Museum Studies at Tufts University

Exploring ideas and engaging in conversation

Author: jshepp02 (page 1 of 4)

Thinking about design thinking

I’ve had some exposure to design thinking both professionally and as a student but it has always involved developing a usable product, either physical or digital. It wasn’t until I attended a session at the 2019 NEMA Annual Conference that I realized its potential for programming purposes. In hindsight, that’s an absolute “duh!”

In a session titled Using Design Thinking to Solve Problems Throughout the Museum, Sherlock Terry, Trish Palao, and Jennifer Rickards of the Montshire Museum of Science shared examples of using design thinking for a range of projects including exhibit design, operational challenges, and event planning. They introduced the room to the basics of design thinking, walked attendees through the steps in three Montshire use cases, and then we had the chance to practice it ourselves. (Hands-on learning – my favorite!)

The idea behind design thinking is that it is a human-centered approach. It’s flexible, iterative, and, as most design thinking proponents will tell you, usable by most anyone. It’s not exclusive to people who identify as designers professionally or as a hobby. I’d wager many professionals follow the process intuitively, but may not hit each stage.

The typical order for the five stages is as follows:

The stages can happen in order, out of order, and repeat as many times as the project requires. Understand your users from their perspective, clearly define what it is they need, brainstorm ways to help, and do a practice run (or three) to see if the project achieves what you hope it will.

This graphic from the Interaction Design Foundation illustrates the cyclical nature of the process:

Copyright holder: Interaction Design Foundation. Copyright terms and license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

Design thinking’s focus on user needs and flexibility makes it the perfect multipurpose tool for just about any challenge we might encounter in museum work. As our work is entirely for the sake of our visitors, if our project doesn’t work for the people we serve, it doesn’t work at all – no matter how cool or innovative we think it might be.

If you’re new to design thinking, here are a few helpful tips I’ve learned courtesy of both Montshire staff and the Tufts digital media course:

  1. Enter the process with a well-defined goal to guide you. Our broad goal for the practice scenario in the NEMA2019 session was “How can our museum better engage teens?”
  2. There are multiple ways to think of the problem you are defining – without thinking of it as a problem. Consider it a “job to be done” or build a challenge statement. Montshire staff gave us this template for a challenge statement:
    • How might we [theme goal] in order to [broad goal] considering that [key consideration #1] and [key consideration #2].
    • Example: “How might we train staff in order to better engage teens considering that staff may have little knowledge and/or negative impressions of that age group?”
  3. When brainstorming, go big and broad. Montshire staff came up with 40 ideas during their ideate stages! The idea isn’t to have 40 winners, but to spit out anything that comes to mind. Ideas which might seem totally bizarre or unattainable may have just the right kernel of inspiration.
    • Post-its are your friends here: use one post-it per idea and then group them into themes.
  4. Prototypes don’t have to be physical. Develop the prototype that fits your goal – if you’re designing a program, this might be a lesson plan, a discussion prompt, a question on a sign, a game, a worksheet, whatever. Whatever format lets you test if users are getting what they need is the right format.

Here are some additional resources on design thinking and design thinking in museums:

What uses have you gotten out of design thinking? We’d love to hear your experience in the comments!

Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Here are the latest museum jobs on the boards. Happy hunting!

Northeast:

Executive Director / Ogunquit Museum of American Art (Ogunquit, ME)
Curator of Education School and Access Programs / Yale University (New Haven, CT)
Project Manager for the Five College Collections Management Commons / Five Colleges, Incorporated (Amherst, MA)
Data Specialist for Five Collece Collections Mangement Commons / Five Colleges, Incorporated (Amherst, MA)
PT Junior Communications Specialist / John F. Kennedy Library Foundation (Boston, MA)
Public Humanities Project Coordinator (One-Year) / Plimoth Plantation, Inc. (Plymouth, MA)
Full Time Teacher Naturalist / Mass Audubon Boston Nature Center (Mattapan, MA)
Arts/Crafts Instructors / Ipswich Museum (Ipswich, MA)
Development Coordinator / Boston Athenaeum (Boston, MA)
Professional Development Associate Director / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Education Associate, Overnight Program & Summer Course / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Account Manager, Social Sales / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Visitor Services and Safety Associate / King’s Chapel (Boston, MA)
Gallery Assistant / Copley Society of Art (Boston, MA)
Administrative & Data Management Assistant / Old North Church & Historic Site (Boston, MA)
Manager of Foundation and Government Support / Mass Audubon (Lincoln, MA)
Grants Administrator / Mass Audubon (Lincoln, MA)
Development Manager / Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA)
STEM Curriculum Manager (Managing Editor) / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Exhibit Fabricator & Installer / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Managing Director / Chinese Historical Society of New England (Boston, MA)
Catholic Records Proofreading Intern / New England Historic Genealogical Society (Boston, MA)
Museum Development Director / Somerville Museum (Somerville, MA)
Social Media Strategist & Writer, Marketing & Communications / New England Aquarium (Boston, MA)
System and Applications Administrator, IT / New England Aquarium (Boston, MA)

