It's been a busy year already, with hardly time to blog, much less announce this year's mentees. Many, many thanks to all of you who took the time to apply and share your passions, your childhood creative efforts, and the changes you want to make in the field. You inspire me every year--and the choice is always very difficult. This year, I'm happy to announce that Claire Lanyon and Doreen Pastor will each be joining me for a year's worth of monthly coffee and conversation. We'll be time zone challenging, and intriguing that each are migrants to their current country.
Claire is Interim Learning Manager at the Auckland War Memorial Museum in Auckland, New Zealand. She came to this position with experience in the world of educational technology, including 6 years at Apple as an Account Executive focusing on education sales. Among the questions we'll be exploring this year are:
- What can we do to increase the relevance of Museums in the lives of young people?
- What programmes or exhibitions are you seeing that meaningfully increase participation?
- What steps can we take to increase the development of empathy?
Claire's childhood acts took her from shy child to the Majorette World Championships, as performing in various guises helped her find her voice and her passions include education (teaching and learning), empathy and food. Her two best museums experiences of the last year were ones I wish I'd seen: the Empathy Museum and ‘We’re here because we are here’ a public art piece commemorating the Battle of the Somme.
Doreen is currently working on her Ph.D. and part-time Community, Learning and Volunteer Coordinator at St George's in Bristol, England. At the University of Bristol, her research is focusing on tourism and cultural memory at “difficult” heritage sites in Germany. She is passionate about "historical research and communicating this research to a public audience, particularly addressing challenging historical themes." Over the year, we'll be talking about the work of memorial sites globally and as well, ways to build out individual skills and capacity.
Doreen's remembered creative act was also an act of resistance:
I have always been a little bit of a rebel, which, bearing in mind that I was born in the GDR,was problematic. From day one, I did not enjoy going to school and one day during a mathlesson, I stood up and informed the teacher that I would leave the lesson as I was bored. Such an act in the GDR school system was very brave and had some consequences for me, however, it did not deter me from always speaking my mind.Braver museums--moving away from the cautious--is the change Doreen would like to see, and at memorial sites, she would like to see sites "consider the impact of the exhibitions on the visitors from the outset rather than as an after-thought."
As I said above, this process is always a difficult one--and one of my favorite parts is reading about those first creative acts. Here's just a few:
- Writing adventure stories featuring Pokemon characters
- When I was 7 a friend and I put posters up around our village advertising a drama class that we were holding in the playground (no-one turned up…)
- My 3rd-grade teacher Ms. Brown noticed one of my notebooks and convinced me to submit a poem about the Time Square ball drop to our township’s local newspaper, and it was published, which was about the biggest event of my childhood.
- a very (very!) complex board game for Whose Line is It Anyway?
- When I was maybe 11 or 12 I started making drawings that illustrated popular song titles. For example, for Journey’s “Open Arms” I drew, you guessed it, a torso with extended arms. For Yes’ “Owner of a lonely heart”, I drew a typical heart with a collar and chained leash, and little a hand firmly holding the other end of the leash.
You are all amazing! Keep up the creative work to keep changing the museum field.