Small Museum Association

    Small Museums Working Together

2019 Conference Schedule 

35th Annual SMA Conference: Catch Me if You Can: Museum Leadership Flying into the 21st Century

Sunday, February 17 - Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Get on the right track! Each session is color-coded if you are interested in attending sessions about a particular subject:
Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development, Communications/Marketing and Emerging Professional




Registration, 12 -5pm


90-Minute Workshops

*Seating is limited. Please indicate your interest in attending a workshop during registration*

1:00 - 2:30pm

Communicating for Change
Pierre Quinn

Using information gleaned from leadership best practices research and expert consensus, Pierre will provide practical, proven advice on how to leaders can communicate effectively. Advice for experienced, new, and emerging leaders will be offered. Management/Administration, Communications/Marketing

Assessment Programs for Small Museums

Allison Titman, Danyelle Rickard

There are a plethora of assessment options available to small museums but it can be challenging to determine how they work, what they cost, and which program is a good fit for your institution. AAM Program Officers Allison Titman and Danyelle Rickard will explain MAP, StEPs, CAP, accreditation, and more, and guide attendees through the completion of sample materials from several of the programs. Management/Administration

3:00 - 4:30pm 

Goals Before Tools: Leading for Social Media Success 

Rebecca Ortenberg, Hillary Mohaupt

For small museums with limited staff, social media can be overwhelming. What platforms should you be on? When should you post? Where are you going to get all of this content? How can you move beyond just announcing programs and events, and really engage with visitors? In this session, social media experts Rebecca Ortenberg and Hillary Mohaupt will discuss their collaborative approach to social media strategy, including how to set goals, choose the right tools, build a unique and appropriate voice, and encourage staff and volunteers to work together to change the way their organization communicates with its online audience. Workshop participants will also have the opportunity to put their new skills to work building a social media plan for a small organization.

This session is geared toward those who already understand the basics of using Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram but who want to learn how to harness these tools to advance the goals of their museum, and who are interested in trying out those tools in a fun, collaborative environment. Communications/Marketing, Emerging Professional


Evolve or Face Extinction: Lessons from the Cretaceous Period

Mary Alexander, Mark Hudson

Many local historical societies, house museums and community history museums are facing challenging times with increasing competition for leisure hours and community support. This session will consider models for success (along with discussions of failures) from the experiences of a dozen or so small representative history museums. Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development, Emerging Professional

Wine and Cheese Reception, College Park Aviation Museum (transportation is attendees' responsibility), 5:30 - 7:30pm

Join us for a special wine and cheese reception at the College Park Aviation Museum to kick off the conference.  Thank you to our hosts the College Park Aviation Museum and our sponsor Maryland Milestones Heritage Area. The reception will be ASL interpreted. Registration for this event is capped at 100. If you are staying at The Hotel at UMD, ask for a Shuttle ride to the College Park Aviation Museum!

Eat & Engage Dinner, The Hotel at UMD (cost is attendees' responsibility), 7:30pm

Network, meet up with friends, or reunite with colleagues during the Eat & Engage dinner.  The Hotel offers a variety of restaurant options.  Attendees are responsible for their own dinner bill.  ASL interpretation will be available.

Battle Decks!, 9:00 – 10:30pm

Make new friends in this PowerPoint parody game by showcasing your small museum-honed improvisational interpretation and public speaking skills! Participants will receive a randomly selected topic 30 seconds before giving a 5-minute presentation using a never-before-seen slide deck. Hilarity ensues & the audience votes for a winner at the end. Volunteer speakers, please sign up at the registration desk.  ASL interpretation will be available.



Registration, 7:15am-4:15pm 

Breakfast, 7:30 - 9:00am

Keynote Address, 8:15 - 9:15am

Suse Anderson, PhD,  Museopunks! 


The Keynote address will be a live podcast recording.  It will be ASL interpreted. 


60-Minute Sessions

9:30 - 10:30am

Forget the Best: Good and Better Approaches to Preservation

Samantha Forsko, Laura Heemer

Preservation resources often emphasize "best practices." Having an optimal collections care program might be desired, from electronic compact shelves to completely processed collections. However, not everyone has the funds for a high-tech HVAC system or the staff time to develop a preservation plan. With limited staff, time, and money often the norm, how do institutions find ways to implement preservation practices that are feasible and sustainable?

