Looks like the brand new site Musetrain is one to watch. Launched only yesterday with an opening post that reads like a bullet-point cluetrain manifesto for museums, already it’s causing ripples on Twitter and around the museum-(blogo)sphere. And with the promise of further deliberations on each point and an open invitation for discussion, it could just turn into an interesting debate forum for museum folks. For unknown reasons, however, the people behind the site remain anonymous, stating only that ‘We’ve been working in and around all kinds of museums (art, science & technology centers, history, cultural sites, zoos and aquaria, and others) long enough to have seen, experienced, and led a couple of cycles of change’. Now, come on guys – why hide behind a mysterious group identity, especially after declaring that ‘Individual voices should be heard and recognizable as such’. As Lynda Kelly points out in a comment, knowing who’s speaking would set a useful context for the discussion and – hopefully – strengthen the voice of the speaker(s). Failing to come out, the project might just fall flat. Still, the ‘manifesto’ itself seems to pretty much sum up the ethos of a ‘new museology’ in a neat list form. No surprises, then, in suggestions like ‘Make visitors part of the experience. Ask them to participate in your ideas and stories’; ‘Create frameworks that let visitors do more with your collections and ideas than you can imagine’ or ‘Create iteratively, these aren’t finish lines, just landmarks along the way’. But then again, these suggestions bear repeating and the summary format really is quite handy. museum geek, in a response post, proposes that you ‘Print a copy off, and revisit it regularly. See where the ideas in it sit with you over time’. Good point, and I will, inspired by the good sentiments but also wary of the somewhat simplistic certainty of such statements. And I do hope that the debate will take off, and perhaps get to a deeper level of considerations, pro’s and con’s, concrete experiences and academic reflections to back up -or question – the snappy rhetorics.


UPDATE January 5th 2015:

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  1. I too am wary of the simplistic statements in the Manifesto. I think there are some interesting ideas here, and one of the reasons I want to sit with it over time is to see what sticks and what doesn’t; what emerges from thinking through the ideas and picking over the ideas. It will be really important for you and me, and everyone else in the sector, to interrogate the MuseTrain creators. That’s where this whole thing will get interesting.

    A couple of people have pointed out that this Manifesto bears a resemblance to the Clue Train manifesto. I gather it, too, was initially written anonymously in hope that the ideas would be discussed, rather than the people who wrote them. Time will tell whether the same approach works in this case. So far, I would argue it has.

  2. rikkebaggesen said:

    True, it may well be a cunning tactic, and yes, they certainly have managed to get our attention. And a big thumbs up to you for opening the debate onsite suggesting we take one point at a time! Looking forward to following, and taking part, in the discussions to come.

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