The Future of Museums After COVID-19: Creating Plans for Re-opening

May 7, 2020

While we do not know for certain when the pandemic will pass, museums are preparing to figure out their plans once they decide to re-open their doors. Recent professional development programs that are now being released about how museums can re-open and what they need to consider when they decide to open. The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), for instance, has released its first AASLH Conversations series on planning on re-opening called Planning for Reopening. More resources became available for museum professionals to utilize in their own museums such as information from the American Alliance of Museums, Colleen Dilenschneider, Cuseum, and blogs. One of the most important takeaways from these sources is while we do not have all of the answers from this unprecedented event examining what your current state is of your staff, board, volunteers, museum, and community is  significant when considering re-opening the doors.

I recently attended the AASLH Conversations: Planning for Reopening webinar that was moderated by Lauren O’Brien (the AASLH Emerging History Professional Committee Member) and was made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. The speakers during the webinar were Martha Dixon Akins who is the Deputy Director of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, and Trina Nelson Thomas who is the Director of Stark Art & History Venues (the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation). Some of the questions that were answered during the conversation were: Does opening up ASAP send the wrong message? How are you maintaining relationships especially with volunteers? What can we do to make the best of this situation? Also, they pointed out that there are things to consider when thinking about re-opening including

  1. Make sure to have enough supplies to keep things clean and for safety
  2. Planning and logistics
  3. Communication between staff, board, community
  4. Collaborations: involve all members of your team of your team

The next re-opening webinar in the series is called “You are Not Alone: Reopening Small to Mid-Sized Institutions” will take place on Friday, May 15th, and it will cover what should small to mid-sized cultural institutions consider to assure patrons your team is doing all it can to make it safe to return to your place of business.

Another webinar that recently took place was called Preparing to Reopen – Strategy, Planning & Process on the Road to Reopening Museums held by Cuseum. Brendan Ciecko (CEO and Founder at Cuseum), Mark Sabb (Senior Director of Innovation, Marketing & Engagement at the Museum of African Diaspora), Holly Shen (Deputy Director at the San Jose Museum of Art),  and Ellen Busch (Director of Historic Sites Operations at the Texas Historical Commission) had a discussion through the strategy, operations, process, and planning involved in reopening  museum successfully. Also, the speakers explored strategic planning, design thinking, and innovative approaches to welcoming audiences back. In addition to the webinar, Cuseum released a blog post that included tips and strategies for reopening museums after the COVID-19 closures. The tips and strategies they released were:

  1. Work with all levels of government to facilitate a smooth transition
  2. Take measures to ensure the safety of your staff and visitors
  3. Implement a phased or gradual transition, and develop contingency plans
  4. Continue to offer digital experiences
  5. Keep a clear line of communication open with your staff and members

I especially agree with making sure that museums continue to offer digital experiences because while museums are making plans to reopen it will be less likely that they will open at pre-COVID-19 conditions. Therefore, by providing digital experiences we continue to provide options for those who are not able to visit in person due to building capacity limitations or being most vulnerable for getting the coronavirus.

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) not only update their COVID-19 resources page on a regular basis, like AASLH, but they also released blog posts such as one from Scott Stulen (the CEO and President of Philbrook Museum of Art) and Elizabeth Merritt (Vice President, Strategic Foresight & Founding Director, Center for the Future of Museums at AAM). Stulen wrote a post called “The museum we closed will not be the museum we reopen” in which he illustrated examples of what measures the Philbrook Museum are taking when considering re-opening. For instance, he pointed out that he and his staff worked together to plan their next steps using initiatives they developed:

Together we created a framework for response under the #PhiltheGaps umbrella. This includes four key initiatives:

  1. Contributing 10 percent of all membership dollars to the Tulsa Area COVID-19 Response Fund organized by the Tulsa Area United Way and Tulsa Community Foundation.
  2. Seeding a large “Victory Garden” whose produce we’ll donate in partnership with area food banks.
  3. Launching an emergency response online marketplace to help local artists sell their work and keep 100 percent of the proceeds.
  4. Producing a content surge that includes artist interviews, podcasts, live performances, and more on our social media pages.

The initiatives they developed focused on interacting with and assisting their community to help everyone who has been affected by COVID-19. Merritt released a blog post called How to Get Ready to Open the Doors in which she shared some thoughts on how museums may prepare their staff and exhibits for reopening.

Merritt addressed specific information she and her colleagues shared within the COVID-19 resource webpage. She focused on three important things museums need to address and keep in mind: reopening starts with a museum’s own people: staff and volunteers, when the doors open, what’s inside?, and how long will it take to queue up these changes? The first thing she shared in the post was why we should start focusing on staff and volunteers in the re-opening plans. According to the post, she stated

Museums will have to adjust their staffing to suit current circumstances. Some museums have supported their staff through closures, but those that have furloughed or laid off staff members will have to rehire before they can open their doors. Regardless, not all staff may be able to return to work right away, as they may be coping with lack of childcare, health issues, or concerns about their own vulnerability or that of family members. Commuting may be complicated by the challenges of finding safe, reliable public transportation. Volunteers—who typically outnumber museums’ paid staff—are often older individuals, and therefore at higher risk for severe cases of COVID-19. Many may decide (or you may decide for them) that it is prudent to delay their return, and paid staff may need to cover some of the work they usually do.