This session will focus on how institutions forgo the "best" in favor of "good" and "better" approaches to preservation, highlighting how to make preservation a component of any collections care program, even one with little to no resources. Presenters will briefly present common, feasible recommendations often given to cultural heritage institutions in the areas of collections care, environment, policies, security, emergency preparedness, and more. The session chair will draw on her own experiences providing guidance to varied institutions through her work at the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts as part of the Preservation Services Offices, and her co-presenter, the Curator & Programs Director at the Wharton Esherick Museum, will discuss real examples of implementation at a small museum. The remainder of the session will serve as a platform for discussion and questions about how attendees have addressed preservation concerns with limited resources.Collections/Exhibit Development

Making Room for Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in Small, Specific, and Focused Spaces

Danielle Gabriel

There is mounting pressure from the communities we serve and within the museum field to address matters of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and, to move toward championing endeavors of social justice. As museum professionals, we often talk about the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but find it difficult to find the space, time, or resources to bring about sustainable change. What is really holding our museums back? The attitudes, beliefs, and values that maintain myopic museum practices, also known as legitimizing myths, are getting in the way of a long lasting commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. This session will offer attendees the opportunity to explore the legitimizing myths within their own museums and consider ways to rethink their practices in order to overcome them. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development  

Where Leaders Come From: Career Planning & Resume Review

Allison Titman, John Orr

In a small museum, everyone has to lead in some way, whether it's as the director of an institution or the person in charge of volunteers, programs, collections, etc. The presenters will offer their brief take on how to purposefully craft a rewarding museum career and seek out leadership opportunities and professional development to forward your career goals, then a group of experienced small museum professionals will be available to review attendees' resumes and cover letters. Emerging Professional

Mutant Ninja Emerging Museum Professionals Assemble!

Melissa Miller, Emily England

Are Emerging Museum Professionals (EMPs) the new canary in the coal mine? With the rise of the gig economy, EMPs are increasingly finding temporary employment opportunities that generally do not provide in-depth safety training and other precautions afforded to full-time employees. Given that practice makes perfect, EMPs' health and safety are particularly at risk when dealing with hazards or unknowns in museum collections. This presentation will examine when and where EMPs in collections-oriented positions are learning how to deal with hazardous materials, and whether or not they are receiving enough training to protect and advocate for themselves in this evolving job market and at institutions with limited resources. Emerging Professional, Collections/Exhibit Development

Built from the Ground Up: Mission-Guided Change

Greg Jackson

This session is a case study of Glencairn Museum's mission shift brought about through thoughtful planning by its leadership team. In 2016, Glencairn Museum embarked on a cyclical update of our 5-year strategic plan. Starting from the bottom up, the museum leadership began by reviewing our mission statement, which led to a re-examination of our organizational focus. What could have been a cursory or perfunctory task turned into a months-long reconsideration of the museum's mission. The leadership team considered what it had learned over the past few years and explored how to incorporate these lessons into the mission without abandoning its founding values or blind-siding its board of trustees. Because while leaders should not be afraid to challenge the status quo, neither should they act with reckless abandon. The session will conclude with a discussion on the importance of having (or not!) a mission statement and whether (or not!) it needs to be strictly followed. Management/Administration


Break, 10:30 - 11:00am


11:00 - 12:00pm

The Marketing-Development Connections

Sheldon Wolf

Successful museum fundraising doesn't happen in a vacuum. The best efforts are based on close collaboration between many museum departments and functions. This session will focus on marketing and development, how they work hand-in-hand. What do we mean by "marketing" anyway? It certainly begins way before your public relations and advertising efforts. This session is based on the opening chapters of a new book by Sheldon Wolf, published April 2018, A Practical Guide for Small Museum Fundraising: The Marketing-Development ConnectionManagement/Administration

Artists and Organizers as Museum Leaders: Practicing Creative Leadership with the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's Culture Lab Playbook

Andrea Neighbors

This active session will dive into the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center's (APAC) Culture Lab Playbook, an activity book that leads institutions, organizations and individuals through the community-centered process APAC follows when creating Culture Labs, its signature program co-curated with communities across the country. As a small unit at the Smithsonian Institution, we are a Center without a brick-and-mortar space and collection - a challenge and opportunity in the landscape of the Smithsonian Institution. Since May 2016 we have created the Culture Lab model, co-curating spaces with artists, scholars, poets and performers, that resonate around themes deemed urgent by local communities, such as intersectionality, agency and convergence. We call ourselves a "museum without walls" and strive to build relationships with communities across the country and in Hawaii, creating collaborative, participatory and responsible spaces to uplift and amplify voices of Asian Pacific American voices where they're at. During this session, attendees will learn more about the Culture Lab and be asked to participate in activities found in the Playbook. By the end of the session, attendees will have new critical thinking tools, and ideas for creative strategies, to take back to their institutions and communities. Management/Administration, Emerging Professional Track

