Tag: open authority

Museums Working with Communities: The Book

positioning-museums-coverI am pleased to announce that my colleague Beth Bollwerk and I have a new book that will be available in the coming weeks –  Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide, published by Rowman and Littlefield Press.  You can pre-order a copy at a 30% discount by using the promotional code RLFANDF30.  The extensive Resource Guide of the book is available now online (and at no cost).

So why is this book different from other titles on how museums strive to be engaged with the communities they serve? Our new book is explicitly a “how to guide” for museums to integrate themselves into their communities.  Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide, is not meant to convince the reader of the need for that integration. We consider that need a settled matter.  We envision this book within the framework of museums co-creating with their communities. We do not envision this co-creation as museums simply being more attuned to community needs. Co-creation means making a commitment to working with a community to address those needs.

We consider this volume as the instruction manual for our previously edited volumes that discussed the concept of co-creation for cultural heritage professionals and museums. In 2012 we published Open(ing) Authority Through Community Engagement, that provided a theoretical overview and ten case studies on co-creation with museums and their communities. In 2015, we published Co-creation in the Archaeological Record that brought the discussion squarely to fieldwork, curation, and interpretation in the discipline of archaeology along with another set of case studies.

In our application of co-creation we prioritize acting on the public’s expressed needs and interests.  To simplify that process we rely on Dana’s mandate in The New Museum written one century ago – “Learn what aid the community needs: fit the museum to those needs”   Our new volume fills the methodological and logistical gap in acting on Dana’s mandate. For example, our experience over the past several years demonstrates that for many museums, particularly smaller ones, the ability to carry out a community oral history project that can be curated online with universal access, or creating a new low-cost exhibit based on important community curated collections are often not considered possible because of finances, staffing, or other constraints. At the same time, over that same time period, we have encountered dozens of projects that overcame these obstacles and implemented such community-driven engagement work.

Drawing on that experience, this volume does not discuss the relevance or need for museums to engage with their communities. Instead, our contributors introduce specific themes of engagement, supported by applied case studies. The volume themes and case studies are particularly relevant to small and medium-sized cultural heritage venues with a limited or even no full-time staff. Our contributors to this book were also certain their “how to” projects could be completed for $1500.00 or less to assure that cost was not a prohibitive factor.

Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide is organized into six sections. Each section begins with a thematic discussion relevant to a museum’s engagement with the community they serve. Each thematic discussion is followed by four or five case study applications.   The Table of Contents listed below shows the diversity of case studies presented that range from rural Peru to the urban Upper Midwest of the United States.  The final section of the book links to an extensive online Resource Guide that will be regularly updated.  We were selective about the links included in the Resource Guide.  We chose not to include so many entries such that the reader could not tell the forest for the trees.  Instead we carefully selected those resources of particular relevance to small and medium-sized cultural heritage venues aligned with the focus of our volume’s contributors.

Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide is a book that demonstrates any museum, regardless of size, staffing, or financial resources, can engage with their communities in a vibrant and co-creative way. We truly believe that when museums and communities co-create together those cultural heritage venues will serve as valuable community partners that must be preserved and maintained.

Order your copy today at the 30% off with the discount code RLFANDF30.

 

 

Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide

Table of Contents

Introduction- Robert P. Connolly and Elizabeth A. Bollwerk

Part 1 – Communities Making Meaning in Museum Education – Jody Stokes Casey

Case Studies

  1. Developing High School Curriculum: The C.H. Nash Museum and Freedom Prep Charter School Project – Nur Abdalla and Lyndsey Pender
  2. Creating a Museum in a School: Cultural Heritage in Nivín, Perú– Gustavo Valencia Tello and Elizabeth Cruzado
  3. Meeting Teacher Needs: Digital Collections in the Classroom – Shana Crosson
  4. Using Postcard Collections as a Primary Resource in the Classroom – Brian Failing
  5. Words, Stone, Earth, and Paint: Using Creative Writing to Engage a Community with Its Museum – Mary Anna Evans

Part 2 – The Value of Open(ing) Authority and Participatory Frameworks for Museums – Elizabeth A. Bollwerk

Case Studies

  1. Oral History For, About, and By a Local Community: Co-Creation in the Peruvian Highlands – Elizabeth Cruzado and Leodan Alejo Valerio
  2. Working with a Private Collector to Strengthen Women’s History: Sewall-Belmont House & Museum – Rebecca Price.
  3. Reconnecting a University Museum Collection with Hopi Farmers through an Undergraduate Class– Lisa Young and Susan Sekaquaptewa
  4. Our Stories, Our Places: Centering the Community as Narrative Voice in the Reinterpretation of an African American Historic Site – Porchia Moore

Part 3 – Advocacy for Heritage Professionals During the Crisis and the Calm – Sarah E. Miller

Case Studies

  1. Making Advocacy Everyone’s Priority – Ember Farber
  2. Impact Statements – Demonstrating a Museum’s Public Value – Robert P. Connolly
  3. Small Fish, Big Pond: How to Effectively Advocate in Your Community – Melissa Prycer

Part 4 – Museums Engaging With People As A Community Resource – Robert P. Connolly

Case Studies

  1. Taking Steps to Make a Museum Special Needs Friendly – Colleen McCartney
  2. Incorporating Descendent Community Voices: The Whitney Plantation – Ashley Rogers
  3. How Community Input Can Shape a Mission: The Proposed Eggleston Museum – Allison Hennie
  4. Building a Community History at the University of the West Indies Museum – Suzanne Francis-Brown
  5. Telling Our Town’s History: The Muscatine History and Industry Center – Mary Wildermuth
  6. Working to Address Community Needs: The Missouri History Museum – Melanie Adams

