Thursday, June 28, 2012
All museum professionals seem to agree that this big overview history exhibits of a place, whatever that place is, are really challenging to develop. Some people want timelines; others want lots of text, others want objects that really matter to them, or to see the place where they grew up. Newfoundland and Labrador (all one province for those of you not from here) is a huge place with a great many stories, so the challenge is a big one.
At the Rooms, there's a temporary exhibit called Working on History. It's a bare bones design to share current interpretive thinking on the topic, put forth already collected visitor feedback, and along the way, explain a bit about what museums do when we do exhibits and interpret history. There was something for virtually every kind of learner to respond to in a way they enjoyed. So here's some of what I saw (and by the way, thanks The Rooms for letting me take pictures here!)
Six key stories already identified to explore further. But the text asks for your "words, feelings and ideas," not just the open-ended, "what do you think?" Here's some of the six stories and responses.
Don't like to write or draw, but like to have things organized? How about a timeline?
Much to consider, and a number of ideas I'll be putting to work elsewhere.
Monday, June 18, 2012
It´s been quite a coincidence that I was able to travel to Eastern Europe again just a few weeks after my trip to Minsk in Belarus . Again, I would like to share some of my experiences and impressions from a region not well known in the museum world. Thank you, Linda, that I may do this again on your blog!
This time, I accepted an invitation from ICOM Russia to join the big event “Intermuseum 2012” in Moscow early June 2012. Each year since 1999, the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation funds and organizes, jointly with some other institutions, this huge event where museums of all kinds and types throughout this huge country and the former CIS countries are invited to join in; plus archives, libraries, companies in relevant fields, educational institutions, regional ministries of culture, universities and professional museum organizations. About 1.500 participants take part, not counting all the visitors – that is students and professionals at museums and from many adjacent fields.
In all discussions, conversations and inquiries during the conference, one question came up again and again: whom do collections and more generally museums and their ground belong, and thus who can make decisions concerning exhibitions or new offers, let alone building or welcome centers? As in Belarus, there are lot of people actively engaged, eager to learn, to share ideas and willing to make a difference. Also, they seem to be much more open to cooperations with organisations, institutions and companies outside the museum world (as, for instance, in Germany). But there is still a lot of control by the government too, but this appears to be somewhat easier to handle than in Belarus with a little more leeway here and there.
During the conference, I was particularly pleased to meet staff from museums in Belarus who were participants of my seminar on museum marketing in Minsk just a few weeks before. I was happy to hear how things were going and that their initial ideas they developed after the seminar were already put into practice.
So, see you all in Rio de Janeiro on the occasion of the ICOM General Conference in 2013 - or the following year, when ICOM Russia, jointly with ICOM Germany and ICOM USA, will host an international conference on the topic of “Museums and Politics," which perfectly fits to one of the primary topics of concern for Russian museums.
The board of ICOM Russia and the international guests of the Intermuseum 2012 celebrating the international museum community. Foto by Jose Gameiro
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I've been experimenting with a really simple way to get boards (and staff and volunteers) involved in community history to begin thinking about the why of what they do. But it doesn't start with why, it starts with a what, a question about what single object represents their history. Last weekend I was down on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, working with such a group. I began the board meeting by asking each person to describe a single object that represented the county's history to them. I've tried this before and the answers are always both thoughtful and surprising. This time was no exception.
The group of 12 or so named not a single object that could be classified as a museum collection object--but taken together, they really did represent a history of this place. Here's some of the responses:
- The courthouse. I love to sit in the square in front and think.
- The marshes, the backroads and the rhythm of nature
- My great grandfather
- My neighbor Brud...an intense, colorful local history learned from him
- The Bay Bridge..."I'm almost there" when I cross it
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Museums & Creative Practice site for the latest update on your responses to our survey. We asked you about creative museums and an amazing list from around the world emerged. Check out what survey-takers thought about history, art, and science museums; whether small museums can be more creative, and why risk-taking might be a hallmark of the creative museums.