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.