We will not be able to consider opening our doors without figuring out how we will get staff and volunteers to keep the museum running on the new restrictions and regulations for a cleaner and safer environment. I also came across blog posts from other professionals in and out of the museum field that are relevant to re-opening considerations.

On Medium, there is a blog post written by Jon Voss who is the Senior Strategist and Director of US Operations at ShiftDesign.org called Redesigning Libraries, Archives & Museums Post-COVID-19. Shift Design Inc is a 501c3 non-profit corporation that is also a registered charity in England and Wales as Shift; according to their website: We take a collective approach to tackling society’s social problems. We use design thinking to help social organisations maximise their impact. Voss shared information in the blog post that was based on the work Shift over the past decade in community memory and cultural heritage. The five ideas he shared were:

  1. Prioritize investment in small organizations embedded in local communities
  2. Adapt digital to the needs and culture of specific communities
  3. Create smaller, more authentic opportunities for connection
  4. Engage with equity and access in mind
  5. Leverage assets to combine cultural memory centers with community needs like affordable housing

Voss’ blog post is another example of reinforcing the idea that we should make sure to continue to connect with our communities and help our communities keep running. A couple of other examples of posts that focused on communities is Colleen Dilenschneider’s Intent to Visit by Household Income: What it Means For Reopening and Meeting Visitor Needs: What Will Make People Feel Safe by Age & Income (DATA). Both of these posts focus on what it will take for visitors want and need from museums in order to feel safe to visit in the aftermath of the coronavirus.

There are numerous resources that have not been elaborated on in this post, but I have included the ones I have come across in the list below. We should continue this conversation among our staff and colleagues to figure out what we could implement in our own institutions.

Resource List:

“The museum we closed will not be the museum we reopen”

Reopening the Museum by Front of House in Museums

Redesigning Libraries, Archives & Museums Post-COVID-19

How to Get Ready to Open the Doors

Intent to Visit by Household Income: What it Means For Reopening

Meeting Visitor Needs: What Will Make People Feel Safe by Age & Income (DATA)

Tips & Strategies for Reopening Museums after COVID-19 Closures

Preparing to Reopen Overview

Membership Mondays – Planning for Reopening after Coronavirus

Preparing to reopen

 

Diversity and Inclusion in Museums During COVID-19 and Beyond

April 30, 2020

Some of the considerations museum professionals are discussing is diversity and inclusion, and how we keep progression moving forward during and after the pandemic. I participated in an American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) webinar discussing diversity and inclusion. The webinar was AASLH Conversations: Inclusivity During COVID-19, and Beyond that was presented by speakers Marian Carpenter, Omar Eaton-Martinez, and Richard Josey. Carpenter, Eaton-Martinez, and Josey are members of the Diversity & Inclusion Committee, and they led a discussion about approaches to ensure that inclusion continues to remain a business imperative. I decided to participate because even though this is a topic that I have discussed and participated in professional development on this topic previously I believe all museum professionals including myself should be open to learning more about how to be inclusive in the museum field. Also, I decided to participate in this webinar because I believe it is important for the museum field as a whole to continue to engage more with the community by getting to know who the community is and having more diverse people involved in the museum.

To make clear for this blog post, diversity is the acknowledgement that every human being is unique while inclusion is the identified, accepted, and chosen behaviors we exhibit every time we encounter another human being. It is also important to note that we do not have all of the answers and that not one answer fits all museums. There are going to be steps that may not be helpful depending on the size of the institutions but figuring out how to continue to incorporate diversity and inclusion should always be the goal when museums make connections within the community. Museum staff should have the discussion about whose voices are missing from their institutions and how we can do better to have a diverse and inclusive community within the museum. This webinar provided questions to start the conversation on diversity and inclusion among museum staff.

The important questions that were discussed in the webinar and were asked to ask our colleagues in the museums we work with are:

  1. Why do you want to initiate or activate a diversity and inclusion lens?
  2. Are your spaces encouraging staff to be brave and representative of the diversity of your community?
  3. Are leaders and staff modeling the behaviors of an inclusive organization?
  4. What strategies, frameworks, and tools are in place to be intentional about improving inclusivity?

Museum professionals should remember that there is always room to grow, and that any diversity and inclusion plan has to be seen as a living document. If we think the plan is officially completed, then we close ourselves from They pointed out that it is also important to touch base with other organizations that are reaching out to similar audiences, and have the discussion to reach out to people especially to those with limited technology access; one example of reaching out to those with limited technology access is using the radio station to get information about the museum to a wider audience.

We are going through tough times right now, and now more than ever museum professionals should make sure we connect with one another to help our communities. If we are not paying attention to who is in our community, then we are not doing our jobs effectively. Therefore, we should not forget to address how we need to proceed with making our museums more diverse and inclusive.

