Three things I’ll now do after the #ma16nz conference

Had the best time at the inaugural Museums Australasia conference this week. Met some great new people, reconnected with many of my favourite colleagues, saw some nice museums and learned heaps!

While it’s fresh in my mind here’s three things (well, maybe four) that I’m going to do as a result of attending #ma16nz.

1. Use the WAM’s storytelling process for some evaluations we are planning

As we know, storytelling is a powerful tool for museums, and also for museum evaluation. I was reminded on some work I did at the Australian Museum many years ago when evaluating the Indigenous Australians exhibition. Stories were a powerful tool in the exhibition, and visitor stories after they had seen the exhibition were just as powerful. The approach used by the Western Australian Museum on a particular evaluation project was based on the ideas around Most Significant Change: “The Most Significant Change (MSC) approach involves generating and analysing personal accounts of change and deciding which of these accounts is the most significant – and why.” (Betterevaluation.org), and then using them with exhibition development teams to think deeply about audience in their projects. Going to give it a go as we embark on a series of gallery re-thinking and some new exhibition developments.

2. Indigenous education

There was both an undercurrent and a bringing to the fore a timely reminder of the hugely important role that First Peoples play and should play in museums. For me this was the first time in many years that we heard genuine voices from the community, and we were challenged constantly to look deep inside our practices across everything we do. Paul Bowers, in his summary blog post, has expressed these learnings way better than I can and I encourage you to read it. Needless to say, I am returning with a new determination to undertake some work to better include the Indigenous voice in my area of Learning across a couple of projects we are about to embark on. A happy accident running into the delightful Ange Casey from the National Museum of Australia the day after the conference, also brought home to me that museums, like ours, operating at the national level really need to re-think current practices and take steps to do something in this area, so watch  this space.

3. EMP – Emerging Museum Professionals

This was a strong thread across the conference and a great initiative showcasing the voices of our emerging young, and not so young, museum professionals, giving them legitimacy and authority. I’d like to go back and encourage some of our museum EMP’s to become involved with this group and participate in these conversations, and we’re cooking up some ideas to (hopefully) get some along to the 2017 Brisbane conference.

4. Keep looking into Snapchat and keep annoying people at work about it…you have been warned!

MAGNA/MAPDA Winners!

Finally, I’d like to thank my ANMM colleagues who worked on the many projects we presented throughout the conference as well as celebrate the awards the museum won – they were all truly cross-museum projects and I was very proud and humbled to receive them on behalf of my talented colleagues back in Sydney holding the fort.

So, here’s to Brissy 2017 (yes, another plug for that conference!) and hope to continue the conversation with those “across the ditch” to keep the spirit of collaboration and cooperation at our national conferences, and beyond, alive and thriving.

Thanks everyone – it was truly a game-changer for our sector.

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