I’ve been asked to write a blog entry about another blog, and it took mere seconds to know I would write about Museum 2.0. The blog is authored by Seema Rao and Nina Simon, two museum professionals based in the United States. They discuss working in museums.
Here are three reasons why I enjoy this blog.
It speaks about things I know about, namely, working in museums. Take this statement from the 2009 post Deliberately Unsustainable Business Models:
“Museums have an amazing ability to survive in the most adverse environments. They are the cockroaches of the nonprofit world.”
I laughed out loud when I read it. I immediately shared it with some museum colleagues who also laughed. I’m still laughing at it, not because it is particularly funny, but because it’s true. Every small community museum I have worked with has struggled financially. From trying to work with obsolete equipment to recycling file folders by flipping them inside out so they can be relabelled, the struggle is real. Just last week I started a research placement in a medium-sized museum, and as I was shown to my workstation, I was offered an apology because the system is still operating on Windows 8. The horror!
As I peruse Museum 2.0, I find myself nodding in agreement and loving that someone else gets it. The blog leaves me feeling connected to people who are asking the same questions that I have asked myself. For instance, why are museum workers leaving the field in droves? Oh, I don’t know, perhaps it has something to do with the fact that a person needs a MA to qualify for an entry-level, part-time job that requires ten-plus years of work to pool enough seniority hours to apply for full-time employment? That was my immediate answer, and yes, it does ring with bitterness. The blog talked about the stress of being under constant financial constraints, being overworked and understaffed, and having to deal with boards of directors, politicians, and accompanying egos. Salaries are notoriously low, benefits minuscule, and frankly, the public can wear the best of us down. What I love about this blog is that I feel like I am having a conversation with the content. My thoughts mix in with the authors’ thoughts and I find that immensely satisfying.
At times it feels as if Museum 2.0 has reached inside my head and pulled out my exact thoughts. This goes beyond shared common experiences and into a full-blown doppelganger of the mind. This November 2020 entry states “Whenever I see something interesting in a museum, like an interesting sign, I assume there were 100 meetings and at least one moment of an emotional outburst. This is because in museums we make the stakes very high for small things.” I have repeatedly thought the exact same thing myself. In staff meetings, I have sat through 40-minute debates about which step would be best to place a “This stairway is closed” sign. I’ve always felt that the underlying reason for placing high stakes on small issues is fear. Fear of displeasing funders, the board, guests, and our bosses. Around my workplace, I have become known for wandering into scenes of pure chaos and calmly stating “nothing is on fire, and nobody is dead, so all is well”. It is my way of trying to put things into perspective, which is not always easy to do in a museum. But any blog that has me saying “Get out of my head” out loud is a winner in my books, after all, like minds attract like minds.
The final thing I appreciate about Museum 2.0 is that despite all the issues discussed, the blog still communicates a deep respect for museums and the many types of people who work in them. Museum work drives me crazy, but I still love it.
The 2021 entry titled Why do we keep working in Museumssums up my feelings about the Museum 2.0 blog.
- I like this thing it is good
- This thing has issues, nothing is perfect and in fact, by examining those aspects I can relate to it better