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Snapshots of my Search History

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 22, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe

Students in this year’s Exhibition Planning class were given a challenge: choose an image that inspires you from the photographs in Historic New England’s exhibition, “The Camera’s Coast,” and use it as a jumping-off point for a full-blown exhibition plan. In May, the Tufts University Art Gallery will host an exhibition that will offer a peek into their minds, with mini-exhibitions showing what each of them came up with. In the meantime, follow along on the Facebook page and on guest posts on this blog for previews into the process. The first guest blogger, Tegan, normally writes the column “The Wider World,” but today she’s sharing a bit about the foibles of research.

Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition is to take place at the Tufts University Koppleman Gallery May 6-18, 2014. Opening reception Tuesday, May 6, 2014, 5:30-8pm. See the Facebook page here.

One of the things I love about history and museum work is all of the weird research paths I end up going down. In the past few months, I’ve been collecting ideas, information, and images for my exhibition proposal “Rich Clam, Poor Clam” and the detail view of it which will be my part of Snapshots: 15 Takes on an Exhibition. “Rich Clam, Poor Clam” is about the cultures surrounding food in different social classes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries in New England, focusing on the way seafood had a special place in the diet of both the poor and the rich. Here are a few snapshots of what I’ve found along the way.

Read more…

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Apply for coursework in Rwanda and Ethiopia!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 22, 2014 in professional development |

Apply for a fourteen day course this August through Rutgers University.

This special educational travel seminar to Rwanda and Ethiopia is designed for emerging scholars in the fields of Comparative Genocide Studies, Memory Studies, Museum Studies, Media Studies, Anthropology, Political Science, Sociology, History and cognate fields. This 16 day travel experience and professional/academic course will prepare emerging scholars to gain knowledge and professional skills through study, direct observation and direct experience, dialogue with experts and implementation of critical analytical skills in understanding the history of genocide, post conflict challenges and the role of museums, memorials and civil society in remembrance, commemoration, reconciliation and reconstructions in these two nations.

Learn more: Emerging Scholars Registration Brochure pdfElectronic Registration Page

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 21, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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Save the Date: Local Legislators discuss the Fenway Cultural District

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 12, 2014 in events |

Next Wednesday, March 19, from 9-10:30 am, local legislators, artists, and cultural district stakeholders will convene at The Mary Baker Eddy Library for a MassCreative public hearing. They’ll be tackling the FY2015 budget, with perspectives from the individuals and institutions affected.

For the morning’s agenda, click here.

The Mary Baker Eddy Library is located a 200 Massachusetts Avenue, in Back Bay.

 

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Graduate Student Lecturer Positions at the MFA

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 11, 2014 in jobs listings, professional development |

I’m excited, and sad, to forward this announcement. The MFA runs a paid program for a few graduate students per year to give tours in the galleries. For the past year, I’ve been one of these lecturers. The program is a fantastic opportunity to work not only with a diverse and fascinating set of visitors but also with two incredible educators, Brooke DiGiovanni-Evans, Head of Gallery Learning and Barbara Martin, Barbara and Theodore Alfond Curator of Education.

Read more…

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Museum Blogging Competition

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 10, 2014 in professional development |

Here’s an exciting opportunity for current students (sorry alumni) to enter a competition for museum bloggers sponsored by Randi Korn & Associates. The deadline is April 1, so take some time and get your writing ready!

Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 9, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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The Wider World: Organic Collaborations

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 4, 2014 in The Wider World |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe

This weekend, I went on a creative retreat of sorts, an annual event that I love. Two and a half days of intense time in a community I care about, several hundred friends and strangers in a hotel, being silly and collaborative, telling great stories and sharing what we’ve made. It’s one of the few points of connection I have with how I spent my non-work time before grad school. It’s a convention for Live Action Role-Playing, or LARP, which is a little like what those murder mystery dinner party in a box games would be if they weren’t so often thin and hokey.

Read more…

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Upcoming Event: Customer Service and the Museum Educator

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on March 4, 2014 in professional development |

The Greater Boston Museum Educators’ Roundtable is sponsoring a professional development event on March 13, 2014, from 1-4pm at Danforth Art.

