Many of you know how much I love camp-like professional experiences. And so when Jim Richardson of Sumo Design (the guy behind the brilliant I Like... Museums site) asked me if I'd like to come to England this fall and put on some kind of camp with him, I was thrilled.
MuseumNext will be an intense 24 hours of fun in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, which I've heard is just like the beaches of California but with more beer. We are using a hybrid unconference/workshop model in which participants work collaboratively to explore and brainstorm a few pre-selected "wild ideas" for future museum initiatives related to audience participation. I often feel frustrated that conferences focus generally on topics without explicitly applying the content to specific projects of interest. In the case of MuseumNext, you bring the projects (or skills to support new projects) and we will all leave having hammered out some of the particulars--from the creative to the practical.
Let me give you an example. I'm working on a project to open an interactive museum/bar in Santa Cruz focused on social participation. It's slowly moving from the "dream" stage to the "possible" stage - but it's still far from being real. I have some ideas about how it is going to work, but there are a lot of big questions in my mind about how we are going to connect with audiences, run a functional business, and design experiences that are inclusive and exciting without feeling clubbish or overwhelming. I work on this project mostly on my own, and I often wish I had the opportunity to hash out ideas for it with other smart, energized people with complementary skills.
So many of us have private fantasies like this, projects we wish we could start or complete. They may be small programs you'd love to get going at your museum, or an idea for a whole new kind of exhibit or venue. These dreams tend to get trapped in our own heads and get shoved aside by more pressing day-to-day work. MuseumNext is a place to bring these dreams out to play, and hopefully, push them closer to the "reality" side of the ledger.
Not everyone has to have a project, or, as we're calling them, "wild ideas," to participate in MuseumNext. To keep it manageable, we'll select just a few project proposals on which to focus the workshop. Everyone else will be asked to come with their unique skills in mind, and to consider offering unconference sessions (discussions) on topics that relate to making innovative projects happen. Whether you are a graphic designer, an educator, a designer, a marketer, or a programmer, you have some skills that can help make someone's dream possible. You don't have to be an employee of a museum or in the museum field to attend; you just have to be enthusiastic about supporting innovation in cultural venues.
Please feel free to contact me or Jim with any questions. You can sign up now; there is an earlybird rate of £130 until August 14, at which time the cost will go up to £190. I'm trying to come to London beforehand and hope to have the chance to see many of the fabulous museums behind the people and projects I've admired from across the ocean.
And I can't wait to hear what wild ideas you're going to bring to Newcastle!