I usually have a theme or reason to update my site – usually around a recent campaign. This one is going to be a bit different. Currently, I’m in Indianapolis (thanks to the IMA!) after being in Chicago talking to some great new/old friends. I’ve also been following a few discussions online and having some interesting conversations.
A huge issue that has been surfacing again is language. I don’t mean French vs English but terminology and the lack of clear definitions to some words / actions. It’s not a bad thing but I’ve seen and heard many conversations lately where terminology is used so loosely without the person defining their meaning and assuming the listener was on the same page. We need to make ourselves very clear in conversations.
Ok, we all know museum time is different than normal time but in fairness, they are trying to get better. Hm, I’m not sure I believe that myself but I have to try believing. Regardless – changes have been made and the timeframe from start talking about to start doing is getting smaller.
However (don’t tell me you weren’t waiting for this…) it’s not enough. In a world filled with technological advancements everyday, museums can not continue to sit back and use the excuse that they are about the past. If they’re not careful – they themselves will be put into the archives of people’s memories.
It’s not too late to change and in fact it makes perfect time for museums to make their move now. Why? Well I’m glad you ask….
Research and Development Era
I continually tell people that we’re in a R&D era with wearable tech but really the more I thought about it, so are museums. They have the perfect chance to ‘play’ with different models whether it be for technology or evaluation or shifting to the dreaded business model so many fear but probably need to consider.
Pretty sure this scares curators and I can understand that but change has to happen and it’s going to be with or without them if not careful.
Wouldn’t it be great to have a more lively museum that is reactionary? Less red tape and more open lines of communication?
This is where the need to understand the word prototype – and the benefits it brings. Prototyping means lessons, not looking for final product. It allows for change during the process, not reflect when it’s too late to do anything. (This probably could have gone under ‘Language’ heading also).
[Edit to add: Museums need to lighten up and play more. There is still a thread for academia but it can’t be the main reason. People have technology at their finger tips – they can get the facts. They WANT the stories. During R&D era – play with this idea and see if coming from a different angle makes a difference. Just try different things!]
I didn’t catch the whole conference due to time zone issues but a few things leaped out:
- Curators can not forget where they came from and what it felt like when starting out.
- Mentoring is good but not enough. Mentoring seems to be top down lecturing, not two-way dialog. There’s not scope for growth for the emerging professional outside the dreaded box.
- Is there a way to build a framework of what worked in the past and what is needed/wanted today?
Many know (or don’t) that we are building Open Community Lab – a place where people in different sectors can come together to talk, build, dream, make. Why? We know it is so important to not think outside the box, but talk to people outside the box.
Museums need to do this. Not with focus groups or talking to the people coming to museums but talk to those NOT coming to the museum and find out why THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
Wearable tech is something that is not going away. I know most roll their eyes when I mention it and fair enough. But think about it – we let the public bring in smartphones before we did anything about it (and we continue to make apps despite the research that ROI isn’t there). So why not be pro-actionary with wearables? At least acknowledge that it’s happening and see if there are areas that can be addressed or talked about.
Same goes for new technology such as Periscope. I recently tried to live stream in a museum after asking permission but Front of House said no. Communication across ALL channels is vital! It should not take cutting red tape to get a quick answer for a visitor.
And then we have the whole iBeacon, gps, tracking thing going on. And I haven’t even address audio guides…
Stop assuming ‘Build it and they will come’ is true. It’s a line from a fictitious movie for a reason.
Hopefully there is one or two things that will spark a conversation or better yet ACTION. Let me know if there is anything I should add that might be missing.