Sunday, May 30, 2010

What I Learned from Staffing a Booth in the AAM Expo Hall

1. It is a real trade-off; on the one hand, you meet and have the excuse to chat with all sorts of fascinating people! On the other hand, you miss out on a lot of amazing sessions and experiences.

2. Take advantage of the Exhibitors' Lounge.

3. Get in line first for the food and try to eat quickly while the delegates are in line so you will be ready for them by the time they have their food (and you have finished eating yours).

4. Have lots of bling/schwag to give away.

5. Gimmicks are good for drawing people in, but you need substance to keep them there talking to you.

6. Homemade chocolate chip cookies help.

7. Make sure you give yourself time to wander around the rest of the Expo Hall at some point.

8. Try to make it to at least one session and one General Session if at all possible.

9. Keep on top of who you have met--make notes about them so that you will remember what you talked about when you get home and are looking blankly at a large pile of business cards you have collected.

10. Be prepared for a back-up plan when the Internet connection doesn't work very well.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What I Learned from Attending AAM 2010*

(* Especially since it was in my hometown.)

1. Go to the evening events. Sure, I can go to MoLAA for free whenever I want, but for $40 I could have seen Guillermo Gomez-Pena perform a dialogue with artist Felipe Ehrenberg.

2. The conference is a great place to catch up with old friends from around the country--but be sure to meet new friends, too, possibly from around the world!

3. Try to get more sleep. The days are long and tiring enough; staying up until 4AM really doesn't improve the experience.

4. Go to the lunches. Again, yeah, I can pack a lunch from home and save some money, but I'll miss out on speakers and networking with colleagues.

5. Offer to show colleagues and friends around the town/where the locals eat and drink before or after the conference--but not during the conference; no one has time for that.

6. Baking homemade cookies for a booth in the Expo Hall is indeed a good idea--work that kitchen!

7. Read all session and General Session descriptions carefully and keep your ears open for special possibly fun additions and events so that you don't miss hearing a Q&A with the richest billionaire/largest supporter of the arts/very controversial guy in town.

8. You really need more than 3 weeks to plan a successful flash mob. Also, you need technology that doesn't fail.

9. Smart phones are really, really worth it at these conferences. Or, I guess an iPad would do, too.

10. Forget about whatever it is you are supposed to be learning at the conference and go to the technology sessions and events (#djump, Muse Awards, etc.)--those folks know how to have FUN! Besides, we all need to learn about technology.

Fun Fact: I spent $131 on parking during the conference! (But that still doesn't equal one night in the conference hotels...)

I guess I learned some actual stuff from the sessions, too, but that will come in other posts.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pinky and YOUR Brain

Today I did something a tad out of the ordinary; I was interviewed by two cats. Not just any two cats, mind you, I was interviewed by Pinky and Kim, the cartoon cats from the Pinky Show. Haven't heard of the Pinky Show? It's a website that "gently pokes your brain with a stick," focusing on "information & ideas that have been misrepresented, suppressed, ignored, or otherwise excluded from mainstream discussion." These ideas include thoughts on museums, as seen in this video.

So what did Pinky and Kim interview me about? Why the future of museums, of course! And they didn't ask easy questions, either. No, the questions posed by this animated duo were astute and thought-provoking, probing issues such as the democratization of museums, where museums are headed and whether we are on the right track.

I enjoyed my little chat with Pinky and Kim--and you can, too! Their booth is open to all #aam10 participants over in the Center for the Future of Museums area in the Expo Hall. So stop by and say hello, gaze into the future and share what you see with these charming little kitties--and the rest of the museum field!

The Consultant Love Connection @ #AAM10

All conference sessions should include costumes and feature game show theme music!

Well, maybe not, but they sure did work for "Who Do You Call First?" a session dedicated to exploring the often confusing process of finding just the right consultant (or consultants) for a particular job.

The session did a credible send-up of the old TV game show, "The Dating Game," making the content just campy enough to elicit giggles from the audience (and keep them awake in that last session time slot of the day!) but while still delivering a lot of serious and valuable content. Sure, the museum planner was referred to as an alchemist and the economist was a fortune teller (each wearing suitable garb for their roles), but what they had to say was worth hearing.

Couched in terms of the structure of "Love Connection," one museum director (Heather Cochran, Museum Project Administrator for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences) asked each consultant to answer the same set of questions to determine their eligibility. Questions included, "What would we do on a first date?" (the Magician/Architect said he would take her all over the world to look at museum buildings that worked--and those that didn't, while the Visitor Services/Detective said she would take the director to a place she already loved--her own museum--to learn more about each other and themselves) and "What was your worst date?" (the Alchemist/Museum Planner described a date who never listened to anything he had to say and had already made up their minds about everything before hand while the Artist/Exhibit Developer spoke of the opposite--a date who didn't know what they wanted at all). The Economist/Fortune Teller stated that, "the best dates have really, really big endowments."

Amidst the double-entendres and the silliness, the specific roles and functions of each type of consultant were effectively explained and delineated for the audience, hopefully helping them to think about which type of assistance they might most need. Pointers were also given to prospective clients about how to be "better," more informed clients by doing a little preliminary research of their own, including benchmarking and developing a clear vision of what they hope to achieve.

The Client--Heather Cochran, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
The EmCee--Mark Hayward, BRC Imagination Arts
Magician/Architect--David Greenbaum, Smith Group
Midwife/Owner's Representative--Barbara Punt, Punt Consulting
Artist/Exhibit Developer--Kathy Gustafson-Hilton, Hands On! Inc
Alchemist/Museum Master Planner--Guy Hermann, Museum Insights
Detective/Visitor Services--Kathleen Tinworth, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
Fortune Teller/Economist--Elaine Carmichael, Economic Stewardship, Inc.