I admit that I’m still figuring out precisely what this positive museology looks like (let’s shorten it to PM for fun), so showing examples of it, seems a little bass ackwards. But I guess I’m willing to be a little inductive here. I realized, as I was writing yet another scholarly piece about PM, that at this moment, museums were wholesale DOING PM, right before my eyes! I’ll keep building the case, synthesizing the evidence, and crafting the framework, but I had to take this breath from my research to make the point. There seems to be no better evidence of PM at work than during the response to our current crisis. Almost immediately, museums pulled themselves up to a place of care, offering ways to help people cope with their isolation and lack of socialization. Some offered ways to calm, others offered playfulness and humor and even more helped people stay engaged and creative. Amazing. We can take a look at what museums are doing on the ground using Barbara Frederickson’s 10 positive emotions from her Broaden and Build Theory: Joy, Gratitude, Serenity, Interest, Hope, Pride, Amusement, Inspiration, Awe, and Love. These are some of the ingredients that lead to flourishing.
Here are some examples, check them out:
For those who have rejected my ideas on PM, calling them “too academic” or “not for practice,” perhaps you were shortsighted, because museums are doing exactly what I thought them to be capable of, to rise to the top, to be places that enable flourishing. THAT is practice and theory at work. I’m proud of you, museum-land. I knew you could do it!
If you have more you can share with me, please leave comments below! Let’s gather all the good things museums are doing in response to the shut-down and pandemic.
5.1.20. I continue to see so many examples of positive museology popping up. Shortly after I posted this blog, I learned of the amazing week-long event, Spring into Well-being hosted by the Association of Midwest Museums (AMM). A full week of free activities like meditation, virtual hike, and good news focus are on the menu. This is a shout out to AMM! Thank you!
The fresh spring breeze is a welcome thing each year. With it, comes birds chirping, the smells of growth and soil, and spring winds. This year the spring breeze comes just in time, to help us breathe in fresh new perspectives as well as fresh air. During this seasonal change, the blog challenge to myself has become clearer as time goes on (maybe it’s all those leisurely walks I’m taking). And time, as we all know, is completely whacked out right now. A day feels like a year sometimes. Even so, I have a better idea of what I want to do with my blog journal challenge now that another unfolding pandemic week has passed. For a couple of years now, I've been trying to develop this notion of positive museology; I've written a few blog posts on it already (you can find them here in the archive). I always want to do more of those, but I get stymied, stuck by the structures and processes that bind me as an academic.
Since the shifts brought about by the pandemic, and the strange freedom it brings to experiment (because, if not now, then when???), I am going to use this excuse to throw my academic chains to the spring wind. In this spirit, there are two things I want to do. First, simply write about a concept I come across in the positive and contemplative spheres, with each post being a study of sorts. My stopping point in the past came with connecting the concept to museology, but here I'm going to allow myself the chance to just write about the concept that I perceive will eventually fit with a positive museology, without worrying about what should be. I'm giving myself permission to not make the connection...yet. I feel that doing this now—in a holding pattern—will help me to connect it later. Writing is thinking, after all. Second, I want to go back to all those drafts of blog posts I've written over the years and never published. They are all potentially perfectly ready for blogging, but something always stopped me, perhaps a fear of "putting it out there" or a nervousness about being misunderstood. Part of my current self-challenge is to get over that fear, and to trust. Trusting in the unknown is terrifying, and I know what can happen with social media, twisting and interpreting in other directions. But I also have things to say and maybe they will connect to someone out there, maybe it will help even one person to think, "I am not alone." Connecting, through ideas, to even one new person is worth it to me. Three and a half weeks into this sequestering, the strongest sentiment I see emerging from the world now is, "we are in this together." I am taking that to heart.
Bonus: if you do not already know about this offering—MeditOcean—by the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, check it out. So good!