Added to Medium, January 4, 2018
Happy New Year! I am back to writing more on this blog after taking time to celebrate the holidays and work on holiday activities with museum visitors. We are officially in 2018, and there is so much to hope to accomplish this year in museums.
For instance, I hope to continue molding my skills as a museum education professional and help my field become a more inclusive field. With the museum field continuing to grow, we learn from one another about how we can serve our communities and help our colleagues fulfill their personal and professional goals. I am thankful to all of you who have continued to read my blog posts, and reading what I have to say about the field.
We all gather together in person and online to share what we learned in the field, and it is important to work together to move the museum field forward. Many museum professionals have been discussing their wishes and resolutions for 2018.
For instance, there are museum professionals that expressed their wish to dedicate time to read more books in the field. In the Sustainable Museums blog, they talked about one of the books that are written about the future of museums.
The author did a short book review of The Future of Natural History Museums, edited by Eric Dorfman and published by Routledge for the International Council of Museums (ICOM). According to the blog post, The Future of Natural History Museums takes a look at “where natural history museums have been, are right now, and may rightly go if their staff and leaders are courageous enough to venture forth in the manner humanity requires.” While this book is for and about natural history museums, the arguments presented in the book can be easily widen to all types of museums since it is our responsibility as a field to provide research and discussion about what we all can do to preserve our planet’s future.
Other museum professionals also focus on what we can do as a museum community to continue to improve visitors awareness of what we offer.
On the Wilkening Consulting website, Susie Wilkening pointed out what museums need to do based on the survey results from the 2017 Annual Survey of Museum Goers. She revealed that we have to do much better identifying extrinsic motivations for learning, meeting those needs, and articulating them in our promotional materials. Also, Wilkening stated that museums need to be able to express their practical impact in the community. In other words, museums should find out how museums philosophically matter to people in the community not just as an assessment tool. She argued that museums are likely to open more minds, cultivate compassion and empathy, and create connection and community.
Creating a connection with the community can also include working on establishing the museums relationship with colleges and universities.
In the article “Imagining What Museums Might Become” written by Seph Rodney, they wrote about a multifaceted conversation on the future of museums that took place at the CUNY Graduate Center, and noted some of the contrasting and competing visions for what the museums might become. According to the article, the CUNY Graduate Center hosted a discussion on the Next Generation of Museums answering questions of that museums can be and what they should be.
The four panelists Ken Arnold, Svetlana Alpers, Jeff Levine, and D. Graham Burnett approached the question from distinct, and sometimes opposed, vantage points, according to the article. Each panelists shared their perspectives in the museum field, and gave their opinions on cultivating the relationship between museums and universities.
Ken Arnold, who is the director of the Medical Museion in Coopenhagen and creative director at the Welcome Trust in London, gave a presentation that argued “museums can provide wider audiences and can mount deeper and more well-researched exhibitions when partnered with a university.”
Meanwhile Svetlana Alpers, a professor emerita at the University of California, Berkeley, stated that she wasn’t entirely sure “the new generation of institutions are indeed museums at all.” She explained her perspective, which mainly is from an object-based background, using historical examples including the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to talk about how museums were once havens for learning craft (such as weaving) to contrast them with new institutions such as The Shed (New York’s first multi-arts center designed to commission, produce, and present all types of performing arts, visual arts, and popular culture), which seem structured as platforms for a variety of types of social, intellectual, and playful interactions.
This article presented interesting perspectives that are worth continuing the discussion. Museums have so much to offer to our audiences and visitors need to be more aware of what we offer.
Museum professionals have also express the importance of not only taking care of our relationships with our communities but we also need to maintain our relationship between our museums and the staff/boards that work within them.
Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin’s Leadership Matters blog discussed their wishes for 2018 in the museum field. Some of the wishes they expressed in their post include:
Museums commit to an open, fair, equitable hiring process; that they cease posting jobs without posting salaries, and that they stop insisting on a graduate degree for every position.
Museums make time to hit pause, to plan, to think big, fight mediocrity and encourage community engagement. Consider how you will nourish creativity among your staff.
All museums articulate their organizational values and figure out tangible ways to live by them….every day. Doing so will keep them agile and responsive.
That museums remember that empathy isn’t just for the visiting public; it belongs in the workplace and boardroom too.
These are wishes I also have for our field in 2018. I expressed similar wishes in one of my previous blog posts about the new year, and I reiterate here that if we help museums improve as a workplace we will be more effective within the community.
Even at the beginning of the new year we delve into serious topics in the museum field we need to address. Since it has been announced that The Met is changing their admissions policy that will be instated on March 1st, there has been discussion about ticket fees for visitors to access museums’ exhibits and programs among the museum professionals. This decision has made us take a look at our own museums and evaluate what works for our financial operations. There is no one simple answer for every museum since we are all different museums that operate in various ways. I will continue this discussion in next week’s blog but this is a thought that we need to keep in mind as we make resolutions for our museums.
What are your hopes for your museums or organization in 2018?