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NAEA Museum Education Division Business Meeting No. 1

Every year, the Museum Education Division holds two business meetings at the NAEA conference. These meetings are a great way to reflect on the events of the conference and begin planning for the next year’s preconference and issues forum sessions. Business meetings provide an opportunity for all voices to be heard.

Meeting #1 was held Thursday, April 15. Thirty-one museum educators attended and many shared their ideas. First up on the agenda was naming these sessions something other than BUSINESS meetings. A suggestion on the table: Conversations with Colleagues. We attend enough meetings at our respective institutions don’t we? Reflecting on this year’s preconference sessions, colleagues shared the following feedback:

Social Justice was a tricky topic and finding people who could talk about it was challenging.

Presenters this year wondered how everyone felt about repeating the breakout sessions morning and afternoon. For the presenters, they were disappointed not to get to attend colleagues’ sessions. Anne shared her strategy for repeating the same sessions morning and afternoon was to get the large group broken down into smaller groups for more intimate discussions. Some felt that the great discussions they have known to happen during the preconference breakout sessions did not happen this year. Is it supposed to be a presentation or a discussion? Maybe they could start with a deep discussion.

Several felt the preconference AND luncheon speakers were great. They fit the conference theme well and were both intellectually stimulating as well as entertaining. One conference attendee suggested we know about our breakout sessions further ahead of time, before arriving at the conference. This way we could have thought about it a bit more and been ready to speak up.

This year we tied the preconference theme to the overall convention theme. Is this something that we want to keep doing? We like taking a topic and drilling down, but are also concerned that it may pin us down. How can we be more flexible and remain open to issues and topics that may arise a few months before the preconference and include them?

Many members very much missed the opportunity for coffee with each other in the morning. This gathering in the morning allows for the 20-30 minutes we all want when we first see each other! Let’s look for a sponsor in Seattle in 2011 for coffee time the morning of the preconference.

The cost of the preconference is great. It’s such a deal! Members really appreciate this.

Loved that the breakout sessions were in the galleries, but disappointed that we did not talk about the works of art.

Making pins at the Visionary art museum was fun!

Next year, we will meet together in Seattle, Washington and the theme of the convention is Creativity, Imagination, and Innovation. Here are some ideas from members for the 2011 preconference format, activities, and speakers:

Let’s do really creative experiences in the galleries!

What if the preconference was structured for Museums to send cross-departmental teams. For example, an educator and a curator could attend the conference together and participate in workshop sessions surrounding key topics and ideas.

We need more sessions dealing with theory and practice together.

Are there other things we can do with the format besides having a keynote speaker and breakout sessions? The theme for the New York conference a few years ago was similar to creativity. Eric Booth was a great speaker then, He partnered with a poet. Both speakers were outside of the visual arts – it was great. Can we invite a speaker from a field entirely outside of ours? For example, let’s invite someone from the corporate or healthcare worlds. It seems like they are doing so many creative things in the healthcare field. This person could speak at the preconference and the conference.

There are a lot of texts emphasizing 21st century skills and creativity in the workplace. How can we bring this into the preconference? Maybe talk about how we apply these to our work.

Look for overlaps with the Higher Ed. Division. Are there ways to collaborate with them on presenting academic and practical approaches to the topic of creativity and innovation? Perhaps we could use the unconference model used at other conferences division members have attended. For example, the Museums and the Web conference has used this model at times. Groups and facilitators arise a bit more improvisationally around fresh and important topics suggested by anyone. These are based on premise that all ideas are good. Sense of immediacy feels good.

Will we be moving around as much in Seattle? Perhaps we could be more centered in one location and this could support changing the preconference format.

Work with artists to lead interpretive sessions in the galleries.

Look for ideas and topics that seem to linger and plan for connections from one preconference to another preconference. Present opportunities for “follow through” from one preconference to another, giving members a chance to talk about what’s happened throughout the year that relates to the previous preconference ideas.

Give time to look and talk about works of art in the galleries. It recharges us to spend time with a different collection in an experience facilitated by a colleague skilled in teaching and dialogue. We get to practice what we do.

Incorporate ideas from the Lemelson Center in DC This center is all about inventors. They could lead workshops in the galleries with emphasis on tinkering and inventing and dramatic play.

Extend preconference discussions. Presenters could collect emails of attendees to pose questions periodically to a group of interested educators. Presenters could also share this through the NAEA list serve.

Start the preconference with meditation or yoga in the galleries.

Address multiple learning styles at the preconference through the format and types of activities.

Seattle: what makes this place special? Sculpture garden is new. A lot of art is present on the street – street performers. It’s an eco-friendly and outdoorsy city, can we use the experience of being outdoors as part of the preconference? Bainbridge Island is home to Islandwood, which is all about green living and green education.

Technology! Maybe we use more web 2.0 to get the word out about preconference and use it to gather and share ideas. How can we integrate more technology into the conference. We are all finding that we need more tools and training to do our jobs with new media and technologies. Let’s continue to push technology, advocating for WiFi and a greater presence of technology that some members feel they see at AAM. It could be interesting to pair tech saavy educators with content-skilled educators and workshop together. How can we integrate more examples of artists who are blending traditional art forms and technology? If we are going to do technology, let’s make sure we take time to thoughtfully consider the role of the object and the impact of technology on our pedagogy.vWe could do this by looking at great examples, but being transparent about failures, iterations, and lessons learned.vPanel discussion/debate about the merits of technology and multitasking. Anne and Leslie will go to Seattle later this year to continue planning.

Possible Keynote Speakers for the 2011 Preconference:

NYTimes Museum section contributor(s)
Expert on the impact of technology on cognition Nina Simon and new book, The Participatory Museum

Dale Chihuly

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great Maggie Jackson, author of Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming of the Dark Age

Steven Johnson, author of Everything that is Bad is Good for You

Edward Hallowell, author of Crazy Busy

Bill Viola

Wow, great ideas! Thank you everyone for contributing, but let’s not stop here! What do you think? Share your ideas and questions through a comment. See you back here for a recap of Meeting #2, which will focus on Issues Forums.

– Nicole Stutzman Dallas Museum of Art Educator and NAEA Western Region Director

Archived Comments:

  1. Anne Henderson Says:
    April 17th, 2010 at 1:11 pm Great notes, Nicole! I feel like I was there and I had I found this before the meeting #2 I wouldn’t have asked for the recap! I think Bill Viola is interesting. Bouncing off of the 2nd General Session on Gaming, he has been working on a game with USC (I think) called The Night Journey. It’s not out yet but it is funded by the NEA and Annenberg Foundation. Would definitely fit under Creativity!