What You’ve Told Us So Far

One of our Museums & Creative Practice meet-ups at the AAM conference

We are really heartened by the response we’ve received to this project. Since we launched this website three weeks ago, more than 1,000 of our museum colleagues, from the US and from all over the world, have checked in to learn about our plans. So far 83 of you have also completed our survey (it’s not too late; you can find it here). And a handful of you even took time out from a very hectic American Association of Museums conference two weeks ago to give us input in person. Your feedback has already proved immensely helpful as we set the goals and structure for this project, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with you at every step of the way. We’re currently hammering out our formal book proposal and diving into our research, and we’ll update you periodically as things fall into place.

We’re still analyzing the results from our survey but I want to comment on a few key issues that have emerged so far. Our survey respondents were pretty evenly arrayed in terms of years of experience in the field—equal numbers of emerging professionals and veterans. And every museum department is represented in the results, although we heard disproportionately from educators (45% of respondents; the other departments ranged from 7ish% [directors, visitor services, technology, administration] to 15ish% [curators, exhibition developers, collections, independent museum professionals). We don’t know if that’s because educators are more passionate about this topic, or because the project was better publicized among educators. Nonetheless, even though our sample size is fairly small, it’s encouraging that we’re hearing from people all over the field, with different amounts of experience and varied backgrounds. It supports our conviction that creativity really is for everyone, regardless of your job and standing.

One survey result that really piqued our curiosity is that most of you consider yourselves to be creative individuals, but you don’t consider your museums to be creative institutions. Indeed, 64% of respondents rated themselves as very or extremely creative, but only 20% of you thought the same of your museums. Maybe it’s just that no one wants to admit they don’t consider themselves creative, but we are wondering if instead we’ve struck a chord with a particular segment of the museum community that feels like they are shouting (or creatively practicing) into the wind, and that these are the folks who were most compelled to take our survey.

So how about it? Do you feel like you are shouting into the wind about creativity at your museum? If so, what does that look like for you on a day-to-day basis? Are you the only creative person on your staff or are you one of a few like-minded colleagues? Are you trying to lead creatively from the top or are you infiltrating creatively from the bottom? Are you challenging the system, are you finding small ways to be creative that don’t rock the boat, or are you simply saving your creativity for your life outside of work? And if that’s not what it’s like for you at your museum we want to hear about it too. Comment below to help us understand the issues and how we might address them through this project. Or, if you don’t feel comfortable going on record, email us offline: raineytisdale@gmail.com or linda@lindabnorris.com.


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