CART Transcript for MWX: Museum Professional Development Forum (Part 1)

Thursday, April 3, 2014 3:30 p.m. – 4:04 p.m.


Held at:

Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

202 East Pratt Street

Baltimore, MD

Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings. 

>> Vince Dziekan:   Welcome, everybody. Welcome to the MWX Museum Professional Development Forum. I’m Vince Dziekan. I’m Director of Graduate Research and Design at Monash University in Melbourne. When I’m not otherwise occupied with my academic role, I’m sort of engaged in a report of curatorial research projects including MWX, which is the Museums and Web Exhibition Initiative that we’ve been running over the past couple of years.

Hopefully you’ve begun to sort of see a few pieces beginning to emerge across the conference starting from last night with Dan Deacon’s sort of micro performances to a few things. Yes, congratulations, Dan. It was great, for those of you engaged. And you’ll notice that we now are sort of presenting some work by Jenny Holzer at the front. I’m sure you’ve begun to engage with your app that was developed in the collaboration story.

As part of this year’s MWX curatorial program, we’ve kind of approached it in sort of an expanded curating model. What that means is that we’ve also incorporated a range of other programs besides exhibits and artworks into the mainstream of the conference itself. Some of you this morning may have participated in the first of those. It was a paper session that was held where a number of ideas were kind of raised and a few synergies already beginning to emerge that we’re hoping to capture with this afternoon’s forum sessions.

We have the rest of this afternoon to dedicate to this particular forum. We are going to introduce a series of five sub sort of panels that will involve breakout sessions that will look to specific topics within sort of I guess the scope of transforming curation, curating transformation. That’s the thematic that was initially set out and that we recognize when sort of proposals and papers came through that there was sort of something in the water. There were a number of proposals that came through for forum type sessions that we’ve kind of captured as one and we’re trying to sort of achieve something collectively through this exercise.

The catalyst, I guess ‑‑ I should recognize that the catalyst in many respects for today’s session, as ‑‑ especially as we’re titling it, “The Baltimore Principles,” was captured by Ross Parry in sort of his forum proposal. We’ve then sort of identified a series of others that kind of were dealing with issues around education, academic relationships with the profession, professional development within institutions, and all around this issue of how do we maintain our currency within sort of curriculum and in terms of educational provision both inside and outside museum institutions.

And Ross’ “The Baltimore Principles” is a bit of a rallying cry for us.



So what we will do ‑‑ while Ross runs to do that, I need to attend actually to a little bit of order of business. I’ve been asked to inform everybody that the Best of the Web People Choice voting will be open until 6:00 p.m. So if people haven’t actually already voted, you have until 6:00 p.m. to do so. You will have to sort of track it down through the url so basically So if you can make a point of getting to the Museums and the Web website and then best‑of‑the‑web‑nominees.

In terms of order of business, we’re going to sort of try to get back on track with our time to sort of deal with these short lightning fire sort of introductions by the presenters. We will then sort of have two opportunities for breakout sessions. We’re actually going to break the breakouts into shorter, 30‑minute, sort of pieces. The idea being that if you want to attend one of those, you can and then you have a bit of extra time to yourself or you can stick around or you with swap between a couple of sessions. There are, as we said, a lot of synergies between them.

Tomorrow we will look to reconvene at 9:00 a.m. for a short one‑hour session, which is really to recap on the — I guess what has been acquired from these kinds of conversations. And, again, set out from that point where we would like to go next in terms of developing this set of quote/unquote “The Baltimore Principles.”

Without further ado, I’m going to get myself out of the way so that we can get on with actually working the program itself out for the afternoon. And, again, the idea is for you to sort of identify with the short presentations, top cat and interests relevant to you. Obviously to participate then in the afternoon in that particular session and, again, hopefully we’ll see many of you back tomorrow for the reconvened session where we will talk about sort of the collected information.

So thank you again. Thanks in advance for your participation.

If I can hand it over to Ross to do an intro.

Thanks, everybody.

>> Ross Parry:   We should give Vince a clap. We owe so much to Vince in life generally.

