LET’S More Museums Do This?

This week, a look at Chapters 16 and 17 of Elaine Gurian’s Civilizing the Museum. These essays are of a pair and represent one of the best reasons for having Elaine’s personal idea: support for contradiction, for ANDing what others may OR. In some ways, the essay is historical, discussing the erosion of curator control and the rise of the educator as an equal player at the table.

But the problems raised and the perfect presented are still highly contested today. Many teachers still feel just like unequal companions, arguing that exhibition designers dump completed or nearly-finished products with them for interpretation. Contract design and vacationing exhibitions add intricacy; how our in-house personnel involved when creative design and development happen someplace else?

In many establishments, these questions cause issues that cost both emotionally and financially. Underdeveloped strategies for communication and decision-making among stakeholders–including board members, outside contractors, and in-house staff–often lead to cyclical hand-wringing. There’s often little if any thought put into conscious development of professional team strategies, whether training for personnel to find out more about the perspectives of other advocates at the desk, or clear decision-making processes. Many design firms–from structures to video games–have organized ways for staff to engage in a number of projects, teams, and disciplines to learn the business, develop strong working interactions, and understand the stakeholders better. Let’s more museums do this?

  • Job Title
  • Make sure the business is a professional Business (see #2) above
  • Supporting and trouble-shooting, occasionally beyond regular office hours when needed
  • Your commute between home and a second job is never deductible on a day off from your main job
  • Effective communication, and marketing
  • Factory costs

Many museums, especially large ones, exhibit the worst of the feudal cubicle wars–the Collections Department vs. Exhibition Department vs. the Education Department. There’s a serious dependence on more cross-department training and teaming–so we can build better experiences And prevent WWE-style crackdowns (though those might be a good source of ancillary income). But the personnel experience, while important, isn’t the main element. The real question is how the team approach affects the visitor experience.

And might this be correlated to the increased preponderance of exhibitions developed by teams? Perhaps the inclusion of a wide variety of skills and perspectives in development also creates a far more multivalent and attractive visitor experience in the completed product. Perhaps. It’s certainly true that a variety of voices has changed the way that displays are presented, objects labeled, and artifacts interpreted.

But what about the spirit of the exhibition? As Elaine records, “It is noticeable that creative vision is not just a collective activity, but it can be an essential ingredient for successful exhibitions.” Usually are not owning the eyesight? Kathy Sierra has written brilliantly about the dumbness of crowds and the inability of teams to make anything truly innovative. And I’ve noticed many museum experts bemoan the tepid, shiny, overbuilt exhibits that grace the halls of too many contemporary museums.

Where’s the total amount in a team that allows originality and passion to flow through? I’m enamored of the superstar as well and composed about it at length in this article about exhibitions that change your daily life. The team members believe that they are in the presence of a rare talent who, like the musician in the atelier, is worth doing work for, and has lost authority. With all the voluntary authorization of the group, this content of the exhibition is shaped by a single cleverness. The group’s acquiescence resembles the eagerness of stars in a repertory company. So should we start all the museums to superstars?

Maybe. Like Elaine, I find their exhibitions to be the most memorable. But they might not be a dependable source. I’m glad the Elaine distinguishes the superstar as a rare breed. They aren’t just the best in the business; often, they may be outside the business and drop in infrequently, like comets. And absent that opportunity, we have to develop team methods that permit the little bit of a superstar within each team member to be acknowledged and supported. It isn’t an easy job; what’s creative brainstorming for one team member is an overwhelming clutter for another.

We also need to find good ways to help make the team approach as appealing as pursuing (or being) the superstar. Problems occur when market leaders style themselves as superstars to avoid team decision-making (a job typified by the manager on ANY OFFICE). As Elaine remarks, following a superstar is a voluntary excitement, not a bureaucratic trudge. How do we bring the same excitement into teamwork–and allow all known associates of the team to provide those challenging, exciting, brilliant occasions for staff and visitors alike? Where do you come on the team approach down? Give us your comments, and get ready for in a few days on Chapter 11 on mixed-use spaces in museums.

For Congress, the nagging problem with overhead is that in the past, the typical service provider would immediately expense each one of these indirect costs while the immediate costs were gathered onto the balance sheet via the task in process (construction in process/progress) account. In effect, the contractor is accelerating their deduction to determine success, thus reducing their respective taxes obligation. To ease this, Congress mandated the requirement to capitalize these respective costs.