Join colleagues for a discussion of how best

practices in customer service outside of the

museum field can be used to enhance the visitor

experience when applied cross-departmentally. A

panel including staff members from the Children’s

Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, the

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the MIT

Museum will consider the unique relationship

between museums’ Visitor Services and Education

departments and explore the benefits and

challenges of hybrid staff structures. Educators

will leave with a newfound understanding of what

a truly visitor-centered museum can look like and

practical ideas to implement at their own

institutions.

Read more.

 

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 21, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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Write for AAM’s EdCom!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 20, 2014 in professional development |

Current Tufts graduate student Barbara Palmer is putting out the call on behalf of AAM’s EdCom, the Alliance’s educator professional affinity group.

Calling You!

As your bimonthly newsletter, we want to hear from you!  Want to highlight events at your museum or in your community?  Is there a burning issue you want to bring to the attention of your colleagues?  Or do you have some thoughts to share on museums and museum education?  Let us know!  Email your opinion pieces to edcomweb@gmail.com for inclusion in the newsletter, and we’ll share your ideas with the museum education community.

If you have questions or need help with your submission, you can reach out to Barbara at bpalmer[at]longyear.org.

 

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Science in Museums: The Circle of Life

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 19, 2014 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Jenna Conversano

Hi all – I’m Jenna, a new Science in Museums columnist, with a particular interest in biology, zoos, and aquariums.

The “hot item” in the news last week was the euthanasia of Marius, a two year-old giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo, followed by a massive uproar across the web. If you somehow missed this news story, here is a short recap: the Copenhagen Zoo euthanized their two year-old male giraffe with a shotgun on February 7th. The giraffe’s genes were overrepresented in the EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums) population and would present an inbreeding risk. Other options—such as sending to a non-EAZA zoo or private individual—were not considered viable. After Marius’s death, zoo staff led a public dissection of the giraffe, followed by visible feeding of the giraffe to its lions. The EAZA executive director, Leslie Dickie, published a statement via CNN fully supporting the Copenhagen Zoo’s actions. The AZA, while itself operating under a firm contraceptive policy, has also been supportive.

One point to consider here, in terms of this column, is whether the Copenhagen Zoo’s culminating actions—the dissection and feeding—was a step towards transparency and the furthering of public science or a misstep in the public perception of zoos.

Read more…

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MIT’s List Art Center needs your help this Vacation Week!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 18, 2014 in Uncategorized |

Here’s the call from Campus & Community Outreach Coordinator Courtney Klemens for volunteers to help with the List Art Center’s School Vacation Week programs. Their biggest need is Wednesday morning, but the full schedule of activities is below. If you’d like to volunteer, contact Courtney at cklemens@mit.edu.

 Family Week at the List

Tuesday, February 18 through Friday, February 21

Full shifts: 11 to 4 pm, or, Half-shifts: 11:30 am to 1:30 pm and 1:30 to 4:30 pm)

  • Facilitate hands-on artmaking projects with children
  • Create example artworks
  • Help with clean up and set up
  • Looking for an engaging storyteller for Wednesday Feb 19
  • Free lunch!

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 14, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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Announcing a new museum studies website!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 13, 2014 in tufts program news |

Congratulations to the department and staff for all their hard work on the new Museum Studies department website!

Check it out at museumstudies.tufts.edu

Screen Shot 2014-02-13 at 1.12.41 PM

 

 

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Science in Museums: Planning and Development of a Digital Gallery Guide

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 8, 2014 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Cira Brown

I am in currently in the midst of a project at the Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments at Harvard University as part of my fellowship, but I thought it would be useful to write about some of my experiences. My primary responsibility has been the planning and development of digital gallery guide for our upcoming exhibition on the cultural history of anatomy. The curatorial team has defined 3 major thematic narratives (Preparation, Practice and Afterlife) as well as 3 key time periods (roughly, the 16th, 19th and 20th Centuries). Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 7, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

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Why blogging matters…

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized |

by editor Phillippa Pitts

This year I kicked off a new project instead of pretending to have a New Year’s Resolution. Starting 2014 was like stepping onto a roller coaster anyway: finishing up at Tufts this spring and off to who knows where in a few short months! So, like so many of us, I started a blog.

