In our initial survey, we intentionally did not define creativity, because we wanted to see what filtered up from all of our colleagues. But after talking, reading your comments and lots of other sources, and writing collaboratively, we’ve come up with a definition–or perhaps we might more accurately call it a manifesto–about what we think makes a museum creative and what we mean by creative practice.
We envision that in every step of our process, we’ll be sharing ideas with our colleagues. Once a week or so, we hope to post a question or topic for your thoughtful comments. So we begin at the beginning. Here’s what we think:
For the purposes of this project, creative museums—and creative museum workers—produce new ideas and new ways of seeing things that add value either internally (to the staff and to operations behind the scenes) or externally (to the community). Our definition is broad, including idea generation in any museum department (inventing bold new interpretive methods, management techniques, or even fundraising strategies), creative problem-solving (finding a graceful way to move past entrenched challenges), and—what most people think of first—artistic creativity (making the museum aesthetically appealing). Creativity isn’t something you have or don’t have; it’s a practice that is open to everyone. And it must indeed be practiced—it does not happen out of thin air. A creative museum generates both successes and failures, and requires testing, revising, and rethinking ideas and opportunities. Often you simply know a creative museum when you see it. And the good news is that our visitors know it when they see it too.
What’s your initial response to this? Are we missing any elements? Is it too broad or too narrow? Can you see how it might pertain to your organization or others you know?
Comment below, or directly by emailing either one of us. And thanks for your insights!