and more–to communicate and advance their missions and highlight their powerful value as unique resources for communities and individuals.
In conjunction with and as a complement to his work with organizations, Matt is an independent curator of contemporary art and historic interiors and a longstanding, regular contributor of articles and essays to exhibition catalogs, general-readership periodicals, scholarly journals, and online forums such as theartblog.org.
Matt earned an MA and PhD in American Studies from the Pennsylvania State University with concentrations in visual and material culture and ethnic and religious studies.
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- Historian/scholar/content-specialist, museum and library professional, writer-editor, curator, and educator with proven effective commitment to raising awareness of, engagement with, and philanthropic support for endeavors in arts, culture, and the humanities, and the individual and societal impact and dynamics of race, gender, ethnicity, religion, and other aspects of intersectional identity
- Decades of hands-on on-staff and independent experience conceiving, organizing, and presenting the full range of arts and cultural organization offerings—permanent collection installations; exhibitions; publications; library and archival initiatives; original scholarly research, documentation, and interpretation; classroom and online teaching; public programs; and digital initiatives—that embody, communicate, and advance each organization’s unique mission
- Empathetic, uplifting, and focused team builder, leader, and collaborative partner in inter- and cross-organizational initiatives requiring buy-in from senior leadership, staff, volunteers, and donors
Employment and Recent Projects
BRANDYWINE WORKSHOP & ARCHIVES/ARTURA.ORG
Editor-in-Chief (part-time) 2019–present
Research, write, and enter website/database/catalog content documenting and interpreting permanent art collection and related archives; copyedit; fact-check; and secure permissions. Write and edit marketing, fundraising, and institutional-advancement text for hardcopy and/or online publication. BWA produces, exhibits, and collects printed works of art by artists representing underserved minority communities. Artura.org is a recently launched free and interactive digital-humanities education resource providing images of art, related archival materials, lesson plans, virtual exhibitions, and hardcopy and online teaching guides for K-12 and college/university educators, students, and parents; museum, library, and cultural- and heritage-center professionals; institution-affiliated and independent scholars; and lifelong learners. BWA and Artura.org are organizations/resources centered on diversity, equity, and inclusion that effect change through innovative public engagement.
BURLINGTON COUNTY LYCEUM OF HISTORY AND NATURAL SCIENCES
Curator and Content Developer (contract) 2019-2020; 2021–present
- Develop verbal, visual (hardcopy and digital), and material content for the in-progress permanent/core exhibition of a regional heritage center
- Consult as curator for art, architecture, decorative arts, and rare books and archival materials. Manage projects and curate creation of interpretable, historically accurate period interiors and hardcopy and digital interpretive resources. Develop and maintain project budget and operating procedures
FREE LIBRARY OF PHILADELPHIA FOUNDATION
Senior Writer and Editor 2018
- Produced and edited written content and gathered and organized graphic content for Off the Shelf magazine, Annual Report, and other publications and documents promoting the Free Library and the affiliated Rosenbach Museum and Library, their exhibitions, collections, educational and public programs, fundraising initiatives, and capital projects/facilities renovations and expansions
- Managed project teams of executive staff, librarians, curators, consulting scholars, and graphic- and exhibition-designers; coordinated group text and design review
TYLER SCHOOL OF ART/TEMPLE UNIVERSITY
Lecturer: “Race, Identity, and Experience in American Art” (adjunct) 2016–2017
- Developed syllabus, organized diverse range of multimedia teaching materials, and taught in-class and online sections of a popular art-history/general-education course that promoted and enriched knowledge and appreciation of diverse individual and communal identities and intersectionality through the visual-arts
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
Senior Museum Writer and Communications Officer 2008–2015
- Produced and edited written content and gathered and organized graphic content for Developments magazine, Annual Report, and other print and online publications promoting public engagement and donor cultivation and stewardship
- Led project teams of museum staff of all levels and function. Collaborated with executive staff, curators, librarians, archivists, educators, conservators, visiting scholars, artists, collectors, and trustees
- Served as lead writer, contributing curatorial-coordinator, and developer of the in-gallery interpretive/educational approach used by visitor-services staff and volunteer docents for the exhibition Making a Classic Modern: Frank Gehry’s Master Plan for the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2014)
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF JEWISH ART (AT CONGREGATION RODEPH SHALOM)
Curator (pro bono) 1999–2015
- Conceived, organized, and presented special exhibitions and permanent-collection installations of contemporary art by artists of all backgrounds, illuminating the dynamism and diversity of contemporary Jewish life and culture
- Initiated, organized, and presented public programs. Developed and maintained project budgets. Established organizational archive
- Collaborated with freelance-designers, artists, and guest/contributing scholars to develop and produce catalogs, brochures, in-gallery interpretative components (hardcopy and audio-visual), and promotional materials for special exhibitions, acquisitions, reinstallations of the permanent collection, and public programs
KIMMEL CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS
Publications Manager 2000–2001
Doctor of Philosophy, American Studies, Pennsylvania State University, 2016. Subfields: visual and material culture; ethnic and religious studies. Dissertation: “Building Liberal Religion: Jews and Unitarians Reform Faith and Architecture in 19th-Century Philadelphia.” Sue Samuelson Award for Academic Excellence in American Studies and Dunn Family Award for Jewish Studies
Master of Arts, American Studies, Pennsylvania State University, 1992. Concentrations: history of American art, architecture, decorative arts, and material culture. Thesis: “The Art and Craft of the Machine: Photography in The Craftsman, 1901–1916”
Bachelor of Arts, Pennsylvania State University/Schreyer Honors College, 1985, with certificate in European Mass-Communications, University of Manchester, England, 1984. Thesis: “Punks in an American College Town: Testing Gordon Matza’s Subcultural Theory”
Coursework in Interior Architecture, Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science (Thomas Jefferson University), 1988–1990