To learn more about the AASLH Conversations series, including find a recording of this webinar, visit the link: https://learn.aaslh.org/covid19response

Below are links to relevant blog posts I previously wrote on diversity and inclusion:

Equity and Inclusion in Museums

EdComVersation: Developing a Strategy for Inclusion and Diversity

Why the Conversation about Gender and Museums Matter?

Museums Prove that Education is for Everyone

Gender Equity in Museums: An Important Issue that Should Be Addressed

EdComversations and Journal of Museum Education: Race, Dialogue, and Inclusion

Moving Towards an Equitable Museum Workforce: Reaction to Salary Doc

Museum Staff and Boards: How We Are Adapting Our Museum Practices

April 2, 2020

In addition to providing museum virtual experiences for visitors, staff, directors, and boards need to figure out how to adapt their operations to the virtual world under fast changing circumstances caused by the pandemic. This past week I participated in a couple of American Association State and Local History Conversation webinar series focusing on what next steps museum staff and boards could do to keep their museums running. I attended AASLH Conversations: Leadership, Boards, and the COVID-19 Crisis that focuses on how leadership should respond as the pandemic continues to effect the world, and I attended AASLH Conversations: Planning for an Uncertain Financial Future to figure out how to develop a financial plan for our museums as we face this unprecedented situation. The information I will share in this post are developing resources and are important takeaways from each one I participated in. What all museum professionals should remember is that, like many of us in and out of the museum field, we are all still learning and adapting to the ever-changing circumstances around the world.

There are many considerations museum professionals have to make decisions when facing this pandemic including keeping communication clear between museum leaders, staff, and board members. During the AASLH Conversations: Leadership, Boards, and the COVID-19 Crisis, some of the most important points made was that it is important to be transparent about the realities with your board and team, be compassionate to others and yourself by stepping back when needed, and be creative as well as flexible to figure out the solutions. The speakers Christy S. Coleman (the CEO at the American Civil War Museum) and Katherine Kane (the former Executive Director at Harriet Beecher Stowe Center) emphasized that: business as usual will not work. It is important to acknowledge that museum leaders have to operate differently and find out how to serve the community. Also, both staff and boards are scared about the pandemic on both the professional and personal level, and as leaders we have to address the hard stuff and explain what we are planning to keep communication open to all. Museum leaders need to recognize that they should adjust their time to virtually meet with board members since they have their own work and families they need to take care of on top of dealing with the pandemic; meanwhile, staff members need to know whether or not they will be laid off, furloughed, or pay/hour reductions.  Museum professionals also need to consider their museum financial plans and figure out what their next steps are based on their past and current financial reports.

Becky Beaulieu, the director of the Florence Griswold Museum and author of Financial Fundamentals for Historic House Museums (2017), was the speaker for the AASLH Conversations: Planning for an Uncertain Financial Future in which she shared her insights and advice. Beaulieu pointed out that we are facing an unprecedented time, and because of this the webinar like the previous one was focused on creating a discussion in which she will share her thoughts and answers to participants’ questions based on her expertise. She described in detail about business interruption plans (emergency plans for when something unexpected happens especially a pandemic), and shared three important things that need to be clear when developing a business interruption plan: what is your team and their responsibilities (i.e. who is writing the checks, contacting vendors and sponsors for events, etc.), what is your recovery time, and what are your core operations. Also, she stressed that it is important during this unprecedented time to create a source for all staff members to access resources from the museum community to inspire your own plans. Another important takeaway is to make sure to figure out what your plans A, B, and C are when considering cuts and funding options (i.e. insurance, grants, and for only the last resort-endowments). Museum professionals have difficult decisions to make during this time to make sure we continue to serve our communities, and having these conversations on a regular basis with other museum professionals within the field will help all of us during the pandemic.

If you want to learn more about these webinars, the link to the AASLH Conversations series is here: https://learn.aaslh.org/covid19response

Website Examination: Museum Savvy

March 19, 2020

With recent events allowing many individuals to work remotely, there are numerous online resources that are being shared for educational and entertainment purposes. Online resources are also available for museum professionals to explore. For instance, last week I heard about a new website called Museum Savvy which is a resource for museum, archive, conservation, cultural heritage, public history professionals, emerging professionals, and students. I explored the website and thought it was interesting not only because there were numerous resources available for museums and museum professionals, but I admired the pictures displayed on the site. Also, I think it is important to find out more about what is going on in the museum field around the world, especially during this pandemic, so it is great to see websites that have information and associations from international museums. The following is what I saw the website offers as of the date I wrote this post.

Museum Savvy features a blog that covers varying topics going on in the museum, cultural heritage, and public history field. One of the most recent blog posts shared information gathered about the coronavirus and resources available for museums. Other blog posts include museum jobs of the week and Museum Listservs (electronic mailing lists to allow sender to send one email to the lists). The blog has at least 100 categories on varying topics in alphabetical order from archaeology and archives to graduate school programs and museum studies. Also, their archive section included posts from October 2019, January 2020, February 2020, and March 2020.

