Walking into the museum where I worked and trying to see it from an outsider’s perspective wasn’t easy. What made it particularly difficult was being instructed to present an object on view in a way that was completely unfamiliar to me. Still, when the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute hosted the Creativity Incubator, I was game.
Lia Tamborra of Museum Hack, one of the Museum Mavericks for the session, told us to shake things up. We had certain key points to hit, but there seemed to be almost too much freedom. We could have opinions about the piece and make our little group presentations personal - both of which are often discouraged in Museum Education, as they can influence a visitor too much. Still, my team of new colleagues and I gave it our best shot and came up with something that I think was actually a lot of fun.
By Annette Goldmacher
This month, we're getting creative and crafting a poem - out of conversations we hear! Get the details here.
Remember - all you have to do is complete the task, and take a photo to share on social media - this can be a photo of your team doing the challenge, and/or whatever product happened to come from the challenge itself. Use the hashtag #creativityincubator - and post in the CI Community on FB, or on Twitter or Instagram - that’s it! Remember to tag GHHN and NYSCA in the posts so we can see them! (GHHN - Greater Hudson Heritage Network, @theGHHN, NYSCA - New York State Council on the Arts, @NYSCArts)
By Gonzalo Casals, Museum Maverick for the Mohawk Valley Session
For over a decade, LaPlaca-Cohen, a marketing and design consultant serving cultural organizations, has been studying Americans’ behavior in relation to cultural consumption. Culture Track 2017 is the current iteration of such study that looks at how different generations define, access, and relate to cultural experiences.
Some of the key findings are trends that have been solidifying in the last decade. For instance, millennials have expanded the definition of culture to include categories and experiences such as food festivals and television, both forms of entertainment that a decade ago would have fallen way outside traditional disciplines. Newer generations are also redefining the way they consume culture, seeing themselves as active participants rather than passive audiences. Opportunities in which one can interact, share, and affect a cultural experience are the most popular among millennials.
This generational shift in cultural consumption is unfolding at the same time that the US is experiencing dramatic demographic shifts. A phenomenon once experienced only by large US cities is now expanding across the rest of the country. The rapid growth of Latino communities in the US, refugee relocation programs across the states, and immigrants leaving behind large metropolitan areas in search of more affordable lives in smaller cities and towns have contributed to this phenomenon.
City administrations, public school and library systems, and churches and other civic institutions are now faced with the challenge to rethink their public service in order to accommodate an increasingly diverse population. Museums and other cultural organizations are also struggling to shift their cultural offerings in order to accommodate these new participants that demand more interactive, relevant cultural experiences.
Welcome to the Creativity Challenges- quick activities to strengthen your creative muscle! From time to time, we’ll be posting an activity for to you to complete. The focus here is on FUN. These are short challenges for you to complete as an individual, or with fellow members of your organizational staff. The challenges will all be different - and sometimes they’ll include a short article to read for further exploration, or a discussion question to help you delve deeper into what creativity means or looks like for your organization.
The challenge is simple - complete the task, and take a photo to share on social media - this can be a photo of your team doing the challenge, or whatever product happened to come from the challenge itself. Use the hashtag #creativityincubator - and post in the CI Community on FB, or on Twitter or Instagram - that’s it! Remember to tag GHHN and NYSCA in the posts so we can see them! (GHHN - Greater Hudson Heritage Network, @theGHHN, NYSCA - New York State Council on the Arts, @NYSCArts)
Ready? Let's go! Click here for the first challenge!
By Kevin Gray, Arts In Education Coordinator at Fenimore Art Museum, Cooperstown, NY
On November 14th, 2017 I and other museum professionals from central New York attended a lively and inspiring Creativity Incubator provided by NYSCA and the Greater Hudson Heritage Network at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute. Lia Tamborra, presenter and member of Museum Hack, challenged us to select an artwork in the MWPAI and construct a two to three minute presentation around it that incorporated many of the elements of a Museum Hack tour: an ‘icebreaking’ introduction, a lively and engaging salvo of facts about the artwork and artist in as interactive a manner as possible, and a punchy conclusion that would leave a lasting impression. Each group had about ten minutes to research and plan their talk before delivering. No sweat! Our group (the names of my four or five partners have not lingered in my memory, but it truly was a team effort to put this together) chose the 1951 painting, Number 18 by Mark Rothko. What follows is a transcription of my wild and wooly presentation, recreated to the best of my memory with the conversational tone and sense of last-minute panic retained:
By Franklin Vagnone, Museum Maverick for the Long Island Session
As I wandered the, at times, confusing hallways & rooms of the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay I first took notice of the typical reproduction carpets and wallcoverings. I was taken upstairs into the third-floor collections spaces which is where I found core of this site. I asked Jessica Pearl, the Collections Manager what her favorite item was in the collection, and she searched to find a pair of very sexy shoes. The shoes were wrapped in acid-free paper and encased within an acid free box. As she pulled them out, I could see why she loved them. We admired them and returned them back to their mausoleum.
This experience perfectly symbolized why these “Creativity Incubators” are so needed and successful. We are all given the chance to find, see, and use collections items in new and compelling ways. Things that have been hidden behind a screen of professional stewardship, or relegated to a stage set within a period room, can now be pulled aside and made more substantive by collaborative context with other items. This is the stuff that curators are made of, and often find it hard to do; that is to use their incredible knowledge base to expand a narrative and tell more powerful stories.
By Franklin Vagnone, Museum Maverick for the Hudson Valley Session
Not many people know this about me, but if the data suggests – and the situation allows, I am not afraid to change my mind. Going in another direction (either literally or figuratively) provides me with more possibilities. One of the reasons why I consider myself a “museum anarchist” is that I shy away from narrow mission statements or highly curated environments. Situations like these only constrain decision-making, solidify stasis and repress innovation and experimentation. After the daylong “Creativity Incubator,’ organized by the Greater Hudson Heritage Network with the New York State Council on the Arts, someone told me that my words of the day were “grit” and “foil”. It came as a surprise to me because I am usually so in the moment that I don’t have time to be so immediately self-reflective. These two words speak to the need for flexibility in museum process. This gathering was attended by museum, cultural organization staff and board members. Its purpose was to provide a safe and open space to experiment with collections items and play with ideas on how to innovate, re-combine, and expand visitor interactions with them.
To see all the photos from this session, click here.
A place to share ideas and stories born out of the NYSCA/GHHN