I wanted to share with you my thoughts and impressions on the 3 day Museums Association of Saskatchewan meetings held recently in Saskatoon. It is unfortunate that many people are unable to take time off work or if retired to take time away from their lives. Too often when we hear the word meeting or conference we think boring long lectures, being talked at, topics that don't apply to us. In reality we need to readjust our thought patterns. Think of it as a mini holiday from our lives whether working or retired. It is a time to refocus, to learn, to be inspired and to share. The joy is not knowing exactly how this will happen and staying open to the possibilites.
May 22 The Networks Meeting. Just over a year ago I had no idea what this meant. There are clusters of small museums all over the province that get together and share thoughts, experiences and plans. Twice a year each sends a representative to a larger meeting, unless there is a snow storm.
I did my prearranged duty: passed out Qu'Appelle Valley Network pamphlets, Cupar museum business card with our blogspot on it and mentioned the up coming Arceo Caravan coming though our area.
What left and impression on me: Langham's pamphlet and the thought that I must visit. My sister and I take day trips whenever I visit Saskatoon and love to visit small museums in the area. Gwen from Paradise Hills has been working on a book called Saskatchewan Women of Influence, years in the making, she inspired me with her dedication to a project, and I hope one day to get a better sense of it's development over time. I think it would be great to have in our museums along with the book Women Pioneers of Saskatchewan that the Saskatchewan Geneaological Society did.
Yes Virginia sometimes hyper active children become hyper active adults. No, no more coffee for me. Maybe I should just put my head on the table, or do you have some duck tape for my mouth.
May 23 Symposium on Sustainabilty. That made me curious. What am I going to learn that applies to me and my community? Then I read the background information and thought, oh no, “role playing” and “stakeholders”. Someone is going to suffer and its not going to be me. I'll adjust the chip on my shoulder to confrontational mode. Take my preconceptions and run with it. ....... Whoops I enjoyed myself immensely. The morning session: Marni started with relaxation exercises, I'm going to hate this, what a wonderful positive person, very soothing, very loving, very genuine. I'll just go with it. What have I got to lose other than a bad attitude. Marni's power point presentation on the Rainbow Gallery and Noah's Ark set the mood. The idea of creating an experience and of participatory inspired me. I really enjoyed the exercise where we took a non descript object and in 60 seconds explained it to our partner. It made me focus and consider memory and significance that a simple object possesses and create an emotional attachment. When we returned to our tables we all took time to share more insights into the exercise. The other exercise I enjoyed was when each table got a box of discards and we built a place. We were inspired by the reading of a book called The Tin Forest. ( I think the name is right ) It was play time for adults, opening up to creativity without worrying about whether the end product would be acceptable. It was the process of creating that was fun, things evolved, we weren't really sure what our plan was, it just went along until we discovered it.
Okay so I really enjoyed the morning but I'm probably going to hate the afternoon with Glen and “roleplaying”. Nothing sets the mood more than a large white sheet of paper that we can all call out community and personal concerns. Not so different regardless of the size of our community. It helped us to prepare to move away from the hurdles we all confront. I was apprehensive about taking on a “role” in a community of 800,000. Too many problems, too big a place. Amazingly we focused as a group on one main issue the museum could address and went with it. We focused on what brought us together not what drove us apart. I thought after what a good exercise, we don't have to do it all, just start somewhere, make a contribution. We really could make a difference. We as a museum were not working in isolation from the community but with the community for economic, environmental, and cultural benefit.
May 24 the dreaded but necessary annual meeting. Misconception. Actually I found that the 3 annual meetings I have attended are focused, to the point and do not meander aimlessly. The members forum in the morning allows for feedback from the various museums, critical to the functioning of the association in determining it's direction. I enjoyed the afternoon's presentations. Dean's Looking in the Mirror made me think more about that time when most of us will clear out our parents possessions.
Will we discard things as useless or take the opportunity to learn about their lives. Glen's presentation on ecomuseums cleared up some misconceptions I had, and made me think about the possibilities.
Museums are not a building one goes to, isolated from the community, museums are an intregal part of the community. We must beware that we do not become irrelevant. Our role is more than just preserving the past, but giving us a sense of place in the present and the future to all our residents. Key word inclusive not exclusive.
Inbetween it all are those brief but focused individual conversations, sometimes outside while we share a common hobby as Dean said. One of these brief conversations was with Stephanie from Swift Current, the site for next year's conference. It sounds like an exciting time. Museums are not dusty places of faded photographs and discarded curiousities, but a living evolving organism, an intregal part of the community. For an individual , conferences can be a great way to re-energize ones batteries. Now how is that for a pep talk from a hyper active slightly confrontational retiree.