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					The Museum Group Conversations
Indianapolis 2005

Conversation Topics and Hosts

Sunday         2:00 - 3:30 p.m.
May 1          Accessible To All - Oh Really?
Hosts:         Carol Bossert and Claudia Ocello, Director of Education, New Jersey
               Historical Society
How can we make our museum exhibits accessible to people with learning disabilities?
Some experts estimate that twenty-five percent of the population, children and adults, has
some type of learning disability. Education practitioners have learned a great deal about how
to present material to people with ADHD, dyslexia and other learning challenges; but is this
information being communicated effectively to interpretive planners and exhibit designers?

Let’s discuss how this knowledge might affect our “common wisdom” and “best practices”
about label writing, graphic design, sound and multimedia in our exhibits.


Monday          10:00 -11 :30 a.m.
May 2           Technology In Museums
Hosts:          David Ellis, Janet Kamien and Paul Martin, Director of Exhibits, Science
                Museum of Minnesota
Over the last several decades, and especially in the last decade, technology has come to playa
more important role in almost all museums. Much of this has been in the area of
administration; but increasingly technology has played a role in exhibits, education programs,
and the visitor experience.

This Conversation is intended as a time when museum professionals can share what they
have found to be successful and to brainstorm about what additional uses (non-
administrative) might be beneficial to the field. Remembering that technology enables a
museum professional to start thinking afresh about our goals, it is hoped that this
Conversation will include what we might be able to do now that we never could do before
or never occurred to us we could do before.


Monday           3:15 - 4:45 p.m.
May 2            Customizing The Museum Experience
Hosts:           Mary Ellen Munley and David Andersen, PhD., Museum Learning Specialist,
                 University of British Columbia and Jeff Bass, Vice President for Education,
                 Milwaukee Public Museum
The Future Learning Environment is an alternate vision for education based on flexible
architectural arrangements, adjustable and movable modular building systems, and
technology-driven tools that customize content and adapt to students’ individual learning
styles.

The new curriculum and architectural environment reflect a shift from the historical one-way
delivery of information to an immersed, interactive environment in which students are able
to tailor their own environment while mining information from it, and where teachers
facilitate and curate the learning process as the architecture adapts to each child’s learning
style.


Tuesday        10:00-11:30 a.m.
May 3          Free At Last
Hosts:         Elaine Heumann Gurian, Anne Butterfield and Mary Kay Ingenthron
Some would argue reluctantly, but unequivocally, that admission charges are the single
greatest impediment to making museums truly accessible. This Conversation addresses the
consequences for and against inaugurating free museum admission, and how free admission
might help broaden our audience and change museums’ program priorities. But others
would ask wherever will we get the replacement money. Join the conversation and share
your ideas and suggestions for making free admission work.


Tuesday          1:30-3 :00 p.m.
May 3            Museums and the Moral Values Debate
Hosts:           Annie V. F. Storr and Hilde Hein, Women’s Studies Research Center,
                 Brandeis University and author: The Museum in Transition: a Philosophical
                 Perspective
This Conversation will explore the relationship, first, between the private values of museum
professionals and the social and intellectual value systems of their institutions. Then, the
group will probe how this internal dynamic relates to museums’ engagement as public
institutions in the debate over highly charged, tightly intertwined personal and political
values figuring prominently in the public arena recently. This Conversation continues the
ten-year collaboration of its leaders on evolving aspects of the topic.


Wednesday       10:00 a.m.- 11:30 a.m.
May 4           Museum Staff and Outside Exhibit Designers: Working Towards A
                Common Goal
Hosts:          Daryl Fischer and Andy Merriell
Today more and more museums are calling on architects and exhibit design consultants to
help them create exceptional exhibitions. Though in-house staff members and outside design
professionals share a common goal of creating meaningful and memorable experiences for
museum visitors, they tend to have very different ways of working, thinking, planning,
communicating and processing information. How can staff members articulate their
museum’s mission and interpretive goals in terms that are relevant to designers? How can
designers convey the need for a clear program and clarify other important steps in the design
process to museum staff members?

				
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