Monday, 31 July 2017




I'm bewildered by how fast time flies. It feels like just yesterday that we launched Musings' summer season, and now it's already time for our August hiatus! This summer has sped by, with our team of Contributing Editors having produced some fascinating content these past three months. Of course, it wouldn't be an academic blog without the very real threat of burnout, so we'll be taking a short respite from writing until school starts again in September.

The Toronto skyline on a hot and sticky day, as seen from one of the Casa Loma towers. Read more about Toronto and its evolution here. Photo courtesy of Serena Ypelaar.
The Musings team has worked hard this summer (amidst internships, summer jobs, and the undeniable allure of good weather) to bring us insightful discussions, interviews, and reflections. Some of our writers touched on topics such as:

I. A personal reflection on how one of Canada's most famous artists, Tom Thomson, was remembered at the Art Gallery of Ontario and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on the 100th anniversary of his death.

II. A special series of Museum Mondays posts featuring LAM (Library, Archives, Museum) convergence.

III. Your official guide on how to get in the mindset to succeed in grad school, and what to do if you're feeling anxious.

IV. Travel-oriented posts to satisfy your summer wanderlust - from museums in India, Peru, or Southeast Asia to following in the footsteps of Canadian painters in provincial parks.

V. An exclusive peek at the experiences of MMSt interns across Canada and beyond!

These are just a few of the highlights of our summer edition. As always, thank you to all the readers who have engaged with our articles this summer - we can't do it without you!

In September, we'll be returning with our full-time posting schedule, and with new ideas up our sleeves. I'd like to welcome all the incoming first-year students, many of whom I hope will consider joining the Musings team! Look for us at orientation, and keep your eye on our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for the latest updates. In the meantime, have a lovely rest of the summer!

Friday, 28 July 2017




This is officially my last post for the Internship Check-In column this summer. When Serena approached me about writing a reflective conclusion for the series, I was very excited! She suggested that it would be a good opportunity to share a bit about my own internship and to highlight key takeaways that students have experienced this past summer at their institutions.

My last day of being a Publishing Intern at the AGO.

In January, I began my internship in the Publishing Department at the Art Gallery of Ontario. I worked part-time while I was completing my winter semester classes - starting out at 2 full days a week, then 3 days - until I was able to work 5 days when classes ended. I completed my internship at the end of May. When I started my internship, I had a very open mind and I was beginning with a blank slate. I have never worked in publishing before and to be honest, I didn’t know exactly what it meant to have a publishing team within a museum. I chose to apply and do this internship because I felt like I had the skills and interest that made me a good fit - I have always enjoyed writing, editing, design, storytelling and ultimately, books and (as weird as it sounds) the literal tactility of paper.

My internship was very unique because my manager’s role encompasses a variety of different responsibilities. Though his title is officially “Manager of Publishing,” he is also the curator for the upcoming Guillermo Del Toro: At Home With Monsters exhibition, opening September 2017. His direct experience, knowledge and passion for video and film made him the perfect fit for this role. Every Tuesday, I was fortunate enough to attend the weekly Guillermo Del Toro content meetings. The GDT team consists of: the curator, research assistant, interpretive planner, graphic designer and project manager. I loved seeing the progression of their exhibition planning and I am really looking forward to seeing the GDT exhibition come to fruition in the fall!

Before my internship, I had always assumed that a big institution meant that there would be a big team behind-the-scenes. I’ve realized that this isn’t necessarily the case for every department.  Specifically in the Publishing Department, there is only 1 full-time editor, 1 part-time editor and my manager.  The many meetings I’ve attended with my manager have taught me the importance of teamwork across departments in a big institution. It has been amazing to observe how publishing is connected to so many other facets of the gallery. 

Key Takeaways
  1. Don't be afraid to ask questions - whether that's because you don't understand something or if you want to be included in meetings and events (you're there to learn!)
  2. Say "yes" to new tasks and responsibilities (even if at first it seems out of your comfort zone)
  3. Be willing to accept change and let go (projects will change and grow and that's okay!)
  4. Take advantage of the opportunity to network and to meet other museum professionals
  5. Be honest, humble and open-minded
Thanks to all the students who took their time to be interviewed and share their experiences for the internship check-in column this summer! I learned so much about different museum roles and what it's like to work in a variety of institutions. And thank you to all of the readers as well - I'm very grateful for our supportive MMSt community!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017




Hello everyone, and welcome to the final edition of What’s Happening Wednesdays for the season. As many of us finish up our internships and summer winds to a close, it’s amazing to see how quickly time has flown by. For my last post, I wanted to highlight events that are outdoors and *mainly* free, occasions that will make the most of the last few carefree weeks of summer.

