About Phillippa Pitts

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Unpacking Admission by Donation

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on January 8, 2014 in The Wider World |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe

You’ve met the rude tourists who come to Boston. Sure, there are good tourists, too, but every city has its own magnets for the bad. These tourists are the ones who think they’re clever by saying, “Pahk ya cah in Hahvahd yahd!” to anyone they meet. They also say, “But it’s the Freedom Trail, shouldn’t all the museums be free?” Usually, the people who say this can comfortably afford the price of museum admission for their family, but that doesn’t mean everyone can.

So what do we do? Library passes, free days, and coupons are great, but each of them has limits. As graduate students, most of us are familiar with the fact that there’s often a huge gray area between “I can’t afford that” and “I’ll pay any price as long as I am confident I’ll get my money’s worth,” but museums often see their potential visitors as falling into one category or the other – it’s the free admission model or the market-value model. The “suggested donation” or “pay as you will” model of admissions has a lot of advantages, when it works the way it’s intended. I have some personal experience with this model, as I used to work at the front desk of a museum with a suggested donation. The front desk was the museum’s general information desk, staffed by museum educators when we weren’t on the floor, but a big part of our job was welcoming everyone as they arrived, counting them, and informing them that our suggested donation was $5. This was part of the museum’s strategy to ensure that donations stayed high. It was clear to me that a lot of visitors understood the model, but many — perhaps the majority — didn’t. I spoke with one couple who were very apologetic for not donating, to the point of shrinking away from me as we talked. “I would if I could,” the woman said, “But I actually can’t.” I remember responding, “That’s okay, that’s why it’s a donation and not mandatory!” but wishing there was a better way to make her feel comfortable.

Read more…

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Propose a conference session at NEMA!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on January 3, 2014 in conferences, professional development |

In 2014, NEMA’s annual conference will be held here in Boston, Cambridge. Submit your proposal for a session by February 3 (one month from today!) The theme for this November is “Picture of Health: Museums, Wellness & Healthy Communities,” celebrating the role museums play in community wellness.

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on December 29, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Happy Holidays, all! And, to start off the year right, here’s your weekly dose of open jobs. Also, as always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting! Fellow [Preservation Society of Newport] Paid Intern [Metropolitan Museum] Paid Intern – Summer 2014 [Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum] Digital Resources Archivist – Digital Collections and Archives [...]

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Keeping Things Real, Keeping Your Ideals

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on December 5, 2013 in The Wider World |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe I recently read an older article in The Journal of Museum Education, Partnerships: Hype and Reality (Amy Jared, Winter 1994), that had some thought-provoking things to say on museums engaging with their communities. The author pushed back on the idea that museums’ greatest challenge is to convince the public that they are no [...]

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Rethinking the “Remaking” of Museums

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on December 4, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Cira Brown A couple of weeks ago I attended the 41st Annual Museum Computer Network Conference in Montreal, Quebec. A strange name, perhaps, but the organization has been in existence way before personal computers… even before the moonlanding! I was very excited to attend, especially since everything was museum related! It was 5 days of [...]

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 23, 2013 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting! Assistant Registrar [Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County] PT Curator [Massachusetts State House] PT Special Collections Associate [Fashion Institute of Technology] Visitor Experience /Operations Manager [Museum of the City of New York] Curatorial Assistant [Portland Museum of [...]

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Perspectives on NEMA 2013

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 21, 2013 in Uncategorized |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe One thing I love about NEMA is the mix of perspectives you get hearing many voices and attending multiple sessions. In a session on partnerships to meet community needs, and another on shared authority in partnerships, I learned as much from questions and discussion in the room as from the presenters. [...]

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Feedback Wanted! Rapid Contextual Redesign of Mammal Skull Mystery Exhibit at the Museum of Science

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 20, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Catherine Sigmond Lately I’ve been working on a project to evaluate and rapidly redesign the Mammal Skull Mystery exhibit at the Museum of Science. After weeks of evaluating how people use the exhibit (read: stalking visitors and then awkwardly trying to talk to them about it) and reflecting on those observations, we’re now [...]

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Perspectives on NEMA 2013

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 19, 2013 in conferences |

by guest columnist James Stanton This year NEMA asked conference attendees to question why museums are needed now more than ever. In an increasingly diverse society, museums offer a space for people to reflect, learn, and honor their different histories while bringing communities together to share, learn, and grow from each other. The recurring themes [...]

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 17, 2013 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting! Digital Exhibit Developer [Pacific Science Center] Program Specialist [IMLS] Grants Management Specialist [IMLS] Digital Communications and Media Manager [International Museum of Women] Education Programming Assistant [Worcester Art Museum] Curatorial Assistant [Brooklyn Museum] Membership and Development Associate [Concord Museum] [...]

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