Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Graduate School Buyer's Guide for Museum Studies

Last week's New England Museum Association conference was amazing, and my head is still spinning from all the thinking, networking, and partying. (Okay, not really that much partying, but the hors d'oeuvres at the JFK Library were out of this world.)

I co-hosted two panels: the Conference Preview on Wednesday morning, and The Graduate School Conundrum on Wednesday afternoon. It's the latter that I'd like to take just a few minutes to talk about. I'll continue to follow up on this with additional thoughts over the coming weeks, because this is a topic that needs to be considered at length and with some really deep thinking.

Many, many ideas and tough questions came up during the session, but one cohesive subject that came to the top was whether museum studies graduate programs need a "buyer's guide," and what that would entail. I was taken aback not only by how little people knew about the graduate programs they were choosing but also by how little articulation there was about what people even wanted to know about their graduate programs. The overriding question so far seems to have been "will it get me a job?" That is a fine question. Answering it will not tell you much about the graduate program, however, and we don't even know all the moving parts that make up the answer to that question, though we have some good theories.

With that in mind, one of the excellent panelists, Linda Norris, has kicked off the conversation about a graduate school buyer's guide on her blog, The Uncataloged Museum. She poses some excellent questions and pokes at the bigger picture. We've also been having a good conversation on Twitter about some of her big questions, namely the positive and negative implications of a tight professional network.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Conservation Exhibit at the Shelburne Museum

I recently had the chance to visit the Shelburne Museum and explore a few exhibit spaces I'd never seen before. One of my favorites was the small area in the Horseshoe Barn devoted to the work of conservation.

There was a sitting area with books about conservation to read - some basic ones, and some of the more complex and scientific ones. I liked that this exhibit didn't speak down to the visitor. It recognized that conservation topics are complicated but important.

They also used a variety of practical examples to show various reasons for exhibition and conservation techniques.

These windows showed different types of glazing to use for UV protection, and explained why it's important.

There were also traditional-style panels with lots more information.

There were also interactive spaces that people were very much engaged with, showing different techniques conservators use to analyze and treat objects and artwork.

The exhibit wasn't large, but it was well-situated at the main entrance of the building that features the carousel horses that conservation interns have been painstakingly working on for decades. It's an excellent example of bringing behind the scenes work to the visiting public.