August is also the perfect opportunity for spur of the moment trips, so this article has a special spotlight on Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Tanya McCullough is completing an internship at the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology! Tanya gives us the low-down on what to do in the city in a short amount of time. This edition also features programming hosted by Fort Henry Historic Centre, where Dan Rose is an intern.

1. Movies under the Stars

Movies at Christie Pits! Source.

One of my favourite things to do in the summer is to watch movies under a starry sky. This month there are many free outdoor movie spots around the city. Here are some locations with screening dates and times below:

Harbourfront Free Flicks

Watch movies by the water every Wednesday night! The roster of movies are:

My Internship in Canada - August 2
Belle - August 9
How She Move - August 16
Pacific Rim - August 23
Cooking with Stella - August 30

Where: Harbourfront Centre Concert Stage, 235 Queens Quay W, Toronto, ON M5J 2G8

When: Every Wednesday night at 9:00 pm

Cost: Free!

Christie Pits Summer Film Festival

Beginning every Sunday at 6:00 pm, food and drink vendors will be present at Christie Pits Park, before a movie will play at sundown (around 9:00 pm). For more information, visit The Christie Pits Film Festival. The movies playing in August are Bring it On (August 6) and West Side Story (August 13). 

Where: The giant hill at Christie Pits Park, 50 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M6G 3K4

When: Sundays, Vendors arrive at 6:00 pm, Showings begin at 9:00 pm

Cost: Free!

Under the Stars Regent Park
Outdoor movies at Regent Park are extra special, as there will be yoga classes, DJ workshops, soccer games, and dance classes before the movie starts at sundown. There will also be popcorn and drinks available, with all proceeds going back into the festival. For more information visit Regent Park Film Festival. Here are the list of movies playing in August:

Jaane Tu…Ya Jaane Na - August 2
The Bicycle Thief - August 9
Hidden Figures - August 16

Where: Regent Park (the Big Park), 620 Dundas St. E.

When: Wednesdays, Activities will vary each week and take place between 7-8:30pm before the film begins at sundown (around 9:00pm)

Cost: Free!


This year, the Sail-In Cinema from PortsToronto returns to Sugar Beach from August 17th to 19th. It is Toronto’s largest outdoor movie theatre, where a screen is set up on a barge on the harbour. You can pack a blanket and a picnic to watch the movie on land, or, if you have a boat, you can actually sail in and watch the movie on the waters of Lake Ontario!

The films chosen are Edward Scissorhands, Indiana Jones, and Beauty and the Beast. Visit Sail in Cinema for more info.

Where: Sugar Beach, 25 Dockside Drive, Corus Quay

When: August 17th – 19th. Gates will open at 6:00 p.m. each night with the film starting at approximately 8:45 p.m.

Cost: Free!

2. Enjoy the Sun and Great Music with Free Outdoor Concerts

Another fun and free thing to check out in the city are outdoor concerts! 


Indulge at David Pecaut Square

Venture out during your lunch break and check out the live music and Farmer’s Market that takes place in front of Roy Thompson Hall every Thursday in August for the ‘Indulge your Senses’ festival. Here is a list of some of the performances scheduled for August:

August 3rd - Xolisa

August 10th - Jim Bryson

August 17th - Elise Lewgrow

August 24th - Maddy Rodrigues

August 31st - Julian Taylor Trio

Where: David Pecaut Square, 55 John Street, near corner of King Street & John Street

When: Every Thursday, 8 a.m. - 2:30 p.m

For information, check out the website  here.

Beats, Breaks and Culture

Pop artist Austra, who will perform on August 19th. Source.

Enjoy music from the new and emerging Canadian hip-hop scene! The Beats, Breaks and Culture festival highlights genres of post-rap and electronica, featuring the performers Austra, Dead Obies, and Phèdre. For more information, check out Beats, Breaks and Culture

Where: Harbourfront Centre, Concert Stage, 235 Queens Quay West

When: Friday, August 18, 9:30 – 10:45pm, Sat, August 19, 9:30pm–10:45pm, Sun, August 20, 5:45pm–7:00pm

Cost: Free!

3. Dancing on the Pier

Salsa Dancing on the Harbour! Source.

