Innovation in the Art Museum Education Tradition International Symposium, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan October 17-18 2009. I am attending this conference as a panellist. Here’s my notes from the Day 2 afternoon session Organisational Structure and Professional Development for Art Museum Educators. The paper I gave in the morning – Cultural Tourism and Museums – can be downloaded from the right-hand side of this page.

What do you need to be an art museum educator?

  • Knowledge, skill, motivation and self concept
  • Develop our ‘Interbeing’ – we are individuals but are also influenced by the institution we belong to – self concept is an important competency
  • Need to nurture staff
  • The art museum needs to become a learning organisation
  • Myths in art museum education – artworks themselves can talk; all staff can be educators; numbers mean everything (emphasis on quantity over quality); marketing activities=educational programs; just please audience/everyone

Organisational structure and professional development

  • Museums in 21st century need to account for the networked environment – digital technology and increasingly technology savvy audience
  • We should be using the tools and technologies our audiences are using – and have an org structure that facilitates that
  • How to get museum executives on board? Carl Sagan talked about the SETI project this way: "we are sending smoke signals when most of us are using cell phones" - this is an interesting aalogy for museums
  • The Horizon Reports  are a good source of information. Need to look inside the technologies and understand what they all mean. It’s about building communities and engaging them in the museum of the 21st century, recognising the shift from objects to people

Getty Principles:

  1. Success - what does it look like? Create a sustainable ongoing program to engage audiences in line with the Museum’s mission. They have explicit reference to internet in their mission
  2. Six principles
  3. No place like home – how to deal with all the technologies and platforms audience are using?
  4. Focus on what’s stable and controllable – your own website and use platforms as means of drawing audiences to your website
  5. Create more than you see – responsive rather than discrete projects
  6. Courage and failure – have the courage to start again and give people permission to fail, his is a risk but creates a real environment of innovation and creativity
  7. Improve with use – need to apply this business principle to our own practice
  8. Doing more with less – it is about doing less with less but do stuff that matters: “A man with a watch knows what time it is, whereas a man with two watches is never sure” [OK I know there's 8 here but my notes are scratchy]

Other points:

  • Organisational issues – how do we make it easy for content experts to tell their stories engage audience in networked environment? How do we ensure that process is succession for the institutions
  • Prediction is very difficult – especially about the future
  • More people visit Getty online than their physical site – therefore Getty had to change their organisational structure to deal with this
  • Web groups can help transform data into rich experiences for visitors across all digital channels
  • Role of web in new role as transformation and documentation of high quality projects, as they will champion collaboration, honour creativity and network expertise