rain, rain, go away

We had two partially sunny days last week.  I think they were the only two sunny days we’ve had this Junuary, as the wags on the local news are calling this month, and with good reason.  The average high for this time of year is 70F, although I’m well aware that averages do not equal normals.  We’ve been lucky to crack 60F most days this month, and have yet to hit 75F this year.  This year.  I’m told that’s a record, sadly.

This is what my garden looks like right now, in the slow drip, drip and the gray:

Pathetic, isn’t it?  All flopped over.

I was attending a conference indoors on those two lonely sunny days, of course.  I think it was worth it, although I did come away with a slightly bad taste in my mouth.  If only I hadn’t gone to that one last panel…  But what’s done is done.

The conference was that of the Washington Museum Association.  Which perhaps should be called the Washington History Museum Association.  Or maybe the Washington Small Museum Association, since art and science museums and the larger museums in our fair state were under-represented as compared to the heritage sites and historical societies and so forth and so on.  Since my interest is in smaller historical museums I did not find this a handicap, but if I hadn’t been, I’d have been disappointed.

It was held in beautiful downtown Gig Harbor, in the newly-remodeled building of the Harbor History Museum, due to open in September.  The keynote speaker was Nina Simon, the author of the blog Museum 2.0, where she discusses the concept of participatory museums, where the visitors are part of content creation, like Web 2.0. 

The workshops were fairly varied, and useful.  I was there primarily to network, and was fondly reminded of my first (and only) library conference in Montana, many years ago.  The museum community in Washington state (or at least that subset which comes to Washington Museum Association conferences) is much like the library community in Montana.  Small enough that everyone seems to know everyone else.  Even I knew more people than I expected to.  People from museum school (two of my classmates showed up, as did one of my teachers), people from the museums where I volunteer, and one woman I used to work with at Tacoma Public Library back in the day.  I hadn’t seen her in about ten years.  I’m still not used to the concept of having lived in one place long enough to have people I used to know to run into in the first place, but it’s a pleasant thing.

Then there was that last panel.  I’m not going to badmouth it.  It’s not a good idea, and I’m not sure it would accomplish anything.  What I am going to say, having worked for tax-funded public libraries for lo these many years, is that the workshop made me earworm this quote from Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan, my favorite fictional character:  “What a joy, Miles thought, to be a military ship captain—just bill it all to the Emperor. They must feel like a courtesan with a charge card. Not like us poor working girls.”  Call me naïve, but I guess I just never thought of there being a wealth threshold for welcoming someone who wants to help a museum be successful financially.  It bothers me.  Greatly.  I’m not sure how I can make that work with my egalitarian librarian beliefs.

It’s something I’m really going to have to think about.  Which, I suppose, is another reason I went to the conference in the first place, to be given new things to think about.  I would love some advice for dealing with this on a personal level if you’ve got it, though.  I really would.

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Categories: museum school, museum work, museums, outdoors, plants, volunteering, weather | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “rain, rain, go away

  1. What were some of the other panels you went to, the good ones? Did they present some fun or intriguing ideas?

  2. One panel was put on by the keynote speaker, Nina Simon, about getting your museum patrons to be part of the museum rather than just spectators. Another was about how to create a living history program, which was fascinating. The other two were about umbrella organizations and about keeping the volunteers of what used to be an all-volunteer run organization still actively involved as your museum starts hiring professionals and, well, moving up in the world [g].The living history program was very interesting, and gave me some ideas on how to be the person behind the docents who actually do the performing. I hadn't thought about what it takes besides performers to keep a living history program running before. That was probably the most interesting of all the programs for me, anyway.Thanks for asking!

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