Tuesday, July 14, 2009
In the wake of some terrific and interesting press on museums and social participation, I thought it was time to stop being so busy at work and wade in.
Yes, everyone wants to coin their own phrase. Well, so do I. I've been hearing a lot about this idea of the "visitor as publisher" (or user) and the "we" vs. the "you" movement away from the museum as the authority and the visitor the uninformed.
Museums ARE authorities in many topics, so naturally the public looks to them for leadership in that regard. They want us to help curate the information, and interpret the data-- to some extent. The key is leaving room for their voice to expand the experience.
The ultimate challenge is how to make the result meaningful.
This is a collaborative model, and the authority lies in the building of knowledge between two entities- resulting in something more powerful than either could do on their own. Hence my phrase, cooperative authority. Because I can't see how you can say you're an institution of X or Y without being somewhat of an authority.
For a decade or more we've been working on a number of projects that support this aim- with various iterations. In the coming days I'll profile a bit about what we've done, and what's in the hopper.
Stay tuned, and please let me know what you think. I'm trying this phrase out.