Part 5 – Engaging User Audiences in the Digital Landscape – Brigitte Billeaudeaux and Jennifer Schnabel

Case Studies

  1. Creating a Digital Library for Community Access: A. Schwab on Beale Street – Brigitte Billeaudeaux
  2. Separating the Glitz from the Practical in Social Media at the National Underground Railroad Museum – Jamie Glavic and Assia Johnson
  3. How a Simple, Inexpensive Podcast Engaged an Entire Community: Chick History, Inc – Rebecca Price
  4. Recording the Neglected Sports Stories From the Backside – Holly Solis
  5. Small Museum Website Creation with a Limited Staff and Budget: The Arden Craft Shop Museum – Kelsey Ransick

Part 6 – Resource Guide

Public Education Committee Sponsored Sessions at the Society for American Archaeology Meetings

I am honored to currently serve as the Chair of the Public Education Committee (PEC) of the Society for American Archaeology.  At the Annual Conference of the SAA this April 23-27 the PEC is pleased to sponsor the sessions listed below.  Here is a link for more information on the Annual Meeting including a complete program.  Hope to see you in Austin!

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Welcome to Online Archaeology!

  •  Thursday, April 24, 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
  • Maximum 24 persons;
  • $79 Annual Meeting attendees;
  • $49 student meeting attendees;
  • $129 non-meeting attendees

Instructors: Shereen Lerner (MesaCommunity College), Nancy Gonlin, RPA (Bellevue College), and Christine Dixon (University of Colorado and Bellevue College)

Target Audience: Archaeologists who teach or want to learn how to teach online or hybrid courses or improve the current content of their courses. The latest trend in education is the offering of online courses. As archaeologists, it is our duty to ensure high-quality education and to successfully convey the essence of the field through the medium of online teaching. This workshop will be a hands-on experience to demonstrate and share what has worked successfully in the online archaeology classroom. Several archaeologists have extensive experience in teaching in this environment and are familiar with various approaches that can be taken, regardless of the learning management system used by an institution to run online courses. Attendees will have the opportunity to map out a module of their own classes.

Major outcomes and lessons of the workshop participants will take away:

  1. A sense/knowledge of what approaches work well in the online environment
  2. Activities, films, assignments, and other assessments that convey essential archaeology concepts
  3. Links to resources for online archaeology education
  4. How to set up blogs and discussion areas and incorporate it into the online classroom
  5. How to incorporate or improve a course module and an outline of it

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Public Education Committee Meeting

  • Thursday, April 24, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
  • Salon C (HA)

Public Education State Network Coordinators Meeting

  • Friday, April 25, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
  • Salon D (HA)

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Electronic Symposium · Getting Back to Saving the Past for the Future: Heritage Education at a Professional Crossroads

  • Thursday, April 24, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Room: 19B (ACC)

 In 1988, the Society for American Archaeology initiated the “Save the Past for the Future” Project to curb vandalism and destruction of archaeological resources, and provide for public education. Federal and state agencies and partners responded with an impressive variety of programs such as the Passport in Time program and Project Archaeology. The SAA’s Public Education Committee (PEC) became not only a clearing house for heritage education, but launched a number of successful internal and external initiatives, through the dedicated service of over 50 members. Despite the successes of the PEC, Board support for the large, active group waned and in 2008 reduced the size to 15 rotating members, in keeping with new SAA committee policy. During the same period environmental educators formed the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE). The NAAEE has state chapters to promote environmental education within states, establish best practices, and holds an annual meeting that attracts 1000 educators. Today the future of heritage education is threatened because it has no organization to support the efforts of a large group of heritage education professionals. This session will explore the development of heritage and environmental education and examine the possibilities for future professionalization of heritage education.

Here is a link to the papers for the session.

 Chair: Margaret Heath

 Participants:

  • Shereen Lerner—Challenging the Status Quo
  • Maureen Malloy—Archaeology Education in the U.S.: Past, Present, and Future
  • Jeanne Moe—Archaeology and the Common Core State Standards: All Hands onDeck
  • Hope Luhman—Considering the Possibilities: Cultural Resource Management’s Role in Heritage Education
  • A. Gwynn Henderson—Public Archaeology at the Kentucky Archaeological Survey
  • Ryan Harke—Towards a Public Environmental Archaeology: History, Survey and Suggestion
  • Ben Thomas—Facilitating Outreach and Education on a Grassroots Level
  • Robert King—Heritage Education at the 2013 National Boy Scout Jamboree: A Report on an Opportunity Taken
  • Meredith Hardy—New Directions in Archeological and Cultural Heritage Education
  • Eleanor King—Heritage and the Underrepresented: the Perspective from Howard University
  • Margaret Heath—Past, Present, and Future Directions of Heritage Education

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[152] Symposium · Co-Creation, The Public, and the Archaeological Record 

  • Friday Morning, April 25, 8:00 AM – 12:00 PM
  • Room: 19B (ACC)

Co-creation in public archaeology is a means to engage and empower citizens to become stakeholders of the archaeological record. In museum contexts Simon (2010:278) writes that the purpose of co-creative community projects is “to give voice and be responsive to the needs and interests of local community members; to provide a place for community engagement and dialogue; and to help participants develop skills that will support their own individual and community goals.” The papers in this session discuss a variety of recent archaeological projects that implement the co-creative model. The contributions demonstrate how co-creation moves beyond “hands-on” educational experiences or typical volunteer programs because participants are invited to play an active role in designing and constructing the final products to address their needs and interests. Co-creation aligns with current emphases on informal, lifelong, and free-choice learning models that foster public engagement in the preservation of cultural heritage resources. The papers in this session also explore the benefits and challenges of using this method and provide examples of best practices for implementation. Finally, these papers speak to the impact of co-creation on the discipline and how the process increases the ability of archaeology to contribute to debates on contemporary issues.

