Musings of the week

I follow a lot of blogs. A lot. Most of these are museum related, either directly or tangentially. What I've tried to cultivate is a diverse range of perspectives on the field. - blogs dealing with non-profits, race, environmentalism, education, design, and activism. And boy, oh boy, do they have some great stuff going on. I set aside time every Tuesday to read through their latest posts as a good start to my week. This week there are three that have stuck with me.

1 - Whatever you’re feeling is OK, and the work you do is important - Non Profit With Balls

This is fantastic blog written by Vu Le, Executive Director of Rainier Valley Corps. In this post he attempts to put into words what many of us have been feeling lately. We feel lost and confused about all the tragic events we've seen in recent weeks around the world. He offers no solutions, acknowledging that he has none. Instead, he simply wants us all to know that we're in this together. 

Today, as you wake up to face another long week, made longer by the emotional, psychological, physical, spiritual, and existential toll of seeing injustice, remember that your work is lifting up families, creating connections between people, addressing the causes of inequity, preserving our environment, finding and nurturing the good in everyone, and so much more. Your work is making our world safer and happier.
— Vu Le

Check out his whole post here

2 - Documenting Museums’ Growing Social Awareness - Museum Commons

Gretchen Jennings, of Museum Commons, made a great post this week about the rise in social awareness in museums. It's something I've also seen a lot of on Twitter, with a lot of varying perspectives. There is a growing question about whether museums should get involved in social issues and what exactly that involvement should look like. Gretchen does a great job of highlighting some examples of museums which are trying to answer these questions for themselves. There is still a long road ahead, but it is heartening to me to see these organizations stepping up.

Persistent and regular public attention to the relationship of museums to race, white privilege, income inequality, and other social justice issues over many months in social media appears to be having an impact on the field, but we need better documentation of these kinds of efforts by cultural institutions, and we need research on both the causes and effects of these efforts.
— Gretchen Jennings

See her examples here

3 - How Can Museums Become Places Alive With Questions? - Museum Notes

I've only recently started following Museum Notes, but so far I've found Jeanne Vergeront to be very insightful. This week she poses a lot of great questions about questions. She discusses the necessity of questions in the museum, not only in the exhibition setting but also in the 'behind the scenes' aspects of museum administration. Questions push us to examine our biases and our assumptions, they help us attain innovative solutions to our problems, and they make us more self-aware about the work we do.

A museum that is awake to its own curiosity asks tough questions and pays attention to the responses. [...] Questions make us all learners. If your museum considers itself a learning organization, how does it learn?
— Jeanne Vergeront

Read more about her questions here

These three blogs have me thinking this week about the trust people put in museums. The public view us as the all-knowing; we are the great and powerful Oz. However, like the Wizard, we are really just ordinary people behind the curtain. We do our best to give our communities what they want and/or need, but we're just people. We don't always know what to say or how to say it. We don't always ask the right questions at the right time. 

That isn't to say we should rest on our laurels. We must continue to strive for the greatness our communities see in us. It is our responsibility to try harder, to do better when we can. It is okay to not have the right answer, but let's try to ask the right questions.