By Samantha Norling, Digital Collections Manager, Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields
As an early-career archivist I found myself working as a “lone arranger” in an art museum—a setting in which I had no previous experience. Early on, I learned from my colleagues in departments throughout the museum about the many organizations and groups in which museum professionals could get involved. Of these, the Museum Computer Network captured my attention immediately. As colleagues attended MCN each year and reported back on what they saw, heard, and learned about the use of technology in museums, I decided it was time to step out of my archives circle to explore the museum technology world…
…three years later, I am happy to say that I finally made it to my first MCN conference, made possible by the MCN Scholar program. After two unsuccessful applications for a scholarship in previous years, I decided to give it a third try in 2017—and boy am I glad I did. Being counted among the 2017 cohort of MCN Scholars is an honor, as everybody brought something unique to both the group of scholars and the conference as a whole—representing different professional and personal backgrounds, areas of expertise, and knowledge—with different goals for what they wanted to get out of and bring to the conference. For me, I traveled to Pittsburgh with the goal of contributing my perspective as an archivist to various conversations happening in the MCN community, particularly to those about the interoperability of LAM data.
The conference theme of “Looking Back, Thinking Forward, Taking Action” provided the perfect framework for my first (and future) MCN experience, as it encouraged me to be thoughtful in considering every session I attended and interaction I had with other attendees in terms of the knowledge, tools, and practices that I could take back to my museum and put into action. It’s been nearly a month since returning to work after an energizing five days at MCN, and I’ve only just begun to start putting some key ideas into action, with plans to continue throughout the year…leading up to MCN 2018 in Denver of course!
- Inspired by Jessica Milby’s presentation in the session, “Beyond the Graphing Calculator: A Deep Dive into Data Visualization and Cultural Institutions,” I’ve collection the Google Analytics for traffic to our collections pages, and have begun to analyze the data for possible curatorial uses.
- In “Asset Management 2.0” I learned that some museums include alternative image text in their DAMS to facilitate the creation of more accessible web content—we’re now exploring how we can accomplish this at the museum.
- And I’m joining in on this plan to set a recurring calendar event once a month to check in with a different MCN colleague!