Museum Studies at Tufts University

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NEMA Call for Papers

THE STATE OF MUSEUMS:  VOICES FROM THE FIELD

Editors:  Rebekah Beaulieu, Dawn E. Salerno, and Mark S. Gold

We are inviting submissions to be included in this forthcoming book to be published by MuseumsEtc on the centennial of the founding of New England Museum Association (NEMA). Submissions are limited to members of NEMA.

Widely respected as a locus of educational, historical, and cultural activities, New England has long served as a region founded in tradition and expanded with innovation. New England has made innumerable contributions to the museum field in the establishment of museums and academic programs. The founding of New England Museum Association in 1918 fortified the region’s commitment to the development of museums, and it is in the same spirit that we issue a publication dedicated to the state of affairs in museums on the centennial of NEMA. This publication is the first to bring together diverse voices, linked by their commitment to NEMA, in order to contemplate the issues, challenges, strengths, and developments within today’s museums. Curated by NEMA thought leaders, this volume will celebrate and essentialize the tenets at the core of the NEMA mission and of museum leaders everywhere, exploring issues of community, advocacy, thought leadership, other topics in candid considerations of the past, present, and future of museums.

AIMS

  • To coalesce a variety of perspectives from our members into a publication reflecting the current state of museums, and to consider our roles as producers and consumers in the museum world, and in the context of the evolution of the museum field over the course of the 100 years of NEMA’s existence.
  • To recognize the shifts in culture, urbanization, technology and diversity that have affected and continue to impact the mission, operations, and priorities of museums.
  • To reflect on meaningful museum experiences which NEMA members have been a part of – either as professionals or as visitors – and to contemplate where our field may venture in the future.
  • To offer a diverse range of voices from academic and professional fields, of all backgrounds and age levels.
  • To celebrate the NEMA Centennial by creating of a record of past developments in the museum field, impressions of the current state of museum affairs, and thoughts to lead us onto the future of museums.

SUBMISSIONS

We welcome proposals for essays from members of NEMA. Not a member of NEMA? Join today!

Aspects of interest include – but are not limited to –

  • The future of the field and the potential legacy(ies) of museums in America and particularly (but not exclusively) in the New England region
  • The role of innovation, including professional practice and audience programming.
  • Positive and impactful museum experiences.
  • Successful work of museums, including discussions of institutional structures, policies, or practices, inclusive of administration, operations, finances, fund-raising, facilities, collections management, technology, and ethics.
  • Museums as personal, professional, and cultural motivators of change.

SUBMITTING A PROPOSAL

If you are interested in being considered as a contributor, please submit a proposal and a short biography (in Microsoft Word format). Proposals should be 300-500 words in length and biographies 100-200 words.

You can propose to submit either a chapter or a case study. Chapters will be 4000-6000 words in length. Case studies will be 1000-2000 words. The inclusion of images is encouraged. Please prepare your proposal with these parameters in mind. The work should not have been published elsewhere and all contributions must be submitted in English – translation services will not be provided.

The deadline for proposals is Monday, November 20, 2017. Please email your proposal to both the editors [NEMAEditors@gmail.com] and the publishers [proposals@museumsetc.com]. Any queries in advance of submission should be sent to the editors.

The State of Museums: Voices from the Field will be published by MuseumsEtc in print and digital editions. Contributors will receive a complimentary copy of the publication and a discount on more.

KEY DATES

Proposals Due:  November 20, 2017
Contributors Notified:  December 11, 2017
Completed Papers Due:  March 5, 2018

https://nemanet.org/resources/publications/call-papers/

 

Censorship and Expression: The Challenge off the Provocative in Museums.

Censorship and Expression: The Challenge off the Provocative in Museums.

When is provocative too provocative? This past week, three pieces were pulled from the Guggenheim Museum’s show “Art and China After 1989: Theater of the World”  due to protests from animal rights activists concerned about the portrayal of animals in this exhibit. The works pulled from the exhibit depict eight Pitbull’s on eight treadmills trying to fight each other, pigs engaged in intercourse, and insects, snakes, and small lizards underneath a lamp.

The removals from the Guggenheim follow the removal of Scaffold, a sculpture opposing capital punishment, drawing from controversial hangings in U.S. history from the Walker Arts Center in Minneapolis, as well as protests at the Whitney Museum of Art surrounding Dana Schutz’s painting Open Casket,  portraying  Emmitt Till’s mutilated body.

The censorship vs expression battle between museums, artists, and the public is nothing new. Marcel Duchamp faced criticism for his found object art in 1917, and Picasso’s 1937 mural depicting the massacre of a Basque village was censored in the 1960s because Americans thought it was insensitive to Vietnam.

