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Find me at MCN2017

2017 November 6
by Sheila

Tomorrow, I head to Pittsburgh for the Museum Computer Network’s 50th annual conference. The program celebrates #mcn50 with the theme of “Looking Back, Thinking Forward, Taking Action.”

If you are going to #MCN2017, do not miss the opening keynotes in conversation featuring Aleia Brown, Adrianne Russell, and Jamil Smith on Wednesday morning to start off the conference.

If you’d like to say hello, find me at one of my panels or around the conference:

  • Radicalizing Objects in History Museums Wednesday, November 08, 2:30 PM – 3:00 PM
    Twenty-five years ago, artist Fred Wilson’s Mining the Museum exhibition at the Maryland Historical Society, recontextualized and rattled the history museum field with this radical use of objects. I would like to brainstorm and build, in an unconference session, how history museums can invite and allow for critique of their institutions, and the society that created them, through their objects. Is the type of collaboration that opened the doors to MDHS to an artist possible today? In addition to a physical exhibition, it is possible to imagine this type of curation involving object-driven institutional and social critique through digital means? In this session we could even build a prototype of how something could work on the web. The bigger issues relate to bringing a history museum on board because it invites critique and addressing difficult histories, not only of the communities represented, but of the institutions themselves.
    Here is my working document for this unconference session. Come brainstorm ideas, things to build, ways to reinterpret and re-contextualize objects in history collections, or contribute from afar:
  • Confronting Theories of Museum Greatness, Wednesday, November 8, 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

    What does it mean for a museum to be great? What does it mean for a museum to be in decline? Who gets to decide which is which, and what is the media’s role in that decision? When one narrative of so-called greatness is given prominence over others, what other narratives are pushed into the background and why?

    This panel will dive into these questions and more, using recent media coverage of museums as a framework for understanding how public perception of these narratives drives internal decision-making. The panel will also examine the role museum workers have in deciding which narratives to lift up, and in crafting more balanced theories of museum greatness and/or decline. In exploring the tension in museums between conservatism and progressivism, the authoritarian and the democratic, and innovation and excellence, the panel will endeavour to understand how (or whether) narratives of museum “greatness” change our work as well as the future course of our sector.


    Koven Smith
    Lanae Spruce
    Nikhil Trivedi
    Claire Blechman
    Kate Livingston
    Sheila Brennan

  • Engaging Curators! Inclusivity and Collaboration Across Institutions, Thursday, November 9, 8:45-9:45am

    Art curators are not necessarily brought into discussions shaping visitor engagement and digital strategies in art organizations today. This was not always the case, as art curators were part of MCN when it was founded in 1967. During its pilot phases, MCN’s coalition to create a network of museum collections involved curators, registrars, administrators, and technologists. This roundtable discussion will address the ways art curators are involved in institutional digital strategies fifty years later.

    The group will discuss the benefits and challenges as art museums implement– or begin to reframe–institutional strategies that integrate digital components across departments. To address the needs for professional development, others will reference the Networked Curator workshop, produced through a partnership between the Association of Art Museum Curators Foundation and the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, that is providing digital advancement for art curators. Together with the audience, the roundtable will discuss strategies and projects initiating interdepartmental collaboration and inclusion to ensure that art museum digital initiatives and engagement strategies connect and serve their communities.


    Sheila Brennan
    Judith Pineiro
    Christina Nielsen
    Koven Smith
    Jose Diaz
    Sarah Hall

See you in Pittsburgh!

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