If you’re looking for something more active to do this summer, why not learn how to dance on Toronto’s waterfront? Enjoy free dance lessons in styles ranging from salsa to big band while listening to live music. For more information on the different dance styles taught and performances taking place on which date, visit Dancing on the Pier

Where: Harbourfront Centre, Canada Square West, 235 Queens Quay West, Toronto Ontario

When: Every Thursday in August, from 7:00 – 10:00pm

Cost: Free!

4. Caribana Weekend 2017

Just one of the fabulous costumes seen during the Grande Parade! Source.

Caribana is a festival of Caribbean culture held every year in Toronto. It’s the largest cultural event in Canada, and the largest outdoor festival in North America. This year is extra special as the festival is celebrating its 50th anniversary! The theme of this year’s parade is “Celebrating Our Heritage: From Then to Now”, so the floats, performers, and beautiful costumes will showcase the evolution of Caribbean culture. Some of the different styles of music performed during Caribana are Calypso, Soca, Salsa, Zouk, Reggae, Chutney, Steel Pan and Brass Bands. The Grande Parade takes place the first weekend of August, however many more events occur throughout the month, such as The Lighting of the CN Tower on August 1st, to commemorate the Emancipation of Slavery. To stay updated on the many different events hosted during the month, visit

Where: 301 Front Street W.

The Grande Parade begins at Exhibition Place and Lakeshore Boulevard 15 Saskatchewan Road, Toronto, ON

When: Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

The Grande Parade is on Saturday, August 5th, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm at Exhibition Place and Lakeshore Boulevard

Cost: It’s free to view the parade from Lakeshore Boulevard, but admission into Exhibition place is $10 -$20

5. Shakespeare in High Park


Shakespeare in High Park is in its 35th year, making it the longest-running outdoor theatre event! This year, the two shows featured are King Lear and Twelfth Night. Directed by Alistair Newton and Tanja Jacobs, the Shakespearean classics are modernized and “re-imagined” from a female perspective. For more information on the plays, visit The Canadian Stage

Where: High Park, High Park Amphitheatre, 1873 Bloor Street West

When: King Lear: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday at 8pm (gates open at 6pm)

Twelfth Night: Wednesday, Friday, Sunday at 8pm (gates open at 6pm)

Cost: Pay What You Can at the Park (suggested donation of $20). Children under 14 are free.

$25 advanced reserve seats (Online, https://canadianstage/online/shakespeare or through the Box Office: 416-368-3110)

6. 2167 At the TIFF Bell Lightbox

Still from 'Each Branch Determined'. Source.

2167 is a project developed from the Canada on Screen program, and produced by TIFF, imagineNATIVE, Pinnguaq and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures, where five Indigenous filmmakers and artists have been commissioned to create VR projects envisioning Indigenous life 150 years in the future. The three movies playing at the Lightbox in August are Danis Goulet's The Hunt, Scott Benesiinaabandan's Blueberry Pie Under the Martian Sky, and Postcommodity's Each Branch Determined. The remaining works will premiere during imagineNATIVE in October, also at the TIFF Lightbox.

Canada on Screen is co-produced by Library and Archives Canada, the Cinémathèque québécoise, and The Cinematheque in Vancouver, and is made possible by presenting partners the Government of Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada, and the Government of Ontario, and supporting partner Telefilm Canada. For more information on the movies, filmmakers and the Canada on Screen program, visit

Where: 350 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 3X5

When: Thursday, August 3rd – 6th, 12:00 – 6:00 pm, and August 10th – 13th

Cost: Free! No ticket is required, attendance is on a drop-in basis, first-come, first-served.

7. Explore Fort Henry Historic Site with a unique hands-on experience

The Garrison Parade at Fort Henry. Source.

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it’s totally worth the trip to Kingston to check Fort Hnenry out! To learn more about Fort Henry and its history, visit

While there, be sure to attend the “Curator’s Curiosities Program”. This hands-on program gives visitors a sneak-peek into the tasks a museum worker undertakes to ensure objects are properly conserved, stored and displayed, while also allowing for some of the interesting or rarely-seen artefacts in Fort Henry’s collection to be shown to the public. Rather than a guide playing the role of a soldier in the British Army of 1867, “Curator’s Curiosities” remains in the modern world, showing how the items crafted during the period represented at Fort Henry are preserved to this day.

Where: 1 Fort Henry Drive, Kingston, ON, K7K 5G8

When: The program runs for 20 minutes every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday at 2:30 p.m.