Inclusivity on the Accessibility Tools Serving the Deaf Community

Kathleen Brockway

Inclusivity is important to welcome all kinds of visitors who would visit your museums or centers. The presenter will share updates of new accessibility tools to serve the smallest minority group, the Deaf Community.  Programming/Education Track

Self-Care Break/Quiet Room

Take a break from the conference by utilizing one of the conference rooms as a space for relief from stress and over-stimulation.  Please no cell phone use or computer use with volume.   If you must speak, please head out to the hallway.

Why We're Here: Fighting for Collections Priorities

Alana Blumenthal

 This session will address the common small museum experience of facing obstacles to prioritizing the core mission, such as collections care and exhibit renewal. Boards, grantors, community stakeholders, and even a Curator's own triage of museum needs can create pressure to put collections priorities by the wayside in favor of development, programmatic, and daily administrative duties. This session will attempt to answer the questions: How do you plan a multi-year exhibition schedule when funding is uncertain each fiscal year? Should you wait yet another year before conducting that full inventory? When staffing is limited, how do you decide between paying a curator or collections manager, versus an administrator or fundraiser? What can emerging professionals do to prepare for these competing demands?

This session may benefit paid staff members who feel that they juggle many competing priorities. It will also include conversations about what board members and volunteers can do to help keep collections priorities at the forefront, and support staff in meeting them. Attendees will be asked to brainstorm, and contribute any examples from their own experience. Collections/Exhibit Development, Emerging Professional Track

Lunch, 12:00 - 1:30pm

30-Minute Discussions


1:30 - 2pm

Connecting People with Collections

Corinne Brandt, Leigh Zepernick

Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library faces a challenge that many institutions struggle with: providing proper care and storage for collections, while also understanding how those collections facilitate programming and interpretation. Winterthur’s collections are the key to their object-based programing, which includes teaching, workshops and a variety of public programs, and so we have embarked on a 10-year plan “Connecting People with Collections,” to create a long-term, economically, socially, and environmentally sustainable solution to the issue of accessible storage. The goal is to improve the preservation of the Museum’s collection and make it easily accessible to a wide audience, as well as create a model for this type of evaluation that can be adapted to other institutions. The presenters will share their process for assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the collection, including identifying deaccession candidates, in order to strengthen the holdings to best serve the Museum’s mission. We will share the steps and methodologies that we have developed to conduct a collections and storage assessment, and will invite ideas and feedback from participants in order to make these strategies applicable to their own organization. Collections/Exhibit Development

Being LGBTQ* In Museums

Meg Hutchins

This session meets the conference theme as we will be discussing diversity in museum leadership. What it means to be LGBTQ* and on staff at a museum and how the field supports the community. Emerging Professional Track


Sustaining Places, Re-Designed and Updated

Nora Ellen Carleson, Brooke Baerman, Katheryn Lawson, Matthew Monk

Since its inception in 2011, the website Sustaining Places ( has provided small museum professionals with the knowledge necessary to house and exhibit their objects, manage day-to-day operations, and better serve their public(s). Throughout its seven years of operation, Sustaining Places has reached over 14,000 groups and individuals across the entirety of the United States. In this 30-minute roundtable session, graduate students from the Museum Studies Program at the University of Delaware will present the newly updated version of this website and invite feedback about its value and use to the small museum community. Graduate students Brooke Baerman, Nora Ellen Carleson, Katheryn Lawson, and Matthew Monk will present a short overview of the website and its recent changes as of December 2018, and then guide a discussion of how to best serve small museums. This roundtable will also include a choice of paper or digital survey (via QR code) that participants can take back to their institutions to help shape the future of Sustaining Places. Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development, Management/Administration


Benefits on a Budget

Rod Cofield

A big struggle for small museums is providing adequate benefits for our staff. This session will delve into London Town's employee benefits that have been implemented these past few years and how they can scale up or down in different organizations. The session will cover health care, retirement plans, flexible spending accounts, dependent care accounts, supplemental insurance, and leave policies. Some of these even save you money! Management/Administration


