A Befitting #MCN2020 Theme | Sustainability: Preserve/Progress

Written by Andrea Montiel de Shuman and Andrea Ledesma, MCN 2020 Conference Program Chairs, and Meredith Steinfels and Mimosa Shah, Co-Chairs. 

“Sustainability.” The word evokes an array of thoughts and emotions, which vary greatly by your profession, location, or worldview. It can bring to mind the idea of maintaining the status quo, while in the next thought “sustainability” could allude to pushing boundaries thanks to our perpetuity-inspired missions. Now, in this new age of COVID-19, the idea of sustainability is rapidly taking on a whole new meaning for museums.

Each year, the Conference Program Committee has the extraordinary task of choosing a timely theme that is not too specific, not too broad, and will resonate with the diverse skill sets of our community. Incredibly, the Program Committee finalized this theme in early February—and even after Coronavirus swept through our lives, we’ve decided we’re sticking with it as-is!

Directly from the Committee, the #MCN2020 theme description…

Sustainability: Preserve/Progress

This year, we invite proposals that investigate sustainability: a tension between transformation and longevity. Sustainability has many facets—technological, financial, environmental, cultural, social, and personal. These stand at the forefront of our practice as we strive for both survival and relevance. We want to learn how you position your work to meaningfully meet present needs. Weighing impact against cost and risk is one of many calculations that determine valuable products, effective strategy, and efficient systems. How do you temper innovation with a mind for long-term support? 

We recognize the increasingly fraught nature of sustainability—amplified now as we navigate global crises in health, labor, climate change, decolonization, and more. In a time of uncertainty and accountability, let’s confront these issues together. We encourage you to explore what enduring technologies and practices look like in the face of disruption. Question what we are striving to preserve. How do we care for the health of our living environment, our communities, and ourselves? 

Sustainability informed many of our conversations before COVID-19 and will continue to as our sector grapples with the unprecedented impact of mass-closures and their downstream effects. Now more than ever, we’re thankful for the program committee’s insight and empathy. It helped us arrive at a theme that is current, compelling, and flexible. We hope this theme inspires sessions that are creative, productive, and even cathartic.

What does this mean for the conference?

The show WILL go on in November, but how exactly that plays out remains to-be-decided. MCN (including the program committee, conference managers, and board) is working hard to adapt the program so our community can gather safely. We’re following CDC Guidelines and recommendations from the city of Baltimore and reviewing options for virtual conference participation. Reassessing our pricing and participation model is also important. This includes registration costs and the logistics around our scholarship program. The severe impact of COVID-19 on our sector cannot be understated. We want to be sure that everyone who  wants to share their work and participate in MCN 2020 has the means to do so. Stay tuned for more information.

That said, the Call for Proposals will open April 17. Mark your calendars!

We encourage you to look to November as an opportunity to document this historic moment for our sector. The idea of sustainability invites us to reflect on the means of resilience for our organizations and ourselves. It’s been a year of challenges for our physical spaces, virtual platforms, and personal opportunities. Yet, we also have had the chance to shine a light on the value of our community through our projects, our collaborations, our advocacy, and the many ways we support our missions.

Camaraderie, conversation, creativity

Whether your roles require preservation, progress, or both, the theme of sustainability casts a wide net. But as always, innovative projects and dialogue are happening all around us that don’t neatly fall within a defined theme. MCN welcomes all submissions relevant to our community’s mission, “To grow the digital capacity of museum professionals by connecting them to ideas, information, opportunities, proven practices, and each other.” Above all else, we are a humans-first community.

Let this theme embolden you to write down your thoughts, to reach out to others, and to think of that new way you could share your experience with the MCN community this November. Join the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MCN2020 and tagging @museumcn. If you have questions about the program or suggestions about how to update or improve the conference in November, please email us at [email protected]. Our hearts and inbox are always open.

Andrea, Andrea, Meredith, and Mimosa


Let’s kick off 2020! A Message from your Conference Program Co-Chairs

Written by Andrea Montiel de Shuman and Andrea Ledesma, MCN 2020 Conference Program Chairs

After a lovely break, we’re kicking off the year by getting started with MCN 2020. Last year, we introduced a number of changes meant to enhance the conference experience. To all those who attended, presented, and sponsored: thank you! Your feedback helped us understand our successes, our challenges, and how we can grow.

This year we’re excited to announce two additional program co-chairs. Welcome Mimosa Shah and Meredith L. Steinfels! Together, we’re committed to designing a program that continues to be engaging and accessible, rigorous and thought-provoking. We’re eager to create a space that both spotlights innovative technologies and pressing topics in our sector and amplifies the many voices behind that work.

Also joining us is the Program Committee. They’re a fantastic crew of field experts who are crucial in deciding a theme, nominating keynote speakers, reviewing applications, ideating program changes, and more.