The website also has a museum jobs page that is a free job board and links to websites that list museum jobs, internships and opportunities in the United States and abroad. This page has three links to relevant posts for opportunities. One of the links leads to the most recent blog post on museum jobs of the week. The other links leads to museum job websites and Canadian museum job websites. Museum Job Websites features links to national and regional job listings, state museum association job listings, and one link to international listings for The International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. A list of Canadian museum job websites, that was complied by the Museum Studies Collective (a networking and publishing site for students and emerging art/museum professionals based in Canada), included links to the Canadian Museum Association, the Ontario Museum Association, and the St. Lawrence Parks Commission.

Museum Savvy provides a museum studies page which lists topics and programs offered for museum studies that are in person and online located in the United States and throughout the world. There are twelve links on the page that lead to list of programs on the following topics: art programs, arts administration, history, anthropology, art & artifact conservation, cultural heritage, exhibits, collections management, education, historic preservation, digital humanities, and online programs. The page includes long lists of schools by state that offer museum studies programs specifically Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree and certificate programs on varying concentrations. Museum Savvy has a list of online programs that originate in schools in the United States. Also, the page has lists of museum studies program from around the world in person and online. Museum Career Development is another page on Museum Savvy that lists professional networks, online courses, webinars, workshops, conferences, and career mentoring. Museum Professional Resources is a page on Museum Savvy that continuously update the list of resources on archival supplies, collections management, exhibits, education, artifact conservation, and Listservs & discussion groups.

If interested in learning more about this site, I included links below.

Links:

http://museumsavvy.com/index.html

http://museumsavvy.com/museum-savvy-blog/covid-19-resources-for-museums

http://museumsavvy.com/museum-jobs.html

Museum Studies Collective: http://www.musesc.ca/

Note: Stay tuned for my next blog post that will focus more on virtual museum experiences that are being offered during this time. Stay safe out there and be good to one another!

How are Museums Dealing with the Coronavirus?

March 12, 2020

Since the coronavirus cases emerged in the past couple of weeks in the United States, there have been many questions people had about the coronavirus and what we should be doing to help prevent the spread. Museums are dedicated to both serving and being a part of the community as trustworthy resources. To do so, museum professionals need to make decisions to protect the staff, volunteers, and visitors especially from spread of diseases and viruses such as the coronavirus. Museums and non-profits are working hard to find out what decisions they need to make that will help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Because there have been concerns expressed by many individuals, museum professionals need to take many things into considerations especially the health and safety of their visitors while figuring out how to financially support their museum operations. As the staff and board meet to figure out how they will move forward, they are listening to health experts and making decisions based on what the state policy is put in place for the state they are located in. There are museums that decided to take precautions and cancel public programs because of escalating health concerns relating to the spread of the coronavirus; they also point out their priorities are the health and safety of their visitors, and recommend their visitors to follow the guidance of the Center For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes watching for the symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Also, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) stated that they are collecting recommendations and resources more specific to historic sites and other history organizations and will share these as they become available. The New England Museum Association (NEMA) stated on their Twitter account: We’re keeping track of our region’s responses to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. We will be adding updates on this thread of how our area museums are responding.

The American Alliance of Museums released resources and information for the museum field to help individual museums prepare both internally and externally for outbreaks in their communities. Some of the information they shared include educating the public on COVID-19, reviewing staff policies and administrative concerns, reviewing cleaning and collections care policies, preparing for closures, preparing for COVID-19 as an individual, and using digital platforms to remain connected to audiences during quarantines.

Tonight’s MuseumEdChat on Twitter was about sharing information about what our museums response are to COVID-19. Also, a Google Doc was released to share resources as well as museum/programming cancellations that will be continually updated. Some of the questions discussed were: did your museum have an emergency plan in place prior to COVID-19, or are you developing or modifying one as the situation develops? Bonus: did you consult with anyone on your plan? Our discussion reinforces the point that museum professionals have a lot of considerations when trying to figure out plans as our country faces the coronavirus pandemic.

Museums are also making decisions based on the safety of their staff and volunteers by postponing or cancelling professional development programs while most are waiting to see if new developments in the spread occurred when it gets closer to the programs. The New York City Museum Educators, for instance, postponed their professional development program and would re-open registration for the program once they confirm a new date. Also, the Museum Association of New York’s (MANY), as of the date this blog post will be released, Board of Directors are meeting and have contacted the venues and legislative representatives to help gauge their response to let members know what is happening with the annual conference. It is hard to not let fear take over our senses, but we should learn the facts and take the appropriate precautions.

The most responsible thing we could do is to educate ourselves on not only what it is, but we should understand how to properly take care ourselves. I included a number of resources to help provide knowledge on the coronavirus. Also, I discovered a course offered by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (which is a world leader in research and postgraduate education in public and global health, and its mission is to improve health and health equity worldwide) through FutureLearn, and in the course you could learn the latest of what we know about COVID-19, presented by international experts. I implore you all to take care of yourselves, and be good to one another.

