Thursday, November 21, 2013

Weekly Blog Roundup

Sorry to have missed last week's roundup - I was busy being inspired and networking at the New England Museum Association's 95th Annual Conference. What a wonderful week. I'll be posting about things I learned there for weeks to come.

But in the meantime: here are some interesting blog posts from the museum world.

A culinary school model for public history programs from History@Work

Linda Norris recommended this blog post to me when I had a conversation with her about my growing frustration with the proliferation of museum studies graduate programs. As co-chair of the NEMA Young & Emerging Professionals group, I'm always hearing about a new graduate program that someone has completed - and now they're having trouble finding a job. I'm frustrated for them, and I can't help but feel that the tipping point has to come soon.

Trevor Jones proposes in this post one possible solution/alternative to the academic public history program: making work in the field a requirement of entry. It's an interesting thought, and one that should be discussed further. may help your fundraising efforts from Engaging Places has a new program: when you sign in, you select a charity. 0.5% of each purchase you make is donated to that charity. There appears to be no cap. I'm looking forward to the postgame analysis: will it raise significant money, or just a few pennies here and there?

Museum Bashing and a Shift in Philanthropic Priorities from Museum Audience Insight

Did you see that Bill Gates recently called donating to a museum "morally reprehensible"? Reach Advisors examines this trend of declining interest in donating to museums from a data standpoint - and it's not good.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Creativity in Museum Practice

Last week, I attended the New England Museum Association's Annual Conference. It was a whirlwind three and a half days in Newport, RI. I attended some great panels, met some great people, and saw some great museums. (Opening night party at the Breakers = amaaaaazing.)

I'll have posts over the next few weeks about my impressions and thoughts, but this one I wanted to get out right away. Linda Norris (of The Uncatalogued Museum) and Rainey Tisdale (of Tufts University & CityStories) held a signing event for their co-authored book, Creativity in Museum Practice. I've been fortunate enough to be a fly on the wall for this book's development process and it has been an absolute privilege to watch it unfold.

Linda wrote about the collaborative process that resulted in the book and its final debut at the NEMA conference, and her thoughts on that process are well worth reading. Also a great read is the website they worked on while writing the book, here.

I got my copy at the conference, and can't wait to read it. If you're in need of inspiration, get your own copy too and then come back here and tell me what you think.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Weekly Blog Roundup

Here's a roundup of blog posts from the museum world this week.

Skip the school bus: our trips for planning a virtual field trip from O Say Can You See (National Museum of American History)

As both the monetary and opportunity costs of field trips rise, virtual field trips are starting to become popular. I'm intrigued by the model but not yet convinced. This blog post is a good overview of the thinking behind a virtual field trip, and definitely shows some of its benefits as well as its challenges.

Participation, Contemplation, and the Complexity of "And" from Museum 2.0

You may have seen some of the recent "get off my lawn" editorials from various corners of the traditional museum world, several of them directed at the newly invigorated Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. Basically, the claim is that by increasing the diversity and number of particpatory programs, the museum is ruining its essential experience, that of a quiet contemplative hall for art (and history presumably though that always gets left out of these conversations). You can guess by my tone which side I tend to fall on, but here Nina Simon makes a compelling argument for why the truth is a bit more complex, and why the answers aren't as quite and trite as many of those editorial writers seem to believe.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NEMA Preview: 5 Tips Before You Go

The New England Museum Association's 2013 Annual Conference is right around the corner. Yours truly will be hosting a panel ("Conference Preview," 8:15 - 9:00 am on Wednesday), a dinner ("Breaking into the Museum Field," 7:00 pm at the Brick Alley Pub on Thursday), and a hands on session on Friday ("Learn How to Find, Connect With, and Keep a Mentor," 9:00 - 9:30 am on Friday). Whew.

During the Conference Preview, my fellow YEPs co-chair Ashley and I will be helping to ease new conference-goers into the experience, make some friends, and overall to help to process the next few days. As I've been compiling notes for that panel, I've realized there are some tips that really should be handed out before the first morning of conference. (Don't worry, there's still plenty to talk about on Wednesday morning, so don't skip our panel!)

So here are a few of our gathered pre-conference tips, in time for you to take advantage of them.

1) Order business cards. They're easy and inexpensive, especially if you go through a site like Vista Print. Keep them basic: your name, email address, and phone number if you feel comfortable. Maybe a small design. If you'd like to include a title and you're job-seeking or a grad student, use "Museum Professional" or something similar. Plan to write a few details on the back when giving them out so people connect the conversation with the name.

2) Plan your clothes. Bring comfortable shoes, bring professional but comfortable clothes. Pack extras. Think about not just the conference atmosphere - mostly inside, in climate-controlled rooms - but also the evening events and the possible museum-going in Newport. Clothes should also include a bag to carry brochures, notes, and anything else you need to have on your person. It shouldn't be a small purse, but it shouldn't be a whole backpack, either.

3) Review the program book. This should be a no-brainer, but go over the program brook in minute detail. Have a first pick and a backup. Construct a schedule for yourself for the conference and really think about what you'll get out of each panel. I am always balancing wants with needs when I pick sessions: some I'll go to because I know they'll help inform my current work, and some I pick out because they look really interesting, if not directly applicable.

4) Learn about Newport. The 2011 conference was in Hartford, CT, and unfortunately I came and went knowing nothing - and seeing nothing - of the city. I regret that. I had a great time at the conference, but I can't say that I really truly visited Hartford. So learn something ahead of time, and make a point of adding to that knowledge when you get there, even if it's as simple as checking out a restaurant that comes highly recommended.

5) Figure out who will be there. I'm totally guilty of this one myself, but: reach out to museum friends and colleagues and poke them. Will they be at NEMA? Would this be a great time to catch up with that grad school friend who moved three states away to take that amazing job? (Hint: it probably would.)