@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
  • Reimagining the Museum Conference 2015 #ElMuseoReimaginado 

    September 7th, 2015mardixonCulture, International

    When I was invited to be on a panel for a conference in Bueconferencenos Aires, I thought ‘This could be interesting.’

    I can not explain what an understatement that was.

    Although Buenos Aires was the host, this conference was for all of Latin America and the people who work/live there. But really it  was for everyone to listen, watch and learn from.

    Takeaways are always difficult in conference but for me, it was easy: the people. The people who came to make a difference. There is a sense of oppression but not defeat. They want to move forward, grow and make differences for the next generation without ever forgetting their past. It was almost spiritual in that regard.

    There were many fringe events around the talks – I and many others made new life-long friends thanks to this conference.

    The speakers where diverse: by country, age, topic and message but all inspired. I struggled with my wifi (my fault) but I took notes. I don’t often share my notes word for word but for this conference there is an exception:

    Jose Nun – lack of common sense is missing.  

    • Culture combines where art separates. 
    • Visitors coming to a museum is not enough. Globalisation of culture. Museums and interpretation and cultural policies – makes everything so much more complicated. Cultural policies needs to have a purpose usually created with political struggles. Long term objectives are needed. 
    • Disconnect between theory and practice- AMEN. 
    • Museums change lives – community, mammograms- museums as spaces. Museums used to tell local stories to ensure history not telling people but listening to them. 
    • Many stories shared of ‘normal’ people making changes to archive their current history. Museum people are ‘normal’ people and need to remember that! Not us vs them. 
    • Collaborative working. 
    • Don’t forget our past
    • Dialogue with communities – crowd source memories. It’s not about a museum for the community but to make the community part of the museum. 
    • New processes needed. 

    My own notes to myself before and during the conference (and things I kept tiringly repeating like a broken record)

    • Museum of procrastination
    • Experience economy
    • Theatre – look for inspiration.
    • Accessibility
    • Listen act
    • Ask for forgiveness not permission
    • Non visitors just as important
    • Money and politics issues internationally but don’t let that stop you from being creative. Common denominator
    • Emotive over academic.
    • Always ask why when told no. Often they don’t know why.

    After a while I just stopped with the notes and went with listening (for those who know me know that tweeting, sharing, doing is more my speed!).

    I was honoured to speak on a panel with wonderful museum people including Luis Marcelo Mendes, Guadalupe Requena, Margot Lopez, and Rob Stein where we discussed branding, digital/social communications. I’m hoping Luis shares the slides at some point.


    Additionally I was asked to run a MuseumCamp and help facilitate a manifesto for the conference. The latter proved most challenging. Day one NO ONE submitted a thought for the manifesto. But day two we had 92 (and randomly one email) submitted. But by Day three we couldn’t stop them coming in!


    Me and my two volunteers Mariel Breuer and German Paley sorted through each and every submission (they had the harder job of translation). Not one submission was ignored. Early on we started to see a few themes and soon we have ten key topics with sub-topics underneath.


    We presented these ten topics and challenged with conference people to come up with one statement for the manifesto that related to the topic. This was after all, a manifesto for the conference FROM the people, not from a committee. It was a risk I took in hoping they would understand but after the first day of talking to people I knew they would hunger for it. And they did. Some discussions were more … vocal and passionate then others but by the end of our session we created a draft Manifesto of ten key points for the museums (ok, so some of the points need to be a bit polished but it’s something there that is workable!).


    I am very proud to have been part of Reimagine The Museum 2015 and look forward to seeing this community and advocacy grow. The discussions HAVE to continue for all the work to be worthwhile and I don’t see the Latin American people allowing it to ever stop growing now.

    There are many people to thank but first and foremost goes to the Reimagining The Museum committee including the lovely Ana van tuyll who somehow managed to always remain calm throughout the whole process.  I’m also very thankful to Americo Castilla – who has a vision and passion that I can only call a kindred spirit…

    Additionally, I need to thank the volunteers, many of whom spent their own money to come and be part of the conference.  I loved working with them and learn so much from them.


    I can not thank Taipei Youth Program Association TYPA Foundation, United Kingdom Trading Industry, British Council , Alliance of Museums and so many others who made this trip happen.

    For a Storify/Collection of of Tweets see here

    For pictures, please see TYPA’s Facebook page 

    Bring on #ElMuseoReimaginado 2016 – but meanwhile – lets keep the conversation, dialogue and movement going!

    NB: I want to thank Anabelle Castaño who was a brilliant tour guide for me on several occasions! Thanks also to Rob Stein and Seb Chan – two of the best conference friends who put up with my lost ways.

    best photo ever

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