­­Robert Stein is a museum leader, technology expert, and strategist with more than a decade of experience in the museum field heading up innovative projects and diverse teams. During that time, Rob has pioneered the adoption of open source tools for the museum community, created the world’s first incentive-based loyalty program for visitor engagement, and has transformed the discussion about how technology can enhance and drive educational and public impact in museums.

Rob is a sought after author, speaker and consultant, focusing on the impact museums can have in their community, how technology efforts can change the dynamic of museum innovation, and how metrics and measurement can drive continuous improvement for the practice of museums.

As the Deputy Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, Rob leads the staff and the DMA’s active programs of Education, Conservation, Marketing, and Technology. In 2013, Stein led the DMA in making a transition from paid to free general admission and in launching an innovative free membership program called DMA Friends. DMA Friends strives to increase participation with the Museum through a novel loyalty scheme and generates meaningful data about museum participation that DMA staff can use to refine educational programming and public experience. The DMA Friends program has welcomed nearly 100,000 members since its inception and won a Gold MUSE Award for Public Outreach from the American Alliance of Museums, the Best Innovative/Experimental and Best Overall award from the International Museums and the Web conference.

Prior to his role in Dallas, Stein was the Deputy Director for Research, Technology, and Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. In that role, Stein founded a renowned technology program that piloted many of the most innovative technology initiatives in museums including ArtBabble.org, the TAP and TourML mobile tour system, the OSCItoolkit for online scholarly publishing, the IMA Dashboard, and the technical underpinning of the Steve.Museum social tagging project. Stein also founded the IMA Lab as a consulting arm of the Museum focused on leveraging open-source software for the cultural community.

Stein served two full terms on the board of the Museum Computer Network, is an active member of the International Program Committee of Museums and the Web, and is one of three National Associates to the AAM’s Education Committee.


Rob and his wife Rachel


At the British Embassy in Argentina with Americo and Mar


The Gang at Reimagining the Museum


Rob and Tobias at DISH 2011


Rob and Merete


Big Smile

Rob Stein

Rob at MCN2010


Rob at Grindstone Island for the Second Steve.Museum Meeting

Professional Experience

Deputy Director
4/2012 – Present, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX

Deputy Director for Research, Technology, and Engagement
12/2010 – 4/2012, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN

Chief Information Officer
04/2006 – 12/2010, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN

Assistant Director
2004 – 2006, Pervasive Technology Labs, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN

Senior Technical Lead
2002 – 2004, Pervasive Technology Labs, Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN

Senior Visualization Programmer
1997 – 2002, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, IL

Web and Media Specialist
1996 – 1997, National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois, IL

Web and Technology Support
1995 – 1996, Silicon Graphics Computer Systems, Urbana, IL


Board Member, Museum Computer Network, 2008-2015

International Program Committee, Museum Computer Network, 2007-Present

National Advisor, AAM EdCom, 2014-Present

Board of Directors – Project Audience, 2013

Member – ArtStor Museum Advisory Council, 2012-Present

Convening Member – Technical Workstream, Digital Public Library of America.

Advisory Panel, Horizon Museum Report, New Media Consortium, 2009-2011


2014 Best Overall Award – Museums and the Web 2014 – DMA Friends

2014 Best Innovative/Experimental Website – Museums and the Web 2014 – DMA Friends

2013 AAM Gold Muse Award for best Public Outreach Online – DMA Friends

2010 Best Overall Award – Museums and the Web 2010 – ArtBabble.org

2009 W3 Award, Silver for Art – ArtBabble.org

2009 Best Practices Award Association of Mid-West Museums

2009 AAM Media & Technology Gold Muse Award – ArtBabble.org

2008 AAM Media & Technology Gold Muse Award – IMA Dashboard

2008 Best of the Web – MW2008: IMA Dashboard

2007 Indy’s Best and Brightest Award, Junior Achievement

2007 Indy’s “40 under 40” Award, Indiana Business Journal

Recent Grants Received

Project Director. Supporting Free Access and Free Admission. The O’Donnell Foundation. November, 2013. $9,000,000.

