What's On Your Phone, Jaron Keener?


Jaron Keener is the Exhibition Designer and Production Manager at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (CMNH). He has worked in the museum industry for more than seven years designing exhibits for art galleries, military and history museums, and historic houses, including the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC and First Division Museum in Illinois. This past year, he curated We Are Nature: Living in the Anthropocene, CMNH’s first issues-based exhibit.

Emily Halpern: What are the apps you use every day and why do you like them?

Jaron Keener: Instagram: I like Instagram because I like to see what’s going on the world and with my friends who don’t live near me anymore. I’ll always see something that I like or is interesting or inspiring - it’s my favorite social experience.

Apple Podcasts: I like podcasts, I don’t like to sit in silence. I listen to a lot of news podcasts in lieu of reading or watching the news on TV.

Frozen Mania: I love this game! It’s fun and I’m good at it. When you get going on a roll, you don’t want to stop. My favorite way to unwind after work is to go home, put on a podcast, and play Frozen Mania for a bit just to decompress.

EH: Is there an app you think developers should be working on?

JK: I’m not sure, but I can think of ways that develops can improve existing apps that I already like. The Carnegie Museums app is pretty good compared to a lot of other museum apps that are out there, but it could still be better.

EH: Is there an app that surprised you with its usefulness?

JK: Instagram. You think of the app as people just posting pictures of themselves doing stuff, but there’s so much more to it than that. The algorithm they use on the “Explore” page really works. I’ll actually find visual cues that are useful in my professional and personal life. I’ll see a ton of things that I can put into an idea bucket that I use in an exhibit later on. I’ve even met new people through it. It’s definitely more than just a picture app. I also love when its content ends up tying into other apps that I use, like podcasts and other news apps.

EH: If you could recommend one app for every arts manager, what would it be?

JK: For every arts manager? Frozen Mania. I know you’re looking at me like I’m crazy, but in this field, you need a break sometimes. I’ve been a part of the workforce for a fairly long time, and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is you need to maintain a work/life balance. It’s extremely important. There’s something nice about doing something mindless, maybe even a little silly, but that you like and have fun doing and doesn’t require too much thinking on your part. Phones are like “friends” at this point, right?