Cost: General Admission is $20, and Senior and Youth admission is $18

8. An Excursion to Philly! 

In West Philadelphia born and raised.....Source

Only an hour flight from Toronto, a visit to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is the perfect way to end off summer. The city is full of history, culture and museums! From the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the new Museum of the American Revolution, the National Constitutional Center, Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell Hall, Betsy Ross House, the Barnes Fine Art Museum, the Rodin Museum, The Franklin Institute, the Mütter Museum of medical oddities, the African American Museum, Ben Franklin’s House, and the Independence Seaport Museum there is plenty to take in. For a full list of museums, visit

The beautiful Penn Museum. Source.

A special museum to check out is The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (Penn Museum) on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, which was founded by Ben Franklin in 1740. Penn Museum is currently having a Summer Nights Concert Series. The series has been running for six years, taking place on Wednesday evenings. Concerts are held in the Museum's outdoor Stoner Courtyard, offering an urban green space with lush gardens, a marble fountain, and a peace bench designed by the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. There is also an open bar and food! Between music sets, you can explore the exhibitions through mini docent-led tours. A few new exhibitions currently on display are The Moundbuilders – Ancient Architects of North America, Magic in the Ancient World, and Cultures in Crossfire. Read more about the exhibitions here.

Where: Penn Museum, 3260 South St, Philadelphia, PA 19104

When: Wednesdays from 5:00 – 8:00 PM.

Cost: General admission for guests ages 6 and up is $10 (includes Museum admission), and free for children under 6 and Museum members.

Tanya, who is currently interning at the Penn Museum, highlights other must-see spots if you’re visiting Philly for one week:

The first thing to do is visit Philadelphia’s picturesque historic district, spanning from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine Street to Lombard Street. Philadelphia is the birthplace of the United States, so get a full dose of American history and visit the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall along with the Museum of the American Revolution and the National Constitutional Center. Check out Elfreth’s Alley, which is the oldest continuously lived on street, and be sure to stop over at its house museum, the Elfreth’s Alley Museum House. 

Liberty Bell. Source.

Next, visit Spruce Street Harbor Park near the Delaware River. It has food shacks, beer cabins, and a beautiful view of the beachfront. Along the riverfront is the Independence Seaport Museum, where you can visit a nineteenth century iron ship and a real submarine. Venture to the other side of the river to tour a WWII battle ship or go to the Adventure Aquarium.

Rocky running up the steps of the Philly Museum of Art! Source.

Then, you have to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art and take a picture with Rocky’s statue at the base of the “Rocky Steps”! If you have time, see the Mütter Museum, which has a slew of fascinating medical oddities on display.

To relax, hang out in Rittenhouse Square, which is a park in the middle of the city, lined with restaurants and shops. At various times, there will be a farmer’s market, an art exhibition or music in the park. One’s visit to Philadelphia is not complete without visiting the Reading Terminal market (pronounced Red-ding), and trying the infamous Philadelphia Cheesesteaks at one of the vendors!


This year there were so many celebrations, new experiences, and commemorations, that summer seems to have had an early demise. Rather than lamenting the end of summer, however, get outside and make the most of its last moments; creating memories which will propel us forward to seek more connections, learn new things and start school with rejuvenated and clear minds.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017




As summer internships wrap up and August approaches, you may already be itching to get back to class. Fear not: it’s not too early to start hitting the academic journals again! My own summer internship has involved some visitor research projects, and it’s fascinating to see what kinds of information we can miss about our publics until we think to ask. In the spirit of inquiry, here are some recent developments in visitor-centred research to get us thinking about museum users in the wild.

"There's one! Crikey." Source. 

Our first stop is Pittsburgh, where staff at the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh are currently developing a mobile experience (working title MUSE) which they describe as “a friendly, knowledgeable and charming chatbot extension”. MUSE would use native systems on users’ mobile phones, including cameras and SMS/messaging clients, as a platform to answer questions and make conversation about museum objects and facilities. The idea is reminiscent of Brooklyn Museum’s ASK system, but would use artificial intelligence rather than real-time human expertise.

This strategy removes a substantial obstacle to getting users to engage with museum apps, i.e. that very few living humans have ever intentionally downloaded a museum app. The Carnegie Museums found that 93% of the visitors they surveyed were carrying a mobile device, and virtually all of them had Facebook Messenger, iMessage, or both. If they can leverage those numbers to provide as frictionless an experience as possible, there’s reason to be optimistic about MUSE’s success. The recent popularity of SFMOMA’s ‘Send Me SFMOMA’ service, which texted artwork in response to user requests and emojis, proves that there’s quite a niche for whimsical digital experiences with museum collections.

