Home from #MuseumCamp and what can we do next?

Photo by @MuseumofImpact

A week ago (exactly), the experience at MuseumCamp wrapped up. Camp was an exhausting, inspiring, fulfilling experience with over 100 exuberant, intense, and wonderful people. Days were filled with challenging questions, activities, food, and sleepovers. I talked about my experiences with science communication, and listened to those in arts education, social justice, and myriad more fields. I felt so full with friendships, strangers, laughter, and mutual respect. I pushed my anxiety to the edge, swam, walked over 50km, and spent time by myself.

I honestly enjoyed my experience so much.

But in the same breath, this refreshed and renewed attitude was shattered so quickly by the events in Charlottesville. There are so many amazing people writing about what allies can do, how we can publicly denounce these actions and groups, and help to stop this spread of hate. I feel that a lot of this work is being done by folks on the front line so I encourage you to read their work and make sure their effort is well recognized.

I think that the best way I can contribute to the conversation is through the lens of my passion – science communication. Let’s get honest about it. Even though science is touted as neutral and fair, it is political. It isn’t fair. It is unjust. Scientific issues like climate change and disease affect different populations disproportionately. Science gets twisted to “support” false narratives and hate. Science has historically been for white, middle-class, cis-gendered men, and has often muted the voices that are not classically educated.

I love science. I truly think it is for everybody, but to say we are already there is ignoring the huge issues we are facing. No issue can be solved on its own, and no matter how strong you are, you can’t fix a problem on your own.

So what do we do?

  • Think about access vs. availability. We might put our work out there, but is it truly accessible? Make space for yourself to work on this.
  • Step up to speak about science – your science, the science of others, and why science is for everyone.
  • Listen to others when they speak. Listen to understand and not to respond.
  • Raise the voices of others, especially those who might not get a chance to speak. If an idea is passed over, use a repeater technique “I think that when NAME said STATEMENT, it was important and we should revisit it.”
  • Look at the people we represent. Make an effort to mirror all people in the people who communicate science. Ages, backgrounds, abilities, sizes, (a)genders, orientations, personalities.
  • Question everything. Always.
  • Call out racist, hateful, and harmful behaviors, actions, and words.
  • Take time for self-care, enjoyment, and remind yourself of the positivity that does exist in this world. Keep in touch with people, like those pictured, who inspire you to keep moving forward.



Just a few sleeps until MuseumCamp!

I had a very meaningful experience in the Royal Tyrell Museum as a child. I had the good fortune of getting to sleep in the exhibits, under the Pleisiosaur if I remember correctly. This solidified my love of museums, dead things, and being a full-on weirdo. I couldn’t find a photo of that experience, so please enjoy this photo of my and my cousins in a geological formation in Dinosaur Provincial Park (right near the Tyrell).

Well I am very excited to report that I have the good fortune to attend MuseumCamp in California starting on Wednesday. I am bracing for a challenging, exciting, friend-making, and inspiring few days of projects and sleeping on a museum floor (again!). For the past few years, I’ve been really inspired by Nina Simon, the powerhouse in charge of MuseumCamp and Santa Cruz MAH. Her writing has helped me think critically about what a museum can do for people, how I can better facilitate changes, and keep momentum pushing forward.

The theme this year’s camp is Changemakers. I’m going to spend some time thinking about what change means in a science context. Does this mean changing at our organization? How we run our museum? Inspiring others to make changes? Changing perceptions around what it means to be a scientist? Change is something I am extremely passionate about. I get antsy when things are the same for too long. I am a constant questioner. Just because we’ve done something forever isn’t a good enough reason to keep doing it.

I feel like this experience will give me more questions than answers, but I look forward to it.

How do you facilitate, make space for, or create change where you are?

Nerd Nite!

Hi all. I just want to say how proud I am of myself for having a super successful Nerd Nite talk on Tuesday. I am going to toot my own horn. It was great. People were engaged. People asked thoughtful questions. And, I got applause from answering those questions thoughtfully. I am so pleased.

As I wrote before, I really forced myself to go through a clear, detailed planning process. It paid off. I promise you that the work is worth it. Starting from scratch, even if you’ve done it before, is fully worth it.

I wanted to share my slide deck (pdf). It makes no sense without me talking over it, however, I would be happy to talk you through it. I’m also proud of how beautiful it is. Mega credits to my incomparable Beaty Museum team for the photos, which are available to all through a creative commons license.


If anyone knows how to embed a pdf or google slides directly in wordpress, it would be much appreciated.