0

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…

0

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.

0

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!

0

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…

0

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.

0

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!

2

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

 

0

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…

0

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.

 

0

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!

 

Copyright © 1970-2014 MUSEUM STUDIES at Tufts University All rights reserved.
This site is using the Desk Mess Mirrored theme, v2.2, from BuyNowShop.com.