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 6.11.45 PM

The blog is called The Tertiary Source Project. It’s an idea that sprung out of a semester-long Proseminar project. I was working on late 19th century and early 20th century postcards and their depictions of my favorite subject — war. (Not joking, I really do specialize in the intersection of art history and war.) I expected to find myself immersed in the visual language of the time. However what emerged as the really interesting theme were the thousands of miniature histories that these cards told.

Read more…

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Travel Grants!

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

An incredibly generous travel grant to visit and work in London, England is now available through the Sir John Soan Museum Foundation. The deadline to apply is March 1, so you have plenty of time to apply!

Purpose

The purpose of the Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation Traveling Fellowship is to enable students in graduate degree programs in the history of art, architecture, interior design, and the decorative arts to travel to London to pursue research projects related to any aspect of the work of Sir John Soane or Sir John Soane’s Museum and its collections. Annually, the Foundation entertains and reviews proposals from qualified candidates from universities and institutions around the world. Two awards are presented – one to a student of architecture and the second open to all candidates. Recipients are selected by Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation Fellowship Advisory Committee.

Background
The Traveling Fellowship was established to support research in art, architecture and the decorative arts, in the Soanean tradition, in accordance with Sir John Soane’s Museum Foundation’s mission to foster the knowledge and appreciation of art and architecture in the United States and abroad.

For more information, visit their website.

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The Wider World: Shh! It’s Tuesday

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on February 1, 2014 in The Wider World |

by columnist Tegan Kehoe

Sometimes, you just need to get up on a soapbox for a moment to get something out of your system. I have some thoughts rolling around in my head that have been bothering me for … I don’t know how long now… and maybe if I blog about them, it will be a step towards being less antsy and more pragmatic about the issue. Maybe readers will be able to help me figure out where to go from here.

Why don’t more loud museums have quiet days? We’re all familiar with the growing trend that museums are becoming more active, interactive, and generally loud. There’s also a fair amount of buzz about the backlash, from people who go to museums for retreat and respite, or who like to observe museum objects in silent reverence. (Recently, this controversial article and the many responses, including this one.) On the whole, I agree with those who say that noisier museums are a good thing, and I’m frustrated by the overtones of elitism that sometimes creep into the arguments for more quiet. Still, we know that many people do like museums for their ability to provide retreat (think of John Falk’s category of “Refreshers”) and I wonder if there isn’t some way we can compromise. Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on January 31, 2014 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on January 24, 2014 in museums in the news, Uncategorized |

Happy start to the second semester, all! This week’s featured story is an amazing new online resource for curators (and educators, and lay-folk) interested in both art and history. The V&A Museum will publish its Nazi index of Degenerate Art as a free online resource.

The V&A has the only copy of this list of some 20,000 works of art confiscated from German museums by the Nazi party between 1937 and 1938. It’s not only fascinating for those studying 20th century art or propaganda, it’s an important tool for resolving ongoing questions of provenance.

In other controversial news, the debate over MoMA’s plan to tear down the American Folk Art Museum building which has been described as both hideous and iconic continues. Hyperallergic offers a great summary of the ongoing conversation, for those looking to catch up!

Also this week: Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on January 18, 2014 in jobs listings |

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!

Part-time Jobs in Boston

Regular Listings

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on January 10, 2014 in jobs listings |

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!

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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!

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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 longer elitist temples of wisdom: “I would like to suggest that the museum’s greatest challenges is convincing not neighbors and audiences, but ourselves — museum professionals from all levels of management — that the elitist regalia have indeed been shed.” From reading the article, I believe she means that in two ways, convincing ourselves both that elitism is no longer appropriate in museums even on the occasions when it is tempting, and that certain patterns of behavior, such of ways of interacting with community “partners” are holdovers from a more elitist time and need to be shaken up.