Chairs: Elizabeth Bollwerk and Robert Connolly

 Participants:

  • 8:00 Robert Connolly—Co-creation as an Essential Means Toward Open Authority in Archaeology
  • 8:15 T. J. Ferguson and Stewart Koyiyumptewa—Co-Creation of Knowledge about the Past by The Hopi Tribe and Archaeologists
  • 8:30 Kimberly Kasper and Russell Handsman—The Duality of a 21st Century Tribal Museum: Archaeological Research and Museum Stakeholders at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center
  • 8:45 Kenneth Robinson and Stephen Whittington—The Road Goes Ever On and On: Public Archaeology at Teozacoalco
  • 9:00 Elizabeth Katherine Cruzado Carranza and Rebecca Bria —Making the Past Relevant: Finding Solutions to the Challenges of Heritage Preservation in Rural Communities in Peru
  • 9:15 Britton Shepardson and Beno Atan—Approaching sustainable public archaeology on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile): education, conservation, research, and tourism
  • 9:30 Teresa Moyer—Building Capacity for Co-Created Digital Moviemaking through Youth Programs
  • 9:45 Bernard Means—Promoting a More Interactive Public Archaeology: Archaeological Visualization and Reflexivity through Virtual Artifact Curation
  • 10:00 Elizabeth Bollwerk—Open(ing) Archaeology: A Model for Digital Engagement
  • 10:15 Holly Andrew and Bonnie Pitblado—Engaging and Empowering Citizen Archaeologists through the Co-Creative Process: A Case Study Involving the Oklahoma Anthropological Society
  • 10:30 Matthew Reeves—Transforming Metal Detectorists into Citizen Scientists
  • 10:45 Kimberley Popetz—Turning Privies into Class Projects
  • 11:00 Sarah Miller, Jeff Moates and Michelle Williams—Co-Creation and the Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) Program Across Florida
  • 11:15 Michael Barber, Carole Nash and Michael Madden—The “Public in Public Archaeology: Down from the Ivory Tower and into the Real Trenches
  • 11:30 Mallory Haas and Elizabeth Hoag—Developing archaeological vernacular when approaching salvage in community: Decommissioning Euclid Avenue Churches in Cleveland Ohio.
  • 11:45 Carol McDavid—Discussant

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[274] Forum · THE ENGAGED CLASSROOM: DEVELOPING ACTIVITIES FOR ARCHAEOLOGY COURSES

  •  Saturday, April 26, 1:00 – 3:00 PM
  • Room: 8B (ACC)

Archaeology courses offer ample opportunity to engage students in creative learning. Our discipline is one of infinite curiosity and discovery, which translates well to hands-on and/or critical thinking exercises. However, designing and implementing appropriate activities can be a challenge, particularly for new instructors. It takes time to develop an activity, supplies may not be readily available, planned activities may not live up to expectations, or student interaction may be difficult to facilitate. This forum is designed to offer archaeology instructors the opportunity to discuss, brainstorm, and share classroom activities. Our goal is for attendees to leave with examples of activities that could be implemented in a variety of archaeology courses. Each discussant will present a successful activity, including sharing tips and techniques to replicate the activity. Forum attendees will then collaboratively outline activities to teach common archaeological concepts in an engaged manner, allowing participants to learn from the successes and challenges others have experienced.

Moderator: Heidi Bauer-Clapp

Participants:

  • Heidi Bauer-Clapp—Discussant
  • Robert Connolly—Discussant
  • Bonnie Pitblado—Discussant
  • Katie Kirakosian—Discussant

 

 

Co-Creation, the Public, and the Archaeological Record

My colleague Elizabeth Bollwerk and I have organized a session of papers (Friday morning, April 25 at 8:00 AM) around the theme of Co-Creation, the Public, and the Archaeological Record  for the Society for American Archaeology Annual Meeting this month in Austin Texas.  We previously organized a session on museums and co-creation at the Society for Applied Anthropology meetings a couple of years ago, published last year as a thematic volume Open(ing) Authority Through Community Engagement in the journal Museums and Social Issues.

The 2014 SAA meeting session brings together a set of papers by practitioners that take-up co-creation and open authority within the discipline of archaeology.  We are particularly pleased that Carol McDavid, a long-time leader in public archaeology and community engagement will serve as a discussant for the session.  The session abstracts are listed below.  If you are going to be in Austin, we hope to see you at our session!

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Open(ing) Archaeology: A Model for Digital Engagement – Elizabeth Bollwerk (Central Washington University, Museum of Culture and Environment) – This paper begins with a brief introduction of the Open Authority and Co-Creation models and explores their role in altering and revolutionizing archaeological practice.  The focus then shifts to a discussion of engagement methods that archaeologists are currently utilizing on the web, including blogging, crowdfunding, and social media and evaluates their success as co-creative projects.  These methods are compared with co-creative methods that are being utilized by other scientific disciplines, in particular, crowdsourcing.  This paper concludes by considering 1) the obstacles and challenges facing the implementation of archaeological co-creative projects that are web based and 2) best practices for digital co-creative engagement identified from successful projects.

The “Public” in Public Archaeology: Down from the Ivory Tower and into the Real Trenches – Michael B. Barber (Virginia Department of Historic Resources), Michael J. Madden (USDA-Forest Service), and Carole L. Nash (James Madison University) – Archaeology is not for the benefit of archaeologists.   Building on the foundation of the Archaeological Society of Virginia, Virginia’s community of professional archaeologists has joined forces and developed the “Certification Program for Archaeological Technicians.”   The program trains avocational archaeologists in the theoretical and methodological underpinnings of the profession.  It is our contention here that co-creation should begin with the first phases of any archaeological endeavor and continue through interpretation and overall historic preservation.     

