I love exploring museums and have visited many, so my first challenge in creating this podcast was to choose one example. This was accompanied by pondering what aspect of the broad topic I might apply.
After much reflection, I was caught by ideas of cultural memory, and opportunities for museums to embrace a core purpose as digital storytellers. There were several museums that offered much in this field, but I selected the Warsaw Rising Museum in Poland, as I’d been greatly moved on visiting it years ago. I was delighted to find it had continued to innovate, pioneering further examples of excellent engagement.
I chose to name my podcast What price a hero?, as celebrating and perpetuating a culture of heroism is a driving motivation for this Museum. The central focus of my podcast was the intersection of cultural memory and digital storytelling, particularly with reference to turbulent, traumatic historical events. I also considered the nature of storytelling, the need for museums to define purpose, and how examples from Warsaw Rising exhibits clearly convey its grasp of these areas. Finally, I included some challenges for the Museum’s ongoing engagement – while not specifically digital in nature, these still relate to the sometimes polarising way it engages audiences.
As well as class readings and the comprehensive Museum websites, I discovered several insightful articles from Eastern European historians. I even tracked down some in Polish (thank you, Google Translate!) With a strictly limited podcast duration, another significant challenge was paring down this information; with a longer podcast I would have gladly explored contrasting museum approaches in Poland, or even other recent experiences at the National Anzac Museum in Albany (also excellent and innovative). As it was, mind mapping my various ideas, key research points and museum examples was helpful in developing a draft script for my podcast and sifting the considerable amount of information I had accumulated.
Rather than search for musical content, I chose to create my own podcast theme – I intend to continue developing and using this in future podcasting and blogging. It was fun to stretch my composition skills and was easier for me than deciding on the ‘right’ sound from a plethora available online. I also used photos from my visit to Poland as images.
Besides culling information, my other significant challenge was time management, partially caused by hovering between specific topics, and partially caused by underestimating editing time. Even though I have considerable experience with recording, it’s mostly been musical, and I was surprised how complicated it was to refine spoken word tracks. The last straw was unfortunately falling sick in this final week and having to put off some recording until my scratchy throat had settled. Next time, I shall prepare for the unexpected!
Overall, this has been a very rewarding experience. It has expanded my understanding of contemporary museums, and renewed my appreciation for the resilient people of Poland. They are, indeed, heroes.
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