There’s a big conversation going on over at this place called Twitter. Check out #museumchallenges.

Actually, before you check out #museumchallenges, you should read Please Chime In: The Challenges and Opportunities of Participatory Culture by Rob Stein (@rjstein), Deputy Director for Research, Technology, and Engagement at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA).

Rob features commentary from some pretty important people in the field regarding museum challenges and participatory culture:

  • Shelley Bernstein (@shell7), Chief of Technology at the Brooklyn Museum of Art: The challenge is creating an overall experience that works both online and off and one that consistently allows visitors to participate in meaningful ways.
  • Rich Cherry (@richcherry), Director of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative: Museums are in a difficult transition phase because of changing media consumption.
  • Nina Simon (@ninaksimon), Executive Director of the Museum of Art and History Santa Cruz: Participatory projects are like gardens; they require continual tending and cultivation.
  • Ed Rodley (@erodley), Exhibit Developer at the Museum of Science in Boston: Digital is ceasing to be a separate thing, and is becoming (if it hasn’t already become) part of the information ecosystem that our visitors use daily. Ed also says: …[Museums] must be less like the Great Oz, hiding behind our artifice and erudition. That doesn’t mean that we abandon our position, but it means we have make being questioned, being challenged, being called out, even being heckled part of what it means to be a museum.
  • Martin Kalfatovic (@UDCMRK), Associate Director for the Digital Services Division of the Smithsonian Libraries: How can libraries, museums, and archives more effectively collaborate to cross-pollinate their collections? (i.e. a museum object with the associated printed text and archival materials that led to its collection). Can participatory culture (crowdsourcing) be used to help make links or show relationships that are not otherwise possible?
  • Nancy Proctor (@NancyProctor), Head of Mobile Strategy and Initiatives for the Smithsonian Institution: But I think we need to be very suspicious of the fetishization of the new in this period where there is a constant stream of shiny new toys to dazzle us with the promise of starting over in a Brave New World. Let’s make sure we don’t deceive ourselves, like Columbus discovering America, but rather undertake the much harder, less sexy, but ultimately more sustainable task of radically restructuring our museums and practices even as we work within those very institutions.

What I have listed above is just a taste of what these museum leaders had to say. Seriously, take a moment to read Rob’s blog and think about your own institution.

What challenges does your institution face? What challenges do you face in your role? Opportunities?

Then jump into the #museumchallenges conversation on Twitter…say #museumminute sent you.

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