Read more…

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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 nonstop technology show ‘n’ tell, from both museum staff members and designers and developers from around the world. While I managed to avoid [meta] museum fatigue, it was still a whirlwind experience of learning about countless technological strategies, digital toolsets, education and evaluation frameworks, devices and experiential design.
Museum practice goes hand in hand with The Next Big Thing, and practitioners require an ever-expanding set of skills, many in the technological domain. Sure, we could say that museum people are simply a bunch of nerds, but I’d like to think we’re past branding “new media” as “geek out”-worthy. In fact, while it gets the general point across, I feel the term “new media” has become increasingly vague and meaningless. I feel we’re reaching an inflection point where the media isn’t the predominant message – it’s a means of interpreting and distributing content and engaging with an audience. Effectiveness should trump novelty, and it finally appears to be doing so. Having a dedicated museum app or a touchscreen display in the gallery is wonderful, but these devices need to be held to the same educational litmus tests as their analog counterparts. It is the museum’s role to employ all types of media – “new” and “old” – to meet their educational goals.
I found this perspective to be common among those at the MCN conference. The theme of the this year’s conference was, fittingly, Re:Making the Museum, as technology is often cited as the harbinger of change in this field (though when was the last time you saw a museum conference that didn’t implicitly reference change?). However, I think a better summation would have been The Museum Remade (Re:Made?), as I was struck the amount of projects that were not only completed, but accompanied by extensive evaluation and usability data. Surprisingly few proofs of concept or proposals were presented, a shift from conferences held as little as three to four years ago. While there was obviously a sample bias in the population in attendance, I was nonetheless impressed by the apparent degree to which technological initiatives were valued by their host institutions – not only in sponsoring them, but extending their usage into a long-term plan incorporating continued collaboration and evaluation. This investment and valuation of technology in the museum space is essential for its effectiveness. In my next column, I’ll be reviewing one of these “remade” museums, or rather, exhibitions: the newly-opened Hall of Human Life at the Museum of Science here in Boston.

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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!

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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. The sessions I attended on games and the one on adults and play have sort of merged in my mind, although they were conducted fairly differently. A big message in each was that it’s important to find a balance between freedom and structure, and between concepts that are familiar enough to be intuitive and new enough to be exciting. In the former two sessions, I we talked about identifying needs, what you do well, and what others bring to the table. These concepts work just as well in the latter two sessions. It’s great how so many disparate topics can be united when museum professionals come together.

This was the first conference I have devoted any real time to Twitter. The #nema2013 hashtag was lively without being overwhelmingly busy. I am sure that tweeting can be a distraction for some, but for me it’s no more distracting than taking notes (in which I sometimes go on tangents in the margins about something at school or work related to the presentation topic). I was using Twitter to connect with colleagues, but I was surprised to find that tweeting about sessions can be a very useful thought exercise. In coming up with concise restatements of a session’s biggest takeaways as it was going on, I was synthesizing and sorting information on a level and speed I rarely do. #youlearnsomethingneweveryday

 

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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 in the storyboarding phase of the design process.

As we prepare to start discussing our high-level vision for the new exhibit with stakeholders at the museum, I thought that I would share where we are so far and a little bit about what’s influenced our designs.

Here’s what the exhibit looks like now:

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 10.27.17 AM

Read more…

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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 of the sessions I attended echoed this sentiment by stressing increased community outreach and examination of accessibility issues.

As this year’s Diversity Fellow, I came to Newport ready to engage in the difficult and sometimes awkward conversations that arise when race, class, gender, and socio economic status are discussed in relation to the ever broadening missions of museums.
I was excited to find that many of my colleagues, both students and professionals, were also ready to tackle these issues and that the atmosphere encouraged honest, open, and supportive conversation. I am sure it is never easy to admit in front of your peers that up until a year ago you didn’t fully understand the community your museum was located in, yet in one session many museum staff said just that and then together brainstormed ideas on how to break down the imposing walls of museums. My little heart grew three sizes that day.

Moving forward with my studies at Tufts, I am pleased to know that the discussions we often have in the classroom about the difficulties of welcoming diverse audiences into our museums are also happening out “in the real world.” NEMA is committed to the belief that each town in New England has unique history and culture around every corner that can connect to all walks of life. I look forward to these continued conversations both through NEMA events and in classes on the Hill.

 

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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!

 

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The 95th Annual NEMA Conference

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 15, 2013 in professional development |

by editor Phillippa Pitts

Just home from Newport, RI and the 95th New England Museum Association Conference. NEMA is a fantastic organization that really brings together a diverse group of museums for three days of sessions, workshops, frantic business card swapping, and networking. People walk into the conference looking for someone who knows about volunteer recruitment or outreach to visitors with low vision. And we all leave exhausted but feeling incredibly professionally developed.

