Slow Change: It's Not a Consolation Prize
Thursday, November 9, 2017 4:15 PM - 5:15 PM
Venue: Conference Center A

We talk a lot about change in cultural institutions and tech—we’re disrupters and movement makers; we see where we need to go and want to lead our institutions there. In reality, though, change is slow, difficult, and sometimes indiscernible. Rather than an explosion, change may look like a slow-burning ember. This session will explore the realities of “slow burn” change. Moderators will bring perspectives from feminism and social-justice theory to situate museum change within the context of broader social progress.

We hope to talk about many aspects of slow change, including (thought not limited to):
—Gender: In our society, women are often encouraged to build the interpersonal skills associated with small change (building coalitions, listening to others, synthesizing information). Since women are also a majority of museum professionals, it seems like this should be a work style that’s seen as a viable approach. Instead, slow change is often looked down on in favor of more radical shifts associated with male-dominated work styles and behaviors. What does that say about how our society values women’s skills? How do members of LGBTQ communities and men with non-hierarchical, non-dominator-paradigm communication styles figure into this work?
—Commitment/Investment: When a person, structure, or policy doesn’t change or impedes progress, what are strategies to move past this? How do you maintain focus? How do you know when to stop fighting for Thing A in order to save your energies for Thing B?
—Re-envisioning: How can we try to recontextualize slow change for ourselves as the people doing it so that it feels less like disappointment and more like accomplishment? So many people look at slow change as a “giving in” to institutional bureaucracy. Is there a way to accept it on a more philosophical level as the way to realistically get things done?

The aim of this session is not to provide a panel of experts but a room for thinking and listening around this topic. We hope the session engages participants in critical thought about how change happens in our institutions and how we can recontextualize our own ideas about change.


Type of Session
OTHER: silent disco-style listening & thinking session
Session Leader : Rachel Ropeik, Manager of Public Engagement, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Co-Presenter : Annelisa Stephan, Manager for Digital Engagement, J. Paul Getty Trust
Co-Presenter : Margaret Sternbergh, Interpretation Specialist
Co-Presenter : Jennifer Foley, Director of Education and Community Engagement, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
Co-Presenter : Nikhil Trivedi, Senior Systems Analyst and Web Architect, nikhil trivedi
Co-Presenter : A. Andrea Montiel De Shuman, Digital Experience Designer, Detroit Institute of Arts