Sunday, April 28, 2013

Heading Out With Questions

The spring conference season for museums has arrived. Next week is InterActivity 2013 hosted by the Association of Children’s Museums and Pittsburgh Children’s Museum. May 19-22, the American Alliance of Museums hosts its 2013 Annual Meeting and Museum Expo in Baltimore.

Usually I return from conferences invigorated by questions posed by presenters, asked by participants, and overheard during breaks. I fully expect that after four days of sessions including the Reimaging Children’s Museums design seminar, I will have gathered questions and resources to follow-up on and think about over the next year.

This year, however, I am also heading out to the conference with a set of questions. I hope to ask and listen to colleagues noodle on a few blog topics that have been floating through my mind. I am certain my thinking will be sharper and the posts more interesting and relevant if others’ perspectives and insights are folded in. 

Play Outfitters. Outfitters provide specialty equipment and supplies for canoeing, hunting, fishing, skiing, and trail riding so the experience is top notch–easy, enjoyable, without unnecessary interruptions, and safe.  What is the scope of play outfitters?
  • What equipment, materials, objects, play things, or support should a play outfitter provide? How does outfitting for play change with the seasons? What are particularly great additions for toddlers, young children? and children in early and middle childhood?

A Question of Practice. Practice is what we do everyday in our professional lives. We refer to museum practice, talk about best practice, and pursue excellence in practice. In spite of years of practice, I am fuzzy about what is  meant by and what distinguishes practice, a practice, and an area of practice.
  • How do we recognize and define practice? a practice? What distinguishes a practice from an activity or set of activities? How is practice different from expertise? What are some examples of a practice?

The Power of Place. Place matters. It matters to children discovering who they are, their world, and their place in it. Place matters to families growing and deepening connections to their communities. Place brings people together and can help them understand their connections to one another and their community.
  • In what ways does place inspire children’s museums? What qualities of place can be experienced in and around the museum? How can exhibits, programs, and experiences strengthen place-based connections for children? families?

If we don’t connect at the conference or you are not attending, I’d still like to hear your responses to these questions. Please share your thoughts to these questions here on Museum Notes or send them to my email:     

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