Thursday, January 2, 2014

Surprise! My 5 Wishes for 2014

What will the new year bring?  Although at a New Year's Eve party the other night we made predictions and resolutions, serious and silly (think less,  climb more mountains, become a powerlifter were among the group's resolutions) I thought I'd just share my own five wishes for the museum field, and for my own work, for 2014.  Can wishes come true?  We'll see (perhaps with your help).

Wish #1  To be Surprised
My last museum visit of 2013 did just that.  I finally made it to the Museum of Jurassic Technology  It was, despite the fact that I knew about its approach,  surprising on many levels.  Surprise is an all-too-rare element in exhibitions these days, when much seems formulaic and overdesigned.  I'm looking to see exhibits that surprise and move me.  Got suggestions? 

Wish #2  To Connect
One of my most memorable museum experiences of 2013 was a very snowy Berlin day, with Twitter acquaintance Katrin Hieke, who made her way from Bonn to spend the day with me.  From a local history museum to the DDR Museum, from  the Jewish Museum to a walk past Checkpoint Charlie, I got the chance to learn about German museums, talk museums non-stop,  and in the process, gain a great new colleague resulting in a new project together.  I wish for more opportunities to talk with colleagues and learn about their cities and museums.  Upcoming in February are Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona,  Rome, Florence, Istanbul and Athens, so be in touch if you're in any of those cities. (and in the US,  Philadelphia,  Albany, NY, and other locations coming up too!)

Wish #3  Creativity into Practice (particularly at the top)
Rainey Tisdale and I think of our book, Creativity in Museum Practice,  as part manifesto, part tool kit.  We both wish that 2014 brings inspired creative practice into museums everywhere.  Museum leaders need to be in the front line of this effort.  I also wish, and intend to make real, creative practice in my own work every day.

Wish #4  Standards as Creative Constraints
I think a lot about standards, having worked with AASLH and as a MAP reviewer for AAM.  I tell organizations that they need to understand standards and how to use them.  But too often, I fear that museums use standards as a crutch for not going further, for not being more imaginative.  It's easy to make a plan to address a backlog of collections, but it's far harder to make a plan to involve your community. A standard doesn't prevent you from doing something--I wish that museums think of a standards as a creative constraint to push your organization further in your overall development.

Wish #5  More Great Clients
The shameless, self-promotion wish.  Last year clients like the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and Context Travel helped me learn so much.  Together we questioned assumptions; talked to visitors, to staff, to each other;  dreamed big dreams;  got inspired by great art, great cities, great literature (and more than a little bit of great food);  laughed, worked hard;  and together, took a risk or two,  knowing that we'd learn from success or failure.  If that sounds good,  I'd love to work with you.  Be in touch with your ideas.
 And finally, wish #6--as exemplified by my daughter and her cousins, above, have fun!


Jasper Visser said...

Best of luck with your wishes Linda! Make sure to connect when you're in Amsterdam. It would be great to finally meet and help you achieve wish #2 (and maybe #1 with help of a local).

Linda Norris said...

Thanks Jasper--it would be terrific t connect in person--I'll be there Feb 14-18--just think, you could make wishes come true :)