 Making the Past Relevant: Co-creative solutions to the challenges of heritage preservation in rural Peru – Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza (PIARA) and Rebecca E. Bria (Vanderbilt University and PIARA) – In the impoverished traditional Quechua communities of rural Ancash, Peru, the planning and implementing of archaeological heritage preservation and community museum projects faces a variety of obstacles that require creative solutions. At two nearby monumental archaeological sites with over 2000 years of prehistoric occupation, Hualcayán and Pariamarca, archaeologists work directly with the local community to demonstrate the relevance for the preservation of their cultural resources. Conflicting interests by adults who are pressured by local political parties, business interests, and a loss of connection to the ancient past has led the US and Peruvian collaborators of the Proyecto de Investigación Arqueológico Regional Ancash (PIARA) to engage local communities in developing a multi-faceted and co-creative approach to present and protect their cultural heritage.  The engagement includes 1) long-term, education-focused heritage preservation projects with local school children, 2) the design of local museums that also serve as community centers, and 3) plans for the creation of a community-run development project to generate communal funds through ecological and cultural tourism activities. The latter project will connect the two sites as archaeological parks, museums, and campgrounds or homestays as tourism destinations rather than a simple pass-through on a Cordillera trek.

The Duality of a 21st Century Tribal Museum: Archaeological Research and Museum Stakeholders at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center – Kimberly Kasper (Rhodes College) and Russ Handsman (Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center) – Since opening its doors in 1998, the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center has identified as both a tribal center and a museum committed to challenging the public’s conventional understandings of Native history in New England. Within each stakeholder arena, archaeological research continues to provide a critical pathway for recovering and illuminating the historic experiences of reservation life. In this paper, two internal case studies are presented to illustrate the complexity that exists within the museum’s dual identity as it integrates new information  “with, for and by” the tribe and public. The first focuses on the materiality of late 18th-century Pequot house sites and a recently developed low-cost but high impact, I-Pad-based program for museum patrons. The second reflects on how archaeobotanical studies, from 17th and 18th century Mashantucket historic sites, are incorporated into an ongoing project to nurture and enrich the storytelling tradition in the tribal community. For each project, there are two different audiences, two different types of archaeological material studies, and two very different approaches for collaborative engagement – co-existing in a single institution. That duality may not be present in other tribal museums but it is both foundational and essential to MPMRC’s mission to (re)construct nuanced understandings of Native American histories.

Co-Creation of Knowledge about the Past by The Hopi Tribe – T. J. Ferguson (University of Arizona) and Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa (Hopi Tribe) – For two decades, the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office has worked with archaeologists to co-create knowledge about the past and the contemporary values associated with heritage sites. Much of this work has been accomplished in the framework of research mandated by the National Historic Preservation Act and National Environmental Policy Act. Here we describe the processes of this community-based participatory research, including research design, implementation of fieldwork, peer review of research findings, and reporting. The Hopi Tribe’s collaborative research with archaeologists provides intellectual benefits for the management of archaeological resources and the humanistic and scientific understanding of the past.

 Co-creation as an Essential Means Toward Open Authority in Archaeology – Robert Connolly (University of Memphis, C.H Nash Museum at Chucalissa) – Based in constructivist educational theory and using participatory museum and open authority models, this paper examines products co-created by visitors, volunteers, students, and museum staff at the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa.  Two case studies are featured.  First, an exhibit on the African American Cultural Heritage of Southwest Memphis based on the excavated materials from a 1920s era farmstead that was co-created with University of Memphis and neighborhood high school students.  Second, using curated collections, a set of education products and museum exhibits co-created by avocational archaeologists, and museum studies graduate students.  Critical to the co-creative process is incorporating the authoritative voices and decisions of all participants.    This paper argues that co-created products are ultimately more robust and relevant to the public than projects that incorporate only the voice of the professional community.  As well, co-creative processes in archaeology serve as a vital link to educating the public on opportunities for engagement and the funding needs of cultural heritage institutions.  Co-creation forms an essential opportunity for sharing with the public the authority and responsibility for the curation of a community’s cultural heritage

Salvaging a Community: Archaeology, Demolition, and Resurrection at the Euclid Avenue Church of God, Cleveland, Ohio – Mallory R. Haas (Center for Community Studies) and Elizabeth A. Hoag (Cuyahoga Community College) – The unfortunate demolition of the ca. 1888 Euclid Avenue Church of God has created a unique opportunity for public archaeology. Both before and after the demolition, we began a new kind of community-based historic salvage and preservation project, to save public social memory and tangible artifacts from the church. In this paper, we describe how, working with various stake-holders involved with the structure including the congregation, municipal offices, and private institutions, we have utilized a more holistic perspective that seeks to accommodate everyone’s agendas. We are developing a co-creative approach to historical preservation while preserving social history and legacy of the structure.

Promoting a More Interactive Public Archaeology: Archaeological Visualization and Reflexivity through Virtual Artifact Curation – Bernard K. Means (Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University) – The Virtual Curation Laboratory at Virginia Commonwealth University was established in August 2011 with funding from the Department of Defense’s Legacy Program. Since its establishment, the Virtual Curation Laboratory has created hundreds of 3D digital artifact models from a wide range of archaeological sites located in the eastern United States, as well as printed plastic replicas of many 3D digital models. Some have questioned whether our efforts and those of similar projects are curiosities or novelties with little to contribute meaningfully to scholarly research or public engagement. In this paper, I will argue that 3D digital models and printed replicas allow for new ways of visualizing the past, while preserving the actual artifacts themselves. These forms of archaeological visualization enable the broader public and not just a narrow band of researchers to dynamically and meaningfully interact with rare and fragile objects in ways that would otherwise not be possible, empowering their own contributions to interpreting and understanding the past.

