A newsy post: On coming to America and projects new and old.

Posted on May 22, 2014

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Today has been my last Wednesday in Australia in the foreseeable future. On Sunday, I pack up my life and move to Baltimore, MD, to join Nancy Proctor as the Digital Content Manager at the Baltimore Museum of Art. I am on the cusp of some of the greatest change in my life, and I could not be more excited about the opportunity to explore a new city, a new country, a new museum, a new collection, and a new job. It is a moment I have dreamed of, and I cannot wait to get my teeth stuck into the challenges and adventures – particularly with the Museum itself going through some hugely interesting changes at present. A century old this year, it is undergoing a $28 million renovation, and is rethinking how visitors experience the BMA’s world-class collection, which makes this a brilliant time to leap across an ocean and join the Museum.

What makes the opportunity even better is its timing, which comes just as I’m putting the finishing touches on my dissertation – to be handed in within weeks. This means that my arrival in B’More will coincide with renewed opportunity for exploration, rather than introspection. I can move out of the all-consuming period of writing that has marked the last several months, and into a more exploratory, questioning, learning phase again.

This bodes well for blogging, since museum geek is, for me, a space for exactly those things. It has never been about complete ideas, but rather for examining tensions and unknowns. This is perhaps one reason writing became so hard when the focus of my work was on pulling ideas into a finished shape; into closing off avenues rather than opening them up…

It also bodes well for side projects, and I am so excited about a couple of the ones that I’ve had simmering away for several months. Probably the two most exciting are CODE | WORDS: Technology and theory in the museum – An experiment in online publishing and discourse and Museopunks, the podcast that Jeffrey Inscho and I create together.

If you haven’t yet heard of it, CODE | WORDS is an experimental discursive publishing project that gathers a diverse group of leading thinkers and practitioners to explore emerging issues concerning the nature of museums in light of the dramatic and ongoing impact of digital technologies on society. It’s something that Ed Rodley, Rob Stein and I have been working on for a little while (see Ed’s posts here and here), but with the publication of Michael Edson’s beautiful, provocative opening essay, it has finally become real. You should go and read what he has written. It is sinply wonderful.

What excites me most about CODE | WORDS is that we’re hoping that folk who might not normally blog or write about museums regularly, but who still think about them and want to try out or make public some thoughts on the subject, will contribute to the discussion – bringing new perspectives, new thinkers, new voices. If you think that might be you, feel free to drop me a line and I’m happy to help run through any ideas you have.

The other project that I continue to be excited about is Museopunks, which Jeff and I have been running for just over a year now. Every episode continues to help me learn something new, and from the feedback we’ve been getting, that goes for listeners too. If you haven’t checked into the show for a while, then I recommend you listen to the current episode, which is with Titus Bicknell on the complex and hugely important issue of net neutrality. This is a big one that could impact museums all over the world in the delivery of online content. While you’re thinking about the topic, check into the Museums and the Web discussion on the subject too.

In April, Museopunks was honoured to receive a Best of the Web Award in the category of Museum Professional at Museums and the Web. It meant a lot to us to receive this recognition, and it was great inspiration to continue to delve into the types of questions that have driven our work over this past year. But of course, Museopunks is nothing without the community that supports it, including guests on the show, listeners, and those who get in contact with ideas, thoughts, and feedback. So, thank you to all of you! It is a rare and wonderful gift to be able to have such discussions in a context that allows us to share them more broadly with the profession and the world.

All right! That’s enough of a round-up of the big things happening in my (professional) world. Next time I drop into the blog, it will probably be from my new home in the USA. Very cool. Then I get to start working out what it means to blog from inside an institution, rather than outside… and that, my friends, could be a whole new type of exploration…

Catch you on the flipside!

PS – Sydney, I’m going to be having a few farewell drinks on Saturday 24 May at the Arthouse Hotel, from 8pm. It’ll be my last unofficial #drinkingaboutmuseums in Australia for a while, so you should come and join me if you can.

Posted in: Museopunks, Personal