*As of March 13, 2020, AASLH released a blog post on four steps that can be taken if feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19 preparations: https://aaslh.org/covid-prep-4-steps/

Resources:

Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/index.html

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/prevention-treatment.html

World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Daily Updates: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Links:

#MuseumEdChat COVID-19 Response Resource List

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/uk-museums-coronavirus-1795818

https://www.npr.org/2020/03/08/813396080/coronavirus-italy-orders-massive-shutdown-amid-spread

https://advisor.museumsandheritage.com/news/museums-around-the-world-respond-to-coronavirus-fears/

https://nonprofitquarterly.org/coronavirus-brings-nonprofits-unexpected-costs-even-at-its-earliest-stages/

https://nonprofitaf.com/2020/03/a-few-things-for-nonprofits-and-foundations-to-consider-in-light-of-the-coronavirus/

https://news.artnet.com/art-world/rome-raphael-coronavirus-quarantine-1797390

https://observer.com/2020/03/museums-prepare-for-coronavirus-us-outbreak/

https://www.aam-us.org/programs/resource-library/human-resource-resources/health-in-the-workplace/

https://www.aam-us.org/2020/03/05/information-for-the-museum-field-on-the-covid-19-coronavirus/

Course: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/covid19-novel-coronavirus?utm_campaign=fl_march_2020&utm_medium=futurelearn_organic_email&utm_source=newsletter_broadcast&utm_term=200310_GNL__0030_&utm_content=course05_cta

https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/02/28/809580453/just-for-kids-a-comic-exploring-the-new-coronavirus?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social

Why IMLS Investment in Professional Development is Significant

January 23, 2020

Last week the Institute of Museums and Library Services (IMLS) made an announcement about additional funding dedicated to professional development for museum professionals. I emphasized in each blog post I wrote about professional development programs I participated in on how significant they are, especially for museum professionals. The recent news from IMLS explained what the additional funding would mean for museums and museum professionals. According to their website, when the Fiscal Year 2020 was passed on December 20, 2019 IMLS was allocated an additional $3 million through the largest program Museums for America and plans to invest this additional funding towards improving the recruitment, preparation, and professional development of museum professionals.

Museums for America is a program that supports projects to strengthen the ability of an individual museum to serve its public. This program has three categories: Lifelong Learning, Community Anchors and Catalysts, and Collections Stewardship and Public Access.

What does this mean for museum professionals? We would be able to develop our skills to improve the quality of our field and of our work with the public. I hope that with this funding it will help support improvements on onboarding, recruiting, training, and creating a healthy workplace. There is a lot of progress on making museums a better place to work but we do have a long way to go. Recent news about the former executive who worked at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the sexual harassment complaints against him is an example of what museum professionals face in the workplace (see the links below on the coverage from the Philadelphia Inquirer). While we are working to make up for ill treatment within the museum workplace, we need to work on the source of the problems and hopefully more museums will be able to access museum professional development opportunities IMLS has to offer.

On their website, they stated the $3 million will be channeled through two special funding opportunities under Museums for America called Museums Empowered, Grants for Professional Development and Inspire! Grants for Small Museums. Museums Empowered allows museums to use the funds in four specific professional development categories: improving organizational effectiveness, evaluation practices, digital stewardship, and diversity and inclusion. Inspire! Grants for Small Museums is a program that supports small museums’ capacity building efforts related to collections, learning, and community at their institutions. The IMLS also included highlights of how professional development offerings make an impact on museums and museum professionals:

National Leadership Grants for Museums, realigned in 2018, now offers dedicated project categories for professional development and diversity and inclusion that allow museum associations, universities, and other non-profits to seek funding that can amplify collaborations, offer training, and develop tools and promising practices for the entire sector.

• The Museums for America, African American History and Culture, and Native American and Native Hawaiian grant programs continue to offer individual museums and tribes support for leadership development and diversity, equity, and inclusion work, as well as building a pipeline of new professionals.

• The Museum Assessment Program and Collections Assessment for Preservation program cooperative agreements with the American Alliance of Museums and Foundation for Advancement in Conservation continue to provide much needed technical assistance and capacity building help to smaller museums.

To check out more information about IMLS and the programs it offers, visit their website: www.imls.gov.

Links:

https://www.imls.gov/news/imls-invest-3-million-professional-development-capacity-building-across-museum-sector

https://www.inquirer.com/arts/philadelphia-museum-of-art-executive-resignation-joshua-helmer-complaints-20200110.html

https://www.inquirer.com/arts/philadelphia-museum-of-art-timothy-rub-apology-helmer-20200122.html

Relevant Posts:

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2018/03/09/how-to-lead-a-professional-development-program-reflections-of-my-experience-presenting-one-on-gender-equity/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2017/06/16/professional-development-programs-managing-your-museums-online-reputation-and-evaluating-volunteers-and-volunteer-programs/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2019/07/18/historic-house-keeping-a-hands-on-professional-development-experience/

Happy New Year!

January 2, 2020

It is officially 2020, and there is so much to look forward to this year. I hope for more progress in the museum field, especially in providing salary information in job descriptions and equity. I also hope to incorporate more self-care into my everyday life to maintain a work/life balance. And finally, I hope to read more books this year (this will always be my new year’s resolution).