Get to know your MCN 2020 Program Committee below. We can’t wait to get started!

Program Co-Chairs

Meredith Steinfels
Greetings! I’m Meredith, Digital Platforms Manager and Archives Specialist at the Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth. I’m responsible for the museum’s evolving digital ecosystem: the collection management system, digital asset management system, collection website, discrete digital-based projects, and digitization, as well as rights and reproductions and work on the James Nachtwey archive. I am passionate about equitable digital literacy and access to information, and the intersection of social justice and technology.

When not behind a screen, I live a largely analog life: baking, knitting, reading bad thrillers, and wrangling the raddest preschooler in New England.

Mimosa Shah
Hello! I’m Mimosa, Adult Program Coordinator at Skokie Public Library, where for the past five years I’ve managed, developed, and evaluated informal learning opportunities for adults. I work in collaboration with colleagues across departments to whet our community’s curiosity, ranging from discussions around world cinema to workshops on birdwatching. I teach digital literacy classes, facilitate discussions and pop-up events, and provide advisory support. Stop by a public desk, and I’m ready to dish on the best graphic novels, the upcoming incarnation of “Blade,” or the painterly quality of Merchant-Ivory productions.

I pivot between the analog and digital in my work and beyond. Lately, my interests have focused upon media literacy and ways to deal with misinformation campaigns; digital photography and how we use various platforms to share, archive, and work against the constraints they sustain; zine-making and paper arts that memorialize stories waiting to be documented; and space-making for and with communities marginalized by aspects of their identities.

In my ‘spare’ time, I wrangle two kiddos to the best libraries, museums, gardens, and happenings around Chicago because I am a culture nerd, and hope to instill in them the same curiosity about the world around us. Having perfected my samosa recipe, I’m eager to learn how to make new street foods.

I served on MCN’s DEAI Advisory Board in 2019, and am honored to be part of the team again in 2019. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to make the annual conference and by extension, our field more inclusive and welcoming. I am also very excited to be a Program Co-Chair in 2020, and to give back to a community that has provided me with such insight into how the digital transforms our organizations.

Andrea Montiel de Shuman
Hola! I’m Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Mexican immigrant from beautiful Puebla, where I grew up surrounded by great food, music, colors, and museums.

As the Digital Experience Designer at the Detroit Institute of Arts, I lead public-facing digital experiences to help visitors find themselves in art. My favorite tasks are to collaborate with community advisors, user-test & fill boards with sticky notes. I enjoy engaging in sector-wide conversations discussing moral + ethical implications of technology; Knight Foundation has supported me in joining a number of these endeavors.

In recent years I’ve been collaborating with Smithsonian Latino Center in preparing the first galleries that will honor the contributions of Latinos in the history of America and also help coordinate the annual Media & Tech MUSE Awards by the American Alliance of Museums.

When not thinking about museums, I enjoy illustrating, spoiling my cat, watching 90’s Anime or hunting for green spaces, new music, indigenous art & weird art books with my partner. After a wonderful 2019, I feel excited and honored to be back this year, now with a larger team! We have so many dreams for our MCN family.

Andrea Ledesma
Hi again, MCN! I’m Andrea Ledesma. I’m fascinated with how digital technologies impact how the public engages with history, culture, and each other. As the Web and Digital Project Specialist at the Field Museum in Chicago, I manage and other digital storytelling projects. I weave together strategy, content, and design. I love a good spreadsheet. If not in a museum find me exploring the snack aisle and on Twitter at @am_ledesma.

Before the Field, I enjoyed working on digital projects for Brown University, the Tenement Museum, Digital Public Library of America, and National Park Service. Co-chairing MCN 2019 was such a wonderful experience, and I’m honored to have the opportunity again.

Program Committee Members

  • Adrienne Lalli Hills, Oklahoma Contemporary
  • Alison Koch, Playwrights Horizons
  • Amanda Dearolph, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
  • Ashley Bowen, Science History Institute
  • Castle U. Kim, Florida State University
  • Cathy Sigmond, RK&A
  • Claire Blechman, Peabody Essex Museum
  • Claire Pillsbury, Exploratorium
  • Devon Armstrong, Boston Children’s Museum
  • Eric Longo, MCN
  • Erin Canning, Aga Khan Museum
  • Gavin Mallory, Cogapp
  • Heather White, Yale University
  • Jennifer Foley, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
  • Jessica Milby, Penn Museum
  • Jessica Warchall, Terra Foundation for American Art
  • John Turner, University of Michigan Museum of Art
  • Max Evjen, Michigan State University
  • Miranda Kerr, Shedd Aquarium
  • Pamela Martin, Albright-Knox Art Gallery
  • Rana Chan, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum
  • Roger Tuan, Field Museum
  • Sean Blinn, Consultant
  • Susan Wigodner, Obama Foundation / Obama Presidential Center
  • Tricia Robson, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Drumroll: the MCN 2019 program is live!