Mid-Atlantic:

Conservator / Newark Museum (Newark, NJ)
Director of Institutional Giving / Brooklyn Museum (Brooklyn, NY)
Assistant Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Project / Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum & Foundation (New York, NY)
Major Gifts Officer, Major Gifts and Discovery / Smithsonian Institution, Office of Advancement (Washington, D.C.)
Director of Learning and Education Strategies / The Phillips Collection (Washington, D.C.)
Director of Community Engagement / The Phillips Collection (Washington, D.C.)
Chief Operating Officer / Liberty Science Center (Jersey City, NJ)
Public Programs Manager / Museum of the American Revolution (Philadelphia, PA)
Executive Director / Historical Society of Washington, D.C. (Washington, D.C.)
Online Marketing Specialist / Smithsonian Institution, Office of Advancement (Washington, D.C.)
Program Officer for Arts and Cultural Heritage / The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (New York, NY)
Curator of Collections & Exhibitions / Freedman Gallery – Albright College (Reading, PA)
Assistant/Associate Curator, Greek and Roman / Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Belle de Costa Greene Curatorial Fellowships / The Morgan Library & Museum (New York, NY)
Institutional Advancement Coordinator / American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY)
Assistant Community Services Administrator / Rockwood Park and Museum (New Castle, DE)
Assistant Curator of Education for School Programs / Winterthur Museum, Garden, & Library (Winterthur, DE)
Curatorial Assistant / Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY)
Manager of Gallery Learning / The Walters Museum (Baltimore, MD)

South:

PR & Marketing Account Manager / Florida International University (Miami, FL)
Preparator / Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham, AL)
Content Coordinator, part-time / Capitol Square Preservation Council, Virginia State Capitol (Richmond, VA)
Associate Registrar/Registrar / Amon Carter Museum of American Art (Fort Worth, TX)
ICAA Digital Experience Specialist / The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX)
Director of Learning + Engagement / University of Oklahoma (Norman, OK)
Travel Exhibitions Manager / Art Bridges Foundation (Bentonville, AR)
Program Education Manager / Art Bridges Foundation (Bentonville, AR)
Associate Museum Educator, Youth & Family Programs / Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville, AR)
Museum Manager / The Peel Compton Foundation (Bentonville, AR)
Deputy Director of Collections and Engagement / Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe, NM)

Midwest:

President / Cranbrook Educational Community (Bloomfield Hills, MI)
Associate Registrar, Permanent Collection / The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Executive Director/Chief Curator, The Renaissance Society / The University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Digital Marketing Manager / The Morton Arboretum (Lisle, IL)
Executive Director / The History Center of Washington County (West Bend, WI)
Learning Specialist / Shedd Aquarium (Chicago, IL)

West:

Chief Financial Officer / Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (Los Angeles, CA)
Director of Public Programs / The Mob Museum (Las Vegas, NV)
Education Program Manager / Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, CA)
Director, Museum Store / San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (San Francisco, CA)
Fund Development and Community Engagement Manager / Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History (Santa Cruz, CA)
Collection Database Administrator / Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (San Francisco, CA)
Chief Financial Officer / Museum of Contemporary Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Head of Publications / Fowler Museum at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)
Chief Financial Officer / Asian Art Museum (San Francisco, CA)
Director of Education / UC San Diego (La Jolla, CA)
Education Specialist / Idaho State Historical Society (Boise, ID)
Director of Education / Burke Museum (Seattle, WA)

Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Boston-area museums

First, we’d like to start with a land acknowledgement for Tufts University that we are grateful to borrow from an article in the Tufts Daily:

Tufts University’s Medford campus is located on Wôpanâak (Wampanoag) and Massachusett traditional territory. Tufts’ Walnut Hill was once one of the hills in a slave-holding estate called Ten Hills Plantation. Both Africans and Native Americans were enslaved in the colony of Massachusetts, and trade in Native American and African laborers made Massachusetts a driving force in the Atlantic slave trade. 

