I believe that every museum should be a unique, creative place to learn and explore. You all do too, but after 15 years working in museums myself I know how it is—you get mired in the day-to-day grind of keeping doors open, raising funds, and fighting fires. There is little time to investigate what your colleagues are doing at other museums, to dream up new ideas and see them through, to step back and think about the big picture. As a result, many museums are not reaching their full potential.
I left full-time museum work in 2010 to make room for that big picture. If the museum field had think tanks I would work for one, but since it doesn’t I consult to finance my museum research. In my travels throughout Europe and North America (and to a lesser extent other parts of the world) I study museums carefully to determine what’s working and not working for visitors, who is coming up with the most interesting new ideas, and the trends that will shape museums in coming years. I read widely, in our field and others, to bring new models and theories to bear on entrenched problems. I share this big picture with you through customized workshops and consultations, as well as through my blog, articles, and conference presentations.
I am an international expert on city museums, although I consult to all types of museums and cultural organizations. Hire me if you want to craft your interpretive vision, transform your space, and make your museum a unique, creative place to learn and explore. Hire me for an infusion of ideas.
Creativity theory posits that inputs of new information are the soil in which interesting ideas germinate. I have developed these workshops as quick bursts of fresh perspective to help your staff or board imagine better possibilities. I begin each workshop by grounding participants in the topic at hand through a combination of theory, trends, and case studies. Then I lead the group in interactive exercises designed to extract insights about your particular institution and generate new ideas you can implement.
How to Build a Better City Museum
After three years of intense research on city museums throughout Europe and North America, I know where they have been and I understand where they are headed. If you are looking to position your museum at the heart of your city, let’s have a conversation about exactly what that means.
Understanding and analyzing an artifact’s multiple meanings is a literacy, and people who want to work with objects must learn to read them just as they learned to read text as children. During this object literacy boot camp I guide participants through a series of hands-on object activities I have developed and tested with my Tufts University Museum Studies graduate students. Use this workshop to help staff see the full potential of your collection or to train docents and classroom teachers, or offer it to your community as a public program and co-curation tool.
Museums are public places, authentic places, special places. I believe that when you walk into a museum it should feel like no other place you have ever been before. I use direct observation and techniques borrowed from urban planning to assess your museum as a place and then work with you to identify small and big changes that will make it feel like no other to your visitors.
Geotagging is the New Black
Geotagging involves assigning geographic coordinates to people, ideas, and things. In our Google-Mapped world, it is becoming an essential part of the work of museums, particularly local history museums. Learn why geotagging is important, talk about the content you should be geotagging, and build your toolbox of resources.
Multisensory Museum Learning
Research shows that multisensory experiences strengthen learning, but how do you actually create them, cheaply and easily? This workshop is based on a session I developed with Cyra Levinson that was a big hit at the New England Museum Association 2011 conference. I’ll walk you through smell, sound, touch, and taste, explaining what you can do with them and where to get the tools you need.
I spend a lot of my time working on theory, but I also care just as much about practice. From psychogeography to geotagging to sensory history to pop-up projects, let’s work together to create compelling and imaginative content for your visitors. I’m interested in exhibitions, digital content, public programs, and everything in between. See my Projects page for examples of recent work.
Interpretive and Conceptual Planning
If you want to revamp your content but you’re not sure how to do it effectively, I can help. I will work with you to turn your core audience’s interests and needs, as well as the potential of your mission, collection, and space, into a road map for meaningful, compelling interpretation. We might start by brainstorming some small experiments to play around with the possibilities, and work from there to envision more ambitions projects that lead to institutional transformation.
Writing and Editing
Writing is like breathing to me. On any given day I produce exhibition text, scholarly articles, grant proposals, blog posts, and tweets, switching styles and platforms to match the task at hand. I’m particularly adept at translating complex, academic text into language an average person can understand and enjoy.
Because I travel extensively, I know how important text translated into English has become for museums around the world. Not only does it attract native English-speaking visitors from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia, but it is increasingly spoken by tourists from a host of other countries. It’s no longer enough to do a rough translation and call it a day. Interpretive text must sing in English just as much as it sings in its native language, or it reflects poorly on your museum. Send me your rough English translation and I will work with you to make it sing.