I believe that every museum should be a unique, creative place to learn and explore. You all do too, but after 20 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 made my own. 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. Hire me if you want to craft your interpretive vision, transform your space, and make inspired decisions in a time of great change. Hire me for an infusion of ideas.
Interpretive and Strategic Planning
If you want to revamp your content or your institutional vision 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 forward progress. We might start by brainstorming some small experiments to play around with the possibilities, and work from there to envision more ambitious projects that lead to institutional transformation.
How to Build a Better City Museum
After 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.
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 some examples.
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.
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 and build a toolkit to reach them. 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.
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.
Creative Practice (with Linda Norris)
Building on our book project Creativity in Museum Practice, Linda and I lead workshops to jumpstart individual and institutional creative capacity. We have developed a variety of strategies and activities that we can customize to your particular audience and goals.
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.