Thursday, July 17, 2014

Weekly Blog Roundup

It's been a while. Massive work projects will do that to you. Here are some interesting reads I've found over the last few weeks.

Why Marketing Needs a Corporate Folklorist from the Harvard Business Review

On the one hand: I could not agree more that having a corporate historian is an absolutely necessary position to ensure continuity, culture, and plain old memory.

On the other hand, the argument here, which ultimately ends up as "history helps you sell stuff!" squicks me a little.

On the other other hand, isn't that what we often say to sponsors anyway?

The Nonprofit Director's Skill Set: One Group's Opinion from Leading by Design

I have a copy of Leadership Matters waiting for the right moment and amount of concentration to read it, but in the meantime I quite enjoy this blog. I also really enjoyed this blog post, which I thought was an interesting consideration of an actually really important topic. Hiring a leader is one of the most important things any nonprofit organization will ever do.

What My Favorite Meteorologist Has To Do With City Museums from CityStories

Rainey is a brilliant, original thinker and I really like the clear argument she makes here for the work a city museum should be doing to connect to its constituency. I like the way she's framed it as a balance between expertise and community integration, something so many museums struggle with.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Dear Ann Coulter

I know, I know: when I led workshops this spring about social media and online presence for history organizations, one of my rules of thumb was "don't feed the trolls." There are people who exist in this world who will say ridiculous, outrageous, vicious things simply to garner attention. The internet is their playground.

However, given that I have talked about family history on this blog, and tracked the movements of my ancestor Richard Gustin in particular, I do have to carefully and precisely refute her recent argument that "I promise you: No American whose great-grandfather was born here is watching soccer."

(I will not link to her full blog post, because it is filled with racism, nativism, and a whole boatload of particularly obnoxious privilege; Google "Ann Coulter" and "soccer" and you should hit it immediately.)

My grandfather was born in Pennsylvania, and he fought in World War II. My great-grandfather was born in Pennsylvania. His father was born in Pennsylvania. His father was born in New Jersey, and he fought in the Civil War. His father was born in Massachusetts. His father was born in Massachusetts, and he fought in the Revolutionary War. 

You get the picture? That's one line of my family; the other goes back even further. I have an atypical American family tree for the lack of immigrants that show up after the 17th century. So I should be Ann Coulter's ideal American, at least for that narrow definition and example.

I love soccer. I watched a ton of the World Cup games. More to the point, both of my brothers are those fans. They play several days a week in competitive leagues. One went to college on a Division 2 soccer scholarship. They tailgate at New England Revolution games. They live and die by the fortunes of the US Team. They react in the white-knuckled, nauseated, deathly still way to a close game the way only a diehard sports fan can manage. Their heritage is the same as mine.

Again: not that it needed refuting. But I am living proof that she is flat out wrong.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Graduate School Conundrum, Part 2

I mentioned earlier in the week that I had a proposal accepted for the New England Museum Association's 2014 Annual Conference. I talked about the first half of that proposal, the survey to gather information.

The second half, after the presentation of the survey findings, will be an informed conversation between two brilliant thinkers in the museum world, both of whom have graduate degrees and are still intimately involved in professional development and learning. I'm beyond lucky that they agreed to work with me on this.

Our conversationalists are Linda Norris, of The Uncataloged Museum, and Cynthia Robinson, of the Tufts University Museum Studies Program.

I've known and admired them both for many years and our email conversations so far have been thoughtful and enlightening.

Some of the questions we'll consider:

- how graduate programs can be improved;

- how the level of commitment from the college or university affects the quality of the program;

- what graduate programs can provide that work experience in museums cannot (and vice versa);

- what the museum field needs of its newest employees ;

- whether graduate programs are flexible and innovative enough to produce the next generation of great thinkers;

- whether they encourage and increase diversity or homogeneity;

- what the future of professional education in the museum field should look like.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Graduate School Conundrum

I'm excited to announce that a panel I proposed for the New England Museum Association's 2014 Annual Conference has been accepted.

My idea for the panel has been growing over the last few years, as I meet young & emerging professionals from all over the country. It seems like every conversation I have leads me to discover a graduate program I've never heard of - and too often, students aren't prepared for the real world of museum work.

I'm designing a survey right now aimed at two audiences: first, museum graduate programs themselves, to see what kind of degrees & classes are offered, how the program is structured, and essentially attempt a snapshot of what's out there.