That’s right: after reviewing proposals and solving the puzzle that is the conference schedule, we’re thrilled to announce that the MCN 2019 program is now live: view program and schedule here.

Congratulations to all our presenters. They bring a variety of themes, topics, and formats that will surely make for both an exciting conference and impact on our sector. 

This year, in addition to searching the program by speaker, date, etc., you can also search by track. Content, experience, systems, strategy, and evaluation—each track describes session’s primary theme. MCN’s SIGs endorsed sessions, as well. Check them out: 

  • Data & Insights: Data governance, ethics and privacy
  • Digital Asset: Designing DAMS for Storytelling
  • Digital Imaging: High-quality Imaging in Small Museums: Making It Possible
  • Human-Centered Design SIG: Designing through Centering: A Community Engaged Approach
  • Educational & Interpretive Media: One Size Does Not Fit All: Turning Constraints into Opportunities
  • Intellectual Property: Open Access 2.0: Rethinking Open Access
  • Information Technology: So many files! Structuring the Lifecycle of User Files in a Museum Network Environment (on-prem and cloud)
  • International Image Interoperability Framework SIG
  • Media Production and Branding: Heroes to Pixar: Strategies for Creating Stories Using Your Collections
  • Social Media: How to Avoid, Handle, and Recover from Burnout in Digital Communications
  • Strategy: When culture eats strategy, make sure it’s delicious

We’d also like to recognize the many contributions of the MCN 2019 Program Committee. They’ve dedicated hours to reviewing sessions, defining our theme, establishing tracks—and more. Thanks to their support and hard work, we are able to deliver a program we are truly proud of.

For questions about your session(s), and specifically change requests, please use the Program Change Request form (not email).

For questions about registration, email [email protected]. And now, make sure you register and book your hotel.

We’re counting down the days until San Diego!


Your MCN 2019 Conference Program co-chairs
Andrea Montiel de Shuman, Andrea Ledesma, and Eric Longo


MCN 2019 Preview: Towards a new Conference Experience


No two MCN annual conferences are ever the same. Year after year, we review the feedback from the last conference to shape the next one. The changes we make are always important but not necessarily noticeable to most attendees. This year however, the suggestions led us to rethink the standard blueprint of the schedule, resulting in some significant alterations to what you’ve been accustomed to in past conferences.

In planning for MCN 2019, we prioritized the following takeaways as they emerged at the top of the list from last year’s conference feedback:

  • Too many concurrent and conflicting sessions left many feeling overwhelmed and frustrated that they couldn’t make sessions they really wanted to be at (we’ve been hearing this for a long time);
  • A desire to consider fewer but stronger and more varied sessions overall;
  • More shared experiences, more participatory and interactive conversations;
  • More hands-on, ‘How-to’ type sessions as well as workshops throughout the week;
  • A user-friendly program schedule to make it easier for attendees to select what they want to attend;
  • More time for socializing and networking, as always;
  • A need to reconsider Friday, as attendance tends to erode fast translating into very low turnouts in sessions scheduled that day, which is unfair to these presenters.

We heard you. We’re making important changes to the program as a result. But first, the theme.

“Interface: Communities + Museums”

The first order of business for the Program Committee is to look for predominant issues affecting the sector to define a theme. Following a vigorous debate among all the members of the Program Committee, Melissa Mair and Seema Rao distilled the various viewpoints into a simple formula: “Interface: Communities + Museums”.

For MCN 2019, we invite proposals that will explore the ways technology, platforms, and communities interface in museums. Often we create devices and design experiences to connect with audiences. We build networks with users and systems. We devise and revise channels to overcome obstacles. Bringing people, technology, and collections together, these interfaces are rich with challenges and opportunities that are worth exploring. Let’s look into the many ways communities and museums intertwine, face challenges, and adapt. What platforms—human and technological—have made museums more responsive? How does collaboration factor into innovation? What interfaces most impact your institution and benefit your community?

Interfacing—in all its forms—will anchor the general conversations at the conference; however, we welcome proposals on whatever topic is meaningful to you. Envisioning a world in which all museums are empowered digitally to achieve their missions, MCN wants to hear from you how making technology choices empowers you in your work.

However, we also welcome proposals on whatever topic is meaningful to you at the moment.

What’s new?

Arrive early, leave earlier!

This year, we’re starting the conference slightly earlier, offering more experiences on Tuesday afternoon. The conference will also end at lunchtime on Friday, giving you plenty of time to make your flight home, or extend your stay in San Diego 🏖.

