The Institute for Cultural Entrepreneurship (ICE) is proud to announce the inclusion of Mary Case in this year’s conference. Case, the founding director of Qm², is an entrepreneurial leader in the field and will be teaching participants about how to think creatively and effectively. ICE is now accepting applications for its fourth annual conference held at the Pocantico Center, north of New York City, June 2-5, 2013. The conference application is due by March 1. Any questions can be directed to the ICE Coordinator at email@example.com
Are you a cultural professional looking to become a catalyst in your institution? The Institute for Cultural Entrepreneurship (ICE) is now accepting applications for its fourth annual conference held at the Pocantico Center, north of New York City, June 2-5, 2013. The award-winning Institute for Cultural Entrepreneurship is an immersion program for mid-career museum, preservation, historic site and other arts and culture professionals designed to introduce business applications and principles of entrepreneurial thinking with the goal of expanding vision and leadership skills. The institute has been recognized with an award of merit by MuseumWise for its potential to create great expansion in public engagement through the resources it provides to museum professionals. The Cooperstown Graduate Program, the Museum Association of New York and the New York State Historical Association co-sponsor ICE. This project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services. Please forward to your museum and cultural colleagues this link to the 2013 conference application, which is due by March 1. Any questions can be directed to the ICE Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am idealistic. I like to think of the world as a good place, with good people, doing good things. And to some extent that is true, there is good in the world. But, in the real world, the world that is not my idealistic creation, this is not the case. Because of this people have created spaces to make good things happen. Museums are one of those good spaces; they are a space of public service. They should service their community, their visitors, and those who they collect from. After reading Give Me My Father’s Body and learning about the unethical behavior of the American Museum of Natural History it caused me to think about the current ethics in this field of public service.
I spoke with John Carnahan about museum ethics and the unethical behavior that can occur. What became clear during our conversation is that museums behave unethically in many different ways. Museums get their objects from graves, they obtain object with unknown provenance, and then there are the unethical finical shenanigans that goes on as well. Mr. Carnahan spoke about a museum that is currently using its endowment to pay operating costs and a museum employee that was selling museum objects to himself, to the determent of the museum connection. Museums can also behave unethically when vying for the same objects.
After talking with Mr. Carnahan about the many different ways that museums and museum employees behave unethically I am concerned about the field. If museums are supposed to be for the good of the public museums cannot weaken themselves by destroying the endowment, by acquiring objects illegally, or by selling off objects unnecessarily. This is unacceptable behavior and it is time for it to stop.
Potter Stewart once said, “Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” Thirty years later, this sentiment still holds true for communities and professionals alike, including the museum field.
I spoke with Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art at the Fenimore Art Museum. We discussed the various ethical issues that museums face with their collections. Working with Native American collections, Fognell believes the museum has a particular obligation to interpret the objects and artwork in an appropriate manner.
How do we as museum professionals ensure proper care and treatment of these objects? How do we ensure that a culture is being represented appropriately? When these objects are not treated according to cultural tradition, Fognell states that the museum runs the risk of losing that community’s support, alienating them and hampering the institution’s legitimacy.
Museums hold a degree of credibility that few other community instructions possess. Therefore, according to the AAM, it is necessary for museums to evaluate their practices, whether in their governance, collections, or programming, ensuring that they are fulfilling their mission and responsibilities. Are museums breaking ethical standards by not offering programs that reach wider audiences? Are the breaking ethical standards by neglecting to represent a perspective of a story? While ethics in collections is necessary, it is equally important to remember that ethical issues expand beyond objects alone.
Interview with Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art at the Fenimore Art Museum, December 3, 2012.
American Association of Museums. Code of Ethics for Museums. http://www.aam- us.org/resources/ethics-standards-and-best-practices/code-of-ethics-for-museums. 2000.
Ok, so diversity is good. I think we all know that we need to create spaces that are welcoming to all different types of people. But let’s push it a little further. It’s great to see people of varying colors in one building, but how do we get the colors to swirl?
For my Introduction to Museums assignment, I conducted an interview with Megan Dickerson from the Boston Children’s Museum. Megan is the Manager of Community Programs and Partnerships at the Museum, and among many things, one important aspect of her job is to encourage children and families to go beyond parallel play.
Parallel play is a recurring phenomenon that children’s museums must work to combat. It is a form of play where children play amongst, but not with, each other. And as a result, they do not influence the behaviors of one another, and the experience is ultimately not as fulfilling. As I’m sure you all have guessed, parallel play does not only affect children in the sand box. At the Boston Children’s Museum, Megan has noticed that while children and families of nonwhite races are coming to the Museum, there is little interaction between these young people and there white counterparts. Should we care?
In The Real Multiculturalism: A Struggle for Authority and Power, Amalia Mesa-Bains writes about the growing multiculturalism within the United States, and how museums must be representative of the country’s growing population of color. But is it ok if all we, as museum professionals, worry about is fulfilling “minority” quotas? Does our job stop once a Latino walks through the door? I, personally, don’t think that’s good enough. As museum professionals, we need to promote transcultural encounters, and the reality of the multiculturalism that exists within our current society.