Normally in the past blog posts, I provided a list of books I would like to read in the new year. This year, I ask all of you to share with me what books you are either hoping to read or have already read. It can be history and museum related, or any book in any genre. Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for continuing to read my blog. I wish you all good health and happiness in the new year. Stay tuned for more posts this year.

What books have you read or have already read? What do you hope to accomplish this year?

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year: Ready for Museum Education 2020

December 19, 2019

2019 has gone by so quickly. There is so much that have happened in the past year, and I hope there will be more accomplished in the upcoming new year. I took a look at the first blog post I wrote in 2019 to take a look at what I have accomplished since the post. In the post “A New Year: What Needs to be Accomplished in the Museum Field”, I stated that

One of my goals for 2019, for example, are to gain and develop my skills as a leader in the museum education field. To accomplish this goal, I hope to take more courses and other professional development programs that will help myself move forward in my career. At the beginning of my career, I have developed skills as a museum educator. After a number of years in the field, I knew that in order to move forward I need to gain and develop new skills to challenge myself and make more impacts on the museums I work for and the field in general. Within the past few years, I focused more on professional development programs and courses, and sought opportunities that focus on administration, leadership, program development, and other related opportunities. I recently completed a course through the AASLH’s online program called Small Museum Pro!, and in the course Museum Education and Outreach I work through the basics of museum education, how to implement programming, training staff, and partnering with the community for outreach. For 2019, I will continue to seek similar professional development programs and opportunities to accomplish my career goals.

As 2019 comes to a close, I can see that I have continued to seek professional development programs and opportunities to accomplish my career goals and I plan to continue this main goal in 2020.

One of the examples was attending the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) conference for the first time. While I have attended conferences before, this past year’s AASLH was the first time I attended an in-person professional development conference with AASLH. In the past I was not able to attend AASLH conferences because I was not able to financially afford to travel to the cities they were located in and the conference fee at the same time. This past year’s conference was located in Philadelphia where I attended sessions, presented at a poster session on the Founder’s Day program the Three Village Historical Society won a leadership award for, and explored the city.

Also, I attended a webinar hosted by AASLH called Beyond the Spreadsheet: Finance and Organizational Priorities and the instructor for the webinar was Becky Beaulieu, who is the author of Financial Fundamentals for Historic House Museums (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017). Designed for staff, volunteers, and board members, the webinar was designed to help participants foresee and tackle challenges of incohesive financial planning, such as fragmentation within the institution, lack of proper fundraising strategy, and potentially weak and even uncompliant organizational management. Beaulieu also addressed building buy-in amongst internal and external stakeholders to best position your organization for financial stability and strong partnerships. I participated in a Twitter discussion that focused on our goals as museum educators and on a personal level from the past year and for the new year.

In the MuseumEdChat, there was discussion about endings and beginnings in honor of the new year and museum education. The first question we answered and talked about was: Q1 What’s something that ended *well* for you this year (ideally #MuseumEd related)?  What made it end so well? #MuseumEdChat. I mentioned the leadership award that was earned for the Three Village Historical Society’s Founder’s Day program, a local history program that teaches fourth grade about the founding of the town of Setauket, diversity, and inclusion.

Then the next question we addressed was: Q2 We’re ending a *decade* – so tell us about “good endings” you’ve had in the past 10 years. #MuseumEdChat. Since a lot has happened in the past ten years, I decided to give a small highlight of what the “good endings” were in the past. My highlight was that I graduated college, attended and graduated with a Master’s in Public History, moved to Long Island, and stopped working in a job that underappreciated and underpaid me.

The third question we answered on Twitter was: Q3 What are you personally looking forward to starting next year in #MuseumEd? (Maybe goals you are striving for, a new initiative, a work anniversary?) #MuseumEdChat. To answer this question, I stated that I look forward to expanding my skills so I could have more well-rounded experiences as a museum education professional, and I strive to present at professional development programs. Also, I said that I hope to start a new position in the museum education field that will financially and equitably support me.

I also delved into the skills I wanted to expand upon which were leadership, lesson planning, digital learning, and financial. The financial skills are especially important for me to develop because in my educational background finances were not covered enough in my courses, and I believe that it will help me learn more about how to develop a budget for education programs.

The fourth question we addressed in the conversation was: Q4 Any trends you see that could have a *positive* effect on #MuseumEd in 2020? #MuseumEdChat. I believe that having salaries shared in the job description will have a positive effect on museum education in 2020 because it will help job seekers understand what the museum can afford for salary and make the decision on what will fit their needs the best.

The final question was: Q5 Finally… clink your glass virtually with someone who had an influence on you this past year to you want to wish “Buona fina e buon principio” (good ending and good beginning). Pay it forward! #MuseumEdChat. There are too many to list since my colleagues, both in the museum I work with and online, are the ones that had an influence on me this past year. My colleagues and their journeys inspire me to pursue more in professional development for my own career. I am also inspired by all of you who continue to read these blog posts and share your experiences, especially in museum education.

