Not the conference you expect, but the conference you need.

By Tracey Berg-Fulton, Database Associate, Carnegie Museum of Art Collections

As a first time MCN attendee, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’m not entirely in the technology world, but I’ve got one leg in
and so I was worried I’d be overwhelmed by talk of frameworks, blasted by acronyms, and completely unable to contribute to the conversation. That, my friends, was completely unfounded.

I’ve attended many, many museum conferences, and I have to say that MCN was the most welcoming and refreshingtbf-mcntbfly honest conference I’ve ever been to. I’m impressed that there was a safe space policy, which, as a woman, says that you take concerns about harassment, intimidation and assault seriously. I was also impressed that the Ignite talks openly and publicly talked about power, inclusion, equity, and accessibility, and that these issues were not seen as a niche but a thread that continued through the conference.

MCN was also really important for me in terms of my professional development. I was paired with an amazing mentor through #MuseWomen, and not only did my mentor talk through things with me, the people he introduced me to were also more than willing to connect around some of my career progression questions. Further, I was finally able to put faces to all of the amazing people I follow on Twitter, and see just how equally amazing they are in real life. I’ve not had that many hugs from “strangers” in a very long time.

The continued coalescing around the Museum Swear Jar, my accidental side project, really surprised me. I continue to learn that the problems we experience are pretty universal across departments, we just call them different things. I’m hoping that the physical manifestation of the Swear Jar can keep the conversamuseum-swear-jar-2museum-swear-jartion going, and I’m curious to see how the Jar can help the profession, aside from being a venting vehicle.

I always refer to the first day back from a conference as the conference hangover, and not only because there was a sweaty group rendition of Wonderwall at 2:15AM. I came away from MCN feeling like I immediately wanted to go out and code the snot out of an HTML interactive, go through and make descriptive captions for all our images online, and write an amazing social strategy. Buuuut then I open my e-mail and the reality sets in that I’ve not been doing my normal job for four days, and these projects will have to wait. Sadness ensues.

To fight the post conference hangover, I’ve got a plan. I’m going to follow up with my mentor and the others I met so that we can keep the conversation going. I’ve forked the Stele repo from Bryan Kennedy’s talk on dumping Flash for interactives, and I’m going to challenge myself to code a rudimentary interactive before St. Patrick’s Day. Why Saint Patrick’s Day? Why not? And in response to Sina Bahram’s Ignite talk, I’m going to get with our Diversity Catalyst and Web and Digital Media Manager to see how we can include audio descriptions into the upcoming work on our website, and try to evangelize it into the curatorial workflow.

And so, armed with a few goals and guidelines, let’s do stuff!

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