“Freelance Content Creator, Museum Educator & Curator” – my LinkedIn headline makes reference to the many roles which I take on as someone working within the cultural sector. The ability to be reflective is imperative to my practice and it is with this same approach that I look back at some of my most recent experiences and how exactly WE communicate the museum.
As an “Early Career Professional” (ECP) conferences have often received a bad rap; they can come across as being somewhat stuffy and crammed with a lot of sometimes hard to swallow information. The communications agency Agenda Paris took that stereotype, put it in a blender and created a smooth and exciting 4 day programme between 19 -22 June 2017 which I and over 300 international delegates were lucky enough to attend. The word lucky seems appropriate because you don’t often get access to some of Paris’ best institutions and the staff who steer the vision in the capacity that we experienced. I was completely mind blown by the calibre of the speakers, the transparency of the partner institutions and the seamless organisation of the conference overall.
Whilst the beautiful backdrop of Paris and its constant sun and blue skies were a treat, the sharing of ideas were the focus providing key learning opportunities.
So, what did I learn?
Søren Thomsen, Director of Educational Content, Assessment and eLearning at LEGO Education, Denmark talked about the importance of play with regards to learning. By installing creativity into students, we prepare and enable our future workforce to tackle and produce a range of outcomes for the inevitable challenges we face daily in our sectors. It is vital that we think about our learning trajectory and how it is incorporated into our wider experience so that eventually we can mimic the complex nature of the world and make it accessible for everyone. But perhaps the highlight of the talk being the example of lions who play whilst simultaneously honing their skills for survival. Such a reference solidified the need for considering learning styles and raises the question of we can bring this into our classrooms or potentially use this as a method to redevelop the thinking of our already skilled existing workforce.
In addition to this we heard Anna Cutler, Director of Learning, Tate Modern speaking on the benefits and challenges of creating a participatory platform at Tate Exchange. To sum up her ideas, the key fact is that nothing is fixed. Living in a world that is constantly changing is exciting but presents the challenge of understanding and representation. We must consider that formal education systems across the world are doing badly and as cultural organisations we should be steering away from this taking the opportunity to let go of our set ideas and create something that is beneficial, collaborative and most of all needed to remain creative and satisfy our appetite for thinking building connections.
Finally, to finish up we heard from Erlend Høyersten, Director, ARoS Aarhus Art Museum, Denmark about towing the line between being interesting and keeping your integrity as an organisation. Balance can often be a difficult thing in the art world as we often have a duty to serve many people but the level of difficulty shouldn’t be a reason to shirk our responsibilities to get it right. Learning is important for everyone at every level as it allows for conversations to take place which link the all of the seemingly unrelated experiences and sequences which take place in theses spaces. Our jobs are to tell real stories which should form a major part of the innovation that we all strive for. Through the consideration of the latter we can continue to think about and actively change how we evolve as a society.
Since the conference I have had time to reflect on these learnings and seriously consider how these elements can be incorporated into my personal practice with regards to how I communicate the histories I share and narratives I build with audiences.
The bar has been set high in terms of my expectations for learning at future conferences and I look forward to having more conversations which can be actioned to improve the sector using some of these ideas as an invaluable reference point.
So, in the spirit of totality I go back to the start of this piece where I reference the many roles I take on. In line with our ever-changing roles let us continue to develop as multifaceted individuals and organisations to ensure that our methods of teaching and learning are adequate to cater our varying audiences ensuring the longevity and enjoyment of our organisations and institutions.