Co-Creation and the Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) Program Across Florida – Sarah E. Miller (Florida Public Archaeology Network) – The Cemetery Resource Protection Training (CRPT) program offered by the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN) began in 2011 as a reaction to the rapid deterioration of historic cemeteries in Florida.  During the first year the Northeast Regional Center of FPAN collaborated with community partners to conduct CRPT workshops in each of its seven counties.  CRPT has now expanded to over 20 cities across the state.  Workshop participants learn to view cemeteries as outdoor museums in their community through morning and afternoon sessions.  The morning session focuses on: cemeteries as archaeological sites, laws that protect cemeteries as well as the people who care for cemeteries, the importance of survey and recording, and examples of cemetery projects within the community.  The second session puts theory to practice with hands-on landscape assessment, headstone cleaning, and recording in a local cemetery.  This paper will assess CRPT as a c co-creative public archaeology program and discuss its relevance to the participating communities.

Building Capacity for Co-created Digital Moviemaking in Youth Programs – Teresa Moyer (National Park Service) – The Urban Archeology Corps is a National Park Service work program that invites youth to reflect on archeological stewardship through digital moviemaking. Youth from communities surrounding the Anacostia River watershed engage in interdisciplinary research with the end goal of individually crafting a short film about their experiences. Especial emphasis is placed on connecting the stories that go untold in the national parks with the youth and local people. This paper is a case study in building capacity in youth programs for co-created digital products that enable the National Park Service and the communities it serves to share in archeological stewardship.

Engaging and Empowering Citizen Archaeologists through the Co-Creative Process: A Case Study Involving the Oklahoma Anthropological Society – Holly Andrew & Bonnie Pitblado (University of Oklahoma) – Like many avocational archaeological groups across the nation, the Oklahoma Anthropological Society (OAS) has struggled in recent years to meet the needs and interests of community members.  To address this challenge, in spring 2013, OAS leadership requested our help to revitalize the group’s membership and its recently shelved archaeological certification program.  To ensure a co-creative approach to the reshaping of OAS, our approach to providing assistance began with an ethnographic study of the OAS membership—using methods including participant observation, individual interviews, and survey administration—to establish member values and goals.  We then compiled these data and used them to develop concrete proposals for a revised OAS certification program and for reaching out to a broader cross-section of Oklahoma citizens than had traditionally been the case.  Finally, we offered the proposals back to OAS membership for comments and suggestions for improvement, and revised the ideas accordingly.  Our paper overviews the methods and results of this collaboration between professional and avocational archaeologists and reflects upon the success of our co-creative effort to improve public archaeology programs and educational opportunities in the state of Oklahoma.

Transforming Metal Detectorists into Citizen Scientists – Matthew Reeves (James Madison’s Montpelier) – In 2012, the Archaeology Department at James Madison’s Montpelier began an experimental program with Minelab Americas to encourage metal detectorists to become more involved in the scientific process of archaeological research. Specifically, the program was designed to be a week-long experience where archaeologists and metal detectorists would work together to identify and preserve archaeological sites at the 2700-acre Montpelier property.  In the process, the metal detector participants were taught the importance of site preservation through background lectures and detailed information on how the survey methods they employ during the week with their metal detectors ensure minimal disturbance of the site while identifying enough information regarding the site to ensure its preservation. Participants learned how gridded metal detector surveys were conducted and the importance of proper context and curation of recovered objects.  In turn, participants provided feedback on what would enhance the experience to inspire continuing learning and interaction with archaeology in the future. The success of this program led to a new public-set of programs that are held three times per year and are open to the public. Having previous participants recommend this program to their friends and community members has been integral to the success of the programs.

Approaching sustainable public archaeology on Rapa Nui (Easter Island, Chile): education, conservation, research, and tourism – Britton Shepardson (Terevaka.net Archaeological Outreach) and Beno Atán (Explora) – Rapa Nui, like many other locations rich with archaeological heritage, poses extreme risks and potential when attempting to combine cultural conservation with tourism.  After ten years of work on Easter Island, Terevaka.net Archaeological Outreach (TAO) has developed a program to provide tourists, hotels, archaeologists, and conservationists with a vested interested in the education of high school students local to the island.  Our 2013 project sheds light on both a recipe for success in sustainable archaeology on the island and our shortcomings in reaching the goals of all participating organizations.

Turning Privies into Class Projects – Kimberley Popetz (Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum) – What would happen if we gave a group of high school students the opportunity to act as archaeologists and curators with a real archaeological collection? Would they benefit from the experience? Would we? And what about the rest of the community? Could they derive some benefit from the project as well? We decided to find out. Students worked with a collection of artifacts that was excavated more than 30 years ago, turning it into an exhibit for the public. If you’re contemplating a similar project, join us to learn what worked and what to avoid.

The Road Goes Ever On and On: Public Archaeology at Teozacoalco – Kenneth Robinson and Stephen L. Whittington (Wake Forest University) – Co-creation in public archaeology can be challenging outside of the United States, particularly when a project provides the first opportunity people have to meet an archaeologist, or even to hear of archaeology. The staff of the Teozacoalco Archaeological Project has been working since 2002 with citizens and authorities of San Pedro Teozacoalco and other small communities to undertake the first archaeological research in a remote part of the Mixteca Alta in Oaxaca. The project is attempting to collect data and respond to the desires of rural communities while negotiating regulations and politics at local, national, and international levels.

