Three of our team members, Mark, Ethan and Jessye, went over to The National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design in Oslo, Norway, to host workshops and give presentations. They met loads of interesting museum professionals, while spreading new ideas about museum visitor engagement. We got a chance to have a chat with Ethan and Mark about the experience. Read the interview below to find out more.
Interview with Ethan and Mark:
1. What was your biggest take away from your time with The National Museum of Art, Architecture, and Design?
Ethan: Everybody is looking for the millennial audience! This isn’t just a concern in the United States; ensuring that museum spaces are relevant and engaging for a new generation is essential the world over. And we all have things to learn from each other. Mark: Enthusiasm and passion is infectious, across cultures. Passionately declaring that you LOVE museums wins over a lot of hearts. And once people get that our excitement is authentic, that our knowledge is true, even if it is coming from a different angle than expected, then they can get behind what we do. Especially when we say, hey, this isn’t for everyone, but it definitely works for millennials, and our ways of the hack can be used much more broadly, too. 2. Did you get any feedback from the Museum Professionals?
Ethan: Within days of our workshops, some of the museum professionals we worked with said they were using our storytelling techniques and gallery-appropriate activities with their groups. That was awesome.
Mark: There was so much excitement after our workshops and speeches! It was thrilling to feel like people got inspired, found tools that they could use to engage groups in museum spaces, and that they had a lot of fun in the workshops and during the speech, too. 3. What were your challenges?
Ethan: The language barrier was occasionally a challenge, but the passion and energy all of our Norwegian colleagues put forward to try our techniques in a language that isn’t their own was amazing. Also, I talk fast when I get excited, and sometimes non-native English speakers have trouble understanding me. Sorry!
Mark: Fighting jetlag, overcoming the challenges of doing digital research from afar and finding the painting you were hacking MISSING from the collection, and having to rework your material for a whole new piece of art! We customized these workshops as much as possible, which took a lot of work, but well worth it. 4. How is this kind of consulting effective for museums?
Ethan: It’s fun! It’s like recess for museum professionals! I felt like we spent almost four hours playing in museums, learning from each other and trying new techniques. Collaborating and thinking creatively about how to broaden the definition of a “positive museum experience” is the way we are going to continue to make museums relevant for generations to come. As museum professionals, and museum lovers, we all want the exact same thing.
Mark: Connecting with people is effective everywhere, for everyone. And positivity, fun, eagerness, authenticity – these things can be modeled and reflected. We saw this in Oslo for sure! 5. What was your best memory from the trip?
Ethan: To prep for our workshops, the National Museum allowed us access to the National Gallery and Museum of Design on days when they were closed to the public. It was just Mark, Jessye, me, a guide and a security guard. To stand before Munch’s works without any crowds is a moment I will never forget. And also, nerding out with our guide Linn over the “portable toilet” in the Museum of Design. Museum love knows no geographic boundaries!
Mark: Oh there were so many. Hacking Courbet’s Portrait of Hector Berlioz. Learning all about Edvard Munch in the National Gallery when it was closed to the public. Walking through the Julmarked (Christmas Market) in the falling snow searching for our Norwegian sweaters. Visiting the Viking Ship Museum. Dancing to Michael Jackson in the middle of our speech with 250 people. All so, so very good memories. Do you work for a museum? Would you love to work with us on audience engagement? Send us an email or read more about our workshops, presentations, and museum consulting work. Subscribe to our mailing list to get articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.