Strategic planning session number two included three exercises; first, participants were asked to create a “mind map” of the “idea” of a museum; second, participants listed things that one could “see” in the Desert Museum; thirdly, participants were asked to list the best thing they had ever seen in a museum.
Two ideas from this planning session really got me thinking. One is that the overarching idea of a museum can be a gathering place that can create social change. This is an idea that is currently driving new museums and is one of the key principles at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian. The second idea is that experiential, hands-on programs make connections. I think that physical participation in a program leads directly to learning for many people, and by tailoring programs to make connections to your artifacts people can think of the museum as more than just a place to "see" things. No longer is it OK for a museum to just be a collection of artifacts. You must “do” something with your artifacts.
Out of the ideas that were written down during the session, these three got the most votes for what you could see at the Desert Museum:
1. Creation of cultural things/traditional craft production
2. Someone who experienced it
3. Life on Lake Cahuilla