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.

Musings of #Muse2012

This past weekend, I was a writer. I mean, I have always considered myself a writer, but have yet to quit my day job. This past weekend, I was not surrounded by social media and marketing jargon (alright, not that much) and surrounded by creative folks of all stripes, all fueled by the same desire to share their stories. I did not suffer the Sunday blues because I was too high on Cloud 9 to be bothered with the inevitable manic Monday.

Normally, I do not tweet in such high volume at a conference because so many others in my “space” are in attendance and sharing the same tidbits. I just couldn’t contain myself at #Muse2012. This weekend, I wanted to share a glimpse into the force behind Grub Street writers to those who also consider themselves writers and do not live in the area. I have shared (and updated) a recap of the conference on Storify. Please check out the insights shared and start following this brilliant group of people.

Other than what I and others have tweeted, I wanted to share these notes:

  1. Give yourself permission to tell your story. – Anita Diamant
  2. What works for one writer does not always work for another; embrace the messiness and distill the narrative weave. – Julia Alvarez
  3. Content isn’t king…culture is. Books are the social glue that allows people to have conversations about matter of deep import because they share commonality because a writer spends 15hrs whispering in their ear. – Richard Nash
  4. Cultivate a writerly mind. – Ethan Gilsdorf
  5. The same passion you have for writing must also be applied to editing. – Ann Hood

Now, go write!