New session types and a more diverse schedule

Perhaps the most dramatic change—you’ll notice a more varied program schedule. We are mixing session types to stimulate conversations and create more networking opportunities. While Tuesday will still play host to a number of tours and workshops, we’ll spread out more workshops over 3 days. Find one to attend, even if you can’t get there on Tuesday morning.

Let’s start each day together: Plenary Panels

In addition to the traditional Keynote address on Wednesday morning, we’ll start Thursday and Friday morning with panel discussions and Q&As in a plenary format, and a morning brief to update attendees of the days’ events. By gathering all the attendees together at the start of each day, we look to get everyone on the same page and generate discussions about topics affecting the sector at large.

Improved, user-friendly program schedule

To help you navigate sessions, all sessions will be 1) assigned a primary and a secondary track (out of five: Content, Experience, Strategy, Systems, Evaluation), and 2) labeled with several tags. These tags include practice related tags (e.g. AI, interpretation, social media, DAM, etc.) and event ones (e.g. Chatham House Rule, SIG-sponsored, etc.). You’ll also find ‘Session Outcomes’ listed on the program. Together we hope these changes help you curate your own conference schedule.

You asked for it—get ready for Deep Dives

You asked for more hands-on, interactive and participatory experiences. So we’re prototyping a new session type called ‘Deep Dive’. Deep Dives are facilitated extended sessions designed to be stimulating, interactive, and hands-on and are open to call for proposals. They offer an opportunity for attendees to think and learn more deeply about a particular topic or skill with your peers. All Deep Dive sessions are scheduled for Thursday afternoon. Space is limited and requires advance sign-up (but at no extra charge!). Deep Dives will take place onsite at the hotel and we’re working on making one happen at a local museum (More to come on that).

Social and networking events

The new program will also feature a number of new opportunities for attendees to catch-up and connect. Tuesday afternoon will host the traditional Welcome Session, as well as other open-house type sessions for attendees to learn more about MCN and network with others in the field. Vendors can also join the conversation. We’re moving the Museum Reception to Thursday evening instead of Tuesday, so we can spend more time in the Sponsor Hall to connect with vendors and colleagues during the ‘Vendors’ Happy Hour’.

Enhanced DEAI accommodations

Given MCN’s strategic commitment to embed Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion in everything it does, we’ll continue to expand accommodations around DEAI at the conference. These include gender neutral bathrooms, pronoun options, acknowledgements of local tribes, improved accessibility guidelines, ensuring our Friendly Space Policy is conspicuously displayed, and more.

The Classics

The program will continue to feature many of your favorite sessions: Workshops, Keynote and 30 and 60 minute sessions, as well as the ability to submit other session types.

And of course, Ignite MCN, a staple since 2012, though this year, we’ll be asking Ignite speakers to share their unique perspective around a central theme or question—one topic, multiple perspectives. We believe this approach will make for a more cohesive and engaging experience.


So there you are. We hope you’ll be as excited as we are about the changes we’re making for the November conference and that you’ll feel inspired to submit proposals. As always, Call for Proposals for MCN 2019 will be open from April 1 through April 30.

Stay tuned for a more comprehensive post to be published here by March 22, in which we will explain each session type and submission requirements for MCN 2019.

Lastly, join us in thanking the members of this year’s Conference Program Committee for their time, enthusiasm and invaluable contributions: we couldn’t pull this together without them.


Andrea Ledesma, Andrea Montiel de Shuman, and Eric Longo
Co-Chairs, MCN 2019 Conference Program Committee


Happy New Year from your 2019 Conference Program Co-Chairs!

Believe it or not, work is already underway for MCN 2019. I’m pleased to share that we had many outstanding applicants for the two Conference Program Co-Chair positions. From these, we’ve recruited Andrea Ledesma and Andrea Montiel de Shuman, who will serve as Co-Chairs for MCN 2019 and 2020. Both Andreas bring a wealth of professional experiences, deep involvement in the MCN community, and fresh ideas for innovating the conference program—learn more about them below.

Together, our “A-Team” will draw from our engagement in the sector and the community’s feedback from 2018 to facilitate a rigorous, engaging, and inclusive program for the 2019 conference.

Want to be involved in MCN 2019? We are seeking applications for the 2019 Conference Program Committee through Sunday, January 13, 2019. (You can apply here!) This essential group of professional volunteers establishes the MCN conference theme, identifies a keynote speaker, and evaluates session proposals. All of these activities are performed asynchronously online with proposal evaluations occurring in the first weeks of May.

Questions? Email [email protected].

—Adrienne Lalli Hills, MCN 2019 Conference Program Chair

Meet your Conference Program Co-Chairs

Adrienne Lalli Hills | @PrairieTrawler

Howdy, I’m Adrienne. In my spare time, I’m reading science nonfiction, experimenting with 1950s Jell-O mold recipes, and chasing a toddler around my home.

