The Cherry on the Cake, No Wait, Spoon: A Taste from an MCN First-Timer

 By Laura Hoffman, Manager of K–12 Digital and Educator Initiatives, The Phillips Collection

What’s it like being a first-timer at the MCN conference? It’s hard to fit into one post. Working within the digital sphere of museums for the past five years, I kept hearing more and more about the MCN community and its conference. As a scholarship recipient and a presenter, I wanted to absorb as much as I could from my peers as well as share some of my own experiences. Now, a week post-conference, I’m still digesting everything I’ve learned.

Here’s a taste of my time in Minneapolis:

LHoffman-Spoonbridge and CherryClaes Oldenburg, Coosje van Bruggen, “Spoonbridge and Cherry,” 1985–88, Walker Art Center; Photography by Laura Hoffman

I started the conference with the half-day workshop, “Computational Photography Techniques for Cultural Heritage: Photogrammetry and Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI)”—a mouthful, right? Leave it to imaging guru Carla Schroer to make the complex concepts of 3D imaging and texture mapping understandable to a wide range of participants from expert photographers to enthusiasts/educational technologists, like myself. Charles Walbridge’s live demo in the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s photography studio showcased the concepts’ practical applications and was just plain cool.LHoffman-Mia-Charles Walbridge (1)

In the evening, we were whisked off to The Pourhouse for the highly anticipated Ignite MCN. Having used videos from prior Ignite events in my teaching, I was looking forward to this the most, and it did not disappoint. Brave, inspiring speakers had five minutes each to explore topics that ranged from accessibility to anti-oppression to a shared vision, also known as the endless immensity of the sea.

LHoffman-Ignite MCN-Sina (1)

After my first day of the conference, I was already full of new ideas. Throughout the week, I attended in-depth presentations, enlightening keynote, pithy case studies, diverse panels, and engaging networking events. From participating in my panel, “How Did I Become the Ringmaster? The Art of Juggling Digital Projects” to inventing and putting into practice a new social media game, I felt invigorated.

Before I left Minneapolis, I managed to squeeze in some museum visits because I’m of the mindset that it’s a sin not to visit the local museums. In addition to getting a behind-the-scenes view of Mia in my workshop, I was able to explore the museum, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary, during MCN’s opening reception through special digital and exhibition tours. Additionally, visiting the Walker Art Center (also celebrating an anniversary—75!) is a must, and it remains one of my all-time favorite museums. I was also fortunate enough to visit the Mill City Museum, where I learned about the rich history of Minneapolis. Since I couldn’t possibly sum up all that I learned in my time at MCN, I’ll leave you here with this awesome view from the observation deck.

LHoffman-Mill City Museum Observation DeckView from Mill City Museum Observation Deck; Photography by Laura Hoffman