CFM’s newly released TrendsWatch 2013 highlights the growing desire of people to disconnect from our perpetual tether to technology in general and the Internet in particular. This led to a Twitter exchange with Andrea Michelbach, a Masters candidate in museology at the University of Washington, who is working on research about the well-being of museum professionals. I asked Andrea to share her thoughts on the subject of unplugging, sparked by a course she took on“Information and Contemplation” through the Information School at UW.
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” –JON KABAT-ZINN
Rightnow, museumsseemtobeoperatingin themode DavidLevycharacterizes as “more–faster–better,” especially when it comes to technology.Perhapsit is timeformuseumsto takeastepbackandbecomea culturalforceformindfulness,providingrefugee inthemeleeratherthancontributingto it.
In this 2007 article (also published in Museum News), Adam Gopnik saysthattodaythemindfulmuseumisonethatis “awareofitself,consciousofitsownfunctionsand livinginthismoment.” ToGopnik,thismeansa museumthat:
Focusesonobjects(potential parallels with breathmeditation)
Curation & Interpretation.Whatifobjectinterpretationstrategiesfocusedmore onthepresentand lessonthepast?Whatdothepeopleoftodaythinkaboutthis object’smeaning?This has been explored, for example, by Fred Wilson Mining the Museum for contemporary meaning of historic artifacts, or Barbara Bloom envisioning how Judaic objects might converse with each other today. How might this approach be expanded to encompass other voices, as well?
Thereareundoubtedlynumerousotherwaysmindfulnesscouldfind a meaningful place in museums. And maybe your museum is already giving mindfulness a home. If so, please share what you’re doing. The bestway tobeginexploringtheseideas may bethroughconversation.Are we, asa field,mindful?Dowewanttobemoremindful?How are we doing that—or how mightwe—inourparticular jobs,atourparticularinstitutions?
Personally, as someone about to enter the museum field, Ihopemy first full-time museumjoboffersopportunitiesformindfulness.WillIhavetimetothink creatively and deeply?When I leave work, how“on”willIhavetobe through email and my phone?AndonceI am inthatfirstposition,howwill I be able to influencemyimmediatespheretobe moremindful?I believe this approach to mindfulness will preparemetobethepersonI want tobe,livinginthepublicworld. I would love to hear from readers about their experiences withmindfulness in the workplace.