Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What Is A Science Map?



To quote from the scimaps.org website:  "Science maps serve as visual interfaces to immense amounts of data, depicting myriad objects in ways that allow us to effectively discern apparent outliers, clusters, and trends"

Or, put another way, science maps are cool visual representations of information that you can pull ideas and inspiration from!  You can see some examples above and below in this post.

A visit to the scimaps.org website is like a trip down the rabbit hole of infographics and scientific visualization.  The organization works with artists to display maps of information ranging from Geologic Time to a Map of the Internet itself.

Click on over to the Scimaps website to find out more about the Places & Spaces: Mapping Science exhibitions, and to view examples of the stunning science maps online.




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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Exhibit Design Inspiration: Miguel Marquez Outside



Michael Pederson is a street artist and photographer in Sydney, Australia. His blog Miguel Marquez Outside shows, among other projects, signs that Pederson has placed in public. They look official and offer rules, suggestions, and information about the area.

Many of Pederson's signs twist the traditional notion of informational signs (like those found in museums!)  I wonder how we could play with visitors' expectations in exhibits by using ideas like this?

You can find many more images/interventions on the Miguel Marquez Outside blog, and check out this recent interview about Pederson and his work.





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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Joint Statement from Museum Bloggers and Colleagues on Ferguson and Related Events

The recent series of events, from Ferguson to Cleveland and New York, have created a watershed moment. Things must change. New laws and policies will help, but any movement toward greater cultural and racial understanding and communication must be supported by our country’s cultural and educational infrastructure. Museums are a part of this educational and cultural network. What should be our role(s)?

Schools and other arts organizations are rising to the challenge. University law schools are hosting seminars on Ferguson. Colleges are addressing greater cultural and racial understanding in various courses. National education organizations and individual teachers are developing relevant curriculum resources, including the #FergusonSyllabus project initiated by Dr. Marcia Chatelain. Artists and arts organizations are contributing their spaces and their creative energies. And pop culture icons, from basketball players to rock stars, are making highly visible commentary with their clothes and voices.

Where do museums fit in? Some might say that only museums with specific African American collections have a role, or perhaps only museums situated in the communities where these events have occurred. As mediators of culture, all museums should commit to identifying how they can connect to relevant contemporary issues irrespective of collection, focus, or mission.

We are a community of museum bloggers who write from a variety of perspectives and museum disciplines.  Yet our posts contain similar phrases such as  “21st century museums,” “changing museum paradigms,” “inclusiveness,” “co-curation,” “participatory” and “the museum as forum.”  We believe that strong connections should exist between museums and their communities. Forging those connections means listening and responding to those we serve and those we wish to serve.

There is hardly a community in the U.S. that is untouched by the reverberations emanating from Ferguson and its aftermath. Therefore we believe that museums everywhere should get involved. What should be our role–as institutions that claim to conduct their activities for the public benefit–in the face of ongoing struggles for greater social justice both at the local and national level?

We urge museums to consider these questions by first looking within. Is there equity and diversity in your policy and practice regarding staff, volunteers, and Board members? Are staff members talking about Ferguson and the deeper issues it raises? How do these issues relate to the mission and audience of your museum?  Do you have volunteers? What are they thinking and saying? How can the museum help volunteers and partners address their own questions about race, violence, and community?

We urge museums to look to their communities. Are there civic organizations in your area that are hosting conversations? Could you offer your auditorium as a meeting place? Could your director or other senior staff join local initiatives on this topic? If your museum has not until now been involved in community discussions, you may be met at first with suspicion as to your intentions. But now is a great time to start being involved.

Join with your community in addressing these issues. Museums may offer a unique range of resources and support to civic groups that are hoping to organize workshops or public conversations. Museums may want to use this moment not only to “respond” but also to “invest” in conversations and partnerships that call out inequity and racism and commit to positive change.

We invite you to join us in amplifying this statement. As of now, only the Association of African American Museums has issued a formal statement about the larger issues related to Ferguson, Cleveland and Staten Island. We believe that the silence of other museum organizations sends a message that these issues are the concern only of African Americans and African American Museums. We know that this is not the case. We are seeing in a variety of media – blogs, public statements, and conversations on Twitter and Facebook—that colleagues of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are concerned and are seeking guidance and dialogue in understanding the role of museums regarding these troubling events. We hope that organizations such as the American Alliance of Museums; the Association of Science-Technology Centers; the Association of Children’s Museums; the American Association for State and Local History and others, will join us in acknowledging the connections between our institutions and the social justice issues highlighted by Ferguson and related events.

You can join us by…

  • Posting and sharing this statement on your organization’s website or social media
Participating Bloggers and Colleagues

Gretchen Jennings, Museum Commons
Aletheia Wittman and Rose Paquet Kinsley, The Incluseum
Aleia Brown, AleiaBrown.org
Steven Lubar, On Public Humanities
Mike Murawski, Art Museum Teaching
Linda Norris, The Uncataloged Museum
Paul Orselli  ExhibiTricks: A Museum/Exhibit/Design Blog
Ed Rodley, Thinking About Museums
Adrianne Russell, Cabinet of Curiosities
Nina Simon, Museum 2.0
Rainey Tisdale, CityStories
Jeanne Vergeront  Museum Notes

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

How Can Museums Respond Faster?


How can museums respond faster to issues that our visitors and communities are concerned about?

Recent events in Ferguson and Staten Island come to mind, but also ongoing issues like Ebola are topics that museums could tackle and/or provide forums for community dialog.

The issue, once you move beyond the broader question of whether museums should be doing this (which I think is a given) is how.

Museums tend to move s-l-o-w-l-y, so how can they provide programming that doesn't just automatically default to links on a website (sort of the museum version of "slacktivism") but also provide timely and concrete ways for visitors to explore tough topics with each other?

Gretchen Jennings and others in the museum/blogging community have been talking about this, with an aim to provide ways for folks to build bridges between successful programs and ideas in order to learn from one another's efforts. (And also to give museums and museum organizations a little nudge to stop being silent and/or "neutral" about topics of deep concern to the communities we serve.)

I'm happy to help spread the word about those efforts as they come together, so stay tuned!



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