Artists have a right to express, but does a museum have the right to display works that may cause harm to others or that causs harm to the subjects of the work (in the Guggenheim case the animals)? If museums are held in the public trust, they should listen to the responses of the audience. Yet at the same time, museums are not neutral institutions. Whether implicitly or explicitly they push social, political, and even economic themes. The issue of censorship becomes clear when the staff, faculty, and museum goers safety comes into question. If the public is threatening violence over an exhibit, pieces need to be removed.

Perhaps in the case of the Guggenheim the works were correctly removed because they display physical harm done to animals, which is not good art. The animals were actually in these perilous situations to be photographed. Yet in cases such as Dana Shutz’s at the Whitney, she was not putting any creature in physical harm with her paintings, rather members of social activist groups did not feel she had authority as a white woman to paint a black man’s brutal  death. In the cases of censorship how does a museum weight physical vs. emotional harm in their decision to remove a piece?

As with most controversy, there is no clear answer to the expression v. censor debate. Yet I do feel that any physical harm or violence incited over the pieces in a museum should trigger the removal of the object so as to protect the workers and visitors. These protests against artwork may begin to pop up more frequently as social media fuels social protests and change. Museums will need to figure out a means to deal with the bold and provocative while remaining safe institutions for the public.

Audience Engagement Coordinator [Senator John Heinz History Center, Pittsburgh, PA]

The Museum: From the pre-revolutionary drama of the French & Indian War to the legendary match-ups of the Super Steelers, discover 250 years of Pittsburgh history at the Senator John Heinz History Center. An affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, the History Center is the largest history museum in Pennsylvania with six floors of long-term and changing exhibition space. The History Center’s museum system includes the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum, a dynamic museum-within-a-museum; the Fort Pitt Museum in Point State Park; and Meadowcroft Rockshelter & Historic Village, a National Historic Landmark located in Avella, Pa. in Washington County. The History Center presents the most compelling stories from American history with a Western Pennsylvania connection, all in an interactive environment perfect for visitors of every age.

The Position: The Heinz History Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and the largest history museum in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is currently seeking a full time Audience Engagement Coordinator to become part of a dynamic and growing Education Division program. The Audience Engagement Coordinator will report to the Director of Education, working to oversee the Education Division’s interpretive volunteers, including docents and gallery volunteers, and to develop in-gallery learning experiences for the public. These learning experiences should maximize the engagement of both interpretive volunteers and visitors. The Audience Engagement Coordinator develops and implements programmatic opportunities and leads the recruitment of a diverse volunteer corps, scheduling, training, and evaluation of the interpretive volunteers who support these gallery-based programs. Beyond solidifying and strengthening the existing interpretive volunteer program, the Audience Engagement Coordinator will collaborate with the Director of Education, Volunteer Program Coordinator, and Museum Division team to create new roles for interpretive volunteers in the galleries to increase the range of opportunities available. This position also works to establish and maintain positive relationships between the interpretive volunteers, museum staff, and audiences.

Requirements: This position requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in education, history, museum education, education, or other humanities or liberal arts discipline. The ideal candidate will: have a minimum of one to three years’ experience managing volunteers and developing programs for the public; demonstrated skills in developing and implementing training programs in an informal learning setting, with preference for museum-based experience; effective oral and listening skills and the ability to work effectively with people of diverse cultures, ages, and economic backgrounds; excellent writing skills; must have a positive approach to problem solving, collaborating with others, and in approaching new tasks; excellent project management skills and ability to use Microsoft Office suite of programs.

Application Process: We are an Equal Opportunity Employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin or disability. Minorities are encouraged to apply. Qualified applicants should submit a cover letter, including salary requirements and how you learned of this vacancy, and a resume to:

Renee Falbo, Director of Human Resources

Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

412-454-6357, hr@heinzhistorycenter.org, www.heinzhistorycenter.org

Mobile Guide Review- Historic New England’s Eustis Estate

Mobile Guide Review- Historic New England’s Eustis Estate

This mobile guide review comes from Max Metz, who is in his second year in the Masters of Museum Education program and is the Manager and Anne Larner Educator at the Durant-Kenrick House and Grounds of Historic Newton. To see more of Max’s contributions to the blog, click here.

The Eustis Estate Museum, owned and operated by Historic New England (HNE), is in Milton, Massachusetts – roughly 15 miles south of downtown Boston. With its most recent acquisition and creation of its first permanent gallery space, HNE also created a full-scale mobile guide that mirrors in-gallery media to enhance its interpretation and create greater access to content across devices and geography.

As you begin your museum experience in the visitor’s center near the parking lot, the museum attendant orients you to the screens that you will find throughout the museum and how to access the same content on your own device if you prefer. This opens the guide to many different audiences and various levels of knowledge about technology, historic homes, and museums in general. However, the guide is aimed at an adult audience with interest in historic homes and the history of developing America.

