Tips for First-timers to Museums and the Web


Tips from oldies and newbies to Museums and the Web; add yours in the comments below!

Networking: The people you get to know are arguably the greatest value of attending Museums and the Web. Here are some tips for building your personal network at MW:

  • Don’t be shy: about introducing yourself to strangers; what you get out of the conference will increase exponentially with every new colleague you meet!
  • Wear your badge! This will help and encourage people to introduce themselves and ask about your organization.
  • Tweet with vigor! Use social media and the conference hashtag, #MW2013, to find people and what’s going on – even if you are not normally a Twitter user and don’t contribute to the twitter feed yourself!
  • Get a roommate: it’s a great way to meet people!
  • Eat heartily! Go to the hotel bar at the end of the day for drinks; everyone will be there!
  • Follow up after the conference with the people you met with an email, a Linked In invitation, a tweet or other short message to let them know you’d like to stay in touch.

Professional Development: In addition to the network you’ll develop, here are some of the key professional development opportunities at MW:

  • Pre-conference workshops: these are optional and cost extra on top of the main conference registration. They are an opportunity to learn or deepen a skill in workshops led by museum colleagues who have depth and breadth of experience in the field.
  • Local museums: try to build time into your schedule to see local museums, and reach out to colleagues there both before you come and while visiting their town. They are often happy to show you around and give you behind-the-scenes views into how they work.
  • Start a conversation: propose a “Salon” session (for Thursday afternoon) or a “Birds of a Feather” breakfast roundtable topic (Saturday morning). Spend the time before then inviting people to join you (in person and via social media) and then blog, tweet, or otherwise share your experience afterwards.
  • Find a mentor: This is a generous and experienced community, and we all remember our first time at MW. Don’t be afraid to ask people to help, to guide you, and even mentor you beyond your time at MW. The value of even the most experienced attendee’s knowledge increases exponentially each time that expertise is shared, so you are doing your mentor a favor too by building on what they already know!
  • Try something new: go to a session you know nothing about to expand your horizons, skills, and professional connections. Even if you don’t pursue that topic immediately, you’ll be a better-connected and well-rounded museum professional.
  • Try something crazy: act on at least one impulse per day!

Logistics: Got a how-to question about the conference? We try to answer them all on the MW2013 website:

  • What’s happening next? Check the “Live Program” feed.
  • Transportation: Wondering how to get to evening events? Check the “Live Program” feed.
  • Presentation logistics: All presenters will have use of a projector, power and Internet connection. Coordinate your presentation time with your session chair if you are in a multi-presenter session, and respect the presentation order in the program as many attendees “session hop”. Demonstrators have an exhibit hall booth, sign, table, chair, monitor as well as wifi and power for their 1 hour sessions. More presentation tips can be found here.
  • Pace yourself: Try not to pull an all-nighter the first night, as you’ll want to stay up late every night with all the great conversations going on!
  • Go with the flow: Don’t plan too much, and be willing to make last-minute changes to your plans!

Please add to these tips and help us answer other questions in the comments below!

7 thoughts on “Tips for First-timers to Museums and the Web

  1. What is the difference between MW and other conferences in the field?

    MW is the largest international conference on museums and technology, and its program is built by the ground up from peer-review of proposed sessions and presentations. It is unique in its 17 year-old archive of papers from the formal sessions, which form an invaluable resource for the museum community and others. As such, it tends to feature the work of more experienced museum professionals who are synthesizing learnings from years of projects, often across institutions, in their presentations and papers. Nonetheless, students and newcomers also make important contributions to the program, which includes sessions that allow for more spontaneous and timely contributions to the conversation as well as the formal papers. Each year we experiment with new program formats and topics; suggest some yourself!

  2. Saturday morning Birds of a Feather is a great way to join small group, informal conversations on topics of interest. Go to bed early Friday night!

  3. The Crit Rooms are great opportunities to have your Web, Mobile and Inclusive Design projects critiqued by experienced professionals in a friendly and supportive environment. There is still room for Mobile and Inclusive Design projects to be critiqued; email us or tweet us to include yours!