On a personal level, there was a lot that happened in 2019. For instance, I got married to my love and best friend that I have known for over eleven years. Also, I have a new niece who is growing up so fast and she is not even a year old yet.

I wish everyone has a happy holiday and a new year. Thank you all so much for reading my blog posts this year and in past years. I am looking forward to what is in store for 2020!

Buona fina e buon principio!

Relevant Posts:

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2019/01/10/a-new-year-what-needs-to-be-accomplished-in-the-museum-field/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2019/09/05/aaslh2019-conference-recap/

The History of Museum Educators, Part Two: Children’s Museums

December 12, 2019

Last week I wrote about my reaction to part of this edition of the Journal of Museum Education, a publication by Museum Education Roundtable. I continued to read the Journal and after I finished reading the Journal, I thought I would give my thoughts on the rest of it. As I mentioned last week, the articles made me think about my previous experiences. This week while I read the rest of the Journal, I thought about my experiences in children’s museum. While these articles reminded me of my experiences, I always find more to learn in the Journal of Museum Education.

The most recent edition of the Journal of Museum Education, for instance, had a couple of articles focused on children’s museums. In the article “Museums for Somebody: Children’s Museum Professionals and the American Association of Museums (1907-1922)”, Jessie Swigger discussed the origins of children’s museums and the contributions of museum professionals in these children’s museums. Swigger discussed the first three children’s museums in the world opened in Brooklyn, New York (1899), Boston, Massachusetts (1913), and Detroit, Michigan (1917). She examined contributions of children’s museum professionals and museum education through presentations at the American Association of Museums (now known as the American Alliance of Museums) given by the curators of the first three children’s museums: Anna Billings Gallup’s (Brooklyn), Delia I. Griffin (Boston), and Gertrude A. Gillmore (Detroit). The review of papers delivered to their colleagues demonstrated how their pioneering educational approaches, including encouraging visitors to interact with objects and creating opportunities for children to become empowered and invested museum visitors, continue to shape the field. Also, the article pointed out the value of including children’s museum professionals in conversations on museum education. Another article about children’s museums revealed another example of the value of children’s museum professionals contributions to conversations on museum education.

In the article “What Caregivers Observe about Their Children’s Learning During a Visit to the Children’s Museum” by Jessica J. Luke, Eileen D. Tomczuk, Susan Foutz, Nicole Rivera, Lisa Brahms, Kari Nelson, Barbara Hahn, Melissa Swank & Kimberly McKenney, they pointed out that while significant research focused on caregiver-child interaction in children’s museums little is known about what caregivers might be observing or perceiving about their children’s learning. The article discussed a study conducted by the Children’s Museums Research Network to examine what caregivers observe about their children’s learning during a visit to the children’s museum. Data were collected through online questionnaires (N=223) and follow-up phone interviews (N=20) with caregivers recruited from eight children’s museums across the U.S. Results show that caregivers could identify numerous things they discovered about their child(ren) in the museum, including their interests, social skills, thinking/problem-solving skills, and emotional regulation. What contributed most to these discoveries was opportunities to watch their children play and interact with others, and to play with unique materials and activities that they don’t have access to at home. The signage and floor staff were seen as minimally important. These findings have implications for exhibit design and staff facilitation in children’s museums.

As a museum professional who has experience working in a children’s museum, I loved learning more about the history of children’s museums and what other children’s museum professionals have discovered about children’s learning in their research. The research reinforced what I learned about how children learned and interacted with museum exhibits. I learned in my experience in a children’s museum about the constructivist method which allowed children to get involved in the process of their own learning; what I learned in my experience is that the constructivist method cannot be relied on alone to educate children, and therefore a little bit of instruction is important to give children context to what they need to learn. In a couple of blog posts I have written, I wrote about children’s museums and my experience in a children’s museum.

The post “Maker Space: Museums Can Benefit from Having a Creative Space” is where I related what I learned in the children’s science museum Maritime Explorium and how I translate my experience from historic house museums into the newer experience. Another blog post I wrote was “Is Children’s Play Declining? What are Museums Doing to Encourage Playtime” in which I wrote about my reaction to an article in the Huffington Post called “Children’s Play is Declining, But We Can Help Reclaim It.”

By reading these articles in publications such as the Journal of Museum Education, museum professionals and museum educators share their knowledge and learn from one another to help move the museum field forward.

Resources:

Jessica J. Luke, Eileen D. Tomczuk, Susan Foutz, Nicole Rivera, Lisa Brahms, Kari Nelson, Barbara Hahn, Melissa Swank & Kimberly McKenney (2019) What Caregivers Observe about Their Children’s Learning During a Visit to the Children’s Museum, Journal of Museum Education, 44:4, 427-438, DOI: 10.1080/10598650.2019.1672136

Jessie Swigger (2019) Museums for Somebody: Children’s Museum Professionals and the American Association of Museums (1907–1922), Journal of Museum Education, 44:4, 345-353, DOI: 10.1080/10598650.2019.1663685

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2017/06/23/maker-space-museums-can-benefit-from-having-a-creative-space/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2017/07/20/is-childrens-play-declining-what-are-museums-doing-to-encourage-playtime/

The History of Museum Educators: Why the Role Is Important Today

December 5, 2019

I recently received my copy of the Journal of Museum Education, a publication from Museum Education Roundtable, in the mail and I began to read this edition. This last edition for the year is about the history of museum educators. Once I heard about this edition, I decided to read it and give my thoughts about the history of museum educators as well as the significance of museum educators today. I started reading a few articles, and I plan to give my thoughts on the rest of the Journal once I finished reading it. Each article provided some more insight into the field I am a part of and made me think about my previous experiences as a museum educator in relation to what is discussed in the Journal.

