February 3 agenda

Next Wednesday

  • Please arrive at the DILLARDS in Four Seasons shopping center (at the entrance opposite Bone Fish Grill) about 8:45 am, so that we can get rides sorted and leave by 9:00am. Directions are here. I’ll send out my phone number by email. If you are going to be late, please let me know. Our first stop will be at the Durham Museum of History at 10:00. Directions are here. We have a reservation for Dame’s at 11:30, and we’d like the hit Duke Homestead for the 1:15 tour and Stagville for the 3:00 tour.
  • As you already know, Michele Alexander will be speaking at the Carolina Theater Wednesday night at 7:00. We will be back in time for that. If you are interested in going, you need to get your name on the list, here. (h/t Sonya)

Other items

  • I have set up Google Shared Documents for each of your planning groups. On these pages you will start creating an outline of planning needs based on the “Nuts and Bolts” chapter from last week. I have emailed the links to you.
  • In addition to the nuts and bolts planning, you need to root your creative/interpretive/educational ideas in the professional literature. Remember, the work you do isn’t just one-off creative brilliance that magically produces awesome results. What you do is part of a larger scholarship on museum studies that can support good ideas, offer data and statistics that support an interpretive method, or otherwise articulate the primary contemporary drivers of what approaches we take, and what works. In the end, the plans you develop will be in conversation with this other literature. In this way, what you are doing here isn’t any different from the historiographical conversations you are having in 701 and 702.
  • For instance, the Journal of Museum Education published an article in 2014 titled “Creating Learning Experiences through Interactive Devices,” that will be of great use to the interactive team, and that team will want to refer to it when justifying why their particular plan is going to work. As always, you should be aggressive in pursuing this literature on your own and incorporating it into your projects here and in your future careers.
  • So, as you search this literature, I’m going to want to include the creation of bibliographies for the planning documents.
  • In that same vein, your blog posts so far have been great. You have a good habit of connecting our work to what you are reading and turning it around to ask larger questions posed by the piece you linked to. Right now, the bulk of you source material has been from articles, blog posts, and other things that tend to cross a news feed. That’s great… those are the sites of the most current news and conversations. However, I want to push you further into the professional literature—the type of stuff that tends to be behind paywalls, accessible to members or through library catalogs, and otherwise slower in production time. That means you should start looking at the journals, newsletters, and conference announcements for the American Alliance of Museums, the American Association for State and Local History, the Museum Education Roundtable, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and so forth, and bringing that information to our blog and our work.

 

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Unforeseen Closures and Loss of Visitors

With the recent winter storm to hit the East coast, this article is an interesting look into how an unforeseen closure can cost the museum more visitors than just those who didn’t come the day of the closure. Luckily, our exhibit won’t be in Greensboro during January or February, but I think it will be important for us to be prepared for the possibility of an unforeseen closure. This article argues that by losing a number of people on the day of the closure, you are also losing the people who would have heard about the exhibit through word of mouth. If, for any reason, the museum has to close for a day or two, we need to be able to reach a wider audience to make up for that day. It is interesting to see how one lost day has a wider effect on the museum as a whole. I hope that nothing will happen while our exhibit is here, but just in case something does, we need to be prepared to work to

I have added a chart from the article that shows the importance of the museum’s schedule to different visitors. It is definitely something to keep in mind, when deciding who our target audience is, and how our museum schedule will work with their own.

IMPACTS-Discretionary-decision-making-utility-model.png make up for that day.

Proposed Changes to C.T.’s Criminal Justice System

This article was just released last night and all of my friends and family in Connecticut are discussing this proposal. Governor Malloy has been pushing for changes in Connecticut for quite a while now and just last night he announced his “Second Chance 2.0” plan. This plan would raise the juvenile age to 20 by the July 1, 2019 and allow low risk offenders who are currently ages 18-20 to be tried in juvenile court. Malloy justifies this by saying that the human brain does not become fully developed until age 25. He says, “A single mistake as a young adult should not permanently hamper prospects for a productive life.”

