I have been talking to friends, colleagues, and various social media acquaintances about my thoughts on public museology. Some completely get what I am talking about and agree, some see what I am saying and think I should continue to develop the idea if I think it is important, and others just see it as an extension of what they are already doing - which is kind of my point. I didn't event this evolution, I just think it needs a name.
Isn't this just public history? In some cases, sure, you can clearly call it public history. Of the strains I have seen of public (insert liberal arts profession here) perhaps it comes closer to public humanities, because, surprise! - not all museums are history museums. I think that is what public museology is - a multi-disciplinary approach to engaging the public in museums as co-creators and collaborators in making meaning, and not just a passive audience. It is equal parts public history and public humanities, a few heaping teaspoons of public archaeology, a shaker of community education principles, and probably a whole lot more.
It isn't just a research and writing principle, or just an exhibit design principle. For me, it is the foundational philosophy behind how I direct my local historical society museum. I think that it is a movement in the museum field that can be lead by small museums - partially out of the flexibility smaller institutions are capable of producing (less moving parts to the machine), and partially out of necessity due to an aging volunteer base, and lower staffing levels.
This blog is a place for me to explore all things public museology, public history, public archaeology, small museums, museum education, and more. The opinions in this blog are solely those of the author, whether that be me, or the person posting. They are not necessarily the opinions of our institutions (or they could be - that will vary topic to topic). I will occasionally have guest posts, which brings me to the main point of this - to introduce Doug, a dear friend and colleague who upon learning what I am doing here, immediately said he wanted to write for me. The next post is his, and makes sharp observations concerning the struggle of small town museums in gaining access to funding, resources, and support.