The subject of Museum Studies MAs, volunteering and internships as entry routes into the sector has been buzzing again on my twitter feed and various email lists again lately. The wider subject of tuition fees and student debt has also been in the news. Meanwhile, this week I made the final payment on my own student loan. One of my student loans. Not the undergraduate one which I will likely never pay back. This was a Career Development Loan I took out to pay for (some of) my Museum Studies MA fees, with a hefty fixed monthly payment which started the month after I finished the course, regardless of how much I was earning. (I knew what I was getting into when I signed up to the loan of course, and I have been employed throughout the repayment period, although at times underemployed and not earning very much).
This week I attended a free conference held by the Age Friendly Museum Network at the British Museum. Although I’m not involved in any projects working specifically with older visitors, and my current workplace mostly attracts a younger family audience, I was interested to find out about this topic as it is one that is little discussed in terms of audience development and diversity in museums. I was delighted to find that Scriberia were on hand to record the conference, and my snaps of their fantastic illustrations provide the images for this post.
As a counterpoint to my last post about responding to current events, and the post I wrote for Registrar Trek recently about rapid response collecting, today I am thinking about the benefits for museums of being slow.
This post is an ironically slow response to a session at the 2016 Museums Association conference, entitled ‘Rapid Response’. I wasn’t at the conference, although I followed along through social media and the live streams where I could. The reason I’m responding to some of the ideas in the session now is that I attended a Museums Association South East members meeting this week, and conference recaps formed part of the discussion. I’m not the only one revisiting this particular session either, as Tonya Nelson in January’s Museums Journal also revisits its themes in her column ‘We need to respond to the world around us’. Both these discussions and Nelson’s piece reflect on the idea that museums could operate more like newsrooms, reacting rapidly to current events, but also offering thoughtful and well researched analysis of subjects in the way that long-form journalism has traditionally done, but that in the age of 24 hour online news is becoming less common.
I have been toying with the idea of writing a post on class for some time (in fact for most of the time this blog had been sitting dormant I have been periodically writing and abandoning drafts of this post. I have been spurred to action by this week’s #MuseumHour, which skilled over from its allotted 8-9pm schedule and had museum tweeters in heated debates for most of Monday evening. I have a lot of thoughts which I found hard to express in a tweet.