Wednesday, May 22, 2013

MA2013 - were you there?

Last week was the Museums Australia National Conference in Canberra. Were you there? What were your take-home experiences? What would you want to share with fellow EVRNN members who couldn't make it this year?

This year the EVR National Network hosted a workshop by Dr. Tiina Roppola, called "Designing for the Museum Visitor Experience" and based on Tiina's extensive research across a variety of Australian museums. Participants discussed Tiina's model of how visitors and exhibits relate to one another and how it relates to their own institutions.

There was also a general discussion on the role and value of MA's National Networks more broadly. As with the recent EVRNN member survey, other networks have recently taken the temperature of their membership and this confirms that Networks are still valued by their members, even if the level of activity is limited to an informal get-together at conference time. In this vein, member representatives fed back to MA that network affiliation needs to be more visible at conference time - maybe we don't have to wear a red carnation, but perhaps some designation on our delegate badge so we have a better idea of shared interests?

It's not too late to add your voice to the conversation by filling out our member survey: - we'd still like to hear from you and Carolyn (our President) will be able to compile a fuller report of responses later in the year.

To get a flavour of the conference, here are a couple of links:

MA ACT's "storify" page
Regan's initial conference notes in "storify" form

Please add your own thoughts and comments below, particularly anything related to future activities of the EVR network.


  1. Storify looks interesting!

  2. I, as President of EVRNN, discussed these thoughts at a session on National Networks at the MA2013 Conference in Canberra in April 2013.

    I was a member of the inaugural EVR SIG committee when work of this kind was relatively new. Carol Scott, Lynda Kelly, Linda Ferguson and Gillian Savage were active players in the field.
    Since then, others have kept the (now) network going but it is timely to re-examine the role of networks and the contribution they make to their members.

    In a recent survey (albeit a very low response rate) we asked those who should know and the EVR members told us 5 things they want from the EVR network.
    ADVOCACY for EVR work within and outside the sector
    EVIDENCE of how outcomes of the work have been used, e.g. shaping experiences, reporting to government, applying for grants, etc.
    ACCESS to existing reports/insights, expertise and key developments in the field
    A NATIONAL DATABASE of information that can be used to compare institutions and their work.

    It seems that the absence of a network at all is a greater loss than having one that may be considered inactive. This is because without one, there is:
    • No national profile for the work and people undertaking it
    • No forum to publish about the work
    • No control over the quality of work practices
    • No safe place for debating issues surrounding the work.

    So if networks are so important, why are we seeing some dwindle? Why are networks endangered? There are a number of reasons.

    Primarily they are volunteer run and rely on someone with a passion for the area. In contrast, networks such as the VSA in the US are very effective primarily as their memberships are strong enough for them to have a paid manager’s role.

    People have to pay to join a network on top of MA membership fees and are then not sure what that extra amount will get them Different networks also have different price points so do the benefits also vary?

    Members don’t know other members in the same network and communication between members is not formally facilitated, mistakenly for privacy concerns.

    And finally, MA seems unsure of the role of networks and, at present, networks often represent more work for MA staff. Additionally, it is not clear how networks relate to other MA structures.

    Now, if we choose to keep the EVR network, we will need the following.
    • only hear about networks when joining/rejoining
    • need higher profile at conference – tagging sessions at conference effective
    • at conferences, need to put a delegate’s network on the delegates’ list or identification badges
    • need better communication tools – current email format too formal
    • need opportunity/forum for further brainstorming
    • do they need to pay extra or can it be inclusive – up to x with membership as often people want to join more than one
    • need opportunity/forum for further brainstorming
    • work cross networks – share ideas
    • stronger ties with state branches – involved in state calendar of events
    • greater connection with other MA structures
    • networks need projects to work on – work with MA to identify some projects for networks to contribute nationally
    • currently networks identified by role in organisation – perhaps in future there can be networks that focus on specific activities e.g. government advocacy, fundraising, digital programming network, etc.

  3. Yes, it's very true that networks need projects to work on. There's nothing like a project to foster collaborative activity helped by focus and timelines!

    Once we have identified the people working in major museums/galleries who are responsible for EVR, we could explore with them their interest in a common project.