Principle Investigator. Building for Engagement: Participation at Scale in Art Museums. Institute for Museum and Library Services – National Leadership Grant. November, 2013. $458,000.

Supporting a transition to free admission. The Meadows Foundation. 2013. $300,000.

Supporting New Technology Initiatives. Private Donor. 2013,2014,2015. $300,000.

Project Director. Laboratory for Museum Innovation. Texas Instruments, AT&T, and Private Donor. 2012. $300,000

Supporting Research into Visitor Engagement at the DMA. Private Donor. September, 2012. $250,000.

Principle Investigator. TourML and TAP: A Toolkit Supporting Museum Mobile Experiences. Institute for Museum and Library Services – National Leadership Grant. November, 2011. $420,000.

Principle Investigator. The Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative: Building a Toolkit for Online Scholarly Publishing. The Getty Foundation. October, 2011. $237,000.

Sub-Award Recipient with Drexel University. Improving Search, Sensemaking, Learning, and Social Tagging Through a Universal Appliance for Query Expansion and Meaningful Concept Display. Institute for Museum and Library Services – National Leadership Grant. December, 2011. $413,378

Principle Investigator. Learning How Visitors Look: Applications of Eye Tracking Research. Institute for Museum and Library Services – Sparks! Ignition. July, 2011. $20,000

Principle Investigator. BabbleForum: Connecting Teachers to ArtBabble.org. Ball Brothers Foundation. 2010. $50,000.

Principle Investigator. ArtBabble: A Collaborative Niche Content Portal for Art and Artists. Ball Brothers Foundation. 2008. $50,000.

Technical Director, Steve in Action: Social Tagging Tools and Methods Applied, Institute for Museum and Library Services – National Leadership Grant. 2008-2011. $995,275.

Technical Director, T3: Text, Tags, Trust to Improve Image Access for Museums and Libraries, Institute for Museum and Library Services – National Leadership Grant. 2008-2011. $996,750.

Principle Investigator, Steve.Museum: Researching Social Tagging and Folksonomy in Art Museums, Institute for Museum and Library Services – National Leadership Grant. 2006-2009. $384,784.

Featured Press

Cannell, Michael. “Museums Turn to Technology to Boost Attendance by Millennials.” New York Times, March 17, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/19/arts/artsspecial/museums-turn-to-technology-to-boost-attendance-by-millennials.html.
Chayka, Kyle. “The Dallas Museum of Art Scores $300,000 to Launch an Experimental “Laboratory for Museum Innovation.” The Huffington Post, June 22, 2012.
Gamerman, Ellen. “When the Art Is Watching You.” Wall Street Journal, December 11, 2014. http://www.wsj.com/articles/when-the-art-is-watching-you-1418338759.
Halperin, Julia, and Javier Pes. “How to Avoid a Digital Boom and Bust.” The Art Newspaper, April 9, 2014. http://www.theartnewspaper.com/articles/How-to-avoid-a-digital-boom-and-bust/32124.
MacManus, Richard. “Social Media Case Study: ArtBabble Shows How Video Is Done.” ReadWriteWeb, September 6, 2012. http://rww.to/qMcfKx.
St. Amant, Claire. “Mysterious Donor Doles out $9 Million to Dallas Museum of Art.” Dallas Morning News, November 16, 2013. http://dallas.culturemap.com/news/arts/11-06-13-mysterious-donor-9-million-dallas-museum-art/.
Taylor, Kate. “ArtBabble Site Opens Window to the World of Museums.” New York Times, April 6, 2009. http://nyti.ms/185Uy4.
Tozzi, John. “Dallas Museum of Art Trades Memberships for Data.” Bloomberg Businessweek, February 20, 2014. http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-02-20/dallas-museum-of-art-trades-memberships-for-data.
Vogel, Carol. “Four Innovating for Museums Online.” New York Times, March 16, 2011. http://nyti.ms/f7lV9I.
Geller, Tom. “Interactive Tabletop Exhibits in Museums and Galleries.” IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, 2006.


1996: B.S., Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign