Due to COVID-19, the 2020 conference will be delivered virtually over a number of days starting the week of November 9, and possibly the following one. MCN is currently investigating methods and models for online participation and will do its  best to accommodate your personal and professional commitments. Additionally, MCN is committed to affordability and accessibility for all. In the meantime, submitting a proposal does not commit you to attend. Registration will open sometime this summer and you can decide to register at that time. Stay tuned for more details.

We hope to return to Baltimore, as originally planned this year, in 2021.

Overview

Deadline extended! The call for proposals is LIVE until midnight on Friday, June 5, 2020 in your timezone.

This year our theme is Sustainability: Preserve/Progress. We invite proposals that investigate sustainability: a tension between transformation and longevity. Sustainability has many facets—technological, financial, environmental, cultural, social, and personal. These stand at the forefront of our practice as we strive for both survival and relevance. We want to learn how you position your work to meaningfully meet present needs. Weighing impact against cost and risk is one of many calculations that determine valuable products, effective strategy, and efficient systems. How do you temper innovation with a mind for long-term support?

We recognize the increasingly fraught nature of sustainability—amplified now as we navigate global crises in health, labor, climate change, decolonization, and more. In a time of uncertainty and accountability, let’s confront these issues together. We encourage you to explore what enduring technologies and practices look like in the face of disruption. Question what we are striving to preserve and what stands to change. How do we care for the health of our living environment, our communities, our institutions and ourselves?

This theme of sustainability will guide many of the conversations at MCN 2020. Tell us how you cultivate and preserve digital capacity and literacy in this current moment. We also welcome proposals on whatever topic is meaningful to you and that are aligned with MCN’s mission.

Submitting a Session Proposal

Thoroughly review the theme strands, session types, and submission requirements documented here. For questions about the call for proposals or the conference, email program@mcn.edu

Start your proposal


Strands 

This year, we’re introducing thematic strands to better steer conversations around the conference theme. Each focuses on a particular facet of the theme, widening the range of opportunities for various skill sets and session types. We hope that these strands inspire you and your collaborators as you consider presenting at MCN 2020. The program committee will also use these strands when reviewing proposals. 

Strand 1: Devising procedures for disaster preparedness and crisis response

Sessions appropriate for this strand may include…

  • Creating and implementing a digital strategy to engage the public and maintain operations through COVID-19 closures 
  • Establishing protocols to protect staff and donor information in the case of a data breach 
  • Organizing an employee union and/or emergency care fund to address a potential change in staffing 
  • Outlining methods for remote work to keep staff engaged, mission-driven, and safe

Strand 2: Devising strategies for maintenance

Sessions appropriate for this strand may include…

  • Integrating new features and tools into an existing system to promote adoption and success
  • Encoding a digitized exhibit to adhere to new system requirements and reducing the likelihood of accruing technical debt
  • Revisiting digital collections to better understand and adhere to copyright law

Strand 3: Redefining progress through critical research

Sessions appropriate for this strand may include…

  • Promoting interdisciplinary approaches to questions about the ethical use of AI, VR, AR, and XR
  • Studying current challenges and opportunities with collections management systems and online curation
  • Writing and testing open-source code(s) for the collective benefit of organizations

Strand 4: Generating ideas for sustained transformation

Sessions appropriate for this strand may include…

  • Identifying new tools and training for new approaches to organizing, accessioning and registering new objects
  • Developing ways to map, write, and/or retire content to ensure the continuous improvement of a museum website
  • Strategies for increasing equity of access and inclusion into organizational structures

Strand 5: Incorporating, amplifying, and supporting communities

Sessions appropriate for this strand may include…

  • Using social media to redefine engagement in a rapidly changing environment
  • Recognizing the power of storytelling to make space for new stories
  • Increasing representation of diverse populations online with digital collections

Strand 6: Connecting with colleagues to promote self-care and nurture leadership

Sessions appropriate for this strand may include…

  • Recognizing and creating means for addressing employee burnout
  • Incorporating front of house staff more fully into one’s organization
  • Unpacking imposter syndrome and facilitating more candid stories about failure

Session Types

PLENARY PANELS

In addition to the Opening Plenary Keynote, we also showcase two Plenary Panel discussions. These sessions bring attendees together at the start of the day to learn about and reflect on sector-wide issues in a participatory, moderated panel 

As the organizer of the Plenary Panel, you serve as moderator leading a conversation about your topic with three to five panelists. You will foster thoughtful dialogue between panelists and facilitate a compelling and accessible Q&A with the audience. Plenary panels cannot be conducted under Chatham House rules.

Duration

60 minutes 

Submission requirements

  • Description: A Plenary Panel proposal must identify the issues or themes to be discussed and describe the structure of the session. Also, explain how you might incorporate audience feedback and insight throughout the panel. 
  • Topic and Theme: When selecting a topic for your session, explain how it relates to the conference theme and/or MCN’s overall mission. We encourage you to also consider the theme strands: how does your session speak to or challenge these strands? With Plenary Panels, in particular, state how your topic stands to impact and intrigue GLAMs as a whole or general technology trends. 
  • Panelists: Panel organizers should have prior, proven experience leading and moderating large-format panels. Diversity among panelists is important to the success of the session. Demonstrate how your panelists marry different voices and perspectives. Consider variations among institutions, backgrounds, and expertise. 
  • Learning Outcomes:  Outline three to four specific learning outcomes for session participants. What new ideas or skills will they learn (i.e. After attending this session, participants will be able to…”)? What value do you think your Plenary Panel will bring to MCN and the cultural sector? 
  • Virtual Participation: Tell us about your ideas around the opportunity for presenting your idea digitally. What special tools are you interested in using to facilitate your session? Share how you would engage participants and connect them with one another. 

30 and 60-MINUTE SESSIONS

30 and 60-minute sessions are the core of the conference program. 

30-minute sessions are best suited for short presentations and case studies. 30-minute sessions include 20 minutes for presentations and 10 minutes for discussion or Q&A. Only three speakers may participate in a single 30-minute session. The Program Committee may group sessions together to create an hour-long session around a common topic. 

60-minute sessions can accommodate panels, professional forums, and hands-on demonstrations. 60-minute sessions include 50 minutes for presentations and 10 minutes for discussion or Q&A. No more than five speakers may participate in a single 60-minute session.

Propose a 60-minute session if you have more to share about the project or lots to discuss with panelists. 

Duration

30 or 60 minutes

Submission Requirements

  • Description: Describe the structure or format of your session and the product(s), questions, and/or topics to be discussed. Identify some key questions you’ll address with your panel and the audience. 
  • Topic/Theme: When selecting a topic for your session, explain how it relates to the conference theme and/or MCN’s overall mission. We encourage you to also consider the theme strands: how does your session speak to or challenge these strands? With 30- and 60-minute sessions in particular, be sure that you can address your topic within the time allotted.  
  • Presenters: Diversity among panelists is important to the success of the session. Demonstrate how your panelists marry different voices and perspectives. Consider variations among institutions, backgrounds, and expertise. 
  • Learning Outcomes: Outline three to four specific learning outcomes for session participants. What new ideas or skills will participants learn (i.e. After attending this session, participants will be able to…”)?
  • Virtual Participation: Tell us about your ideas around the opportunity for presenting your idea digitally. What special tools are you interested in using to facilitate your session? Share how you would engage participants and connect them with one another. 

OTHER

Have an idea for something completely different? The MCN community is endlessly creative. This is your chance to propose something outside of the box. While most presentations will fit into one of the formats above, we encourage original ideas. Interested in storytelling? Time to make MCN’s answer to The Moth. Have a particularly unique job or experience? Hold an AMA.  We’re looking for truly novel approaches—online or onsite.

Sessions submitted under the “Other” category in the past include but are not limited to:

  • Mock interviews to prepare applicants during the hiring process (Acing the Interview)
  • Data sprint gathering for museum professionals (Datathon)
  • Play and discuss an educational alternative reality game (Tracking Ida)

Submission Requirements

  • Description: Other session proposals should describe the overall structure of the session, the topic you intend to cover, as well as the types of activities or methodologies you will use to teach and/or involve participants. 
  • Presenters: Diversity among presenters is important to the success of the session. Demonstrate how your panelists marry different voices and multiple perspectives. Consider variations among institutions, backgrounds, and expertise. You and your panelists should also recognize the need for advance preparation.
  • Learning Outcomes: Outline three to four specific learning outcomes for session participants. What new ideas or skills will they learn (i.e. After attending this session, participants will be able to…”)?
  • Virtual Participation: Tell us about your ideas around the opportunity for presenting your idea digitally. What special tools are you interested in using to facilitate your session? Share how you would engage participants and connect them with one another. 

Restrictions

Review all session types before submitting a proposal for an Other session. These are an opportunity for presenters to provide a uniquely enriching experience to attendees and expand upon the concept of a conference session. We will decline proposals that are just longer versions of a different session type, as well as any product demos or pitches submitted under this category. 

Feel free to contact us at program@mcn.edu before submitting a proposal. We’d be happy to talk through your idea, considering space requirements, special equipment, participant capacity, and other details to help you put everything together. 

DEEP DIVES

Deep Dives are “roll up your sleeves,” seminar-style experiences. Presenters and participants brainstorm together on challenges affecting the sector or focus on specific practices from multiple perspectives. You and any co-presenters will design and lead a session to explore novel methods and concepts that can benefit attendees, their institutions, and the sector overall. 

Product demos or pitches submitted under this category will not be accepted. 

Duration

90 or 120 minutes

Capacity 

20-30 participants

Attendance 

Deep Dives are included in the cost of registration for all attendees. Space, however, is limited. Attendees interested in a Deep Dive must sign up for their desired session. Spots are offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Program Co-Chairs and Conference Managers will assist Deep Dive presenters in managing attendees. 

Submission requirements

  • Description: Tell us the issue or challenges you intend to address and what you hope to accomplish with participants. Share the methods you’ll use to investigate this work—i.e. how you’ll bring participants together and develop new understandings.
  • Topic and Theme: When selecting a topic for your session, explain how it relates to the conference theme and/or MCN’s overall mission. We encourage you to also consider the theme strands: how does your session speak to or challenge these strands? With Deep Dives in particular, state how your topic is best-suited for this session type. 
  • Presenters: Deep Dive organizers and co-presenter(s) should have prior, proven experience leading interactive group sessions. Diversity among panelists is important to the success of the session. Demonstrate how your panelists marry different voices and perspectives. Consider variations among institutions, backgrounds, and expertise.
  • Learning Outcomes:  Outline three to four specific learning outcomes for session participants. What new ideas or skills will they learn (i.e. After attending this session, participants will be able to…”)?
  • Virtual Participation: Tell us about your ideas around the opportunity for presenting your idea digitally. What special tools are you interested in using to facilitate your session? Share how you would engage participants and connect them with one another. 

WORKSHOPS

Workshops are in-depth, participatory sessions led by those with specific knowledge and expertise. Whether it’s coding or content development, human-centered design or data visualization, organizers impart a highly-focused, defined skill to participants. Topics can range in skill level, i.e. introductory to advanced. 

Duration

90 or 120 minutes

Capacity 

20-30 participants

Attendance

Workshops are available to attendees for an additional fee. Attendees must register and pay for their workshop of choice at registration.

Submission Requirements

  • Description: Workshop proposals should describe the topic you intend to cover, the overall structure of the session, as well as the types of activities or methodologies you will use to teach participants.
  • Organizers: Organizers should have prior, proven experience leading hands-on workshops. Diversity among panelists is important to the success of the session. Demonstrate how your panelists marry different voices and perspectives. Consider variations among institutions, backgrounds, and expertise.
  • Topic/Theme: When selecting a topic for your session, explain how it relates to the conference theme and/or MCN’s overall mission. We encourage you to also consider the theme strands: how does your session speak to or challenge these strands? 
  • Learning Outcomes: Outline three to four specific learning outcomes for session participants. What new ideas or skills will participants learn (i.e. After attending this session, participants will be able to…”)?
  • Intended Audience: Identify who is best suited to participate in your workshop. Share how many years of experiences, formal certifications, etc. a participant would need to get the most out of this session. For workshops that have a coding component, include the coding skills in which attendees should be proficient prior to the workshop. 
  • Virtual Participation: Tell us about your ideas around the opportunity for presenting your idea digitally. What special tools are you interested in using to facilitate your session? Share how you would engage participants and connect them with one another. 

Minimum enrollment requirement

MCN requires a minimum enrollment of three attendees per workshop. Workshops with fewer than three participants risk cancellation. We will monitor enrollment for all accepted workshops July through October, promoting individual workshops to increase enrollment as needed. MCN reserves the right to cancel workshops that fail to meet the minimum enrollment requirement. If necessary, we will cancel workshops and notify organizers by mid-October. 

IGNITE TALKS 

Ignite talks mark the start of the MCN conference. A signature MCN experience since 2012, presenters offer their unique take on the same prompt. These talks are energizing and inventive, thought-provoking and fast-paced. And we mean fast—presenters have five minutes to share 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. 

Watch the MCN 2019 Ignite Presentations

The MCN 2020 Ignite theme is “Creative Inspiration.” Tell us what you learn by looking beyond the museum discipline. Who/what inspires you? How do you put those learnings into practice? to examine what we can learn by looking outside the museum discipline. 

Ignite Academy

Ignite presenters also participate in MCN’s Ignite Academy. You’ll connect with fellow Ignite presenters (past and present) and prepare for your presentation together. 

Attendance

Ignite Talks take place during the Ignite reception (currently scheduled for Tuesday, November 10). This reception is included in the cost of registration. 

Duration

5 minutes

Submission Requirements

  • Description: Share your response to the MCN 2020 Ignite prompt, Creative Inspiration. This can be a narrative summary or bulleted list of your high-level talking points. 
  • Commitment: Agree to participate in MCN’s Ignite Academy—i.e. several, one-hour video conference calls over the summer to develop and refine your ideas and talks.
  • Virtual Participation: Tell us about your ideas around the opportunity for presenting your idea digitally. What special tools are you interested in using to facilitate your session? Share how you would engage participants and connect them with one another. 

For questions or ideas about an Ignite proposal, please contact Nik Honeysett at nhoneysett@bpoc.org.


Proposal Selection Criteria

When reviewing submissions, the Program Committee will evaluate them based on the following criteria:

  • Session purpose: intended objectives and learning ­outcomes 
  • Relevance: relation to the conference theme, MCN’s mission, and present conversations in the museum sector 
  • Diversity, inclusion, and access: incorporation of strategies for and making space for underrepresented voices in the GLAM sector
  • Potential impact: contribution(s) the session can make to MCN and the museum sector
  • Commitment: presenters ability to organize and lead a session and stimulate discussion at the conference

Proposals with the following characteristics will be favored:

  • Investment in cross-collaborations
  • Variety of presenters in various roles and seniority levels
  • Diversity of voices and perspectives
  • Presenters from traditionally underrepresented groups and/or minority or marginalized backgrounds
  • Variety of institution types and sizes
  • Engaging formats that encourage dialogue among participants.
  • New and/or unique takes on familiar topics
  • First-time MCN presenters
  • Partnerships between museums, vendors, and/or for-profit firms

Submit your application by midnight on Friday, June 5 in your timezone

Want feedback on your ideas before submitting? Join the conversation on Twitter with the #MCN2020 hashtag.

Need more information? Have questions? Email program@mcn.edu