Presently I am the founding Manager of Exhibitions and Public Programs at ahha Tulsa. I work with artists to organize inclusive and accessible exhibitions and lead operations and pedagogy for a 2,600 sq ft arts-focused maker space and six community art studios. Working in a small, startup environment has been a fascinating change of pace from the previous positions I’ve held at larger institutions over the last decade.

In addition to serving as an MCN Program Co-Chair for the 2018 and 2019 conferences, I’m a member of the board of directors of the Museum Education Roundtable (publishers of the Journal of Museum Education) and Convening Chair for the Association of Art Museum Interpretation.

Andrea Ledesma | @am_ledesma

Andrea Ledesma headshot

Hello, I’m Andrea. As a public humanist and digital devotee, I’m fascinated with how digital technologies impact how we engage with history, culture, and each other.

Currently, I’m the Digital Content Coordinator at the Field Museum in Chicago. I support the maintenance of and development of digital storytelling projects while keeping a keen eye on user experience and digital strategy. Before coming to the Field, I enjoyed working on digital projects for Brown University, the Tenement Museum, Digital Public Library of America, and National Park Service.

If not in a museum, I’m cooking up a new recipe, filling my head with pop culture, or continuing my search for the perfect bowl of noodles. I care deeply about the MCN community and am thrilled to serve as a program co-chair for MCN 2019. See everyone in San Diego!

Andrea Montiel de Shuman | @AndreaMontielS

Andrea Montiel de Schuman headshot


I’m Andrea with the longer name, born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, where I grew up surrounded by music, colors, and museums.

As a Digital Experience Designer at the Detroit Institute of Arts, I lead public-facing digital experiences that help visitors find themselves in art. My favorite tasks are to collaborate with community advisors and user-test, teamed up with different departments, largely with the Interpretation team.

Lately, I’ve been interested in how digital innovation can help serve communities that museums can struggle with.

I am passionate about indigenous textiles, enjoy illustrating, watch anything from Studio Ghibli and hunt for new music & weird books.

MCN has been a wonderful family since I first attended, so it is an honor to now serve as Program co-chair for the next two conference cycles.


The Conference, Captured


The annual conference is next week in Denver and we couldn’t be more excited for the amazing program lined up. Of course not everyone’s able to attend the conference, and everyone at the conference won’t be able to attend every session they want. So we’re relying on speakers (and anyone else they can recruit to help them!) to share their session materials and outcomes with the full MCN community before, during and after the conference. And not just presentation slides, but blog posts, audio recordings or video captures, twitter stories, Facebook and Instagram live, handouts and links to resource, whatever can be put together!

web browser with MCN's youtube channel home page

Over the past several years, MCN has audio recorded most sessions and shared them on YouTube. It’s a great way to catch sessions you missed, or to follow up on sessions you attended. Still, most recordings get only modest use. So we’re looking for better ways of capturing and sharing conference content and will be developing new strategies and systems for that over the next few years. In the meantime however, Denver …

For all you speakers out there, we’re asking you take the lead in capturing your session in whatever way you think best. We imagine that might simply be slides for some of you, but others might prefer to share a list of resources and links. Some of you might like to do a blog post after the fact, or ask a friend in the audience to take (or draw) notes they can share. If you’re technically savvy, or at least technically adventurous, you might want to take a shot at recording yourself either in audio or video. However, you do it, we love it and want to see it.

Speakers, check out our capturing tips below and send what you can, when you can to [email protected]. See you next week!

Speaker Tips & Tricks


Since you probably make them anyway, slides can be an easy way to share your presentation. You can post yours on SlideShare or Speaker Deck. If you used Google Slides just make that link public and call it a day. Or consider using Notist, which allows you to add related links and social media posts, and also lets people see your slide notes, which can help otherwise sparse slides make sense to someone not lucky enough to have heard you in person. In fact you might consider simply exporting your slides with the notes, and sharing it as a PDF.


Did you give out a handout in your session? Did your slide deck include a slide full of links to related resources? Throw those into a Google Doc, or make them into a PDF and put them in Dropbox to share that way.

Blog posts

Still have a blog or personal site somewhere? Consider posting a write-up of your session and maybe some downloads for the slides and links to related resources or even your other talks. Don’t have a site of your own? Medium has your number, and it can be an easy solution. Like for the series of posts from last February’s MCNx London.

Audio recordings

Here’s one we’re going to try. Buy or borrow an inexpensive lavalier microphone, and record yourself! Plug it into your phone with Voice Memos (iPhone) or Voice Recorder (Android), or directly into your computer, and hit record. With or without some basic editing afterward, the resulting audio file can be shared on SoundCloud or as a direct download from Google Drive or Dropbox.

