Museums Using Megaphones

It’s almost Museums Advocacy Day, and soon I’ll be heading to DC for my second year of speaking up for museums, historical organizations, aquaria and zoos in the halls of Capitol Hill.

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It’s exciting to know that all 50 states have museum advocates representing them this year, for the first time ever, and that there are also about 100 more advocates coming to the event this year than last. We’ll be talking about the importance of the NEA, NEH, and IMLS, of course, but museums are energized about more than funding. We’ll be talking about education, STEM initiatives, conservation and research, diversity and equality initiatives, and museum contributions to health and human services.

It’s also heartening to see that museums, which due to their preservation and conservation mindsets are often slow to act, are actively standing up for their missions, which include more than preservation: they are about education, about being welcoming community spaces, about offering the realities of the past and present up to scrutiny for the present and future. Today, for example, is the Day of Facts on Twitter (#DayofFacts), inspired by the concern raised by the stifling and disappearance of information on various government-controlled social media channels and White House webpages. Hundreds of museums, libraries, and archives are tweeting facts from their collections and expertise that are relevant to current events. This event is aimed at highlighting museums’ trustworthiness as stewards of authentic objects and experiences without being overtly political, though as the Chicago Sun Times notes, “Telling the truth is now a political act.” (Be sure to watch The Field Museum’s video linked in that article. I admit I got a little choked up, because I’m a very sensitive museum-geek.)

Other museums are also standing up in more political ways, taking a stand in opposition to the policies and statements currently coming from the White House, particularly those regarding immigration, education, and the environment. The Davis Museum at Wellesley College (Hillary Clinton’s alma mater) removed or shrouded all the objects in their museum which were made or donated by immigrants (and put their labels up for free download should other museums wish to do the same). The twitter account @MuseumsResist, with its companion for libraries @LibrariesResist, is offering up links and resources regularly for education and cultural sector professionals who want to be involved. It’s important to note that while there seems to be a groundswell right now, there are some museum professionals and museum organizations that have been participating in activism for a while, notably those associated with MuseumHue and #MuseumsRespondtoFerguson. Those folks deserve a lot of credit for leading the way and showing others in the field possible paths for discussion, response, and resistance.

And when the DC Museums Advocacy Day is over, I’ll be far from done, as Maine, Connecticut, and Massachusetts all have advocacy days for museums, the arts and humanities coming up in March, so stay tuned!

Further Reading:

 

 

 

 

You, Too, Can Be a Space Archaeologist!

This is the best thing I’ve read all day. Of course, my brain went first to Daniel Jackson of Stargate SG-1, but he’d be the first to say that this is a fantastic use of satellite technology.

Go forth and save our history, intrepid space archaeologists!

Nat Geo Education Blog

SCIENCE

A new online tool from a Nat Geo explorer enables anyone with Internet access to search satellite images for ancient ruins. (Nat Geo News)

Learn a little about space archaeology.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers Toolkit.

Discussion Ideas

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This Week’s Reads: We are Tomorrow’s History

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I’ve been having a lot of conversations with colleagues about history recently: appreciating it, analyzing it, reinterpreting it for a new generation, and collecting it for future generations.  Clearly, I’m not the only one having these conversations, especially as we are in the middle of a lot of newsworthy current events.

Here are a few interesting reads on being part of history, and preserving it:

New York Magazine: Museums Across the World are Collecting Women’s March Signs

The Boston Globe: Professors stash rally signs to preserve a piece of history

Art Museum Teaching: Museums Marching

 

 

Ideabox: Seeds

It’s finally acorn weather again, so here’s an oldie but goodie to encourage you to take advantage of Seed Season!

Brain Popcorn

"Tangle" by Beth Galston, featuring thousands of acorn caps.  Now on view at the Peabody Essex Museum. “Tangle” by Beth Galston, featuring thousands of acorn caps. Now on view at the Peabody Essex Museum.

We’re down to the last days of seed-pods before winter settles in and gets comfortable in our neighborhood, but if you’ve got a pocket full of acorns from your last nature walk, this post is for you.  Since we’re on quite a tree-kick here at the Art & Nature Center, I’m focusing on tree-seeds for this Ideabox:.  However, if you have great seed-based activities for other kinds of plants, please do share them in the comments below!

ideabox seeds

Visual Art

Seeds in homemade paper, seeds glued to burlap for a plant-able ‘mosaic,’ seeds preserved like jewels in resin (See more of Beth Galston’s works)–there are a lot of cool options for making art with seeds!  My favorite is below:

Creating seed and nut sculptures (click for source, warning, it's in Dutch!) Creating seed and nut sculptures (click for source, warning, it’s in Dutch!)

Science

Take…

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This Week’s Reads: School with a Twist

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I’m not ready for ‘back to school’ quite yet, but I am back from vacation, so I guess that’s close enough. Hidden in among the piles of mail and email that were waiting upon my return were some fun reads on education and the continuing search for balancing traditional academics with lifelong learning skills, everywhere from the classroom to the playground to the museum.

Also on my current reading pile: Nina Simon’s The Art of Relevance and the latest issue of the Journal of Museum Education

What’s on your list of back-to-school reads?

What do you hope to do new or differently this year, in your classroom, gallery, studio, or teaching practice?

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Indulging the inner kindergartener at the Eric Carle Museum earlier this summer.

 

In A Stunning Show of Bipartisan Support, The State’s Arts Funding is Fully Restored

I’m really proud of the number of people from all over the cultural community who made the impact of the arts known, and very grateful to the Massachusetts legislature for overturning the veto.

The Evolving Critic

Massachusetts State House. Photo by Flickr user Daniel Mennerich. Used under the Creative Commons License.
Following up on my post about Governor Charlie Baker’s veto to cut the arts and culture budget by more than 50%, on Sunday July 31st, both the Massachusetts House of Representatives and the Senate voted to override Baker’s veto.

Thanks to the leadership at MassCreative and to the thousands of artists and activists who urged their senators and representatives to restore funding to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts can now continue to create jobs in the arts, revitalize main streets and invest in cultural institutions who in turn, pump millions of dollars into the state’s economy.

The unanimous vote in the Senate and a 156-2 vote in the House shows bipartisan support and demonstrate that the arts are here to stay. According to MassCreative, more than 12,000 messages were sent in support…

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This Week’s Reads: Peering into the Future

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Innovation is a buzzword, but the actual act of envisioning a new future and acting on it remains exciting, however overused the word might be. Here are a few cool reads to make your brain stretch, including a few ideas to make you feel good about the potential futures of humanity:

“A Peek inside the Moonshot Factory Operating Manual” about the offshoot of Google that’s focused on developing ‘moonshot’ ideas into tangible futuristic reality.

MISC Magazine’s “The Future According to Women” asks numerous influential women about the visions of the future they see and organizes their responses thematically. (I’m still reading this one, but so far it’s an interesting compilation.)

And in a cross-over from my creative-writing world to my museums/educational/advocacy one, “The New Utopians” and, “The Political Dimensions of Solarpunk.” (This latter one is long and not entirely positive, but has some interesting points to make.)

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