We are thrilled to share our 50th anniversary with another important cultural organization: the Museum Computer Network (MCN), which just kicked off its 45th annual conference in Pittsburgh.
MCN was founded in the spring of 1967 by a group of 15 directors of New York museums who developed a physical computer network that allowed museums to register artworks. Fifty years later, this once–small consortium focused on best practices for cataloguing has broadened its sights to explore how all things digital can transform the ways museums engage audiences. For the MCA, MCN has been a vital platform for sharing our work with our peers in the cultural sector, such as the “radical welcome” approach that came with our new identity and Coyote, an open-source software that supports a describing workflow for cultural institutions to make the images on their website visible to those who have impaired vision.
Looking back in order to look forward, members of the MCN community turned to various digital strategies, including crowd-sourcing, social media, video, and blogging, to tell the organization’s story and imagine its future. Similarly, the MCA has embarked on an oral history project that not only captures the voices of the community—from trustees and former staff to artists and visitors—that make the MCA what it is today, but also continues to ask everyone to share their own MCA story. As our organizations age, we will continue to distill content and build upon our knowledge, motivated by the belief that our work should be accessible to all.