Thank you for indulging us at the beginning when we took a couple of minutes to that group selfie, homage to the Oscars. As training providers, we don’t get together. That’s one of the reasons why we’re doing this particular session, is that we think we should be talking more frequently and more openly together so to kind of as a define sort of statement we thought we would take that photograph. We’ve also ordered pizza as well.


There will be five conversations and sort of Table X for another conversation you might start. So the first, here are the questions that Paul Marty and I will be asking here in this corner. So if you don’t want to travel that far and you just want to stay here, just move to the corner of the room.

We’re going to be looking at philosophy and skills and leadership and cultural programs and CPDs you’re about to hear in the next few minutes. But first the conversation is about the nature of provision, the shape of the provision that’s out there. Where did you go and where do you go for your training? Is it full‑time, part‑time? Is it face‑to‑face? Is it online? Is it from a university? Does it come from somebody else? Is it accredited, non‑accredited? Who offers that training? Who offered that training to you? Was it academics, fellow practitioners, a consultant, a cultural technologist, a company?

And the final question we’ll be asking is: How does that map? Once we map that and we actually want to use that space over there to build a physical map of this kind of provision, what needs to change? This conference has changed in the last five years in an exciting and profound way in the way that it discusses museums and the web. We know the curriculum is changing. We know the set is changing. So how does our training provision that we offer to you and we’re supporting you in your training development, how does that need to evolve? We want to use this collective intelligence to help do that.

I’m going to hand it over to Paul Marty quickly so he can say who he is and what we’re planning to do.

>> Paul Marty: You didn’t say who you were.

>> Ross Parry: I’m Ross Parry. I’m from the School of Museum Studies at the University of Leicester.

>> Paul Marty: I’m Paul Marty from the Information School of Florida State University. I’m also a late add to this panel. Happy to be here and happy to be working with Ross. Thinking of the answer to these questions.

A quick plug, we’re going to have an active, dynamic session in the corner involving these easel boards and the mysterious product in the brown paper bag on the floor. You want to find out what that is and come to our session.

Thank you.

>> Costis Dallas: I’m taking over from this first session to talk to you about the second breakout session. My name is Costis Dallas, Director of Museum Studies of the University of Toronto. And also I’m involved in coordinating the registration between the Museum Studies Program and the Information Master’s Program in the University of Toronto that allows you to graduate in the field.

This is an interesting and important venue for us because it’s really important for process and academics as educators to know what you think and what you need in the provision of education now that the museums are change and the teachers are here.

I’m happy to be joined in coordinating this breakout session by Kathy Jones. Kathy is a represented colleague and scholar and educator and Director of the Harvard Museum Studies Program. And what we plan to do is really to work on a process that is quite innovative. We’re going to crowdsource your views on what is important, on several aspects of the questions that we have to face by using a format, an non‑conference format called fishbowl and coordinating, combining, this with back channel of Tweets. We’re going to be able to curate these Tweets from all of those who are going to participate with the session in order to create a conversation in this fishbowl.

Our questions are listed there. Jobs, what professional competencies are needed? What do employers seek? What competencies give the knowledge that’s necessary for museums in digital leader? Knowledge, which topics, courses, theories, methods? Also engagements with opportunities of hands‑on, on‑the‑job training are required in order to produce a good set of competencies and skills for that? Experience, which pedagogical experiences are needed innovative, new kinds of experience, online activities, on‑site and off‑site as well? And finally, looking at choices from a different angle; going to look at their session, which is to look at balances, balance between behind‑the‑scenes, back of office learning and training and communication‑oriented training, digital media, balances between curatorial or creative or technical skills that are needed.

So we’re very much looking forward to those of you who will join us in the breakout session and also to see how this whole sort of initiative, this important initiative, develops tomorrow and then again in the future.

>> Dana Allen-Greil:   Hi. I’m Dana Allen‑Greil. I work in Digital Outreach at the National Gallery of Art. I do also teach for the Johns Hopkins Museum Studies Graduate Program and I’m on the Board of the Museum Computer Networking.

So what I wanted to talk to you all about in my breakout is more about sort of informal and life‑long learning. Here’s a quick story to maybe get you in the frame of mind.

