On Monday I attended my first professional development seminar since starting Maternity Leave in February. It was a lunchtime seminar at the Immigration Museum Melbourne on the topic of ‘Rethinking the Museum Experience‘. I did have my, very obliging, 5 month old daughter in tow, so I wasn’t at my full capacity. Unfortunately I missed all of Andrea Witcomb‘s presentation while I was settling her.
Nonetheless, there were some interesting messages I took away from the seminar. Laurajane Smith and Philipp Schorch spoke about research they had conducted with visitors to the Immigration museum. Both looked at how the visitors engaged with the content in the museum, particularly in relation to emotional engagement and the role of identity in shaping their visit.
I had been hoping to visit MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) for quite some time, so I was pleased to finally make there last week. I had heard a lot about MONA and their mobile experience ‘The O’ at various Museum conferences and gatherings, so I had quite high expectations. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed and it lived up to the hype. A visit to MONA is quite a powerful experience.
Photography is allowed inside the museum, but publication on websites is not allowed without permission. So I will share only images of the entrance.
I arrived at MONA by car, rather than ferry. When you enter MONA you travel to the lowest level by a cylindrical lift or spiral stairs that wind around the lift. You emerge into a cavernous hall with towering stone walls. This entrance really set the scene for the visit. It feels like you are delving into something deep, unknown, confronting and surprising.
Bond Store Galleries – Our Living Land
Last week I visited the recently renovated Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart. I hadn’t visited it prior to renovation so I can’t comment on the transformation, but what I did see was quite impressive. What struck me the most was the aesthetic quality of the exhibitions, particularly those in the Bond Store Galleries. They were very beautiful spaces to be in.
Article Reflection – What makes a good museum?
Recently, one of my Twitter colleagues, @stoleasheep, sent me an article: What makes a good museum? It was good to read an article suggested by someone else, rather than one I had looked for myself. The article caused me to reflect on my beliefs about what makes a good museum, but also my experiences with museums in both a personal and professional capacity.
Celebrating International Museum Day with
8 things I love about working at a museum
Today, 18 May, marks International Museum Day. To celebrate I thought I would share 8 of my favourite things about working in a Museum. In no particular order:
The last day at the MA and IA conference began with another contrasting mix of keynote speakers. First was Professor Ross Gibson who talked about the power of art to transform a person and the importance of considering emotions and aesthetics when planning exhibition to encourage this transformation. I understood the ideas he expressed and I have seen the power an aesthetically thoughtful space can provide, but I thought the ideas were possibly over-analytical for a good portion of the audience and that some practical suggestions could have made the information more useful.
Back at the Heath Ledger Theatre in Perth for Day 3, the program began with some very different keynotes. Firstly Andrea Witcomb discussed, from quite a philosophical platform, how immersive or interactive approaches provide reflective opportunities to build empathy of challenging topics. Andrea used the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in Berlin as an example of a good reflective space. She argued that these spaces are important because: visitors need the provision of some vantage point to question their own relationship to the topic. Andrea compared these reflective spaces to role-play experiences putting the visitor in the victims place, which she thought easily became a farce and did not allow for an emotional transition. I felt however, that it was comparing a very good immersive space example to an average role-play example. I don’t believe it means we should dismiss role play out of hand – especially in the case of children visitors.