Op-Ed: Acknowledging our settler-colonial present, the Tufts Daily

Last year, in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, Tufts Museum Studies Blog editor Danielle Bennett shared a list of articles covering efforts to decolonize museums around the world. This year, we’re sharing events happening at Boston-area museums, planned jointly with indigenous educators, artists, and leaders, that celebrate native history and culture.


Indigenous Peoples’ Day at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Monday, October 14, 2019
10:00 am–5:00 pm


Features: free admission, special events

Enjoy free admission and special events at the MFA for Indigenous Peoples’ Day—and the Fenway Alliance’s 18th annual Opening Our Doors Day. Indigenous Peoples’ Day recognizes and celebrates the heritage of Native Americans and the histories of their nations and communities. Enjoy music and dance, take a tour of our Native North American Art Gallery and respond to our collection, and drop in on family art-making activities and artist demonstrations.

Co-created and presented in partnership with Akomawt Educational Initiative and Jonathan James-Perry, Tribal Citizen of the Aquinnah Wampanoag Nation.

Founded in 1870, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, stands on the historic homelands of the Massachusett people, a site which has long served as a place of meeting and exchange among different nations.

Cost: free with free admission


Indigenous Peoples’ Day: Abundant Voices at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Monday, October 14, 2019
10:00 am–4:00 pm

Also offered as part of The Fenway Alliance’s Opening Our Doors Day.

This Indigenous Peoples’ Day, the Gardner Museum is honored to collaborate with choreographer and Neighborhood Salon Luminary Marsha Parrilla of Danza Orgánica to present local Indigenous artists from the Massachusett, Nipmuc, Mashpee Wampanoag, and Aquinnah Wampanoag tribes.

The theme for the day is “Abundant Voices,” emphasizing the necessary perspectives and incredible work of these creative leaders. Enjoy hands-on art making, interactive performance, storytelling, a special performance from Gardner Museum Choreographers in Residence All Ready with local youth performers and more. 

Explore additional hands-on activities and performances organized by The Fenway Alliance throughout the day across the street from the Gardner Museum in beautiful Evans Way Park.

Cost: free with free admission on a first-come, first-served basis


Native American Poets Playlist at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology

Saturday, October 12–Monday, October 14, 2019
9:00 am-5:00 pm

In a program marking Cambridge’s Indigenous People’s Day–celebrated as the federal holiday Columbus Day–eight Native American poets may be heard reading their work in the galleries. Enrich your museum visit by listening to an evocative recorded playlist of contemporary poems by Native American authors. Wander freely across the first-floor galleries to see where the poems take you and expand your understanding of Native arts and cultures. The poems, drawn from a powerful recent anthology, New Poets of Native Nations (edited by Heid E. Erdrich; Graywolf Press) celebrate Native poets first published in the twenty-first century. Hear the exhibits “come into voice” and experience the museum in a new way. Borrow a free audio player with regular museum admission.

Jointly sponsored with the Harvard University Native American Program and the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University

Cost: free with regular admission


Indigenous People’s Weekend at Plimoth Plantation

Saturday, October 12–Monday, October 14, 2019
9:00 am-5:00 pm


Long before Europeans arrived, the Wampanoag people were living in this area known as Patuxet. Join us as we acknowledge the indigenous groups that have called this place home and celebrate their traditions through song, dance, and craft.

Cost: free with regular admission


Wampanoag Perspectives on Land: Acknowledging Indigenous Space at the Fruitlands Museumm

Monday, October 14, 2019
2:00–3:00 pm

Join Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) on Indigenous Peoples’ Day at Fruitlands Museum as she presents “Wampanoag Perspectives on the Land: Acknowledging Indigenous Space.”  Elizabeth James-Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag) is a multi-medium traditional and contemporary artist, with specialties in wampum shell carving and reviving natural dye techniques for her finger-woven sashes, bags, and baskets.