Last year I discovered that I needed to acquire 10 iPads for my institution, and I needed to figure out where they could go, how I could charge them, what kind of cases they would fit in, and how I could sync content to all of them at the same time. I thought: Where do I go for this information? Museums and the Web isn’t for another six months. There’s not a conference coming up where I can ask people.

So I put together a Google Doc and put my questions in it. I Tweeted. I e‑mailed. I called a couple of people who I knew were working with that kind of technology in the field. Those people are part of this incredibly generous community of museum technologists that work out there. And within two days I had several‑page Google Doc filled out with all of the answers I could possibly need about how to do that. And then I took that, distilled it down into a blog post, and then published it on my personal blog and Tweeted it out again.

I think a lot us are doing that informal learning from one another and mentoring one another. And I’m interested in hearing more from you about what kinds of platforms are you using to learn about what’s happening in museums and technology. Is it blogs, Twitter, informal drinking about museums in your city?

I’m also interested in the values behind that kind of learning. Are we being open and transparent with everything we do? Are we publishing our findings not only in conferences like this, but are there other places that we can be going for information? And how do we move beyond individual case studies? So I did this, I did this, I did this, to understanding what best practices are.

And finally, what sort of is missing from the buffet table of ways of learning? You’ve got formal graduate programs. You’ve got conferences. You’ve got webinars. Is there a quality or type of learning that’s not happening that we want to see happen? And what is that and let’s talk about it.

I will be in Baltimore A. Please come and talk to me about how you learn and how you would like to learn in your ongoing practice.

>> Emily Lytle-Painter:   This doesn’t seem right. I don’t know where it is. Are you after me? Nope.

Ok. Well, I’m going to go instead. Ok. I wasn’t ready with my notes. Ok.

So last year I got to go to a session on career development. I was listening to three speakers. And it was two women and a man. The women got up in front of everyone and said: “I’ve been lucky enough to do this. I was lucky enough to get this promotion. I’ve been lucky enough to have such and such happen to me.” And the man stood up ‑‑ and they were lovely, smart, and they were directors. And the man stood up and said: “I chose this and I did this and then I made this happen for myself.” And I left fuming. And I contacted Nancy that I wanted to talk to some people about women working in technology in the field. And I’ve had a lot of conversations with people, and I have some of them here who are going to be helping us in the room with the discussion today, many discussions about what we’re looking at in our field.

The AAM 2012 Salary Survey, women represented 7‑10 of museum workers, and outnumbered men in 40 of the 48 full‑time positions that they surveyed, but 17% of the museum technology workers were women. And of the entire computing field they make up less than 20%. And even more surprisingly, or perhaps not, women hold 10% of corporate officer positions and board positions on Fortune 500 technology companies.

So what I want to talk to you about is: How can museums as a place with such a large number of women begin to ‑‑ we change the way women engage in technology? How can we foster young women as leaders? And how can we continue to be a place where women can lead in every position?

I would also just like to say that men are welcome to join this conversation. I do think an important part of this is that in order to change the leadership, the current leaders have to start making that change as well.

I hope that you’ll join us to discuss how to support women and their continued growth in technology in Watertable Ballroom front.

Oh, yeah. Switcheroo.

>> Ignore the man behind the screen.

>> Phyllis Hecht: We can turn it around and everybody can read it. Our technical difficulty is our slide got deleted. I don’t know what that means. Where’s Vince?


I guess we’ll read. We get longer then for our lightning talk.

>> Emily Lytle-Painter: I’ll try to work on it.

>> Phyllis Hecht:   Hi, everyone. I’m the Director of the Graduate Program and Museum Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Phyllis Hecht. Our program is an online program. And we offer a very broad array of courses in Museum Studies. However, museums and technology is a thread that runs through the whole program. So no matter what you’re taking, if you’re taking material culture, fundraising, exhibitions, you’re always getting something about technology. We’re always trying to keep up with what’s happening in the field.

So most recently we launched a certificate program in digital curation. This is a field that is already growing in the library and archives world and is really an emerging field in Museum Studies. So at the breakout group that Peter and I are leading we will be exploring the world of digital curation. We’ll start out simply with: What is digital curation?

And personally coming from the art museum world, the word curation meant something quite different to me than how we are defining digital curation now and taking it from the library and archives world. So we should have a really lively discussion about the definition in our group, which will be in the back of the room here.

