Why I am Coming to C2: Eric Siegel

Awed by the golden lady of creativity!

Awed by the golden lady of creativity!

I am planning to come to this retreat for some of the same reasons that Nina gave…I am part of the planning team, and I am the President of the National Association for Museum Exhibition, co-sponsors with AAM.

But I have another reason I am coming…I am worried. That’s nothing new, I worry about a lot of things, but now I am particularly worried.

Obviously, I am worried for all the same reasons everyone else is. The economy is in free fall, institutions that seemed rock solid are vaporizing, I work in NY where the hometown businesses…finance, insurance, real estate…are most affected by what is going on. One of our major foundation funders closed up shop because they had their money invested in Madoff. You know the drill.

At the same time, I am absolutely beside myself with hope because of the change in the federal government, both Obama and the legislature. There is going to be a major investment and emphasis on education, science will now be honored as an important way of understanding the world, and intelligence will be valued (I know, I am a bit over-optimistic about Obama…so shoot me).

There has been a lot of talk for a long time that museums have to change, and we have changed. But I think the events of the past 6 months or so suggest the threat, and the opportunity, of a more substantial and significant change.

Our big buildings and fancy exhibits suddenly look expensive, lumbering, and slow to respond to the amazingly rapid pace of information exchange and knowledge building that is happening on the Internet. Our ability to foster social learning pales beside the self-organizing social networks enabled by communications technologies. I’m not sure that we can keep telling ourselves that we are essential, or even very useful, without some fundamental change.

And I think we are not very good at fundamental change. As the economy has changed, museums, even science centers and children’s museums are starting to appear very conservative.

That is why I was so eager to help organize a discussion with people outside our field toward an understanding of the processes of collaboration and creativity. I was so delighted when our team identified the four “instigators” that are coming to C2. Burning Man? ILM? World Without Oil? Fuggedaboudit…These are signposts in the world of collaborative creativity. Anyone who has participated in a PIE workshop with Karen and Mike know how thoughtful and deliberate they are and creating frameworks for participation, teamwork, and imagination.

Nina, Darcie, Jenny Sayre, Greg and I are planning a great few days…and if you add in the Maker Faire, you will have solid dose of do-it-yourself creativity.

Now back to the worry…if you are worried about your job, can you imagine a better investment than high level networking with leaders in your field and a better way to get perspective than to rediscover what you love about your work? Think of it as Linked In with a beach, an ocean, and pheromones.

It is up to you all, the potential participants, to make this great. So please do come if at all possible, and we look forward to seeing you.!



5 responses to “Why I am Coming to C2: Eric Siegel

  1. Rachelle Bradt

    Dear Eric – you said very well what I- a fellow New Yorker – also feel . You certainely put the bug in my head of planning to come to this retreat. Kind regards – rachelle

  2. Gretchen Jennings

    Hi, Eric, Your comments really resonate with me. I am looking for people to worry with – but in a beautiful setting. So maybe C2 is for me. G

  3. sonnet takahisa

    wow – some of my most favorite smart museum people. so C2 is definitely worth thinking about!

  4. Sonnet, You should def. come! This will be an amazing group and you would be such a wonderful contributor/instigator/agitator! Plus we would get to meet face-to-face!

  5. What a great opportunity!

    One of my all-time favorite exhibition labels was “born” at the Monterey Bay Aq. for a temporary exhibition on sharks. It read, “CAN YOU SMELL IT YET?” as you entered the museum…and nothing more. As you wandered toward the shark tanks, the large label kept appearing, every 30-60′ or so…”Can You Smell It Yet?” FINALLY, about 25′ before the entrance to the shark exhibition, a small case emerged containing a teaspoon cradling fake (I assume) blood. The case label read: “Now you know from how far away a shark can smell blood.” Talk about a one-case exhibition!

    (Darcie, did you write that?)

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