Discussant – Carol McDavid (Community Archaeology Research Institute, Inc.
& Rice University)

Museum Opportunities in Open Authority

Open Authority Spectrum

Open Authority Spectrum by Lori Byrd Phillips
(click image for digital resource file)

This week’s post is by my colleague Elizabeth Bollwerk.  In 2012, along with Natalye Tate, we edited a series of papers Open(ing) Authority Through Community Engagementpublished in the journal Museums and Social Issues.  Elizabeth and I are very excited to have organized a set of papers for the upcoming Society for American Archaeology meetings that further explores the Open Authority discussion in that discipline.  Below, Elizabeth considers her experiences in employing an Open Authority model at a small university-based museum. 

by Elizabeth Bollwerk

Two groups of 30 university students were scheduled to tour our museum, the Museum of Culture and Environment (MCE) at Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg, WA.  A student tour is typical given that we are a university museum but this event was a bit different. The students visiting our gallery are part of the College Assistance Migrant Program, or CAMP. This special program offered at CWU provides financial and academic support services to freshman students from migrant and seasonal farm working backgrounds.  Prior to their visit to MCE only about six of the 60 CAMP students knew MCE existed and none had visited.  This is fairly typical for our small, university-based museum.  We have one 1400 sq. ft. gallery space that rotates exhibits about twice a year.  We do our best to advertise but with only one full-time and three part-time staff, we have many balls to juggle.  Nevertheless, one of our major goals this year is to raise our visibility on campus.  The CAMP students were visiting because a staff member had attended one of their monthly meetings, talked about the museum and encouraged the students to visit us as part of a class they were taking.  But it’s still your typical tour.  So — why blog about it?

Shared Authority, Open Authority, Letting Go of Authority – The idea is embodied in different phrases but all describe a similar process: shifting from the idea that subject experts and professionals are the sole voices of museum authority to having communities or individuals not on the museum staff or board share the decision making power.  It’s a scary prospect but one that museums have been slowly adopting for the last decade.

In this blog post I use the term Open Authority to describe this process. There are many forms of Open Authority.  As Lori Phillips recently noted in her explanation of this paradigm shift at the 2013 Museum Computer Network conference, Open Authority is a spectrum.  At one end are projects that provide contributory or participatory experiences.  Visitors to museums can engage with the material on exhibit by tagging, voting, identifying etc.  On the other end are co-creative initiatives, where community members are involved from the very beginning and hold equal authority with museum staff in decisions about exhibits and programming.  In the middle are collaborative initiatives that rely on community sourcing and dialogue, but not quite to the same degree as co-creative projects.  How Open Authority becomes embodied in an institution is different for every museum and every community.  At MCE, we are at the contributory end of the spectrum but are working towards co-creation.  As part of this process I have identified concepts that are taking shape as “best practices” based on the growing number of case studies and discussions taking place in the museum community.  Here is my preliminary list:

  1. Opening Authority includes inviting people to your museum but often means physically going outside of the museum to make meaningful connections.  In some cases, this means going to communities and talking with them before bringing them into the museum space.  This is especially true for communities that traditionally neither visit or find museums to be welcoming.   Museum staff members can go on the community’s turf before asking them to come to the museum.
  2. Open Authority also means paying careful attention to the language you use when connecting with communities.  As my colleague Porchia Moore has noted, museums need to work on the language of cultural competency to ensure that we are actually cultivating openness.
  3. During and after interactions with community members, museums must be open to suggestions and actually follow-up on them.  Outreach must be viewed as dialogue, not just conversation (see Sharon Wilken Conrad’s blog on the important difference between these two).
  4. Long-term goals are important.  Creating lasting, collaborative relationships takes time.  Additionally, some communities will not have the time, interest, or energy to engage with the museum in the ways you would like them to.  But initiating the conversation and demonstrating an interest in the community perspective as equal partners provides an opening for future collaboration.
  5. When community members choose to be involved in a museum, especially as equal partners, be prepared for some projects to take on a mind of their own.
  6. At the same time, remember that you can’t make everyone happy.  Communities are full of diverse individuals with different interests.  You have to determine whom you are trying to reach and keep that goal in mind.
  7. Remember that Open Authority doesn’t just apply to communities outside of the museum.  There are also ways to Open Authority within a Museum staff’s structure as well.  Regardless of what communities you are focusing on, be sure to keep communication open with your staff members so they are sharing their ideas and concerns as part of the process.
  8. Open Authority also includes volunteers who bring another perspective and set of experiences.  Don’t forget to ask them about ideas and suggestions for how to contact and work with groups.

The CAMP tour is part of our efforts to Open Authority at MCE.  We are now in the initial stages of working with CAMP.  Students visited the museum, we showed them around our current exhibit, and asked them what they would like to see future exhibits focus on.  They shared a number of ideas, including an exhibit on the history of migration and migrant families in our county, an exhibit on leaders of Latino communities, the impact of the internet on college students, and contemporary music.  Although we aren’t in the position to put these ideas into action immediately (our exhibit schedule runs a year in advance) the CAMP ideas are now on our radar for future plans.  In addition, we are hopeful that CAMP will participate in other MCE projects in development, including a mobile tour of the museum and campus.  We are at the starting point with this project but we hope it’s the beginning of a great relationship that one day will lead to co-creative projects between CAMP and MCE.  Follow us to stay informed on our process.
What Open Authority practices are you using at your institution?

Elizabeth is the Central Washington University Museum of Culture and Environment Grants and Publicity Specialist.  She can be contacted at ebollwerk(at)gmail.com

Resources for Open Authority (in chronological order)

Moore, Porchia

2014.  Shifting Paradigms: The Case for Co-Creation and New Discourses of Participation (blog). The Incluseum.  February 26 2014. 