We’ll move on from the definition to talk about skills that are needed. What are the career paths? What are the possibilities for internships?

And we want to hear from you. We want to hear about how you see the future of this field. If you’re someone who’s hiring our students, we want to know what your needs are. What types of skills are you looking for if you’re someone who’s already working in the field, involved with digitization, digital preservation, digital asset management? What are some of the skills that you would look for? What kinds of professional development opportunities would you like?

And if you’re just entering the digital‑cultural heritage field, what are some of the goals and what would you hope to come away with from a university course?

So there’s a lot to learn and a lot to talk about. I’m going to pass it along to Peter who’s also going to talk about our session, which, remember, is in the back of this room. You can’t see our Twitter tag, mw2014digcur. So Tweet out when we’re back there.


>> Peter Botticelli:   Apparently our slide is gone, but Phyllis neglected to say that we will be serving margaritas at the back of the room.


Sorry, guys.

>> Phyllis Hecht:   That brown bag.

>> Peter Botticelli:   I think I am probably the least museum‑centered person on the panel. My background is in history and archives. I’m at Simmons College, Peter Botticelli. I was interested in this when working with Phyllis because I’m currently directing our Digital Stewardship Certificate Program, which is the second start‑up program that I’ve been involved in organizing, running around this interdisciplinary undertaking of digital curation or digital stewardship, goes under several names.

I would say Simmons College is interesting because we’re really, really good at archives. Thanks to me, of course. But archives and library stuff. So we have historic connection to museums. We have lots of students who end up in that field, even though we’re not Museum Studies. And I would say ‑‑ our concern with digital stewardship, we’re making, I would say, a big bet on convergence of the Library, Archives, and Museums Sector, these institutions.

We recently agreed to start a Master’s concentration in cultural heritage and grammatics which we set up as an umbrella term that will encompass certainly archives but as well as library special collections, museum collections of all types, and preservation as a subject matter for study. So we’re naturally very concerned with how career paths are evolving and how people are migrating from one type of institution or one type of collection to another.

And certainly digital technology is the common thread, as Phyllis was saying. But I would say as information professionals, technology is not the end point for us; it’s a means to an end to get to where we want to be in managing collection and reaching audiences online.

I’ll leave it there.

>> Vince Dziekan:   Thanks, everybody. I think everybody should have sort of found within sort of that range of topics certainly something of interest and relevance to yourselves. We have sort of thrown a sixth session into the mix in case out of all of that there is still something you feel wasn’t covered. If we’ve missed anything in that kind of panoramic sort of sweep, the idea is we’re going to offer a sixth session that would just kind of give the Title X. Titus Bicknell, from last year — Titus kind of is ‑‑ kindly agreed to help us sort that out.

What we might do, just because of sort of the issue around time, is that I think if you go to the next slide, I think we’ve got our ‑‑ there’s our sort of room breakdown. So, again, just to remind everybody of where the actual room breakdowns are happening.

And then the next slide. No? Ok. If we can scroll back to the top where the times are. Because we are actually running close to time, if we would start perhaps to sort of do our breakouts. If you already know where you would like to go, then please start to relocate into those sort of rooms.

4:10‑4:45 is the first window, the idea that you can if you would like then to move to another session to participate in the second conversation. Those will start at 4:55. We’ve asked everybody running the sessions themselves to kind of self‑regulate that time so that it does provide people with a chance to move between two different rooms, to participate in a couple of conversations.

As I said, the idea will be that tomorrow we will be doing a single session reconvene, 9:00 a.m., to see what everybody had to say. So we, again, hope to see many of you at that.

Titus and I will hang around to sort of quickly deal with any sort of other topics that people might be interested in. And I will certainly see you at a table in the back of Watertable Ballroom.

Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Look forward to the conversations over the course of the afternoon.

Thanks again.


>> Titus Bicknell: Just to flag if anybody in the room feels there’s a topic that has not been announced, come to the front. We can make a list and then if there’s anybody who wants to prioritize, we can make that into our sixth session.

[The captioned portion of the Museum Professional Development Forum concluded at 4:04 p.m.]