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Owl’s Hoots 1 – 15

Owl’s Hoots No 15: Returning Accountability to the Employees By Being Prepared To Act

October 30th, 2010

Richard Branson and Vinit Nayer have vitally important lessons for us. Both emphasise trust and openness and take risks, both focus on employees whom they recognise as being the source of a successful future.

I have written on numerous occasions that organisations depend for their future on the way people work together. I do not hold to the notion that the world has changed so fast that what we have learned about human behaviour is outdated. Equally I reject the vision of humankind forced on everyone by the market economists and their utility maximisation-self interest mantra. (Another post will report concluding comments by Professor Tim Jackson of Surrey University in his Deakin Lecture based on studies in social psychology and behavioural economics.)


Owl’s Hoots No. 14: Advocacy: Grasp the Political

February 18th, 2010

Downsizing: another silly idea promoted by advocates for small government and “New Public Management” and should be resisted.

Twenty years ago Daniel Thomas, then Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia and President of the Art Museums Association of Australia, wrote an article entitled “Grasp the Political” (Adelaide Review March 1990)

He wrote, “What art museums most need in the 1990s is to become politically and economically conscious.  They must not only equip themselves with arguments as to why they should exist, but also with hard statistical data about their costs and their benefits.


Owl’s Hoots No. 13: Co-Producing The Museum And What Actually Do We Think We’re Doing?

December 21st, 2009

“Co-producing” the Museum using social media; Education and “Radical Hope”: Noel Pearson’s essay on education and Indigenous Australians; an observation on the misdirection of attention on learning and teaching.

On the Museum Marketing website Jim Richardson has written a very interesting article about the communications revolution “coproducing the museum”. It is the text of a keynote address he gave to the Museum Association’s Social Media Day.

Amongst the things he has to say are these:

“Change in the internet has been clear for anyone to see, with the shift from static web pages to dynamic and sharable content and social networking. The internet is no longer just a place to find information; it is now a forum for collaboration, a place to create, curate and share content online. This has changed the way we work, influenced the way we think and adjusted our individual place in society forever.


Owl’s Hoots No. 12: A Time For Action Global Climate Change and Museum Advocacy

December 8th, 2009

In some recent commentary on challenges facing museums over the next several decades, the issue of controversy and advocacy has been mentioned. For instance, over at Museum 3.0 in the Forum  a post by Lynda Kelly reports item 5 of the nine big themes  for 2010 identified by Australian Museum director Frank Howarth as “Increasing our advocacy: taking a stance on things that matter”.

It should not be thought that museums have not been dealing with controversy or been concerned with advocacy though sometimes that advocacy has been rather muted and some controversial issues have been avoided.


Owl’s Hoots No. 11

23 September 2009: The Future of Museums

An interview with Thomas Campbell of the Metropolitan Museum in New York; Darwin Centre opens at The Natural History Museum in London.

The Art Newspaper recently published a long interview with Thomas Campbell, recently appointed director of the Metropolitan Museum succeeding Philippe de Montebello. The interview gives interesting insights into the future of one of the most prestigious museums in the World. The Met has had to cut back some of its staff after it lost 25% of its endowment in the GFC.

Campbell intends to form a programmatic committee including representatives from departments beyond the curatorial to advise him on exhibitions, replacing the former Council of Advisors comprsing heads of curatorial departments.

Campbell also responds to some comments by Tate Director Serota and British Museum director MacGregor to the effect that British Museums respond more directly to the public than do American museums.


Owl’s Hoots No. 10 The new Acropolis Museum in Athens and education  stifling creativity

June 22nd, 2009

The new Acropolis Museum opens in Athens, the British Museum should change its name and appoint a board representing the nations whose ancestors created the collections it holds; the education system is anaethsitizing children and stifling creativity, according to Sir Ken Robinson, educator and expert on creativity. And in New South Wales, more pointless reorganisation of the public service.


Owl’s Hoots No. 9 Exhibitions, developments in schools and climate change June 14th, 2009

Exhibitions at museums around the world cancelled or postponed, a review of developments in schools and education and conferences and reports on global climate change highlight urgency of meaningful and immediate response but conference in Bonn makes little progress. And specific initiatives mentioned by President Obama concerning relations between the USA and the Arab World.


Owl’s Hoots No. 8 Evaluation of Teachers and Charles Darwin’s nose

June 3rd, 2009

In general the process of evaluation of teachers’ performance has been completely unsatisfactory; it is no wonder many teachers object to performance pay! There are parallels with many other organisations. Are museums irrelevant? Sea levels have risen! Two books on science and a wonderful review of books on Darwin and evolution by Richard Lewontin who asks, “What if Charles’ nose had been larger?”


Owl’s Hoots No. 7 Early childhood, teacher quality, the digital revolution and art museum directors

May 25th, 2009

Early childhood education, the importance of teacher quality and training to students’ gains from schooling. Museums and schools and the impact of the digital revolution: those organisations which have failed to take advantage of the revolution have “withered where they stood! And do directors of Art Museums know what they are talking about?


Owl’s Hoots No. 6 Education and schooling, telescopes in space and youth orchestras

May 15th, 2009

What is the unique value of museums in education? And European Space Agency launches not one but two giant telescopes into space. Another astounding recording from Gustavo Dudamel and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra of Venezuela! And museums in Chicago: new buildings and miserliness.


Owl’s Hoots No. 5 The Universal Museum, climate change and financial markets

May 7th, 2009

The “Universal Museum” again, global climate change and the utility of the Nation State. And do financial markets still have credibility?

Who owns Antiquity?: In previous articles I have commented on the proposition that so-called “universal museums” which hold cultural material representative of many nations are of great value because the visitor can thereby compare the development of many peoples. James Cuno, director of the Art Institute of Chicago, has gained publicity by claiming, amongst other things, that countries such as Greece, Italy, Turkey and China advance claims for return of cultural property in order to bolster notions of national identity. Author, art expert and student of the Renaissance Ingrid Rowland wrote a significant criticism of Cuno’s claims.


Owl’s Hoots No. 4 Human origins, new New Guinea species and the importance of science

May 2nd, 2009

Human origins, new species of animals from Papua New Guinea highlands, President Obama speaks about returning science to its proper place. And advice from Delta Airlines CEO: a matter of judgment, an essential skill in short supply. Two important birthdays!


Owls Hoots No. 3 Critics, neoliberalism, ants, museums as happiness pioneers and more

April 10th, 2009

John Florio on scholars, the dangers of inequality arising from neoliberalism, the superorganisms known as ants, museums in North America coping with financial turmoil and museums in London expanding. Museums as Happiness Pioneers. And the British Government’s enquiry into the invasion of Iraq and possible consequences for the BBC.


Owl’s Hoots No. 2 Critics, the nature of managerialism

April 2nd, 2009

A renaissance quotation about critics which may be just as valid today, caterpillars welcomed into the nests of ants. And the value of an MBA and the nature of managerialism revealed.


Owl’s Hoots No. 1 Obama’s work schedule, Bill Stanner’s essays on Aboriginal Australia and the UN Indigenous Rights Convention

March 26th, 2009

Museums have become “our home from home”, Barack Obama’s work schedule has large gaps in which he sets aside time to step back and think or make calls or read and the late Bill Stanner’s essays  published by Black Inc. Australia will support the UN Indigenous Rights Convention which the former government voted against in 2007.