My last post, about why few people entered the Museums in Conversation conference generated some thoughtful comments both on this blog and emailed to me directly. At the same time, a colleague and I had a conversation about how to stay up-to-date in a field that sometimes seems to change like molasses, but other times seems to be changing every minute. Long gone are those days when Museum News or History News would arrive, leisurely, once a month in the mail and you felt, if you read them, you were reasonably up-to-date. No more.
Some of the comments I got were about a pure lack of time, particularly at institutions facing desperate financial crises. I've run a small organization, in a region that has been poor since long before the economic crisis, so I know the challenges that many organizations are facing--and I fully remember those days when the day-to-day details seemed to take precedence over anything else.
But my leap into a free-lance life has given me a slightly difference perspective. It's not easier to be an independent museum professional--although I can work many days in my pajamas, I only get paid when I produce. But I've now learned that it's incredibly important to spend some time in what probably has some fancy name--but to me, it's a sort of free-associating. Sometimes it comes when I surf the web, read Twitter, the news online or other blogs--other times it comes in conversations with colleagues--not necessarily about projects, but about the field in general. It also comes from the time in my car (and that is more time than you'd imagine!) and yet other times it comes from museum visits--and still yet other times it just comes from a random enjoyment of life.
I've been in the museum field longer than I want to admit--but if there was one gift, based on my experience--I could give my colleagues currently working in institutions it would be a few moments in every week to consider the bigger picture of what you do--the place you and your organization hold in the world. So take a minute and explore--don't forget that sense of wonder and discovery that led many of us to this field in the first place.
Next post--some of the places I go for information and inspiration.
Photos by Drew Harty. Top: Kelvingrove Museum, Bottom: Necropolis, Glasgow