Confessions of a Museum Professional: A 2018 OMA Conference Collaboration


As many of you know by now, the 2018 Ontario Museum Association (OMA) Conference is fast approaching! Held this year at the Westin Prince from October 24 to 26, 2018, it promises to be a fantastic event with engaging speakers, instructive study tours, and access to Toronto’s vibrant culture and attractions.

At this time, the Group of Emerging Museum Professionals (GOEMP) Committee would like to announce an aspect of its own participation in this year’s Conference … and we need your help!

We are facilitating a project called “Confessions of a Museum Professional,” in collaboration with the OMA. Inspired by “PostSecret,” an ongoing community mail art project that began in 2005, we invite you, colleagues across Ontario who possess a wide range of experience and background, to mail in anonymous stories about working in museums, historic sites, or galleries.

For those who have never heard about “PostSecret,” its intention is pretty simple. Internet phenomenon Frank Warren invites ordinary people to anonymously mail in personal, handwritten secrets on one side of a homemade postcard. Every Sunday, he then uploads ten randomly selected postcards submitted from around the world onto his website. These inscriptions are brief yet poignant glimpses into an anonymous person’s life, confessing instances of joy, fear, desire, regret, hope, betrayal, and beyond. It’s an extraordinary collection of unique stories that reveal the true meaning behind these secrets: the universality of shared human experiences.

“Confessions of a Museum Professional” will borrow aspects of this global sensation, but asks that your stories relate back to the museum sector in some capacity. Submissions should be constructive and should tell stories about your workplace, your educational training, or just general questions, frustrations, experiences, and failures within the arts, culture, and heritage community.

Postcards will be displayed at Conference so that attendees can see a range of museum experiences in a small curated installation. During Conference, the GOEMP Committee will also facilitate a 30-minute panel discussion with select museum and gallery leaders from Ontario. These leaders will speak about various issues that affect museum professionals across the province by directly responding to the postcards we received. We believe sharing these thoughtful anecdotes in an open forum can result in a collaborative endeavour that will help bring together our audience members and demonstrate how, across the sector, emerging and established museum professionals struggle and succeed amid similar circumstances.

So, after all that is said and done… where do you come in? Well, we want you to send us your postcards! Here are a few easy steps to get you started:

  • Write your story. On the back of your postcard, write down a museum or gallery experience you would like to share with the arts and culture community. Your postcard can be handmade or purchased, it is up to you!
  • Be anonymous. We don’t need to know your name, institution, or city of origin. Your privacy and the integrity of your colleagues is very important to us. And please remember, this isn’t a gossip column.
  • Mail your postcard. Please address your postcard to the following address:
    • Group of Ontario Emerging Museum Professionals, 184 Humberside Avenue, Toronto, ON, M6P 1K5
  • That’s it! Postcards will be collected by GOEMP Committee members and forwarded to our participating session panelists. Again, all postcards will be treated with respect and anonymity.

Please ensure your postcards are sent by October 14, 2018, or else they may not be included in time for Conference. In the meantime, let us know what you think or if you have any questions about how you can participate.

We look forward to receiving your stories and hope to see you at Conference!

About the 2018 OMA Conference:

This year’s OMA Conference theme “Collaborating for Impact” examines how museums can more effectively and efficiently serve the public through the establishment of dynamic and innovative partnerships with a variety of different actors both within and outside of the sector, including but not limited to: government, other cultural institutions, education, individuals, and non-profits.

Building on different examples of successful (or failed!) sectoral and non-sectoral models, Collaborating for Impact looks at the connections museums form in their communities and serves to provide a fresh approach to the role of museums in contemporary society.



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