It’s been 6 years (!!!) since I attended a MGA Conference. Last time I was at the height of my digital engagement and working on defining a digital strategy for Sovereign Hill. Two periods of Parental Leave and a move to the Costumed Schools has altered the framework of my knowledge. This blog has sat mostly dormant while I have diligently played the role of an 1850’s School Ma’am – find out more about my role and our unique program. But after getting stuck in the day-to-day operations of our program I was looking for an opportunity to pull back and look at the big picture – so here I am at #MGAConf2018
AGENTS OF CHANGE
The conference theme excites me. I am in the GLAM sector because I like the challenges and opportunities it has for making meaningful connections, providing unique experiences and challenging the status-quo. This may sound strange coming from someone who diligently recreates the past.
But it is the contrast between the then and now that draws out questions about what has changed, why it has changed and what still needs to be changed.
Robin Hirst opened the conference with some poignant reminders: while we need to be commercially viable we need to resist the temptation to be so commercial that we forget who we are there for in the first place. He also encouraged us to make the most of this conference because without inspiration we can’t move forward.Read More »
Since the start of 2014 I have been working as a teacher in the Sovereign Hill Costumed School, a shift from my previous role as an Education Officer. Since April 2014, marking a year now, I have been full time as the Ma’am in St. Peter’s Denominational School. This role sees me running a 2-day costumed role-play experience for Year 5/6 students twice a week, with one day spent on administration/organisation.
It’s been an easy move in some ways, a big shift in others. Most notably I have moved from focussing on innovation and social media to working, predominately, with technology of the Victorian Era, such as the slate board (which is eerily similar in shape and size to the iPad!). I love living the past. I was also fortunate that my previous role had equipped me well in terms of background knowledge, thus enabling the role-play to come more easily. But I still continuously find gaps in my knowledge that makes it hard to be respond to some situations authentically – such as knowledge of country names, boundaries and rulers as they were in 1854. It is motivating to keep learning contextual information about the era.
I was delighted to be involved with the planning and delivery of this Symposium. It is the first time it has been held outside Europe. The program ran from Wed 25th – Sat 28th March on site at Sovereign Hill. During most of Thursday I was teaching a visiting school group for Day 2 of their 2 day 1850s school immersion experience.
On Thursday afternoon I presented my paper In their shoes: children comparing their experiences to those before them. This paper was a discussion about our costume school program and how, through personally experiencing a recreation of history, are able to develop an appreciation on the context in which historical events occurred. I suggest that we create disbelief in the children which leads to cognitive dissonance. To resolve this dissonance and create resonance they need simply to develop the understanding that people believed and behaved differently in the past.
On Monday I attended my first professional development seminar since starting Maternity Leave in February. It was a lunchtime seminar at the Immigration Museum Melbourne on the topic of ‘Rethinking the Museum Experience‘. I did have my, very obliging, 5 month old daughter in tow, so I wasn’t at my full capacity. Unfortunately I missed all of Andrea Witcomb‘s presentation while I was settling her.
Nonetheless, there were some interesting messages I took away from the seminar. Laurajane Smith and Philipp Schorch spoke about research they had conducted with visitors to the Immigration museum. Both looked at how the visitors engaged with the content in the museum, particularly in relation to emotional engagement and the role of identity in shaping their visit.
I had been hoping to visit MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) for quite some time, so I was pleased to finally make there last week. I had heard a lot about MONA and their mobile experience ‘The O’ at various Museum conferences and gatherings, so I had quite high expectations. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed and it lived up to the hype. A visit to MONA is quite a powerful experience.
Photography is allowed inside the museum, but publication on websites is not allowed without permission. So I will share only images of the entrance.
I arrived at MONA by car, rather than ferry. When you enter MONA you travel to the lowest level by a cylindrical lift or spiral stairs that wind around the lift. You emerge into a cavernous hall with towering stone walls. This entrance really set the scene for the visit. It feels like you are delving into something deep, unknown, confronting and surprising.
Last week I visited the recently renovated Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery in Hobart. I hadn’t visited it prior to renovation so I can’t comment on the transformation, but what I did see was quite impressive. What struck me the most was the aesthetic quality of the exhibitions, particularly those in the Bond Store Galleries. They were very beautiful spaces to be in.
On Friday (7th December) I attended a small part of the Perfecting the Blend Conference held at the impressive Earth Ed Centre at Mt Clear College here in Ballarat. The whole conference ran for a full two days with a huge range of presenters talking about the innovative and seamless use of technology to support learning. Unfortunately I was only able to attend two sessions on Friday afternoon, but they were a good opportunity to look at how Museums are using Video Conferencing to deliver Education Programs.