Brining our own humanity into the museum space

By Daniel Caulfield-Sriklad, Fulbright Visiting Researcher, Drexel Digital Museum, Westphal College of Media Arts & Design at Drexel University

Connecting with like-minded professionals is one of the most valuable and enriching professional experiences. There are exciting movements with digital technology and the arts however; it is fundamental to share these movements so that we can progress in a conscious and informed manner. My experience at MCN 2015 was very empowering in this regard. The work that I have been engaged with at Drexel covers a number of areas at the forefront in digital transformation. To hear how these practices are being implemented in other institutions and from world leaders, I feel has greatly contextualized and informed my learning. MCN provided me with a unique opportunity to engage with a multitude of individuals from various backgrounds working within the industry.

However, the most profound and impactful insight I have taken away from MCN has come from the keynote speaker, Designer, Social Innovator and Urbanist Liz Ogbu. It was incredibly refreshing and courageous to initiate a conference on the subject of digital transformation within the museum with a speaker who is not directly connected to either of those fields. As her presentation went on it became clear that she was in fact more connected than I had imagined. Liz spoke of focussing on the importance of the end user and looking beyond the object to the larger system. I particularly resonated with this idea of learning from the end user as one of the fundamental elements for interpreting our collections. I’m a strong advocator of moving the idea of museum as a precious, restricted space to that of a social space that allows for emotional connection. Liz reminded us all of the importance of empathy and bringing our own humanity into the museum space to effectively generate this change. Also, that to make any significant amount of change it is necessary to have the end goal in mind but implement small steps to get there. I tapped into all of these core ideas that were presented during the keynote throughout the course of the conference and will continue to do so as I progress through my professional and personal journey.

During my stay in Minneapolis I managed to make it to both the Walker Arts Center and Minneapolis Institute of the Arts (MIA) in order to balance the information overload of the brain with some visual stimulation. Physically being immersed within these spaces I also found myself referencing a number of discussions and ideas presented at MCN 2015. At MIA I stumbled upon one of my favourite artist’s Nick Cave and captured my second Soundsuit I’ve seen while being in the United States – a personal highlight!

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