@MarDixon Passionate about culture internationally. Run remixing events, workshops, create solutions, and an international speaker. Over sharer and Mom who loses arguments to a teen. Projects created: @CultureThemes @lovetheatreday @AskaCurator @MuseumSelfieDay @TeensInMuseums @52museums
  • #MuseumNext 2013 – Past the Sessions

    May 20th, 2013mardixonCulture, International

    Straight after MuseumNext, I had to fly to Lisbon for a project.  By the time I got home from travelling for 10 days, all the Takeway and items I was going to talk about have been covered (and much more eloquently than I would have done!):

    photo (7)So I went back to the MuseumNext program book to have another look to see if something different might jump out that hasn’t been covered… and there in the Welcome was the key.

    If you’re like me, you probably missed the Welcome note from Jim.  In it, he describes the challenges he faced from his first MuseumNext 5 years ago.  Even with having a heavy hitter like Nina Simon the interest wasn’t there.  But soon it went International with the first brave delegate from the Netherlands.

    And it has grown and grown ever since.

    My first Museumnext was in Edinburgh and it was actually my first museum conference ever.  I was a little bit worried about what to expect – especially being ‘an outsider’ to the field.  But Jim assured me it was a friendly conference so I bit the bullet and booked in.  Not once did I feel out of place or awkward for stepping into a sector that I wasn’t ‘trained’ in.  No one judged.

    MuseumNext is a conference where you’re exposed to learning but not judged for questions. 

    There are just the right amount of diverse sessions to select from and you never have to worry about missing a session as you know there will be others tweeting and sharing.

    IMG_1877MuseumNext is more than just the sessions.  It’s about networking, sharing, networking, sharing, making friends, sharing… you get the point. The conference is almost secondary to the events the MuseumNext team put on to ensure the sharing/ networking / making friends can happen.   Between the drinks the night before the conference started, Free Museum entry (which hopefully you went with someone you met at registration), Guided Tours (we totally won with the Red Light District tour), Fringe Pre-conference presentation/drinks by N8 … all before the conference even started!

    Did I mention there was a chance to win an iPad for the best Tumblr or for the best Tweet (from Mail Chimp)?

    The conference kicked off with the inspirational and very approachable Seb Chan.  Again, I won’t re-hash what everyone else so eloquently wrote already but his talk was about the things I always ‘preach’: we as a sector can NOT live in silos.  Collaborate, remix, re-think and most importantly SHARE.  (I’ll throw in Museomix as an example).

    IMG_2053On similar line, I attended R&D Meets Moneyball for Museums with Luis Marcelo Menders challenging us in his thought-provoking talk to think ‘What’s Next: Affection Management.  The Aftermath of Digital R&D followed with Claire Ross and Carolyn Royston sharing the results of their project at the IWM.  I have seen Claire & Carolyn talk before and while the knowledge shared is incredibly important, I do adore their slides for the pictures alone.

    I actually missed some of the next sessions as I was talking / networking with people I met on the coffee break… but that is ok! I was able to catch up with what I missed later over lunch.   That is how MuseumNext works.

    Dave Pattern followed lunch with his brilliant Keynote on the Science Museum Google Lab.  I had to leave a bit early to setup for MuseumCamp but know from prior experience what an amazing speaker he is.

    IMG_2256In the evening, there was another MuseumNext event, this time at the Van Gogh Museum.  Seriously.  We had access to Van Gogh museum all evening … for free, with no huge crowds.  I took advantage of the audio tour but spent more time talking to ‘random’ people and again, sharing and networking.

    Afterwards, almost everyone headed out for drink until the late hour where Claire Ross and John Shelvin got into a Draw-off on the iPad app Paper (see Tumblr paragraph).  After the drinks, a few of us went for falafels.  Falafels.  I just love that word.


    The following day kicked off with Peter Gorgels sharing the aims and objects with the Rijksmuseum website – share share and more sharing.  125,000 images online, high resolution – FREE.  There was more to his brilliant talk but that was a key element.

    MuseumNext then had over 2 hours of young people / teens in museums talk which were inspirational, forward thinking and thought-provoking. 

    The social museum was brought up when I shared that in London, we (Will Stanley from the Science Museum and I) have started organzing monthly ‘tweetups’ (essential DrinkingAboutMuseums with less characters used in a tweet).  This has allowed for museums and their digital / social media teams to meet and break down some of the silo/barriers that have been put up a long time ago.  We now see conversations happening online between the museums.

    After lunch (with more networking / sharing / conversations)  we all headed back to the main conference hall for the Tumblr announcement.  A little background information: Claire Ross, Oonagh Murphy and I were sharing a flat and collectively decided to have a go with Tumblr.  As Immersive Serendipity  seemed to be the buzz word for 2013, the Tumblr was named MuseumNext IS (get it?).  From the start of the conference, pictures were added to the Tumblr… lots and lots and lots of pictures – every one sporting the Tumblr sticker.  Every. Single. One.

    IMG_1929However, the fabulously creatively John Shelvin was DRAWING MuseumNext and adding his creations to his MuseumNext Sketch which was AMAZING.  John drew his way around the conference with his mini iPad and an app called Paper (which if you don’t know about it, see here).

    In the end, it was a tough competition but Immersive Serendipity won!  Claire, Oonagh and I didn’t quite work out how we would share the iPad so after we won, Claire suggestion it be ‘donated’ to my daughter Charlotte.  I still can not express how touched I was by this – Claire and Oonagh have never met my daughter but this is what I mean about the friendships that come from MuseumNext.

    Afterwards, we still had the rest of the conference to go – people still had so many great things to share.  One of my favorites was ‘How Not To Involve Users And Lightweight Interaction’ by Marlene Ahrens, National Museum of Denmark.  We spend a lot of time skirting around the topic of failing forward, or talking about it behind closed doors but the reality is, we are all learning as we go and until we can feel unafraid to talk about the good AND THE BAD we are going to continue to make similar mistakes.

    After the conference, some people had to go home but a whole bunch of delegates went for drinks arranged by N8.


    The following day, Claire and I managed to get to Rijksmuseum where I took pictures of EVERYTHING.  I love that I was able to take pictures and share (with free Wi-Fi) what I was seeing with my family and friends world wide.  The most talked about photo was me with Van Gogh – it made for lots of jealous friends 🙂


    It was soon time to leave Amsterdam.  Reflecting back, I don’t think we could have packed more in if we tried.

    You know it’s a good conference when I’m pretty sure it’ll be weeks before I fully process everything I learned, heard, was exposed to.

    Oh, did I mention the Psychic Fortune Teller by Andrew Lewis?  Yes, this conference covered everything.


    Huge thanks to Jim and Claire Richardson and the whole Sumo team! Can’t wait for MuseumNext 2014 and making more new friends.

    And if you haven’t already, please donate as Jim is raising funds for Children’s Cancer, a topic close to his heart since his son Brody was diagnosed with leukaemia.  Watch the Video  then donate at his Just Giving Page – thanks! 

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