Cost: free with regular admission (space is limited – registration is requested)


Though the city of Boston and state of Massacusetts have yet to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we’re heartened to see that hasn’t stopped our cultural institutions. You can find other Boston-area happenings in this list from Cultural Survival. If you’re not in the Boston area, you can find Indigenous People’s Day events around the country in this list by Indian Country Today. Our guess (and hope) is that more museums near you may be celebrating and collaborating with indigenous voices tomorrow* – take a look for yourself!

*and next week, and next month, and next year, and so on – for many more days besides just tomorrow!

Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Here are the most recent job listings. Happy hunting!

Northeast

Curator of Contemporary Art / MIT List Visual Arts Center (Cambridge, MA)
Program Manager, Center for Netherlandish Art / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA)
Executive Assistant to Chief Executive Officer / Norman Rockwell Museum (Stockbridge, MA)
Studio Art Photographer / Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute (Williamstown, MA)
Public Humanities Fellowship / Plimoth Plantation, Inc. (Plymouth, MA)
Teaching Artists – Painting/Drawing 2020 / Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA)
Associate Director, Donor Relations / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Part-Time Museum Educator/Assistant / Historic Newton (Newton, MA)
Development Officer / Fuller Craft Museum (Brockton, MA)
Curatorial Assistant, Contemporary Art / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA)
Assistant Conservator, Public Outreach / Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston, MA)
Grant Writer / New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! (New Bedford, MA)
Marketing & Communications Coordinator (Temporary) / USS Constitution Museum (Boston, MA)
Human Resources Business Partner, Hiring and Compensation / The Trustees of Reservations (Boston, MA)
Art + Culture Assistant / Somerville Museum (Somerville, MA)
Librarian / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Public Programs Coordinator / Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston, MA)
Development Associate / New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! (New Bedford, MA)
Manager, Visitor Experience / Boston Children’s Museum (Boston, MA)
Events Manager / The Bostonian Society (Old South Meeting House) (Boston, MA)
Research & Evaluation Assistant, Engineering is Elementary / Museum of Science (Boston, MA)
Program Manager (part-time) / Cambridge Historical Society (Cambridge, MA)
Registrar / Bruce Museum (Greenwich, CT)
Assistant Curator of Asian Art / Worcester Art Museum (Worcester, MA)

Mid-Atlantic

2020-2021 Graduate Internships / National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C)
Director of Facilities / Museum of Arts and Design (New York, NY)
Chief Development Officer / Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (Philadelphia, PA)
Director of Advancement / Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum (New York, NY)
Research Archivist / New York Transit Museum (Brooklyn, NY)
Controller / Museum of Arts and Design (New York, NY)
Curator of Exhibitions / American Federation of Arts (New York, NY)
Director of Finance / National Women’s History Museum (Washington, D.C.)
Curator of Italian and Spanish Paintings / National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)
Assistant Database Administrator / Newark Museum (Newark, NJ)
Museum Curator (Music) / National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution (Washington, D.C.)
Curator/Collections Manager / Antique Boat Museum (Clayton, NY)
Collections Specialist AAOA / Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Executive Director & CEO / Fort Ligonier Museum andHistory Education Center & Braddock’s Battlefield History Center (Ligonier, PA)
Department Technician AAOA / Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Assistant/Associate Curator, Greek and Roman / Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, NY)
Senior Development Assistant / American Museum of Natural History (New York, NY)
Education & Public Engagement Coordinator / The Galleries at Moore College of Art & Design (Philadelphia, PA)
Assistant Curator of Exhibitions and Programs / Katonah Museum of Art (Katonah, NY)
Margaret Powell Curatorial Fellow / Carnegie Museum of Art (Pittsburgh, PA)
Manager of Gallery Learning / The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore, MD)

Southeast

Chief of Museum Operations / Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum (Sanibel, FL)
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Summer Internships / The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, FL)
Historic Trades Specialist / Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (Miami, FL)
Education Programs Coordinator / Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art (Virginia Beach, VA)

South Central

ICAA Digital Experience Specialist / The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston, TX)
Mellon Curatorial Fellow / Meadows Museum, SMU (Dallas, TX)
Assistant Director of Communications / The Menil Collection (Houston, TX)
Executive Director / Museum of Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX)