As you transition to the historic home, in each room you will find a large touchscreen panel that serves as the interpretation to the space. The screen is automatically queued up to the interpretation for that room however the interpretation for the entire estate is also within the device to explore if one wants to. In other rooms that contain historic furniture that can be sat in, there smaller tablet-sized touchscreens that continue the interpretive journey. The large screens that will be used when standing or in a wheelchair, tethered small screens to be used while resting or taking in the space while seated, or the guide on your own device creates wide accessibility and flexibility in times of high visitor volume in the house.

The guide itself was very successful in orienting the visitor to the room and where that room exists in the house, connecting the stories of people who lived in or worked at the estate to the objects and rooms within the home and property, providing detailed photos and context regarding the objects within the space that may be too far away from the stanchions to see in full detail, and bringing everything together with supporting documentation in the form of photos of historic archival letters, family photos, sound recordings, and other memorabilia. If the visitor wants to dig deeper he can, if not the initial interoperation serves to enlighten the visitor and enrich the experience within the room.

One of the greatest attributes of the application was that it can be taken home with you, or used before your visit. HNE developed the mobile guide as a website that looks like a downloadable application, however it requires no special technology brought by the user. All one has to do is go to eustis.estatewithin a browser and you are on the mobile guide. If there is a question after the trip or if more exploration is wanted after leaving, the educational journey doesn’t stop.  By using the web-based application, if there is additional content uncovered by the staff, or if a typo is discovered, or if by studying the user data staff decide to provide more tools to learn about a specific topic it can be added seamlessly without continual updating of devices. This adaptable, sharp, and user-focused guide is very successful in providing a visitor-centered experience with information curated in learning paths for the visitor’s learning pleasure.

Furthermore, the guide, in the way in which it is installed in the galleries/rooms, provides an unencumbered view of the space and avoids the historic house pitfall of polka dot labels all around the room. It truly enhances the collection and the viewing/learning experience of the visitor. It seems like a fresh approach to historic homes and a good use of technology that is not wed to any proprietary coding or vender. By using the guide, the visitor is easily able to understand who lived in the house, what their role was in that family, how they used the estate, and their connection to local history. Although the content seemed to be developed for adults, children can easily access the intuitive screens and interact with well-written interpretation or explore media on the devices.

In the future, if the site is marketed to school groups or becomes popular with younger audiences, it would be remarkable if another site like the eustis.estate site was developed for the younger audience. Imagine if a fourth-grade group was scheduled and the museum could switch all the interpretation to a specific program with content aimed at academic standards for that age, with just a touch of a button. Then, when the museum opened for general visitors, switch back to the general interpretation. I could see this same technique happening for private events, Clue style mystery parties, etc. to help bring added income to the property and continue to serve its mission through education. Lastly, HNE does plan on creating additional content to help explore its vast grounds, however at my last visit it was not yet available.

All in all, this was splendidly successful implementation of a mobile guide that is both stationary and mobile in and around the museum. I saw visitors successfully navigating the site and engaged in discussion with each other using the interpretation as a starting point to dive into the history and stories of the property and objects. I look forward to seeing HNE use this same model at it over 30 other properties.

Forging your Own Career Path in the Museum World

Forging your Own Career Path in the Museum World

            As museum professionals, most of us are aware that our career paths do not follow a straight line. Unlike the majority of the corporate sector, where companies may provide a straight trajectory from entry, to associate, to manager, etc, career routes in the museum world may feel spotty and unconnected. There is often not a straight path to promotion and mobility, and it is up to us as independent professionals to determine where our next career step lies, whether that be expanding our roles in a current institution of employment, or transferring to another museum entirely to fulfill our goals.

Here are a few points to chew upon when considering how to plan your museum career.

      To begin, create a mission statement. What are your burning desires for your career? What are you passionate about? And what are the goals you want to reach, not only for yourself, but for others through your work? Write down these goals into a mission statement, and then just as a museum works continuously toward its mission statement, you too must vow to work within the frame of your mission statement. Read your mission over and over and stick to it. Put it like glue into your brain and analyze how your career motives and tasks fit into your mission.

      Grab some friends! The power of the people you surround yourself with is extraordinary. Meet with other museum professionals who share like-minded interests to discuss your career path and how each of you can support and learn from one another. Talking with people is also a great way to network!!! So, if you are on the hunt for a new job to fulfill that mission of yours, surround yourself with positive museum people and talk.

      Connect the dots. A lot of times it is easier to connect the dots in life in a retrospective view, whether that be for a career, relationship, etc. So, take stock of your dots. How did you come to be in the career position you are in? What would you change about the past career steps you took? How can you learn from these patterns to further your career in a direction you want to go? Connect those dots and learn from them so you can move forward in your career mission.

  Don’t be afraid to make a pivot. If you’re working in development, but long to work in education(or vice versa), make your mission, network, and connect those dots to make it happen. We all have such individualized career paths in the museum field, so we have to make our own individualized plans to achieve our personal goals. Whether it is moving to a new museum to start a new job, or expanding the current job you are in, make the path and stick to it with conviction.

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