Screen capture

Depending on how you’re going to present, you might try a screen capture of your session with a free tool like Screencast-o-matic. This may not work easily if you’re using slides in presenter mode, but if you’re simply mirroring your display to show slides, or browser windows, or a pdf, you can capture all or part of the screen along with the audio to make a webinar-like video of your session. Add in an inexpensive lavalier mic for better sound. Post it to YouTube or Vimeo when you’re done.

Video recordings

Okay, this is next level but you could try video recording yourself, or you could recruit a friend to help. Set your phone up in the front row or on the projector table with a portable tripod, add in a lavalier mic with a looong cord for better sound quality if you can, and hit record. This will work best if you can find an angle that shows you and your slides relatively clearly. The resulting masterpiece can be posted to YouTube or Vimeo. If you add a list of highlight moments with timestamps into the description field, YouTube will even create a clickable index for you.

Whatever you create, send it to [email protected] and we’ll help share it out. #musetech fame awaits!

animated gif of standing ovation in large theater


Humanizing the Un-Conference: Present Your Conference Session Ideas

…at the Conference!


Post by Max Evjen


#MCN2015 workshop attendees seated and standing around a table

Always coming up with ideas for proposals while socializing with other #musetech professionals at MCN? Want to build upon what you’ve heard while it’s still fresh? This brand-new kind of session is for you! Submit your ideas for the MCN Humanizing the Un-Conference! This is an effort to create the ultimate flexibility in the conference schedule, so the entire block of 45-minute concurrent sessions on Friday, November 16th, from 3:15–4 p.m., has been dedicated to ideas that you and your colleagues will come up with while at #MCN2018.


Here’s how it works:

  • Post your ideas on the “HTU” sign-up sheet in the MCN Lounge on Tuesday and Wednesday of the conference to get interest from others who want to be a part of your session (and tweet #MCN2018-HTU to search for others over Twitter)
  • Talk with other people interested in your idea—they can join you as co-presenters or just attend and participate in the discussion.
  • Turn your ideas into proposals that you post in the Humanizing the Un-conference area of the MCN Lounge 8AM to 5PM on Thursday.
  • Sessions will be assigned to available rooms on Thursday evening and room assignments for accepted proposals will be listed on the easel pad in the Humanizing the Un-conference area of the MCN Lounge, on signs outside the conference rooms where the session are held, in the #MCN2018 app, and will be announced on MCN’s Twitter account.

Examples of session descriptions could look like:


  • What is a Pilot, and how do I do that? is a discussion about piloting digital initiatives, and how you can make them work in your organization.
  • This Digital Thing is Dead.  A session for #musetech folks to commiserate over tech projects in museums that utterly failed.  We’ll discuss how we might possibly change those failures to successes.
  • Present your session from 3:15 – 4 p.m. Friday!


All rooms will have easel pads, markers, post it notes, and A/V capability.

Join us for this one of a kind experience!  We can’t wait to see how you create the conference’s final discussions, and where that will take us after MCN!


Max Evjen headshot

Max Evjen


The MCN 2018 Program is DONE

After moving a few million cells around our Program Team Google Sheets, the schedule for MCN 2018 is complete and will be going live soon. Here are a few highlights from this year’s program:

  • In addition to three pre-conference tours and eight workshops, we have a new Tuesday offering—a pair of “MCN Field Trips,” combining a visit to a local artist’s space with a lively discussion of a conference-theme-related topic.
  • For the second straight year we have several “other-format” sessions, including all-day drop-in teaching sites for DIY digital experiences and UX techniques, the return of group peer-mentoring with #MCNergy, and a laid-back Slow Looking space.
  • There will be an unconference for Social Media and, this year, “Humanizing the Unconference,” with opportunities for impromptu attendee-driven sessions on the final day of MCN.
  • Also on the conference’s final day, we have a block of sessions devoted to presentations by museum technologists from Denver-area institutions.
  • Finally, our 11 Special Interest Groups (SIGs) have each endorsed a conference session. Check them out!
    • From Folders to Facets: Improving the DAM User Experience for Creative Types | DAM SIG
    • Developing Process as Product in a Time of Change: Building the Miranda Digital Asset Platform at the Folger Shakespeare Library | IIIF SIG
    • Strategies for Scale and Sustainability | Strategy SIG
    • Toward a DAMS-driven Licensing Platform | IP SIG
    • Modern IT Infrastructure for the Museum of Tomorrow | IT SIG
    • DIY Digital Playground: A MuseTech Interpretive Media Resource and Skillshare Center | Educational and Interpretation SIG
    • An Evaluative Practice: Embracing Unanticipated Findings in Evaluation | Data and Insights SIG
    • From Request to Ingest: Creating ordering and tracking systems to make your museum imaging workflow work for you. | Digital Imaging SIG
    • When Museums Came Out to Play: #MuseumSnowballFight and Enhancing Your Digital Personality Through Collaboration | Social Media SIG
    • Pivoting to video: What museums can learn from media and journalism producers | Media and Production SIG
    • UX Lounge | Human-Centered Design SIG

Thank you all your over 200 amazing, high-quality submissions. We can’t wait for you to see the results of the Program Committee’s reviews and our tetrising of the timetable.

