People Power

People Power

Well it was quite a day here in Boston, lots to mull over again. There was a dramatic start when an old man crashed his bike right in front of me. Another lady helped him up while I got his bike up. Always nice to see people ready to jump in and help!

It kicked off with the keynote by Chris Lysy – luckily I had been warned about him. So I was ready to really enjoy his cartoon slides and lighthearted yet piercing insight into our sector. He joked he was an expert visitor and went on to deftly sum up the changes we have seen in museums from What we know (words on a label), through to What we know 2.0 (let some images in to soften it) and finally we are stepping into Touching the Brain (both literally and metaphorically) with our consideration of the experience rather than knowledge transfer. His tips were quite brilliant – make your content more compelling (be it a report or interpretation) through images, a simple dashboard to give different entry points, using drawing as part of your methodology or the absolute winner PARTICIPATIVE ANALYSIS. Let your audience choose the important bits and tell you what they see.

Then we had a session looking at how the Auckland Museum has used Social Return on Investment (SROI) to measure the value of a new gallery. The take home message was ‘this is expensive and difficult so don’t enter into it lightly’. Through a rather complicated method they calculated that for every NZ$1 invested, they made back the equivalent of NZ$4.66 in created value – through learning, better employment and various other things. Trouble is, without knowing the background to the method, that number doesn’t tell a great story to me. I want to hear about the people – is that just me?

At lunch time it was time for some sight seeing. First I witnessed a young girl tell a stranger how much she loved her dress. This was such a lovely thing that the well dressed woman and I discussed it at length. It’s so lovely to make connections like that. I nipped over to the Mapparium, a crazy glass globe hidden away in the Mary Baker Eddy Library. I managed to catch some of the main sights in Boston as I power walked over there, here’s one but there are more at the end for you to enjoy.

There are no pictures of the Mapparium, because you’re not allowed. But luckily for you I have been freed from creative stagnation by Kate Livingston (Expose Your Museum) and Chris. So I drew it for you:

I think that gives you an excellent feel for the whole 15 minute presentation. After that I had to dash back to the conference, a policeman couldn’t tell me where the T stop was (thus destroying one of my foundations that asking a policeman will always work). But luckily I asked a nice girl who walked me there and we chatted about our travels. Another great connection.

In the afternoon we got stuck into the tricky subject of ‘Why they don’t come’. An interesting chat generally, The Field Museum have also found that it is the encounters with their docents that are really valued. Hmm it’s that connection thing again isn’t it. And my conference highlight so far is listening to the passionate Andrea from Denver Museum of Nature and Science. If anyone is going to crack this then my guess is it will be her. So I shall be staying in touch!!

The last session was all about using common measures to design tools that could measure impacts across projects. Pretty heavy on the stats for me and it sounds like a tough slog to get something that will give rigorous data.

So today has just highlighted the power of your people – be you a shop (they are soooooo friendly here), a museum or a city. A friendly greeting, an interesting conversation, a shared story. It makes the difference.

But I shall shut up – here are the pictures I promised.


One thought on “People Power

  1. Weather looks great! Look forward to hearing more about participative analysis. Am feeling more and more convinced that ‘interpretation’ itself needs to be interactive/participative!


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