Midwest

Associate Director for Engagement and Learning / University of Michigan Museum of Natural History (Ann Arbor, MI)
Interpretive Planner / Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, MI)
Director, Science Gallery Detroit / Michigan State University (Detroit, MI)
Master Teacher / University of Wyoming Art Museum (Laramie, WY)
Project Manager / The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Director of Experience and Education / Air Zoo (Portage, MI)
Manager, Museum Collections / Central Michigan University (Mt Pleasant, MI)
Registrar / McLean County Historical Society (Bloomington, IL)
Curator of Contemporary Art / Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (Colorado Springs, CO)
Executive Director / Wrightwood 659 (Chicago, IL)
Associate Curator / Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum (Saint Louis, MO)
Epsilon-Dalzell Premier Film Preservationist / Missouri Historical Society (Saint Louis, MO)
Objects Preservation Administrator / Missouri Historical Society (Saint Louis, MO)
Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art / The Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo, OH)
Collections & Facilities Manager / Purdue University Galleries (West Lafayette, IN)
Manager of Facilitation / Adler Planetarium (Chicago, IL)

West

Curator of Education & Exhibits / Grace Hudson Museum (Ukiah, CA)
Manager of Museum Retail and Visitor Services / Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (Palm Springs, CA)
Historic Park Curator / County of Orange (County of Orange, CA)
Scheduler / J Paul Getty Trust (Los Angeles, CA)
Director of Information Technology / The Broad (Los Angeles, CA)
Collections Manager / Asian Art Museum (San Francisco, CA)
Education Program Manager / Museum of the African Diaspora (San Francisco, CA)
Sr. Director of Institutional Advancement / The Mob Museum (Las Vegas, NV)
Curator of Public Programs / Fowler Museum at UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)
Curator-in-Charge, European Paintings / Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (San Francisco, CA)
Division Administrator, Division of Museums and History / State of Nevada (Carson City, NV)
Fund Development and Community Engagement Manager / Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History (Santa Cruz, CA)
Major Gifts Officer / The Contemporary Jewish Museum (San Francisco, CA)
Chief Preparator / Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
Deputy Director – Operations and Administration / City of Mesa Arts and Culture Department (Mesa, AZ)
Associate Director, Visitor Experience / Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, CA)
Rights and Reproductions Specialist / Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Head Registrar / Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (Los Angeles, CA)
Deputy Director / Oakland Museum of California (Oakland, CA)
Development Officer / Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, AZ)
The Jacquie Dorrance Curator of Fashion Design / Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, AZ)
Executive Director / Mesa Historical Museum (Mesa, AZ)

Boston events for museum professionals this week

Hello friends and happy Monday! We have details of two events happening this week for museum professionals to share with you. One is happening tomorrow, Tuesday, October 1, and the other on Wednesday, October 2. Both events are FREE but do require advance registration.

Using Visual Thinking Strategies to Jumpstart Audience-Centered Learning

by the Greater Boston Museum Educators Roundtable

About:
Join us for a half-day workshop to consider VTS in a new light! Visitors today suffer from staccato looking: scrolling through Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, making instantaneous assumptions about what they see. In order to be responsible citizens in an increasingly global society (with more and more focus on visual culture), visitors of all types need to develop their visual literacy. Doing so increases their ability to assess images and information of all types, including artwork, maps, and primary vs. secondary sources. This level of deep thought and critical thinking informs understanding of our shared human history and fosters a respectful curiosity.

After participating in this workshop, educators will understand Visual Thinking Strategies as a methodology of facilitating conversations about artwork and its broad applications in museum and historic site settings. Participants will learn how to build observation and communication skills in their audiences, how to encourage the consideration of multiple perspectives, how to use images/objects thoughtfully in program planning, and how to improve facilitation skills when teaching. Through small group work and VTS discussions, teachers will walk away prepared to employ an exciting technique that will strengthen audience engagement and foster critical and creative thinking in your museum or historic site.

When:
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
1:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT

Where:
Otis House Museum
141 Cambridge Street
Boston, MA 02114

Museum Careers Panel Discussion

by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

About:
Interested in learning about diverse professions in museums? Hear from a panel of MFA staff members in curatorial, education, exhibitions, conservation, marketing, public relations, and other departments as they discuss working in the museum world. Learn about their career paths, the challenges they encounter in their fields, and the opportunities they envision for the future of museum work. This event is free with Museum admission and open to all undergraduate and graduate students. Students attending institutions participating in the University Membership Program receive free Museum admission.

When:
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. EDT

Where:
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Barbara and Theodore Alfond Auditorium (Auditorium G36)
Avenue of the Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

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