Catching up with Beck Tench
At AAM, I had a chance to sit down with Beck Tench at the end of a conference day — I’ve been looking forward to catching up with her for a year or so since I first heard her talk about her role as Director for Innovation and Digital Engagement at the Museum of Life and Science in Durham, NC.
Here’s what’s she’s doing that is so fascinating and relevant/revolutionary to our work with museums and learning: she's led the development of "Experimonth," a series of month-long explorations of experiential topics such as raw foods, haiku, and mood (the current topic). For thirty days, Web based participants explore the topic via a project blog. Fascinating stuff. I wanted to jump right in and participate when I heard the topics (though Beck says raw foods was a tough one).
A key moment while we talked: Beck pointed out that she's in the "programs" department, not the "exhibits" department. I let that sink in a bit. When I was a staff member at Boston Children's Museum a decade ago, exhibits was always where the action was. I was never that aware of programs. But changes are afoot — if we’re truly going to impact visitors' lives, it’s going to take more than a museum visit a few times a year. It’s going to take regular programming. And month-long commitments. On the horizon: programs rise in importance in museums, especially cutting edge ones that engage visitors/participants over an extended time.