The second audience is museum professionals and will attempt to discover how many currently working professionals have graduate degrees; how useful they've found them; what skills have transferred; what skills have been useless; whether they hire graduate students.

The basic question is this: if graduate school is becoming the new gateway to the museum profession, what's it really teaching us? Is it really that important?

I'll share my reading and thinking here on the blog as I continue through the project, and will publicize the surveys when they go live.

In the meantime, I'd greatly appreciate any links to reading about museum studies programs, whether published, online, or unpublished, and would appreciate any feedback about what questions you think need to be asked or what issues should be addressed. Comment here or shoot me an email at amanda.gustin[at]gmail[dot]com.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Exhibit Workshops + Cultural Heritage Professional Gatherings in Vermont

Same old excuse for not blogging, though I have what feels like a dozen ideas a day. I can't remember the last time I sat down at my home computer to do my own writing/thinking!

But regardless, here is a very cool thing I've been working on at my job: exhibit workshops and cultural heritage professional gatherings around Vermont. I'll be teaching program planning & community outreach in preparation for Vermont History Expo at each of these workshops.
Thinking about an exhibit for the 2014 season? Whether you are planning an exhibit for Vermont History Expo, your historical society building, or to travel to schools or other venues, the Vermont Historical Society would like to invite you to attend a workshop that will provide some useful information for creating a successful exhibit.
These five workshops across the state will offer guidance from Curator Jackie Calder, Public Programs Coordinator Amanda Gustin, and Community Outreach Coordinator and Conservator Laura Brill, as well as provide time for organizations to work on their own exhibit planning. 
All workshops will take place from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm and are free of charge thanks to a grant from the Patrick Foundation. Most will be followed by a reception for Cultural Heritage Professionals in the evening.

Friday, March 28 -- Bennington Museum, Bennington
Friday, April 11 -- Middlebury, venue to be determined
Monday, April 14 -- Vermont History Center, Barre
Friday, April 18 -- Woodstock Historical Society, Woodstock
Monday, April 28 -- Old Stone House Museum, Brownington
If you would like to register or have any questions please contact Laura Brill at or (802) 479-8522.
Here's info on the Cutural Heritage Professionals Gatherings:
Cultural Heritage Professionals - archivists, educators, curators, librarians, conservators, preservationists, students, etc., are invited to join us this April for an early happy hour. We'll get a few appetizers, but other food and drink are up to you.

Friday, April 11 - 51 Main in Middlebury

Monday, April 14 - Mulligan's in Barre

Friday, April 18 - Richardson's Tavern at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock

Monday, April 28 - Bailiwick's in St. Johnsbury

Curator Jackie Calder, Public Programs Coordinator Amanda Gustin and Community Outreach Coordinator Laura Brill will definitely be at the restaurants from 5:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Please let Laura know if you are planning to attend, or (802)479-8522, and feel free to pass along this invitation to your colleagues!

Thank you to the Sheldon Museum, the Woodstock History Center, and the Old Stone House Museum for hosting the Exhibit Workshops on those days as well, and to the Patrick Foundation for a grant supporting the workshops.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here are a few interesting blog posts from the museum world.

Pinterest as a Museum Tool from the Columbus EMPs

I've been playing with Pinterest for some months now, and I have to confess, it's not yet my thing. I'm not a terribly visual person. But I am really intrigued by the creative possibilities for museums, and this post is a great roundup of what's out there and how museums are using it well. Many of the ideas shared are good general-application thoughts about communicating with the public.

@HistoryinPics brings history to the public. So what’s the problem? (Part 1) from History@Work

I admit, I follow this Twitter account - but declined to RT something they posted when I saw it hadn't been credited at all. I had no idea about the commercial motivations behind the account. I'll think twice about whether I even follow them or not. (Also, two teenagers making $50,000 a month doing this? I am doing something wrong...)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here's a roundup of interesting blog posts in and about museums (and a few that are not directly about museums but are useful anyway).

Organizing your employment history at Unclutterer

One of the biggest favors I ever did myself was to organize all my files on previous employers, both digital and paper. I weeded, kept useful information, and re-labeled all my resumes, job descriptions, and contact information. I can't overstate how much of a relief and help it is to have all that information at the tip of my fingers if necessary. It's not just in a job search - I keep it up to date now because I'm always being asked for a copy of my resume for grant applications.