Art on demand from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (Send Me SFMOMA). The future has arrived, and it is *heart eyes emoji*. Source. 

After an intensive visitor study, CMP have kindly made their visitor research data, methodology, and infographics available on GitHub, where they might be useful for other museums looking to develop similar programs (and they’re an interesting read for the inquisitive – the incidence of selfies will surprise you).

Next we move to New York and this month’s issue of the Journal of Museum Education (vol. 42, July 2017), centred on the theme ‘Does Museum Education Have a Canon?’ In the article “Well-Chosen Objects Support Well-Being for People with Dementia and Their Care Partners”, Carolyn Halpin Healey of Arts and Minds, a non-profit which works with people with dementia and their caregivers in New York museums, explains staff concerns in selecting artworks for these programs.

In keeping with the issue’s theme, much of the article’s focus is the tension between the canonical objects of a museum’s collection and the need for an accessible and enjoyable experience for participants, ultimately the more important factor. The most famous, visible, and ‘important’ objects in a museum are there for all visitors to enjoy; visitors with cognitive impairments are often unable to access them for physical reasons or because of fear and stigma associated with their impairments. While it’s important to push back against this stigma and increase access to the canon, there is also much to be gained from looking outside the canon and with specific groups’ histories and personalities in mind. 

An Arts and Minds program at the New York Historical Society. Successful programs for visitors with cognitive impairment have tangible benefits for all participants, including caregivers, but what makes a successful program, and how does the choice of art factor in? Source. 

My main takeaway came from the author’s testament to the importance of thoughtfulness: “While the “wrong” choice will certainly not cause harm, the “right” choice has the potential to catalyze self-exploration as well as provide the opportunity to reflect on the past, to empathically connect with others, and to imagine new ways of being as one ages, particularly in the face of life-altering cognitive impairment.” Even when the risks of curation are low, the payoffs may be substantial; all museum visitors deserve the best we can give them. The article draws usefully on existing education, visitor and neurological research, and is a neat example of how theory can be used to guide and bolster practice.

On our final stop, we move from understanding and shaping visitor experience to directly influencing visitor behaviour. In “Fostering customers’ pro-environmental behaviour at a museum” (Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 25.9), Heesup Han and Sunghyup Sean Hyun explore the factors which predict pro-environmental decisions like recycling, water conservation, waste reduction and transport choice while visitors are in the museum.

The authors identified five cognitive dimensions (environmental value, concern, awareness, knowledge, and self-efficacy, or the belief in one’s own ability to act toward goals) and two affective dimensions (the expectation of positive versus negative feelings after completing actions) which impact eco-friendly intentions and behaviour, as well as two additional factors, willingness to sacrifice and interconnectedness to nature. Using survey results from several South Korean museums, they produced a model which showed the relationships between all these factors in visitor decision-making.

A young visitor acts on the expectation of positive affect at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Chicago, IL. Source. 

It turned out that the factor with the largest impact on pro-environmental behaviour was negative anticipated affect, or the expectation of feeling guilty, remorseful, and bad after they took action or failed to take action. The second most important factor was positive anticipated affect: visitors were motivated to recycle or reduce waste because they knew they would feel good afterward. The cognitive dimensions were also crucial. An effective strategy might be to let visitors know that recycling, creating less waste, and choosing friendly transport options is the decent and worthwhile thing to do, while making other choices has adverse consequences. As we have always secretly suspected, the best way to make sure visitors act ecologically in the museum might be with some gentle shaming. Perhaps someone could develop an ecologically-minded chatbot to remind them to recycle?


Halpin-Healy, Carolyn. "Well-Chosen Objects Support Well-Being for People with Dementia and Their Care Partners." Journal of Museum Education 42, no. 3 (July 14, 2017): 224-35. doi:10.1080/10598650.2017.1342189.

Han, Heesup, and Sunghyup Sean Hyun. "Fostering customers' pro-environmental behavior at a museum." Journal of Sustainable Tourism 25, no. 9 (November 25, 2016): 1240-256. doi:10.1080/09669582.2016.1259318.

Inscho, Jeffrey. "No App Required: Toward a Utilitarian Museum Mobile Experience." The Studio. May 18, 2017. Accessed July 23, 2017.

Inscho, Jeffrey. "Field Study: Benchmarking Visitor Behaviors and Mobile Device Usage in the Museum." The Studio. July 18, 2017. Accessed July 23, 2017.