Think Digital! Interactive Workshop
With the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum,
New York

Monday 9 November, 2020
11:00am-2:00pm [EST] / 4:00pm-7:00pm [UTC]

A half-day study session and international conference opportunity, bringing together students and early career professionals from four leading Museum Studies programmes in the US and UK, exploring ways of leading digital change with empathy in museums.

Think Digital! will provide you with an opportunity to:

  • engage with findings from the on-going ‘One by One’ research initiative, involving the American Alliance of Museums, UK Museums Association, Museum Computer Network and Smithsonian Institution;
  • work alongside staff from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, and its innovative new Interaction Lab;
  • develop your ability to work effectively and creatively in collaborative business settings around task-focused activities;
  • extend your professional network with students and recent graduates from other Museum Studies programmes, internationally;

As a valued Think Digital! participant you will also be given:

Before the workshop

You will be provided with:

  • online materials to help you orientate yourself with some of the key ideas of the session, as well as the institutional setting of the Cooper Hewitt.
  • an opportunity to connect with other ‘Think Digital!’ participants in an online meet-up event.

During the workshop

Your challenge will be:

  • to work in a small group, with participants from the other Universities, responding to a specific set of digital leadership challenges set by the Cooper Hewitt team;
  • to use (and test) some of the ideas from the ‘One by One’ research as a way of meeting the needs of the museum;
  • to present back to the museum team your ideas and recommendations for how they might lead digital change with empathy.

How to register

Think Digital! is a free event. However, places are limited to 40, with 10 nominated participants allocated to each of the four partner universities.

For further information please first contact your local Think Digital! lead:

Katherine Burton Jones, Harvard Extension School
Haitham Eid, Southern University New Orleans
Phyllis Hecht, Johns Hopkins University
Ross Parry, University of Leicester

Once locally enrolled, you can register for the event through our online registration system.

For any help on joining the event, and for more details please contact Isobel Woodliffe (‘One by One [UK-US]’, Research Project Officer, University of Leicester).

One by One at Museums Association Conference 2020

Keywords: A Vocabulary of Empathy and Emotion

Over three 30-minute episodes staged like live radio broadcasts, Dr Sophie Frost will explore the new ‘keywords’ that have emerged in this collective moment of intersecting crises. Hearing from people working with digital technology in a range of museums and heritage settings, Sophie will explore the terms ‘Emotional Labour’, ‘Precarity’ and ‘Courage’.

The sessions will relate to the launch of a new podcast series supported by the Museums Association: People. Change. Museums. The series takes a snapshot in time of current attitudes and practices in museum technology, acting as a platform for the lived experiences of museums and museum workers in this period of change and uncertainty. The podcast medium enables us to hear from a range of different voices and to construct a richer understanding of how we, as museum and heritage practitioners, are surviving and thriving in these challenging times.

Session dates:

Tuesday 3 November 1600-1630

Wednesday 4 November 1600-1630

Thursday 5 November 1700-1730

Previous events:

  • Forum Workshop #2 – Take ‘CARE’ to be ‘CALM’ [June 17, 2020 at 3:30-5pm UTC+1] ‘CALM’ is an acronym for the key attributes needed when practicing digital in museums: ‘Collaborative’, ‘Anticipatory’, the need to ‘Let go’ of command and control leadership and ‘Mindful’. Devised by Dr Lauren Vargas, One by One Research Associate and independent consultant, ‘CALM’ accompanies ‘CARE’ in the digital museum space, which refers to the need to Communicate, Adapt, to be Resilient and Empathetic. In this workshop, the ‘One by One’ research team will share the conditions for leadership to thrive at all levels of an organization. The intended impact of this session was to inform practitioners about how digital collaboration and communication practices can scale decision-making across the organization and enable the necessary scaffolding for the development of relevant skills needed to support the ‘museum of the future’. 
  • Forum Panel #2 – Communication & Collaboration: How might we rethink our museum digital processes to become more empathetic and responsive? [June 15, 2020 at 3:30-5pm UTC+1] Practicing a ‘CALM’ approach to digital leadership in museums can help the entire organization feel more confident about how it adopts new ways of working as well as emerging technologies. This not only enables a more connected and engaged workforce but enhances consumer and visitor experiences. This panel considered how we can create more open and collaborative workplaces so that we may be aware of, acknowledge, and adapt workloads to ensure work is equally distributed and aligned to strategic goals and objectives. Our panel included Sara Synder (Chief, External Affairs and Digital Strategies, Smithsonian American Art Museum, US) and Kati Price (Head of Digital Media and Publishing, V&A, UK). 
  • Forum Workshop #1 – Museums of Tomorrow Scenario Planning [June 10, 2020 at 3:30-5pm UTC+1] Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many museums struggled to think and plan strategically. Since the crisis we have seen a disruption of pre-existing plans and increased attention paid to previously under-prioritized areas, most notably in the realm of digital engagement. This workshop helped museum professionals contemplate and create their own plausible, possible, and probable ‘museum of the future’ narratives and potential actions. Led by the ‘One by One’ research team, the workshop demonstrated how, in a time of crisis, museums might identify the drivers, uncertainties, trends, cycles, and the multiple choices for their potential future so as to plan the best next actions to aid their growth and development. By undertaking an exercise in scenario planning, we can begin to learn from the past in order to better inform the present and plan for a more resilient future. 
  • Forum Panel #1 – Digital Leadership: How might we strengthen the relationship between senior leaders and digital leaders in museums? [June 8, 2020 at 3:30-5pm UTC+1] Since lockdown, the need for strategic thinking in museums is greater than ever. In this online live panel discussion, we consider the relationship between directorial and digital leadership in museums, and how a more integrated approach might be developed between the two in order to improve overarching strategic direction. We ask: how can digital leaders achieve greater agency and autonomy in museums? Panelists included Effie Kapsalis (Senior Digital Program Officer American Women’s History Initiative, Smithsonian Institution, US), and John Stack (Digital Director, Science Museum Group, UK). 
  • AAM Virtual Panel – A Time for Digital Clarity [June 1, 2020 at 12:30-1:30pm CST] As we write our future histories of museum technology, this – now – will be remembered as the moment everything changed. At a time of crisis, museums are making decisive turns towards digital in their structure, workforce, and communications. But how well are we understanding these unprecedented challenges, and leading this accelerated decision-making? Bringing together experts from different sectors, this panel explored how we can learn from our past, not just to inform this present, but shape our digital future. Panelists included Carolyn Royston (Cooper Hewitt), Catherine Devine (Microsoft Worldwide), Professor Ross Parry (Museum Studies, University of Leicester), and Moderator: Nik Honeysett (Balboa Park Online Collaborative).