Mad Hatter Meets the Museum

Last Thursday, I shared the first day of school with my eight year-old daughter. While she squared her shoulders and bravely enters her third grade classroom, I attended my second graduate class. I didn’t feel as confident as the kidlette, but there is a joy in my heart that I have not experienced in a long time.

Those who I chat with on Twitter and Facebook already know I took my first Museums Studies course over the summer. I wanted to get a couple of classes under my belt and chart out a course of action (you know me, I like the illusion of control) and understand how continuous learning will blend with personal and professional life and interests before I discussed this new venture on the blog. It is now that time!

Why Museums Studies?

No, I am not going through a mid-life crisis. At least , not yet. For once, I feel like I am able to focus all of my interests and previous education into this new industry study. I was that kid who could always be found with her nose in a book and enjoyed every museum adventure. I lost myself in history. History is often written or influenced by the victor and I wanted to know the stories through the objects and artifacts of the voices of the average person of that age – those who didn’t have a voice in the spoils. I fancied that I could hear the calling of these voices asking for their stories to be told.

Life happens. Instead of taking the path of a historian and eventually moving into the museum studies realm, I went a different direction…or two or three! I became a storyteller. As a communications professional, I have learned a great deal about the discipline of storytelling and put my business strategy lessons learned into practice on the vendor and client side, but I have this nagging feeling that there is something more. I should be doing something more. Something with meaning. A bigger purpose. I am telling stories for corporations and brands, but not telling those stories of the voices or interests of cultural institutions.

Life continues. I am at a point in my life that I can revisit the dreams of my younger self and merge them with my growing list of aspirations. So, I am going back to school. I could go on a bit of a rant about why I am pursuing a degree and not just absorbing what I can on the web or through live experience. Basic answer: I want the structure and discipline of a tested program to help me open new doors of thought, experiences and relationships. I don’t know what I don’t know. I am longing to question, research and question again.

Museums are not about nostalgia. They give voice to the community of past and present. How can we learn from the past? How are we labeling, classifying, and describing current events that will shape the opinions of future generations? The community has power. The community has a voice. I want to explore how this voice resonates inside and outside the walls of a cultural institution. It is not so different than the questions and planning of other businesses across a plethora of industries. What is the common denominator? What is the root of community engagement? I don’t know, but I am going to seek answers. I hope you will join me on this adventure, share your insights and explore community in a new light.

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  • Tonya Cannariato

    Sounds like a fascinating course of study; I wish you good luck! (And me too… I just started grad school for my MBA…)

    • Lauren

      That is great, Tonya! Congrats and good luck.