#MCN2016 Notes


  • Staff: A great deal of the panels focused on staff issues, particularly on the way that new, young, off-beat voices bring more visitor-centered projects.  Also, there was a lot of conversation about people moving out of the sector due to the low moral, pay, promotion.
  • Social Media: A fabulous tour for connecting, but must have a consistent voice
  • Experimentation: Try, test, adapt, try, test, adapt–basically continue to improve things


Human-centered museums:

  • Museums can be more responsive to visitors by being more transparent with their processes; sharing challenges (like when an exhibition didn’t work out); and trying programming that might fail
  • Iterative planning: prototype, try, improve, try again
  • Human-centered museum-experiences are built on human-centered workplaces, where multiple voices are part of the planning
  • Museums are social spaces for visitors—it is important to remember this when thinking about programming.
  • Shared authority museums are not just about sharing authority with outside entities, like the board, but also with different tiers of museums
    • All Staffs are not a useful way to share authority, and rather, preserve hierarchy
    • Town halls, or communication panels, have been useful in Brooklyn and at the Barnes for sharing and improving communication and iterating experimental ideas
    • Interesting projects come out of interesting groupings of staff—if you are always in the same meetings with the same people you are hearing the same things (from the Carnegie)
    • Asking your staff to guess what you are thinking will not move you forward (from the Carnegie)


Museums and Websites:

  • There is a large study of a dozen museums, and the survey can be done in the future by any museum
    • The majority of users of websites across museum sectors are planning a visitor for someone (a facilitator); they want the calendar and the visit info
    • The next large section is researching info. They want the collection pages
    • The least common user of websites of most museums are experience seekers (using Falk’s taxonomy)
  • Websites need to privilege accessibility to design, with the ever aging population.


Museums and Formal Education:

  • Museums can be positioned as central in the possible future education, in a gig economy and with education moving towards certification culture, but they need to get in now.
  • Museums are ideally positioned to be able to train the future work force in 21 century skills
  • Ideally, education should be helping people realize that they have the power to think rather than telling them what to think.


Audio/ Video Creation:

  • Storyboarding is an incredibly helpful tool when working with audience not used to creating museum tools.
  • Small stories is often more powerful than telling the larger one; one refugee can help people make sense of the overall crisis in a more powerful way
  • Good audio isn’t always “clean” audio; background noise can be evocative, if used as part of the story (such as background noises of children at a school on a children’s tour)
  • Music can be manipulative; consider its use with your goals
  • When museums tell uncommon stories, people to feel excited about the content (like Museum of African American history telling the story of Washington’s trained chef to share a story of the revolution)
  • Audio tours can build an audience by being connected to a live program (again like at Museum of African American History which invites live audiences to learn more at their audio)
  • First 20 sec makes or breaks a video; and ever second counts even in a 2 min piece
  • Fact-checking, even with community voices, is essential

Social Media & Blogs

  • Take a personality on social media/ in other words, have a specific personality for your social channel, rather than just a banal institutional one
  • Social Media helps with reaching some audiences; but others don’t use it
  • Social media can help you reach your community, but it takes work. The platform itself is not a community; it houses multiple communities.
  • Social media content is a form of education–a playful, direct form, not unlike live programming
  • Blogs might or might not be dead.  Try it, and also look for ways to disseminate it to new audiences, like Medium.  
  • Instagram Stories:
    • Allows high experimentation
    • Active and engaged audience
    • Tell stories that will disappear
    • Stories have to be image based, and simple/ not TOO complicated
  • Social photography, i.e. the photographs that people take at a museum, are a form of creativity and access.  Museum’s need to be purposeful in the ways that they foster this.
    • Selfies are a form of visitor-centered content. But, visitors are also taking pictures for other reasons (creativity, for example).  
    • Taking pictures is a form of meaning making.
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