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July 9, 2012

Here is a guest post I contributed over at former C.H. Nash Museum GA Katie Stringer’s blog. Katie is currently working on her PhD in Public History at Middle Tennessee State University. The guest post considers a model for participatory experiences in museums that another former C.H. Nash Museum GA, Natalye Tate and I, recently published in Collections (Vol. 7, Number 3).

Something Old, Something New

By: Dr. Robert Connolly

In a recent issue of the journal Collections (Vol. 7, Number 3, Summer 2011), Natalye Tate and I published an article titled “Volunteers and Collections as Viewed from the Museum Mission Statement.”  Our central thesis is that museums should not view volunteers as folks who do things for which there are not enough staff to complete. Rather, we argue that museums as public institutions should view volunteers as integral to their mission mandates to provide educational and participatory experiences.

We use a scheme presented by Nina Simon in her bookThe Participatory Museum to model Contributory, Collaborative and Co-creative experiences for museum volunteers.  The model is also applicable in the field of public history.

Contributory Experiences are those where the public has very limited input around specific projects that are controlled by the institution. The engagement is generally brief and limited in scope.  Oral history interviews…

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