Weeknotes: 16.2016 – the International Symposium of Museology, mobile research at the Science Museum, post MWXX

On April 22nd, 2016, posted in: weeknotes by

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Last Monday, Lindsey was in Antalya, at the International Symposium of Museology, presenting to a mostly Turkish audience on the “Post-Digital Museum”. It seems like it was an interesting experience…

“We were asked to give a 15 minute presentation on the work that we are doing in relation to contemporary Museum practice. Yeah, 15 minutes. I’m reminded of this article about explaining design to 4 year olds.

But actually as a conference format it made it really compelling: what do you tell people when you only have 15 minutes? You have to prioritise what you care about, what you think is important. There were 7 of us and we all agreed how useful it was for ourselves to boil it down, but also how interesting to hear this really concentrated essence of what these incredibly smart people from all different areas of the Museum sector are thinking about at the moment. We had:

  1. John Stevenson from GEM talking about running a community of practice in the Museum sector but also talking about the importance of Museum Education and how to increase it’s value
  2. Ian Watson, Director of Tyne and Wear Achives and Museums, talking about using digital to make better connect local communities
  3. Professor Suzanne Gaskins, an academic studying how families use museums.
  4. Master planners and exhibition designers Rachel and Stephen from Metaphor talking about making Museums that are part of the community and questions about the impact of events and digital on how they design exhibitions
  5. Robin Clutterbook, an interpretation specialist talking about the use and impact of handling collections

For anyone who works in these areas these quick talks would have been too basic. However, the combined effect was in fact about seeing how thinking has changed across all these different areas. Suzanne mentioned the challenge of people having “historic knowledge”; an assumption that they know it because they came across it before but have never updated that experience. This was an opportunity to do that. There’s so much talk about museum departments working in silos, but since conferences have to target those with the more specialised interested in order to sell tickets, how, as practitioners do we keep our most basic of knowledge up to date?”

On returning from Turkey, Lindsey was also planning a visitor journey mapping session at Battle Abbey, which we’ll be doing this Friday. And we started planning a new piece of research on mobile use at the Science Museum. In fact, it’s a rerun of some research we did 3 years ago, to see what might have changed. Will visitors be more aware of the wifi? More or less inclined to use their phones in the gallery? What opportunities might there be for mobile at the museum?

We’re looking forward to seeing what visitors say, but first we’re going through a discovery process to find out what the best approach might be for the research, what the priorities and needs of the museum are, which audience should we target, and so on.

Alyson and Laura spent an inspiring week in New York working with Bloomberg Philanthropies #bloombergconnects grantees. They were at the Bloomberg Connects event as well hearing from various cultural institutions about their Bloomberg funded projects. You can follow the tweets from this on this hashtag.

I’ve been looking out for Museums and the Web summaries, in the hope of seeing the perspectives of others and write ups of session I didn’t get to. Not turning up much so far (unless I’ve missed some?) but I did find this storify of key tweets by Robert Weisberg, which cuts down the twitter reading a bit. And also this set of conference notes by Paul Rowe, which has some useful summaries.

And of course, don’t leave it too late to buy tickets for our games workshop, early bird tickets run out soon.

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