Phillips, Lori Byrd

http://hstryqt.tumblr.com/OpenAuthority

2013. The Temple & the Bazaar: Wikipedia as a Platform for Open Authority in Museums. Curator: The Museum Journal. 56:2.

2013.  Defining Open Authority in the Museum. Panel.  Museum Computer Network 2013 (Montreal, Canada)

Duclos-Orsello, Elizabeth A.  2013.

Shared Authority: The Key to Museum Education as Social ChangeJournal of Museum Education 38:2.

Inscho, Jeffrey  2013.  Oh Snap!  Experimenting with Open Authority in the Gallery (blog)Museum 2.0.  March 13 2013.

Connolly, Robert  2013.

Co-Production and Co-Creation with Volunteers (blog)Archaeology, Museums, and Outreach.   February 18, 2013.

Bollwerk, Elizabeth, Natalye Tate, and Robert Connolly (eds)  2012.

Open(ing) Authority Through Community Engagement.   Museums and Social Issues. 7:2.

Adair, Bill, Benjamin Filene, and Laura Koloski (ed).  2011.

Letting Go?: Sharing Historical Authority in a User-Generated World. Philadelphia: Pew Center for Arts and Heritage.

How Museums Are Like MOOCs, Part 1

stoneI am a strong advocate for user-generated content, such as Wikipedia, and open on-line content like MOOCS. I remain somewhat amused but mostly incredulous at the “sky is falling” folks who still bemoan this trend in knowledge sharing.

In my dealings within academia, over the past five years the discussion has gone from “online courses might work well, in x department, but not in our department, where face-to-face interaction is critical because . . . (fill in the blank) ” to the present day where most departments are at least experimenting with some form of  blended classes.  Now I particularly enjoy noting that students who I encouraged (or insisted/demanded) to enroll in remedial MOOC writing courses have dramatically improved writing skills.  Even my doubter colleagues realize that such improvements make their instructor jobs easier when reading through a stack of 10-page student papers.

I had a bit of an “aha” moment on all of this while listening to a To The Point podcast a few weeks ago.  The topic was Massive Open Online Courses, MOOC’s: The Future of Education?  The naysayers primary complaints expressed on the podcast rest with a lack of faculty control of MOOC content and whether MOOCs even work as an educational tool.  My suspicion is that those in the upper-echelons of MOOC and MOOC-like developments find these complaints rather amusing as the NeoLuddites of higher education make their last futile gasps to preserve the good old days.

But the source of my “aha” came from a different objection to MOOCs raised on the podcast.  The naysayers also point to the low completion rates of MOOCs.  Depending on how you cut it, as few as 5% of the tens of thousands of individuals who might enroll in a single course end up completing all the assignments.  In the past, my response to this objection was that even with a low rate of completion, if 1000 students finished the course, quantitatively, that is still a good number for a single professor’s course.  Further, if those 1000 paid say 25.00 per head for a high-end certificate of completion (known as the signature track in coursera-speak) seemingly that is an economic model that could ultimately sustain the venture long-term.

But then something happened to me and the “aha” struck.  I recently registered for the MOOC Content Strategy For Professionals: Engaging Audiences for Your Organization.  The course seemed ideal to explore a strategic orientation for engaging museum audiences.  At coursera.org, when registering for courses, one is asked to state if they intend to do all the readings, watch all the videos, and complete all the assignments.  As usual, I dutifully checked all the “yes” boxes.  The first set of lectures was fantastic.  I enjoyed them so much I ordered the textbook from Amazon.com immediately.  This MOOC presented the precise information I sought.  I reasoned the book would be a great supplement.  However, the assignment that constituted 70% of the MOOC course grade was about developing a content strategy model around a clothing campaign – not a project that resonated with me.  I decided I was not going to complete the assignment and therefore, not complete the requirements for the certificate.  In so doing, I was going to be part of the 95% statistic the naysayers suggest are MOOC failures.

A few days later I registered for the The History and Future of (mostly) Higher Education taught by Cathy Davidson that I reported on last week.  Upon registering, I checked the “no” boxes on my intent for completing the readings, videos, and assignments.  I actually wasn’t even certain if I wanted to watch anything of the MOOC beyond the lecture that piqued my interest – Teaching Like it’s 1992.  This registration marked a real shift in my thinking.  Previously, before registering for a MOOC I always read the syllabus and determined if I had enough time to complete the course requirements.  In this instance, I knew I wanted to listen to at least one lecture, but was not going to make a commitment to the entire seven week offering.  That decision was very liberating and instructive for me.  Again, from the linear perspective of registering for the course, completing all the tasks on the syllabus, taking the final test, and getting a final grade, the naysayers will argue this MOOC also did not work for me.

But I object.  Both MOOCs gave me exactly the information and training I sought.  So how can that be translated as the MOOCs not working?

Part of the answer to that question is found in Professor John Levine’s  Introductory Lecture for the Content Strategy MOOC where he notes:

Let me tell you a few important things about this MOOC, however. First since it is for professionals, there’ll be no grades and no tests.  It’s not a college course, it’s a program for you as a professional to master.  And then be able to use what you learn here and take it back to work.

That very statement addresses a point raised in a Ted Talk by Peter Norvig, a pioneer in the MOOC field.  Norvig states that “everyone is both a learner and a teacher.”  This understanding fits well within the understanding of MOOCs as integral components of informal, lifelong and free-choice learning.  As Norvig further discusses, this understanding places MOOC’s beyond the limits of traditional academia.  Of note, the naysayers rarely, if ever, address this point that Norvig raises.  I suspect the lack of input is because the naysayers perceive education from the pre-1992 paradigm.

