I’ve been trying to figure out how best to share my findings from the Denmark Museum Conference. There was so much insight over the 3 days, with the added bonus of having a tour of a few museums which included curators talk.
Full Storify here of all the tweets used with the tag #paatvaers
The Essential Museum/ Elaine Heumann Gurian
Elaine kicked off the conference with an inspiring discussion on visitor participation, audience development and Pinterest. Highlights included:
Visitors control of their experiences
Museums are for everyone and everyone should be invited. People from bus/train station not just targeted audience.
Pinterest model could be used. Pinterest is a new successful website. Visual bulletin board strategies. Allows you to organize and share all the things from the web. Can share other boards, etc. Users curator and annotate with no supervision or intuitional control.
Curator is being used as a definition not related to the museum industry. Interesting. The links to like minded people, creating, sharing, building a specific interest based community. After creating one interest, can research more into who did it and what they are doing. Can explain contextual knowledge using google, Wikipedia etc.
Marrying like thoughts: personalizing collection to facilitate the ideologies of the museums (museums vs Pinterest)
Free admission DOES work to broaden the demographics – YES! Sadly, identifying inclusive exhibitions to targeted audience doesn’t
Libraries, railway stations etc are used by all public, why not for museums? Good Question! We talk TO them not at them.
Andrew Payne, Head of Education & Outreach / The National Archives (UK)
The Education and Outreach Department is actively engaging with new audiences through a combination of traditional and digital outreach to encourage them to discover the true diversity of the collection. They are working with the public and history teachers to develop skills for the next generation.
Using the collection – the website is BORING. What do visitors do? Can’t really say from the website as so clinical
Decided to get one collection online (Africa). What to do with our collection is a question for the community – not internally. Ownership giving to the community. Brave move!
Caribbean through a lens (Africa was the first one). They provided the content and invited the community in to do the story telling. This allowed for a deeply emotional attachment from the objects.
The outreach started with different intentions. Turned into something more real and useable FOR the people.
Haringey Project – Inspiring Caribbean Memories. Children have responded with their own interpretations. Young Interpretations – able culture user
Dr Nick Winterbotham, Chairman of GEM
Exploring new understandings that can genuinely transform learning in museums and that reach across frontiers as never before in what we can do, should do and how we might go about it.
Taking the labels OFF is sometimes better – YES. Don’t put on just because – make them have a purpose.
Museums are about learning. Learning program need to be financially significant within the program.
If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. (didn’t get who that quote is from but love it!)
Fun is the oxygen of learning.
Young are more able to just get on with things without instructions/labels/deep thinking. Follow their lead!
When challenged with justifying heritage/museums, ask audience about memory of first visit. Powerful.
Is museums goal always about learning?
Ken Aronold, Head of Public Programmes, Wellcome Collection
New Formats of engagements at the Wellcome Collection
Relate the thinking behind experimental spaces to Elaine Gurian’s provocative ideas about museums providing open storage of materials and ‘under-curated’ networks of accompanying information.
Smithsonianquests.org – badges. Allows gamification to lead to some qualification
Partners with only 4 Smithsonian’s active at the moment.
- Dirt detective
- Oral historian
- Tree badger
- All with protocol and elements to follow to achieve.
Doesn’t have to be complicated. Natural history museum has easier system. 10 pictures with tags, 10 tweets creates a badge.
Earn your right to get involved. Teens using social media. Started with 4 museums but doing more now.
How can we help people explore their own interests? How can they continue to explore these interests and ideas? Both partners help others climb this ladder – and in the process of helping others they lift themselves up to the top of the ladder. They are consciously creating a new path that creates synergies for themselves while leaving a trail for others to follow. The intent of the collaboration is not just their own success but that of the larger community as well
Samuel Bausson, Museomix co-founder and organizer
Samuel’s fabulous talk can be found here.
For me it is important to remember that Museomix is participatory – it is a ‘living laboratory’ which allows for different communities to work together, share expertise and experiences and allow for much needed changes in an environment known for its traditional ways.
Speakers were invited to visit several museum.
First we went to Steno Museet a science museum set in a university campus.
The young people were encouraged to write a letter about the exhibition to someone. This was used as an exhibition piece.
When provided with private voting system, most girls feel boys will choose the skinny girl but reality is the boys like the female that is most natural looking.
The curators have provided a place for one positive or one negative to be written. 60% of the lads talk about penis while girls talk about hair and eyes (weight and breast when negative)
Our next museum was DenGamleBy – an open air museum.
For those in the UK, it was similar to Blists Hill except DenGamleBy goes from Old City on up (they are currently building 1970).
DenGamleBy has an outreach project for dementia visitors. I have been struggling on writing about this as feel it warrants a post on its own – it was incredibly moving to be in the apartment and feel part of the role-play that we were privileged to but anyone who has had family or friend with dementia would recognize how pioneering yet simple their project is.
The basis is they have set a flat up to heighten visitors senses. Everything is in place to encourage the visitor to explore – opening cupboards is encouraged, going through drawers is a must. The flat is set up with doilies and texture furniture – to be honest, it was very much like my Great Uncle’s old house! And that was the point – it is a place that invokes memories for dementia visitors. They might not remember *why * they remember, but it sparks something, usually positive memories, sometimes, sad. But any memory for these visitors is important.
What is so incredibly pioneering is every staff (and soon all volunteers) are trained in dementia now. Talk about taking the extra step. This was not required by government health and safety regulations, this is something the team at DenGamleBy recognized as important. They are pioneers in this type of outreach and I hope their example can inspire changes in the way many look at the tick-box process related to outreach.
Samuel and I went back to the conference to run the Museomix Workshop. Again, Samuel wrote about that experience here. For me, it was interesting to see how delegates started a bit confused but soon ‘got it.’ Many of the delegates have expressed interest in not only coming to a Museomix but also running their own!
Thank you to the Denmark Museum Conference for the invitation and for being such gracious host. It is definitely a conference that sparks thoughts, inspires changes and allows for thinking differently … just like Museomix