6 thoughts on “Have Conversations Here: Supporting Productive Dialogue in Museums”

  1. Another great post Mike! I remember years ago doing a front-end evaluation asking visitors how we could talk about climate change, biodiversity, population etc (these issues do seem a bit lame compared to what you’re dealing with tho…). Anyway, one of them turned to me and said something like: “Just put a giant dinner table in the middle of the exhibition so we can talk to each other”. Sadly we didn’t do this but I do remember thinking at the time what a great idea it was.

    1. Thanks, Alli! While we’re not able to do any formal evaluation or assessment, I have been keeping in contact with our front-line staff (Guest Services and Security) about any differences they notice. During one day in which we had a special community partnership program that focused on the Smith and Kline exhibitions, our staff did informally notice an increase in small groups of people having conversations in the galleries. But we decided to be incremental with this strategy, and kind of slowly and intentionally make it available when it makes sense. I’ll be handing them out this evening at a public gallery talk featuring Arvie Smith, who has been so supportive of this idea of art sparking critical dialogues in the museum and beyond. I’m also interested in getting feedback from our docents, since they are the primary way in which we can facilitate conversations in the galleries. With exhibitions like Smith, Kline, and others, they are increasingly in a position to have difficult and challenging conversations with you visitors about these politically-charged topics. We are in this together and learning together, though. As a mentor, colleague, and friend of mine always says at times like this … Onward!

  2. great project Mike ….musems here in THE LAND of OZ (LOL) play a big part in dialogue with First nations peops of which I’m one ,FYI see Museums and Galleries NSW a great resource, also the Aust Museum which continues to plat a great consultative roll with (MY )Aboriginal Peops regards Ian

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