Be bold, advise panelists discussing Risk, Redefinition and Reservation in the Museum

This article by Jordan Fee is cross-posted at Musings

Risk in a professional setting is often perceived as something unwanted – something to avoid at all costs. We want to be calculated in our decisions, and to be sure of their successes. Rather than seeking risk out, many of us choose to cast doubt upon it.

Such is the mythology of risk.

However, on February 7th, the Museum Studies Students Association (MUSSA) took yet another step towards dispelling such myths. As part of the 50th Anniversary of the Museum Studies Program (MMSt50), MUSSA invited four incredible panelists – Jim Shedden (Manager of Publishing at the Art Gallery of Ontario), Shaniqua Liston (Operations Manager at Kingston Penitentiary Tours), Kathleen Brown (Chief Operating Officer of Lord Cultural Resources), and Karen Carter (Founding Executive Director of Myseum of Toronto) - to speak on their respective approaches to risk in professional settings.

Guided by moderator Melissa Smith, the panelists riffed and responded to questions such as: How do you define risk in your own setting? What is the biggest risk that you have taken in your career? and do types of museums tend to take more risks than others?

While we tend to think of risk as something that is intensely consequential, each of the speakers took time to underline - and celebrate - the smaller risks that are taken by a number of institutions on a daily basis. Speaking of the tours provided at the Kingston Penitentiary, Shaniqua Liston noted that risk in her institution generally requires a constant negotiation with her visitors, each of whom bring their own unique perspectives to the institution’s history. Kathleen Brown also shed some light on this endeavour, noting how she, as an entrepreneur, takes risks everyday when consulting with her clients. Adding some humour to this discussion, Jim Shedden noted how in the museum business, many risks are in fact taken for us, rather than by us.”

Except from Jordan Fee’s “Moving Forward with Boldness: Risk, Redefinition and Reservation in the Museum” article in Musings.

Click here to read the full article.

MMSt 50University of Toronto