Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Reading Recommendations for Museum Folks During a Pandemic


I don't know about you, but at times since the world turned upside-down in March, my interest in reading has become fairly limited.  However, in the last few months, my interest has picked up and I've been reading and enjoying a number of books -- some museum-related, some not.

So here are some reading recommendations for museum folks -- pick a few books out to explore now, or just save the link for future reference.  (NOTE: some of the links in this post are Amazon Affiliate links. That means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions about the books featured remain my own.)



Brenda Cowan is the author (along with Ross Laird and Jason McKeown) of a book entitled Museum Objects, Health and Healing.  Brenda was kind enough to share some thoughts about the book and her museum work in an interview earlier this year.






"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller was a surprisingly easy and enjoyable read considering the subject was Greek Mythology.  The writing was top-notch, no doubt one of the reasons the book was awarded the Orange Prize for fiction.  Highly recommended for a (physically-distanced!) beach trip or weekend getaway.






During a conversation with Jennifer Martin, as part of my Museum FAQ YouTube series, Jennifer recommended this short but powerful book, "Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change" by William Bridges. Given the times we are living in, I found the book especially timely. You can purchase it on Amazon, but cheaper used copies are also readily available on the Web.






Ready for a rollicking, fantastical ride through an alternative universe version of New York City?  If so, you will definitely want to pick up the latest book from N.K. Jemisin called "The City We Became".  I tore through this book because I kept wanting to find out what happened next.  Since this is the first book of a projected trilogy, I'm looking forward to reading future volumes!





Jen Oleniczak Brown's latest book, "Think on Your Feet: Tips and Tricks to Improve Your Impromptu Communication Skills on the Job" is one of Inc. Magazines “20 Books That Will Kick Off 2020 on the Right Foot” and has been called “a helpful maven’s guide ideal for anyone who views a podium with fear and trembling” by Publishers Weekly.

Jen was kind enough to share some impromptu communication tips and tricks with ExhibiTricks readers in a guest post earlier this year.






Wildwood is a strange and wonderful book that starts off with a baby being carried away by a murder of crows!  If that doesn't inspire you to pick up this first book in the fantasy adventure series by Colin Meloy, lead singer of the Decemberists (and illustrated by Carson Ellis) I'm not sure what will. I suppose Wildwood is technically a children's or YA book, but I enjoyed it just the same.


I hope you find inspiration and enjoyment in the books mentioned above.  Do you have your own book suggestions for museums folks?  Let us know in the "Comments" section below!





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Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!


Saturday, August 1, 2020

Free Tool CollViz Makes Data Visualization Easy for Museums

A title graphic with the word "CollViz" over data set images


Have you ever considered creating a way to let visitors explore your hidden collections online or in an exhibit? What about including a dashboard that illustrates your community impact in a grant proposal?

“Data visualization” may sound trendy and flashy, but it’s been around for a very long time – even mastered by Florence Nightingale. And you too are already familiar with it -- pie charts, bar graphs, timelines, and maps are all kinds of data viz.

At its core, data viz is the translation of data into visual characteristics. Take a point in a scatter plot, for example. The color, size, and position of that point can each mean something different. Humans are really good at picking out patterns, and so data viz lets us visually explore, understand, and communicate trends in data in an intuitive way.

CollViz (short for Collection Visualization) is a website created by Jessica Mailhot. She’s braided together her experience in collection management and data viz design for her Master’s thesis
project at the University of Colorado Boulder’s Museum & Field Studies Program. CollViz is where you can find pre-made templates of dashboards designed for museums, tutorials for how to use and customize them, and a host of resources to make data viz easy and powerful. Everything on CollViz is free to use, and the software Tableau Public is free, too.

Museums are full of data. It’s how they manage their collections, measure their impact, carry out projects, and teach science. And while data viz has blossomed in many other spheres, it’s still a relatively new frontier in museums. There is boundless potential, though, especially for engaging with the public. Data viz is intuitive and eye-catching. It’s spread over social media, published in popular magazines, and even reports our progress in health tracking apps.

For museums who may be curious about bringing data viz into their toolbelt, there can be some imposing barriers: training time, IT experience, extra funds, and resources suited for other professions. Now the CollViz website is a place for museums to go to get everything they need to make data viz easy, quick, and relevant.

In these transformative times for museums, we need to seek out new ways to make an impact and create engaging experiences for our communities. CollViz is here to make data viz a robust and accessible option for museums of all kinds and is something you can begin today while working remotely. So click over to the CollViz website, and let’s visualize the future of museums together!

A series of data visualization graphs





Don't miss out on any ExhibiTricks posts! It's easy to get updates via email or your favorite news reader. Just click the "Sign up for Free ExhibiTricks Blog Updates" link on the upper right side of the blog.

Paul Orselli writes the posts on ExhibiTricks. Paul likes to combine interesting people, ideas, and materials to make exhibits (and entire museums!) with his company POW! (Paul Orselli Workshop, Inc.) Let's work on a project together!

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