Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Greening the Museum

As we all know, green is the new black these days. It's hip to care about the environment right now, at least on the surface of things. And the museum field is not immune. Nearly two years ago, before the current fad for "going green," the AAM published this article on environmental responsibility in museums. The article has some excellent pointers on ways to both assess and reduce your institution's impact on the environment.

It also spotlights what I consider one of the most important reasons for museums to consider greening their practices and facilities - our underlying mission to serve the public good. In the end, how can we, as professionals dedicated to education, preservation, and community engagement, fail to recognize the importance of reducing our impact on the environment and helping preserve it for future generations?

I will be away on vacation for the next two weeks, so the blog will get a brief hiatus. Look for something new the week of August 11th.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No Child Left Behind in the Museum

While browsing the New England Museum Association's website the other day, I noticed a survey they are in the process of completing. They're asking members to answer the question: "What does No Child Left Behind* mean for school group visits to museums?"

I find this a very interesting question, as I've dealt with NCLB before, but in a very different capacity. For nearly three years, I was the Supplemental Educational Services coordinator for a private tutoring company. In this role, I was privy to many of the failures and successes of this legislation. With public schoolteachers at my side, I waded through a veritable sea of red tape, but I also got to hear about the young girl who had just received her first A in math ever and the young boy who initially skipped his tutoring sessions, but grew to love working with his tutor.

For me, the SES program became emblematic of the failures and successes of the public school system in general. More often than not, I (and the schoolteachers in the districts with whom I worked) became incredibly frustrated by the bureaucracy inherent in managing such an expansive, national program. However, those moments of getting through to struggling, disadvantaged students shone like beacons of light and, sometimes, made it all worthwhile.

So it will be very interesting to see what the NEMA survery will yield. The results will be presented in a session at the annual NEMA conference “
Sustaining Communities: The Power of Museums” in Warwick, Rhode Island, from November 12-14, 2008. Mark your calendars now if you're interested, too!

*Here is a definition of No Child Left Behind, for those of you who haven't been dealing with it over the last seven years.

UPDATE: Just found a blog called "No Museum Left Behind", dedicated to "
research and ideas related to how museums and museum educators grapple with issues related to No Child Left Behind legislation." An apt addendum, if ever there was one.