The Program co-chairs

Adrienne Lalli Hills, Robert Weisberg, and Catherine Devine


Heads up! Limited Early Bird tickets this year

This year we are changing our Early Bird ticket allotment to make it more predictable.

Starting with MCN 2018, only a limited number of Early Bird tickets will be available.

Predicting conference attendance is difficult and affects MCN’s ability to make reliable financial projections. One of the ways we believe we can have a better handle on this is by limiting the number of Early Bird tickets available.

Registration opens on June 28 with 150 Early Bird tickets up for grabs on a first-come, first-served basis until sold out or July 31, whichever comes first.

MCN remains committed to providing the best conference experience your money can buy at a price point we can all live with (conference fees). We look forward to seeing you in Denver in November.

Eric Longo, Executive Director


Humanizing the … Proposal Submission Process?

Laramie Square, Denver

Denver awaits!


April is almost here, which means the Call for Proposals for the MCN 2018 annual conference in Denver is just around the corner! Some of you may already be thinking about what you’d like to present in November but also, and perhaps just as important, what you’d like to hear from your peers.

In his post How Might We last month, Greg Albers asked us all to consider:

How Might We make each session unique?

This question led us to make some changes to the Call for Proposal process, which we’re sharing with you below.

Click on each of the items below to read more about the changes we’ve made to the program and the proposal process.

Making Tracks

Over the years, many of you have repeatedly asked for an easier way to search the program, and specifically, an easier way to find the sessions that interest you. We listened.

This year, we’re introducing two changes. First, we no longer ask you to tag your own proposal from a list of 25 keywords. Instead, the Program Committee will do this during the review process. Second, we’re introducing four tracks that essentially represent the various practice areas currently covered by MCN’s Special Interest Groups:

  • Content
  • Strategy
  • Systems
  • Experience

Simplifying the tagging process to these 4 tracks will make navigating the conference program and identifying the sessions you want to attend easier.

Speaking of SIGs … MCN now counts 11 SIGs that are active year-round. Because of the work they do and the discussions they have around their respective practice area, SIGs are a great resource for all of you to tap into, even if you belong to a few of them, or none at all. We encourage all of you to reach out to our SIGs to discuss ideas about possible sessions or topics and for suggestions about potential co-presenters.

Which leads to our next item …

Session Formats and Timing

Less is more. This year, you’ll only have 2 options for the duration of your session: a 30 minute session and a 60 minute session. That’s it. No more 15-minute case studies and 90-minute in-depth panels.

A 30-minute session can be a case study about one project or two related projects (with a preference for two presentations from different institutions), or a presentation on a more general discussion of a particular topic. A 30-minute session can have up to three speakers.

We know that the 15-minute case study format did provide an easy entry point for MCN community members wanting to make a brief presentation, so we ask you not to think of this format change as the end of the case study, but as incentive to pair up with another presenter—or, if you don’t have someone in mind, to contact the Program team, jump onto the MCN Slack Channel, or reach out to a SIG to find someone to present with.

A 60-minute session can be a presentation offering a deeper dive into a particular topic, with up to five speakers (note the speaker limit—more on that below), or a “hands-on” technology demonstration with articulated learning outcomes (though not as intense as a half-day workshop). We believe that the five-speaker limit will incentivize discussion and audience participation. Note that all 60-minute sessions will have the option to opt for using Slido for live audience polling and question up-voting during your presentation. You will be required to participate in an online demo during the summer if you wish to use Slido in your session.

Our traditional Tuesday half-day workshops remain part of the program.

And the same holds for our popular Ignite talks, a series of five-minute, 20-slide presentations, which traditionally kicks off the conference on Tuesday night; click here for video of last year’s talks and also visit Koven Smith’s 2017 blog post on submitting an Ignite proposal. Also, we’ll make sure the location of the Ignite venue offers more opportunities to meet and congregate with your fellow MCNers when the event concludes.

Finally, we’re continuing with last year’s wide-open, “other format” proposals—you’re welcome to suggest a session like last year’s popular Green Room, #MCNergy, Listening Lounge, and “Slow Change” silent disco. (You can read more about this innovative format here.) This is not, however, a pass to propose a longer version of a 60-minute session. Think hard about what a longer-timed session will accomplish and what kind of set-up you will require. A single session can’t easily be granted consecutive blocks of time in the same space. Be persuasive! Note that “other format” proposals can involve a larger number of participating presenters, but please discuss with the Program team ahead of time.