What’s great about coming to NEMA as a Tufts Museum Studies student is the network of Tufts faculty, alumni, and fellow students. They’re not just represented on panels and with peer institutions. They’re part of the conference leadership. They work for NEMA, chair its PAGs (professional affinity groups), and received fellowships and scholarships. (Thanks so much to the NEMA Board and Staff for my own Fellowship — which I’ll share more about in later posts).

As I’ve yet to master the art of being in multiple places at once, I only could participate in a fraction of the sessions, events, and conversations that occurred over the course of the week. So, look out for a number of posts from current and past Tufts students who want to share what they learned in Newport.

If you were at NEMA and I haven’t approached you yet, email tuftsmuseumblog@gmail.com. We’d love to hear what you learned, observed, or figured out over the course of the conference.

 

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 11, 2013 in Uncategorized |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on November 2, 2013 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

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Science in Museums: Carl Akeley, Museum Innovator

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 23, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Kacie Rice

Carl Akeley, museum hero and innovator, posing with a leopard he took down bare-handed. Photo from the American Museum of Natural History.

Carl Akeley, museum hero and innovator, posing with a leopard he took down bare-handed. Photo from the American Museum of Natural History.

“Why museums?” It’s a question that haunts the museum world – whether it’s, “Why do you work in a museum?”, “Why should we bring our students on a museum field trip?”, “Why do we need museums?”, or the big one, “Why should my organization give money to your museum?”, we answer this question all the time. We answer that we’re advocates of free choice learning, that we preserve and protect our collective heritage, that we create valuable community gathering spaces, and for some of us, that we really do just like hanging out in smelly rooms full of animal skins. For the last century and a half, museums have been any and all of these things to our society and to the people who work in them, but they’ve also provided a service that many people don’t expect: innovation.

Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-Up

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 18, 2013 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

But first, we have a few fellowships to announce:

And, back to jobs:

 

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Exploring Science Museums Through Google Street View

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 16, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by columnist Catherine Sigmond

Finally, Google has brought its widely acclaimed Art Project to science museums… sort of.

Lately, I’ve been indulging my penchant for travel by exploring the world through Google Street View (did you know you can tour the Galapagos?!).

So when I read about how Google Street View had recently released a virtual tour of the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto I was pretty intrigued.

Read more…

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Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic: Museums in the Nudes

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 14, 2013 in Dispatches from the Mid-Atlantic |

by columnist Madeline Karp

There is a trend here in Philadelphia that I think you should know about.

It’s called “Boy-lesque” and it combines burlesque dancing – an artistically-minded nude show – with boys. You could call it male stripping…but that’s not exactly accurate. It’s more about pushing the audience past their comfort zone than the sex. It forces you to talk about objectification, and to think about gender, and consider what it is, exactly, that makes you so squeamish about naked people. (After all, we’re all naked under our clothes, right?)

The thing is, classic burlesque dancing has become passé in the age of HBO and Fifty Shades of Grey. It has lately been repurposed to empower women and promote positive body image. It could be used to talk about serious issues, but it’s hard to shock someone into discussion when the shock of seeing mostly naked women in public has all but worn off.

Read more…

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Exhibit Spaces and Exhibit Catalogs

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 9, 2013 in Science in Museums |

by Cira Louise Brown

Over the past few months, I have been working to develop an exhibition catalog from an exhibit currently on display. The exhibition explores the topic of time from various cultural, scientific and mechanical standpoints, and uses artifacts from a variety of institutions and collections. I find the show to be very successful in its ambitions, and the content has even been integrated into a college class. Given that it’s a temporary exhibition, lasting less than a year, there was a need to preserve the content in the form of a catalog, in both eBook and iBook formats. I was tasks with laying out the book, using the existing style of exhibition.

As with so many design projects such as these, the task seemed straightforward enough. The exhibit content was done, photography of the objects was mostly completed, and the design standards had already been decided upon. Yet translating an exhibit into a book remains a tricky task.

So, in my brief foray into exhibition catalogs, here’s a little list of what I’ve learned. Read more…

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Reminder! Tomorrow’s talk at the Peabody Museum!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 8, 2013 in events |

Join Kevin Gover, the Director of the National Museum of the American Indian, tomorrow at 6 p.m. for a free talk and reception.

