Monday, September 20, 2010

Opportunity: Program Chair for a Conference

British Columbia Museums Association Conference 2010 . . .

I am cheating a little bit here with this post, as this article is set to appear in the BCMA Roundup magazine this month... but thought it would make a good entry as I have volunteered a lot on this conference, and have put particular attention into making a strong theme that would appeal to our sector. I hope it works out!!

Anyway, here is the article:

This year’s theme for the British Columbia Museums Association Conference, I, Museum: Community, Technology, Opportunity, declares who we are as a sector in our community - I am the museum, and I celebrate what I do! It is also is a play on I, Robot, a science fiction book by Isaac Asimov, which discusses society's errant relationship with technology; museums know have new ways of relating, but we want to be certain that these tools don’t take over. Bringing these two ideas together, we (shamelessly) adapted the Three Laws of Museums, from Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, to read:

  1. A museum may not abandon the past or, through inaction, allow the community and its material culture to come to harm.
  2. A museum must embrace the future, except when it conflicts with the First Law.
  3. A museum must protect its own existence as long as such protection doesn't conflict with the First or Second Law.

Such thought has gone into the theme because our sector has been – again – through a challenging time as of late: we need time to meet and regroup, have some great discussions and make a game plan for the future. Conference 2010 will help us do that by investigating and celebrating what makes museums unique (working with and for our community), how we can use technology to help us forward our goals (but not let it take over), and what we can do to survive and adapt to the changing world around us (by seizing unique opportunities). We also hope that we will have a little fun and success finding Owl (see the following post).

The Programming Committee has worked diligently since January to plan a fabulous program that will be relevant and engaging for the BCMA membership. We are lucky enough to have Nina Simon as our keynote speaker, who will talk about her book and museum ‘practice’ called The Participatory Museum, and how it can relate to what we are doing in BC museums. There are preconference workshops lined up that look at everything from discussing frontline strategies that make our visitors feel welcome, to updating current exhibitions on a shoe-string budget, to developing (and redeveloping) a museum gift shop. There are also over 30 sessions within the program that will discuss working with communities, review the latest in social media, as well as (gasp) look at entrepreneurial opportunities, including the √©conomus√©e movement. In addition, Robert Janes will lead a germane plenary session that title “A Sense of Urgency: Museums at the Future”; we should all be there just for that, as it is an important discussion on strategizing what we have to do to keep moving our sector forward.

We are also looking forward to webcasting several events, to make them available to online subscribers. This use of technology should help to make conference content available to our colleagues who are not able to attend conference, and keep the discussions going after conference has closed.

Conference is a time to come together to network, reconnect, attend some sessions and, yes, celebrate that museums are still here and reinventing themselves to remain relevant, vibrant and sustainable. Please join colleagues in Nanaimo from October 27 – 30 to discuss and celebrate I, Museum: Community, Technology, Opportunity, BCMA Conference 2010. You can register by visiting the BCMA website. We will see you there!

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