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News & Press: President's Message

According to an African Proverb

Tuesday, June 11, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jayceen Craven Walker
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According to an African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” That sort of flies in the face of the American proverb, “If you want something done right, do it yourself,” doesn’t it? While there may be some truth to the latter proverb at times, I want to focus on the former.

Undoubtedly, the proverb refers to actual travel, probably on foot. Imagine going alone through the African savanna. With no one else to slow you down, you can probably move quickly, but how far will you make it when you run into trouble? Illness, injury or predators can stop you in your tracks. With another person or a group, you can protect each other and help get each other out of sticky situations. You may move more slowly, but you’ll get where you’re going.

How does this apply to our work in museums? Some things are certainly worth doing alone if speed is of the essence. It takes time to form committees, hold meetings, discuss plans, etc. Sometimes you’re under pressure to complete a project, and sometimes it’s just a matter of getting a bunch of small tasks done so you can clear the slate for a larger task.

If you really want to make significant and meaningful progress on a project, however, the best thing you can do is to work together, either forming a team internally, recruiting volunteers to help, or collaborating with another organization. Just one other person can make a difference, even if all they do is act as a sounding board for your ideas and plans. Sure, it’s possible to research, plan, design and install an exhibit by yourself, but working with others on the exhibit, you will produce a much better exhibit. You will learn what parts aren’t as interesting as you first thought, you’ll discover a resource you weren’t aware of, and someone will show you a more effective way of displaying that piece.

We have an amazing opportunity coming up that none of us should pass on. What better place and time to network with other museum folk, discuss ideas, and form partnerships than at the 2013 WMA/UMA conference in Salt Lake City? This is a great opportunity to learn from other attendees. If you want your museum to “go far,” don’t go it alone. Network and collaborate.

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