Hats off to Toggling

By: lywam on February 23rd, 2011

Multitasking, juggling, TCOB (taking care of business), putting out fires: we all have our own “catch phrase” to express doing many things at once. I’ve heard that women are better at it then men and that “tech-natives” (20 somethings and younger) are often called “togglers” for their ability to shift seamlessly from one activity to the next.
The museum field is chock-full of mutlitaskers by design. We have to be. If I polled the Woodson Art Museum staff, from gallery guard to director, I’m confident everyone would be working on multiple projects.
Google SketchUp Design Studio interactive model.

As I type, I’m thinking about the Design Studio copy editing awaiting me, this week’s Wausau School District design in-service follow-ups, the programs I’m leading this week, and my trip to Washington, D.C. this weekend to judge the Excellence in Exhibitions Award for the American Association of Museums. These seemingly disparate tasks are why I love my job – it’s always different. I’m always learning. And I’m constantly connecting to communities in a variety of ways.
Wausau School District teachers working on a drawing exercise.
Community art museums like the Woodson Art Museum are dynamic cultural think tanks filled with fully engaged museum professionals. In these environments we can brainstorm, fine tune, and present innovative programs and exhibitions. I’ve always boasted about how the Woodson Art Museum’s leadership lets us “fail” – we’re encouraged to try new things, be creative, and revisit and tweak ideas from the past. This leadership quality helps foster ideas and creativity while raising the bar.
For the Woodson Art Museum – and all museums – to be relevant to the “togglers” of the future it must ensure that it is a creative and innovative hub of activity and exchange. 
I heard a museum professional once put it this way, “at smaller museums you wear a large hat and perhaps many of them. At a large museum you wear a very small hat (meaning you specialize in a narrow field).”
Here’s to wearing many large hats!

Museum professional “X” demonstrating multitasking.

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