Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Quick Hit: Kathy McLean's Work Now Online

I have a confession to make. When I tell the story of how this blog started in 2006, I say it was a personal learning experiment around the question of how Web 2.0 culture might affect museums. And that's true... but it's not the whole story.

The true story is that I desperately wanted to find a way to engage in discussions with some of my museum heroes. I am shy in large groups. I'd sit quietly at conferences, wishing I could talk to some amazing person onstage, not knowing what to say or how to start. And I figured if I started thinking and writing about topics that were interesting to them and to me, we might have a reason to connect.

Kathy McLean is one of my heroes who motivated the start of Museum 2.0, and I am honored and thrilled that we have become friends over the last few years. I have learned so much from her work as an exhibition designer, audience advocate, and facilitator.

And now, finally, a bunch of her work is online. I'm not going to say much about her site, just that you should prepare to get lost in the exploration of her inspiring projects, writings, and talks. Kathy believes strongly in the need for museum professionals to be more literate in the history and evolution of museum practice, and checking out her work is a good starting point for a particular kind of radical museum education.

Kathy's website includes:
  • images and descriptions of some of her most interesting projects, including the acclaimed Darkened Waters exhibition at the Pratt Museum, the newly opened Center for Creative Connections at the Dallas Museum of Art, and many exhibitions at the Exploratorium, where Kathy served as Director of the Center for Public Exhibition and Public Programs from 1994-2004.
  • downloadable PDF versions of several essays (and links to her great books on exhibition design). I particularly enjoyed her account of "opening up the Exploratorium" and her provocative piece about the future of exhibitions, comparing the curatorial concerns of 1998 to those of 1958.
  • video and papers from some of her talks, including this recent and relatively short treatise on science center and museum design.
Kathy also has a blog on the site that is under construction, and she's looking for feedback. So if you've worked with her, learned from her, or are just confused by some part of the site, please leave her a comment.

Happy hunting!

5 comments, add yours!:

Jon Prown said...

I am very excited to learn more about Kathy's work. The Future of Exhibitions essay is brilliant.

Sarah Eades said...

Hi, thanks for the post, i can really relate to why you would start this blog, i too am very shy in crowds and just dont manage to approach people. I run the blog for the Auckland Art Gallery and another personal and find "Virtual" communication oh so much easier and less intimidating. Glad it has had so many benefits for you, keep up the good work.

Nina Simon said...

Ultimately the virtual communication became a vehicle for connecting with others, but even more so, in building my confidence as a professional. I actually love and crave real world communication, but I really appreciate linking tools that help me do it. Now I feel much more comfortable in casual social situations. Good luck to you with your evolution in that direction!

Pamela Mays McDonald said...

Kathy McLean is AWESOME! So it's no surprise that her website is awesome, too!

wine production said...

Even if you started the blog as I love to know about .... Kathy is very interesting and I would like to put more information later