OMA 2019 Student Scholarship Blog - Haley Shaw

The Ohio Museums Association is committed to connecting and empowering museum professionals at all stages of their career — including our student and emerging museum professionals!

For our 2019 OMA Annual Conference, OMA was very proud to offer students seeking careers in the museum field, scholarships to attend OMA 2019 in Akron.

Miss our previous posts? Learn more about the Scholarship series and read our previous entries here.

We're closing out our 2019 Student Scholarship series with this week's post from Haley Shaw. Haley Shaw is in her final semester of her Master of Library and Information Sciences degree with a concentration in Museum Studies at Kent State University. She will be graduating Summer Semester 2019 after completing her thesis related to visitor-object experiences and technology-based interactives. Ms. Shaw has completed internships at the Denver Art Museum and at the Kent State University MuseLab

"The Synergistic Benefits of Connecting Offline"

As a student in an online graduate program attending the Ohio Museums Association (OMA) Conference provided a rare opportunity for me to interact in person with other museum professionals. I, as many do, spend a great deal of time online. Be it interacting with my fellow students on a discussion board or checking in on the latest news on Twitter, much of my interaction with other museum professionals takes place via online medium; having the opportunity to network and build professional relationships by attending the OMA conference was enjoyable and beneficial.

My conference experience began at the Emerging Museum Professionals mixer. This informal event set the stage to an overall outstanding and memorable experience. I had the opportunity to meet recent graduates from my master’s program, in addition to networking with other museum professionals. After attending the mixer I felt as though I was welcome to participate and contribute in a learning community of individuals who share my professional interests and aspirations.

One of my favorite elements of the conference was attending the sessions. I really enjoyed the Defense Against the Dark (Museum) Arts with Jennifer Souers Chevraux and the Using “See, Think, Wonder” to Deepen Education Interactions in Museums session with Brian Krosnick from COSI. This session was valuable in learning about the challenging topics we experience as museum professionals. I appreciated the opportunity to share my perspectives. I felt I was able to contribute to the discussion while being respected as a novice museum professional. This type of session helped me recognize that my college coursework and internships have prepared me to enter the professional museum world.

The hands-on nature of the session titled Using “See, Think, Wonder” to Deepen Education Interactions in Museums session with Brian Krosnick from the Center of Science & Industry (COSI) was beneficial to learn about the pedagogic advances being used in interactive museum exhibits. We explored different activities that were connected to programing at COSI to illustrate a new method being used in museums, while having opportunities to connect with other museum professionals. During this session we divided into groups to explore a few different activities that COSI uses.

As a great lover of Roller Coaster Tycoon (a computer game), I chose to work on building a roller coaster. Our team used tape, dowels, and foam pipe pieces to construct a coaster with two parallel tracks and two hills. This challenge was presented to us on a card that related to a roller coaster at Cedar Point. This fun activity demonstrated the importance of connecting in-person, made the experience memorable, and most importantly, helped illustrate the collaborative nature of museum work. Like the Roller Coaster Tycoon game, the task of building a functional coaster was set before us. While each team member would be capable of accomplishing that goal alone, coming together allowed us to create something totally different than if we would have worked alone. Gaining input from other members of the team allowed us to test out multiple ideas, see different perspectives, and to problem solve efficiently. Much like working on an exhibit, it takes a collaborative team to create the ultimate experience or exhibit.

As technology makes it easier to spend time online doing research and work alone, there is a likelihood of become myopic in our thinking or actions. Opportunities to connect with museum professionals in-person, remind us that there are others who are facing similar challenges, or who want to help museum clients to have the ultimate educational and memorable experience. Attending professional conferences like OMA provides opportunity for museum professionals – new and more seasoned – to collaborate, share best practices and be inspired in a synergistic environment.