There we have it – my first Museums Australia Conference is now over. I’m currently sitting at the airport waiting for the flight back to my other home, Sydney. I am going to structure this post differently to the other two and discuss three main themes or ideas that were raised throughout the day. Each will have spanned over numerous presentations so I’ll make sure to credit the talks when they’re raised.
This was a huge theme of today. Our plenary speaker, Colleen Dilenschneider spoke passionately about using data from cultural institutions to understand visitor satisfaction. This data came from her institution IMPACTS and the National, Awareness, Attitudes, & Usage Survey. What they discovered from crunching oh so many numbers was that social connectivity in the museum is key. In fact, having one-on-one experiences with volunteers and front-of-house staff is actually a leading factor in increased satisfaction and likely repeat visitation.
This made me reflect on how many times I have had wonderful experiences in a museum and why. I don’t think I’ve had many one-on-one experiences to be completely honest. I have been to touch tables but I don’t really engage in that way. I’m such an introvert it’s almost painful and when I go to museums by myself I’m often wearing headphones trying to create a playlist to add a soundscape to the exhibition. Each to their own!
The whole talk was a great insight into understanding what museums can do to ensure high visitor satisfaction and maintaining/building their reputation.
So this theme was kind of central to the emerging professionals skills and careers talk. Each of the seven speakers selected a certain skill that they thought was crucial for emerging professionals to embrace. One common thread that stood out to me was that of try and try again. Try and build as many skills as you can and keep going filling out those job applications.
While this all sounded pleasant enough, I felt that Stephanie Chinneck’s presentation resonated with me the most. Especially how museums should try to meet us emerging professionals half way. It should be a shared responsility of emerging professionals getting out there and museums, in turn, respecting and trusting us. I have been so lucky to have had some amazing internship and volunteer supervisors who have allowed me to go above and beyond to build up my skills. Shout out to them, you know who you are.
Perserverence as well comes from simply applying again and again. I’ve applied for so many jobs now I might as well update my hobbies to include “applying for jobs”. While I’m at it, under languages I’ll add “Jobs NSW” because I’m well aware of their lingo. Anyway if you don’t laugh you cry so thanks Stephanie for an entertaining, too true, look at the life of an emerging professional.
3. The Future
The final theme is the future. I had a lot of time to reflect in the emerging professionals talk about not only the future of museums, but also, my future. I am constantly reminded at the most random times that I’m not going to give up on this industry. It might be hard, absolutely hard, but I’m ready to tackle it head on. I’ve already made writing job applications my hobby so I’m basically on the right track?
In terms of the future of museums, I have so much faith in what lays ahead. No matter what technology comes out, the physical act of going to a museum has been proven (thanks Colleen) to have no substitute. The industry is and will continue to be moving in new and interesting directions. Being adaptable and open to change is key.
Thank you to everyone who made my first Museums Australia Conference so memorable. A huge thanks to all you amazing people who have been reading my blog. My post on the first day of the conference had over 200 readers! I have so much fun writing these posts and it means a lot that you are willing to read through my bad jokes and sarcasm that isn’t clearly sarcasm. I am already counting down to the next conference. A trip to Melbourne rarely needs an excuse.
If you have just been following my blog for the conference I encourage you to stick around and subscribe or just drop in from time to time to read about awesome exhibitions and heritage sites I visit. If you want to contribute your thoughts on the conference send me an email!! firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to hear.
Safe trip home everyone!