8 October 2018

SECOND YEAR KNOWLEDGE PART 1

Museum Mondays | Katlyn Wooder


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Hello and greetings.

While this column is called Museum Mondays it will neither be about Museums or Mondays... although it will be posted on Mondays... what a happy coincidence ;). Now it will be known as Museum (Studies) Mondays.

This column will be a monthly explanation of what the University of Toronto is teaching us the Museum Studies’ Students.

This year this I'm going to conduct a Musings’ experiment. My premise is that part of Musings audience is current or future students who would find it helpful to be given an outline of what to expect in the second year mandatory classes. The two mandatory second year classes for Fall 2018 are MSL4000 Exhibitions Project and MSL2350 Museum Planning and Fundraising and Human Resources.

Of course, that excludes those interested in the thesis option rather than the exhibitions option. I don’t have a lot of useful personal information on that stream, except if you want to do a thesis these are the things you should do to prepare for the first week of school: look at what topic you would like to explore, and then find someone you want to learn from at the University of Toronto, and contact them to see if they would be willing to be your supervisor (don’t be too scared, most of the professors are human, and quite supportive if you come prepared).

If you are not a student, don’t exit the page. This is a great way of learning what our faculty found so vitally important that they argued and worked, and submitted and reviewed, and worked some more to get the courses up and running. They felt strongly that museum professionals needed to know these lessons.

If this article is successful people will be as happy and prepared for a successful experience, if not…

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I hope a first-year student next year will share their experience in the mandatory first-year courses.

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Exhibition class, taught by Prof. Matthew Brower, to manage and execute a successful museum project. Before the course even started, he did some heavy-lifting and found 20+ institutions with the desire to partner with UofT students to work on an exhibition project.

Those sponsors then propose the exhibit projects in class on week two. The presentations share the BIG idea: what the exhibit topic is about, who you are working with, what your resources are, or if you have resources.

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Some students create their own projects. These enterprising souls started their own project by using their work, connections, mentors, internships, took opportunity by the (censored) and ran. One student is reorganizing a Gallery’s Map collection and updating their catalogue system.

There are students who choose their project because it’s fully funded. Some people will choose the project based on the museum’s topic. The historic heritage crowd would rather chew off their arm than work with art... for the most part. There is a myriad of different priorities to manage, and it will help you to have a list of priorities you think are important, or knowledge of what skills you want to have after this.

There really isn’t a wrong choice. There are just different things you are going to learn.

By the end of this course, you are going to have a basic understanding of how to complete a museum project. The course is designed to teach you the different steps week-by-week. Last week, we learnt about budgeting and the different knowledge that is needed to create a budget. The major tip I learnt is never underestimate the amount of money you need; we are creating a professional exhibit and the budget should match.

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Museum Planning and Management: Projects and Fundraising, commonly called the Project Management course by the students.

This year the course is taught by Judith Koke. “The objective of this course is to offer students applied knowledge of core concepts for planning and managing projects in museums, as well as of revenues, grant making and fundraising in the museum environment” (excerpt from the course syllabus). This course is the backbone of the Master program. It will give you knowledge on how to manage the business aspects of your career in the cultural heritage sector.

Some of the practical tools I have learnt of the last month include:
1) RACI Chart
2) GANTT Chart
3) Project Charter

This course will ground you. It will make a template for your professional career.

One of the projects it will force you to complete is a journal. You will document the readings (which will force you to do the readings), you will write the course notes, and you will document your thoughts. The professor understands the only way to get an overworked graduate student to spend the time necessary to read around a hundred pages a week, and to reflect on them, is too make it part of the grade.

But it will be worth it. Other courses will teach you the theory. This course will give you the practical tools to complete a project.

Such as a Project Charter. The charter is the backbone of your project. It should be the document that you look to, to mire your thinking in. It’s so easy to get overwhelmed when you’re working on a project. To think everything is important. All the knowledge, all those resources, all your opinions will be important. The charter should be the thing that helps you cut. It will help you question if that thing you just need to include is important or necessary.

This course gives you the foundations to be successful.

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A piece of advice from a second year: Whenever you are given a project think: How many hours am I dedicating to the project? How important is this project? Should I be ultra-controlling or go with the flow? Is stress  acne worth it?

All the best,

Katlyn Wooder

Write to you in a month

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