This plan also addresses the racial disparities within the justice system. To try and fix this, Malloy proposes that anyone charged with a misdemeanor and who does not pose a risk to society should not have to post bail. Malloy reasons that most minorities cannot come up with the money for bail, so they are in jail for longer periods of time and therefore are more likely to be arrested again. See his entire plan here.

Although this proposal still needs to be approved by the legislature, I think it is certainly a step in the right direction to reforming the Criminal Justice System. I hope UConn is talking to Malloy about the Mass Incarceration exhibit, because I think he could be a useful connection for the entire project.

The Future of Cities and the “Social Museum”

Over the past few weeks we have discussed the future of museums. This article furthers those conversations in an interesting way by considering the relationship between museums and cities. As cities and urban centers continue to expand, they become increasingly diversified, stratified, and tense (the author offers the recent attacks in Paris as an example). The integration of the museum into the community is of crucial focus. We have seen the projected statistics for the Minority Majority. We have seen the spread of a global community fostered by digital interactions. We have seen more of our green landscapes recede, giving way to concrete and McMansions. Can there be a space for respite? Can there be a place for a diverse audiences to come together and discuss these concerns in a physical or digital forum? Yes, the museum. I suppose that is a logical assumption for us though. The article covers a lot of the hot button issues museums of the future are facing, from community building to innovative exhibits. The author also offers examples of “top down” and “bottom up” museums. What interested me about the article, was the author’s implicit hinting at a reciprocal relationship between museums and the community. We know museums provide resources to the community as places to rejuvenate, tackle difficult conversations, and give voice to untold narratives. Consequently, the community also provides resources to museums (beyond money and warm bodies). They provide stories, opinions, artifacts, and an impetus to change the institutionalized nature of museums. The question that came to mind when I considered this relationship was how we as fledgling museums professionals can leverage the value of this relationship to enact change.  Jeremiah and Mike told us about the resistance to change we can expect to encounter from board members and shareholders. Mike also focused on marketing. After reading this article, I came to a hard question: When facing such resistance while attempting to diversify and integrate museums into new communities, is there a marketability of the community beyond the fiscal realm to a board of directors? Is it morally appropriate to market the community as an asset to the museum? Just to be clear, I am not advocating for the commodification of the communities museums serve. I guess I am questioning how much communities have already been commodified by gauging the success of a museum on attendance numbers and ticket sales.

Programming for a Dinosaur That is Just Too Big

I started reading this article just thinking how frustrating it would be to try to house this dinosaur at a museum. The article mentions that it had to be crammed inside the American Museum of Natural History. If this new Titanosaur exhibit was traveling, how annoying would it be to have a museum that just wasn’t large enough to hold it. I do wonder how often museums have to turn down an exhibit or a special object, just because the building has no way of presenting it.

I then started thinking about how interesting it would be to promote an exhibit such as the Titanosaur at the American Museum of Natural History. You could make an event about dealing with items that are just too big, and deciding how to make things fit. A program or event on the decision of how to house a large exhibit would really get the public involved in what the museum is doing. I wonder if there are ways in which museums of history or art struggle with the size factor, and how they could use that problem to promote a new exhibit.

Regional Controversy

Rhodes

After the time we spent last semester discussing the controversy of the Confederate flag and other symbols of discrimination, I appreciated Lance opening up the conversation last night with our guests from The High Point Museum. Mike said something about the regional aspect of southern history and culture – comparing the South to Pennsylvania.

On my drive home, there was an interesting segment on Marketplace (American Public Media) about controversy in London over the statue of Cecil John Rhodes at Oxford University. In his will, Rhodes created a trust that has allowed nearly 8,000 Rhodes scholars to study at Oxford for over a century, many consider Rhodes a gracious philanthropist. Rhodes is also being called a “racist mass murderer of Africans” and a campaign called The Rhodes Must Fall led by black and minority ethnic student are calling for the statue to come down and the dialogue to be opened. The campaign has a lot to say about the unhealed wounds of Africa’s colonial heritage.

Learn more by reading this article.

This led me to think about the regional aspect of controversy. The South has Confederate flags and monuments, Oxford has Rhodes (and another Rhodes statue stands in South Africa). Though each region has their own ugly history, this idea of lifting marginalized voices and recalibrating histories seems to have a very universal appeal.