There are a number of compelling articles and case studies that illustrate the role of museum educators as well as current trends that are influenced by the museum education community. The first article I read was “Where Does the History of Museum Education Begin?” written by the assistant editor Nathaniel Prottas. Since the beginning of my career as a museum educator, I have been curious about how museum education began and learned the complexity of museum education. After I read Prottas’ article, I realized that the origins of museum education are just as complex as museum education is today. He pointed out that Given the variety of museums that exist today, from science centers, to historic homes, to literary museums, a unified history of the field could never do our past justice. With multiple types of museums not just in North America but in Europe, Africa, and South America, we would not be able to pinpoint the exact origins of museum education. All museums have at least one thing in common: their missions are driven by education. When I continued to read the rest of the Journal, I began to learn even more about museum education background that fascinated me.

Another article I read, for instance, was “The Influence of Progressivism and the Works Progress Administration on Museum Education” written by Carissa DiCindio and Callan Steinmann. In this article, DiCindio and Steinmann described the Federal Arts Project (WPA-FAP) (1935-1943) of the Works Progress Administration which was a federally funded program designed through Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal to keep visual artists at work during the Great Depression. Many art programs took place through museums and exhibitions that were brought to Americans with both public programs and outreach. Their article pointed out that there is a continued legacy of community-driven, education-centered approaches in museums today such as outreach initiatives, studio programs, and responsive community programs that seek to bring visual arts experiences to the public. It is a perfect example of how previous museum programs and policies influence current practices in museum education, and why it is important to learn from these experiences to then move forward in fulfilling educational missions in museums.

The next article that captured my attention was “Gallery Games and Mash-ups: The Lessons of History for Activity-based Teaching” written by Elliot Kai-Kee. Kai-Kee took a closer look at the late 1960s and early 1970s and found dissatisfaction with standard approaches that resulted in numerous experimental programs using approaches emphasizing movements, the senses, and feeling. He described the programs, such as Arts Awareness at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Susan Sollins’ gallery games at the National Collection of Fine Arts in Washington, DC, that left a legacy of experiential, activity-based teaching. His argument for current experimental programs for museum mashups and gallery games is to build solid programs and pedagogy on the foundation of improvisation and experimentation museum educators still need a theory of activities in the museum. I think we can always learn from previous examples when developing our own activity-based lessons. Previous lesson plans help museum educators see what has been done to educate intended audiences, and by inferring what worked and did not work we are able to improve the quality of our programs and expand our program offerings. It is important to keep up to date with education theories being utilized to maintain relevance in the school communities.

I especially thought a lot about my previous experiences when I read the article “Museums and School Group Chaperones: A New Future for an Old Role” by David B. Allison. Allison pointed out that chaperones play a key role in the experience students have in museums, and in most museums the parents and caregivers are underutilized and underappreciated. His article proposed a new approach to how chaperones might be catalysts for learning during museum visits. As a result, with the framing of a two-year grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services that resulted in a partnership with two school districts and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, the Museum learned that chaperones are essential to ensuring inquiry-driven education guides field trips. I appreciated Allison’s article and his emphasis on the importance of chaperones. As a museum educator, I have dealt with chaperones with varying participation in the programs. I shared my experiences in a previous blog post about chaperones and how we should include their involvement in program.

My experiences, outlined in the post “Museum Education Programs: The Challenges of Having Chaperones Be Effective Participants”, showed me that each chaperone had different expectations about what the chaperones’ roles should be. Some were involved with engaging the students by assisting and working with them, and other chaperones were standing to the side paying attention to their phones and not engaging with what is happening within the program. The article Allison wrote for the Journal proves that we are still working on figuring out how to engage chaperones with the programs.

As I continue to read this edition of this Journal, I hope to continue to takeaway more knowledge to adapt for my own practices in my career.

Resources:

Nathaniel Prottas (2019) Where Does the History of Museum Education Begin?, Journal of Museum Education, 44:4, 337-341, DOI: 10.1080/10598650.2019.1677020

Carissa DiCindio & Callan Steinmann (2019) The Influence of Progressivism and the Works Progress Administration on Museum Education, Journal of Museum Education, 44:4, 354-367, DOI: 10.1080/10598650.2019.1665399

http://www.museumedu.org/jme/jme-44-4-the-past-in-the-present-the-relevancy-of-the-history-of-museum-education-today/

https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2017/06/16/museum-education-programs-the-challenges-of-having-chaperones-be-effective-participants/