Here’s the invitation for more details!

You are invited to attend a 6:00 PM public talk and reception on Wednesday, October 9 at the Peabody Museum, “”Changing the Narrative: American Indians and American Cultural Myth,” with Kevin Gover, Director, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution.

Kevin Gover is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and has been the director of the National Museum of the American Indian since 2007. He is a former professor of law at Arizona State University and was the co-executive director of the ASU American Indian Policy Institute. He also served as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Interior from 1997–2000.

Come for the talk at Harvard’s Geological Lecture Hall (26 Oxford Street, Cambridge), and stay for the special reception in the Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West exhibition in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

Co-sponsored by the Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology at Harvard University and the Harvard University Native American Program

 

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Learning Large Print

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 7, 2013 in The Wider World |

by Tegan Kehoe

This fall, the museum where I work is having an exterior restoration project done, and this means the building will be enveloped by scaffolding with dark mesh covers. The gallery, which is largely lit by natural light, will be considerably dimmer. After a staff meeting that included a lot of joking around about lending out headlamps in admissions, a few of us realized that now would be a great time to create large print exhibit guides, which had been in the back of our minds for a while. I volunteered to spearhead the effort.

I set about looking for resources and examples to make the guides as useful as possible. In doing so, I learned that there are few universally-accepted standards in this area. In addition to making the font large, it is important to print on opaque, non-glossy paper, to minimize special formatting, and to use a clear and readable font, but often, I found I just had to read what many different groups had to say and choose what seemed to make the most sense for this particular project. I wish we had a focus group of testers, but it doesn’t look like that will happen. Read more…

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 6, 2013 in museums in the news |

Of course, undeniably the story for this week is the fallout from the government shutdown: shuttering museums, historic sites and parks around the country. Although many articles, like this one from the Washington Post, focus on the National Mall, let’s not forget the bigger impact around the country.

Image Credit Kevin Lamarque /Reuters/Landov

Image Credit Kevin Lamarque /Reuters/Landov

Of course, as with any such situation, there are the heroes. For example, the Indianapolis Children’s Museum offered free admission for federal employees. While it was only for a weekend and family members still had to pay, what a great gesture to liven the spirits of furloughed workers!

In other news,  Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 4, 2013 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

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Exhibition Opening next Monday!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 3, 2013 in events |

Join Historic New England and the Boston Society of Architects for the opening of Boston City Hall: Drawings by Kallman McKinnell and Knowles. The reception will be held next Monday, October 7, at 5:30 p.m. at the BSA Space, 290 Congress Street, Suite 200 in Boston.

To attend, RSVP to rsvp@architects.org with BCH 10/7 in the subject line.

 

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Museum Review: The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on October 2, 2013 in Science in Museums, Uncategorized |

by columnist Kacie Rice

The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

The Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto.

One of my favorite things to do is when I travel is to see new museums, and I and a friend recently had a chance to visit Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), one of North America’s major natural history and anthropology museums. Founded in 1912, the museum serves over one million visitors a year and acts as Canada’s largest field research institution. ROM has a much more encyclopedic collection than we might expect of a typical natural history museum in the United States, more closely following the European model of the “cabinet of curiosity” than the American system of division between subject areas. In addition to dinosaurs, minerals, stuffed animals, and anthropology collections, the museum also houses arts from around the world and artifacts from Canadian history. The ROM’s collections are almost impossible to visit in a single day: in four hours, we weren’t even able to see half of the permanent exhibits – but what we did see was terrific! Read more…

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Weekly Jobs Round-up!

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on September 29, 2013 in jobs listings |

Here’s our weekly roundup of new jobs. As always, they go up immediately on their own page. Happy hunting!

 

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Museums in the News

Posted by Phillippa Pitts on September 29, 2013 in museums in the news |

This week’s featured story: before the lawsuit buzz over deceptive “suggested admission” donations has even died down, the Met is in newspaper hot water again for a recent Groupon deal: $18 for admission for one to the Met…

from The Gothamist

from The Gothamist

Here’s the Gothamist article, but there are scores of others out there. What do you think? Deceptive? Overreacting media? Either way, it’s a big PR flop in my book!

In other news…  Read more…

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