Reflecting on 2020, looking forward to 2021

2020 has been a trying year on so many fronts.

As the year draws to an end, let’s take a moment to reflect on the profoundly disruptive impact that the pandemic has had on our lives, our communities and the museum sector. It’s equally important to acknowledge how each of us, in our own ways, made the best out of it in spite of circumstances, and how we came together to overcome setbacks and stay connected with each other.

For MCN, 2020 has been about bouncing back and securing its future.

When the pandemic hit, we cancelled our planned in-person event in Baltimore, held a virtual Town Hall, listened to your concerns and decided instead to plan for an entirely virtual event. MCN 2020 VIRTUAL took place last month over 6 days on the theme of ‘Sustainability: Preserve/Progress’. Attended virtually by close to 800 participants, the conference featured 78 thought-provoking sessions presented by over 170 speakers from around the world. Together they explored how museums and digital practitioners are confronting the many aspects and challenges posed by sustainability: technological, financial, environmental, cultural, social, and personal as we navigate global crises in health, labor, climate change, decolonization, and more.

In June, in response to civil uprisings related to the ongoing violence against Black individuals, the board of MCN committed to making MCN more inclusive and welcoming for all and set up a Black Speaker Fund to receive donations toward a special fund to be equally distributed among self-identified Black speakers at MCN 2020 VIRTUAL.

In July, MCN received a transformational capacity building grant from the Knight Foundation, allowing us to build an on-demand, year-round, 24/7 professional development community portal. Scheduled to launch next spring, the MCN Community Portal will allow MCN members to connect with each other, grow their network, find mentoring opportunities, access our SIGs, find digital resources, participate in online events, and share best practices.

Of course, none of what MCN does would be possible without the tireless efforts of the many talented and dedicated volunteers who support the work of MCN throughout the year: a heartfelt thank you!

As we prepare to greet 2021, we recognize that the pandemic has left many of us bruised and emotionally drained, and that its impact on the museum sector will be felt far into the future. Thanks to the critical support of the Knight Foundation, we have positioned MCN to be responsive to an ever-changing world. We will continue to expand the work started this past year so that MCN continues to serve the museum community and our members throughout their careers: MCN is your community and we couldn’t do what we do without your continued support and loyalty!

On behalf of the board and volunteers of MCN, I wish you all a peaceful holiday season and a very happy and healthy new year. See you in 2021!

Eric Longo, Executive Director