Museums function in the same way.  As a general statement, in a museum you can come enter at any point along the path.  You are not required to read every label.  You are not tested before you leave the building.  But, you can engage with what you want for as long as you want.

Next week I want to explore the implications of the Museum as MOOCs.

Do you draw similar parallels between MOOCs and cultural heritage venues?

(Note:  In a preemptive response: 1) I would gladly pay 10.00 for either of the MOOCs noted above. 2) I am well aware that there are MOOC disasters out there.  The venture is new.  coursera.org is two years old.  I am certain a time traveling fly on the wall would hear all the same objections to Gutenberg’s first printing press in the 1400s.

Community Engagement and Open Authority

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For the past month the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa held Art for Voice camps.  The one-week sessions were age-graded and free of charge.  Each group contained a good mix of students representative of the different neighborhoods, racial and economic backgrounds of Memphis.  A concern in the original stage of the Camp planning was to stay within the Museum’s Mission Statement.  We did not want the Camp simply to be an activity to increase visitation. Instead, the Camp activities drew on the collections curated at the Museum as educational and creative resources. The Camp directly aligned with our mission as a participatory experience for area residents.

This past Saturday, Art for Voice Camp creator Penny Dodds and I had a conversation evaluating this “pilot” program and to consider the next steps.  Several important themes emerged in our conversation.

Opening Authority –  A critical part of the Camp activities involved our curated collections and existing programs.  Besides a drum circle and throwing darts with atlatls, campers viewed Museum exhibits from the Native American and African American traditional cultures of the area.  Based on these experiences, the campers decided the types of objects they wished to use as models to create their artworks.  The campers selected suitable objects from our Hands-on Archaeology lab and materials drawn by our Collections Manager from the Museum’s curated educational collections.

Although not web-based, these processes are in line with Lori Philips initial discussions of open authority in museums and her more recent article published in Curator.  The campers worked with cultural materials of their choosing.  With guidance from both a collections manager and artist, the campers ultimately made their own interpretive and creative decisions.  As I watched the Camp compilation video where the young artists explained the process, I was reminded of the “aha” moment I had some 20 years ago when validating a 5th grade girl’s interpretation of Poverty Point headless figurines.  That is, yes there is a difference between the no touching and static early 1960s introduction to museums of my youth and our 2013 campers throwing darts with atlatls and handling artifacts.  But more importantly, the 2013 campers were not just expected to come up with the correct answer or perform the correct action to be rewarded.  Rather, they engaged in a process where multiple truths and possibilities are considered, along the lines of Parker Palmer’s Interactive Model of the Great Thing.

Leadership Development in Museums – None of the principal players in the Art for Voice Camp were regular staff members of the C.H. Nash Museum.  Penny, the Camp’s initial creator, led the experience.  But by the last week of the Camp, the leadership expanded.  Two of the high school students who participated in either the first or second week of the Camp, participated in weeks three, four, and five by assisting with the younger aged sessions.  In fact, their transition from campers to leaders was critical to accommodate overflow campers originally placed on a waiting list.  As well, two parents of the campers provided their expertise to the sessions by leading drumming circles, sharing their knowledge of traditional medicinal plants growing along the nature trail that campers explored, and general mentoring.  The Museum’s summer intern, Lindsey Pender lent her video editing ability and photographic skills to the project.  When Penny and I discussed the next steps yesterday afternoon, we recognized that we started with one camp “leader” but ended the session with five identified “leaders” who are anxious to expand on the pilot program.

Of importance as well, the youth campers were given authority during the Camp to lead on decisions about free-time learning activities.  For example, during one week of the Camp, the participants composed a musical composition that they performed for their parents at the end of the day using the Museum’s plethora of percussion instruments.

Empowerment –  The Art for Voice camp brought a very public opportunity for empowerment to the fore at our Museum.  As an institution of the University of Memphis, we are quite mindful and intentional to empower our interns and graduate assistants.  In the past several years, we aggressively moved to empower volunteers incorporating an explicitly participatory museum model into our mission.  The Art for Voice Camp, by its very nature, required the proactive empowerment of the participants.  Given the parameters of the Camp, participants were required to process, think through, and create from within.

Third Place – All of the above feeds into the Third Place concept on which I posted before.   Unfortunately, much of the Third Place discussion in museums gets stalled in a rather dogmatic application of Oldenburg’s original concept.  As Natalye Tate concludes in a recent synthesis “. . . the Third Place as Oldenburg envisioned is not necessarily an appropriate programming tool for museums, does not contend that it should be ignored.  Understanding the elemental nature of the Third Place offers museum practitioners a toolkit to pull from and adapt to their various sets of resources, needs and environments.”

In our conversation on Saturday, Penny noted that she had been mindful throughout the process to solicit input from the Camp participants and their parents for ideas on using the Museum in the future as a space for more projects based in curated collections, exhibits, and the 40-acre natural environment.

If one moves beyond an obsession ala the Seinfeld episode The Pitch that a Third Place has to be about nothing, but that it can be about multiple somethings, at Chucalissa we find that many of the attributes that might be ascribed to a Third Place are now in place.  In addition to the general conviviality of our picnic grounds and hiking trails, our ability to creatively incorporate volunteers, art camps, host community meetings, Black History month events, training sessions for Literacy Midsouth, and a community garden – all contain elements of the Third Place and remains within the limits of our mission statement.  At the same time while expanding the opportunities for our more traditional interpretive functions, we bring more of our community voices to the same table in dialog.  This process is in direct alignment with the International Council of Museum’s definition of museum as:

a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment.

How do you envision museum’s opening authority and co-creative processes?

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