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Shared Guardianship for Museums


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Presentation to the 2013 American Alliance of Museums conference 'The Power of Story', looking at the opportunity of shared guardianship for museums.

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Shared Guardianship for Museums

  1. 1. Shared Guardianship is goodfor the museum business(or why the Green Slime aren’t coming for you)Nick Poole, Chief ExecutiveCollections
  2. 2. Who am I…?
  3. 3. What do I do…?
  4. 4. “Sharedguardianship” canbe a little abstract,even threatening…
  5. 5. Some things changed…People are differentExpectations are differentThe materials we collect are differentThe experiences we offer are differentOur expectations of scale are differentSome things didn‟t…People are the sameMuseums are trusted institutionsThings tell storiesThings are beautifulThings are importantPlaces matter
  6. 6. What kind ofmuseumprofessional areyou?
  7. 7. Objects ExperiencesFacts Stories
  8. 8. Objects ExperiencesFacts Narratives“Our first duties are to collect,conserve and display materialculture, to protect the nation’streasures and to showcase thehigh points of humancreativity”
  9. 9. Objects ExperiencesFacts Stories“Our first duty is to create anopen, welcoming environmentin which people can come andenjoy the experience ofbeautiful, inspiring things”
  10. 10. Objects ExperiencesFacts Stories“It is not the objectsthemselves, but theconnections between themand the stories they can tell.Our duty is to weave storiesand objects together to helppeople understand the worldaround them”
  11. 11. Objects ExperiencesFacts Narratives“Our first duty is to provide anauthoritative record of thedevelopment of the naturaland man-made world. Wemust collect and preservetype specimens and objectsbased on our authoritativeand scientific knowledge.”
  12. 12. Objects ExperiencesFacts Stories
  13. 13. All of these impulses (and many others) co-exist in museums.Shared guardianship is about engaging on equal terms with ourusers to keep these perspectives in balance.
  14. 14. The big challenges…Get more visitorsDo more stuffMake more moneyBe loved by our supportersStay relevantStay interesting…have big solutionsBe true to your valuesMake relationships, not propertyShare the workloadBe open to new knowledgeBe confident & excited about your role
  15. 15. The ethics of the museum profession are theethics of shared guardianship.This is not about doing something new, or different, its aboutgetting back in touch with the values at the core of your museumand living by them.
  16. 16. Museums have to balance anethical responsibility to collectand preserve with theimperative to facilitate accessShared guardianship means taking jointownership of this challenge
  17. 17. Why SharedGuardianship?Because relationshipsscale and enclosuredoesn‟t
  18. 18. Te Papa and the iwiShared guardianship is the manifestationof our commitment to accountability
  19. 19. M-ShedAmong the highest repeat visit rates ofany museum in the UK
  20. 20. The Rijksmuseum is open…“Opening up access to our collections is not justsomething we do. It’s what we are”
  21. 21. Looting in Iraq
  22. 22. Shared guardianship =The Mission StatementThe BoardThe BudgetThe Exhibition programmeThe building designThe Marketing PlanThe Product DesignCollections Acquisition & DisposalInterpretationDigitisationCataloguingCollections StoresConservationYou don‟t have to abandon professional practice to give people a stake inwhat your museum does, it‟s all a question of language…
  23. 23. Will you embrace shared guardianship?1. Look at your Mission/Vision2. Look at your acquisitions process3. Symbolically „hand over‟ your collections4. Assert the public right of access5. Go out and tell the world
  24. 24. Thank you!Find out more: Poole, Chief ExecutiveCollections Trust@NickPoole1