New Voices and New Takes on Current Ideas

How Might We” also asked us to consider:

How might we ensure new ideas don’t crowd out important fundamentals and big thinking doesn’t replace hands-on skills?

Regarding the proposals themselves, we are trying to further open up the sessions for presentations by attendees who haven’t spoken before, as well as emphasizing new perspectives on important topics which we hear about every year. We’ll be asking during the submission process if proposers have presented on this topic before, and how often speakers have presented at MCN in the past. Please don’t think of this as a limit as much as a call for expanding the horizons of our discussions. Come up with unique takes and bring in current trends on issues of interest to all. Think hard about what your proposal is really adding to the reflection on your topic.

If we haven’t heard from you at MCN, we want to hear from you! We’re asking MCN veterans and newbies alike to reach across the experience aisle and bring people who haven’t presented often to the stage. For newcomers, propose sessions on what you want to learn and hear about. Use social, or SIGs, or even contact the Program chairs if you’d like help in building a team for a proposal with new people and new ideas, whether it’s hands-on approach that’ll give attendees new skills they can take back to their institutions, or a deep dive into issues that are bedeviling the field. Think about the problems that you want solved—chances are, there’s someone out there in the community who would love to get involved and join you.

Now, about that submission process … 

Some Tough Love on Submitting (and Changing) Proposals

Last year we received 205 proposals, and while it’s a joy getting so much input and participation from the community, too many proposals were submitted in various stages of incompleteness: some showed “speakers TBD” or speakers were listed in the wrong field, some were missing short or long abstracts, others didn’t list the session leader and co-presenters correctly, others were missing bios or emails for speakers, which made contacting session participants more difficult.

While we understand that submitting a conference proposal is often time-consuming, reviewing incomplete proposals makes our job much harder: remember that Program Committee members are volunteers.  

So, this year we’ll start to require more complete information on speakers as well as a single 200-word abstract. (No more information TBD!) In addition, sessions cannot be contingent on data or community case studies still to be performed. This year, all submissions will be vetted before the review process begins, and submissions deemed incomplete will be returned to the session proposer, who will have up to 72 hours to re-submit, at which point the deadline will be final and any proposals still incomplete will not be considered.  

We will, however, allow editing of submitted proposals before the Call closes on April 30. In addition, after acceptances are sent out in June, all requests for changes to sessions will have to be made via a Google Form, not by email. These requests will be reviewed within 48 hours by the Program Team.  

Speakers for accepted sessions will have until the end of June to confirm acceptance and until the end of August to join MCN and register for the conference (except for US government federal employees). We understand that your ability to register may be dependent on your institution’s funding, and that timing often fluctuates, but speakers not registered by that date will not be able to participate in the session.

But it’s not all about rules. We’re also serious about your professional development. “How Might We” also invited us to consider:

How might we help speakers become better teachers and also partners in the success of the conference?

Workshop presenters will be asked to indicate their previous experience level at teaching workshops, and will need to provide a detailed agenda. All accepted workshop presenters will be required to participate (sometime over the summer) in an online training session designed to refine your skills as a workshop leader. Remember, workshops are optional—they cost more for attendees to register and often require they spend an extra day at the conference. As such, MCN needs to ensure that workshops deliver the value and quality attendees should expect.

Look for ideas and teaching tips in the coming months for presenters in regular conference sessions as well. MCN will continue to support all our presenters between now and November.

All presenters for accepted sessions will be required to read and sign the Presenters Guidelines, which have been updated to reflect the changes mentioned in this post. Please read it carefully before you submit a proposal as it answers many questions you might have about the conference. Reading it closely may help you avoid panicked questions later! There will be a quiz and prizes!

A Word on the “Chatham House” Rule

All sessions during MCN’s annual conference areby defaultaudio-recorded, supported by an open social media policy. However, we understand that, in the interests of open dialogue, some session organizers might wish for anonymity. This year, you’ll have the option to check a box next to Chatham House rule to indicate that you prefer anonymity for your session. By capturing that preference in the submission process, MCN will also be able to indicate that preference in the online and printed program; later requests can be made using the Session Changes form. Session leaders will need to clearly let their attendees know, at the start of their session, just what this means.

So Get Your Proposals Ready … 

By making these changes to the call for proposals process, we wanted to address many of the issues and suggestions from the feedback you gave us on previous conferences. Ultimately, we hope you’ll find they translate into a better conference experience for all of us. The point, after all, is not only these three or four days in November, but the year-round contributions we all make to the field and the community of ideas and mission we all share. Please let us know your thoughts and your questions, on the submissions process or any topic at all, at any time by writing to [email protected]. And we hope to see your proposals soon!

Your Program Team
Robert Weisberg, Catherine Devine, and Adrienne Lalli Hills, co-chairs

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