AAM Accreditation as a Leadership Tool: Learn Why a Small Museum Achieved AAM Accreditation (and a Bit of the How) and Was It Worth It

Allison Titman

For small museums, the AAM Accreditation process can seem daunting. Is it worthwhile for a small museum to have their staff go through the process to become a leader in the museum field as an accredited museum? Does being accredited make the museum a better advocate for other museums or the field in general? Learn a bit about the process that a small museum went through to achieve Accreditation from AAM, and whether they think it was worth it - spoiler alert - we do! However, it might not be a leadership role that is a good fit for every museum. Let's debate the pros and cons, and answer some questions you might have on the Accreditation process. Management/Administration


60-Minute Sessions

2:15 - 3:15pm

You Have the Power: Collections Solutions for Small Museums

Karen Whitehair, Robin Matty

Collection conundrums can sometimes seem overwhelming for anyone at any stage of their career. Yet, we often forget that our colleagues are sometimes the best resources out there. We just need to reach out to them. We will begin with a discussion of the fundamentals for each collection stewardship areas under discussion--collection documentation, object storage and rehousing, and environmental stability. The two presenters will then share stories about the challenges they have both faced during their careers and the solutions they found to solve the problem, including the importance of partnerships especially with volunteers.

During the second half of our session the presenters will open up the forum to the audience so they can ask questions of the presenters or share their solutions to similar challenges. Our goal for the session is to encourage open dialog and create an environment that empowers each participant to find solutions to these challenges. We will conclude our talk by reminding our fellow collections stewards that there are multiple ways to solve a problem and they have within themselves the ability to find solutions. They do not have to settle with "no" or lack of funding for an answer. Nor should they assume that only state-of-the-art equipment/high technology is the option. Sometimes low tech/inexpensive can work just fine. The solutions are out there - we just have to think out of the box. Handouts listing internet resources will be made available to the attendees. Collections/Exhibit Development


Taking the Lead in Visitor Studies: Using Timing & Tracking to Understand Your Visitors

Auni Gelles, Jessica Celmer

How can small museums gain insights into visitors' behavior at their site without hiring consultants or relying upon professional evaluators? The Baltimore Museum of Industry turned to the work of Beverly Serrell and other thought leaders in the field of visitor studies to shape a thorough examination of visitor behavior in one gallery. The BMI's Education Coordinator Jessica Celmer and Community Programs Manager Auni Gelles will discuss how to get started with timing and tracking visitors. This method of observation is a perfect fit for small museums as it carries no hard costs, can be executed on a flexible schedule, and can be carried out by staff and volunteers with varying levels of experience and expertise. Analyzing data about visitor behavior rather than relying on anecdotes or assumptions can help museum leaders make more informed, inclusive, and equitable decisions. This session will include a review of best practices in timing and tracking, including standards developed by leaders in the visitor studies field, as well as an opportunity to practice analyzing sample data. Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development


Interpreting Complex Truths, Myths, and Misconceptions at Your Historic Site

Kim Staub

Every historic site has misconceptions and complicated histories related to it. The Betsy Ross House is no stranger to these kinds of misunderstandings, as most visitors come to the Betsy Ross House with strong opinions on the complicated legend and "real woman" that is Betsy Ross. Using the Betsy Ross House as a case study, this talk will go over strategies for unpacking these complex histories and visitor misconceptions and how to turn them into opportunities for visitor learning. The session will include discussions of strategies that have and have not worked in bringing Betsy's story to life and ways you can apply these lessons at your own site.   Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development


Time to Think Big: Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

Reagan Moore, Mark Feitl, Jill Conners-Joyner

Have you heard the big news for small museums? Get inspired during this session from IMLS as staff share information about a new funding opportunity for small museums, Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, which is designed to encourage small museums to apply for and implement projects that address priorities identified in their strategic plans. Project activities can include planning, professional development, collections care and digitization, exhibition design and fabrication, community programming and much more. Though there will be an emphasis on Inspire!, IMLS staff will also share details about other IMLS funding opportunities. Management/Administration


Insanity is Doing the Same Thing Over and Over Again and Expecting Different Results

Brooke Salvanto

We have all heard this Einstein quote: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. But is it possible to try something new and grow expansive branches while still being true to your roots? At Tuckerton Seaport & Baymen's Museum, located at the center of the Jersey Shore, the answer is yes. Much to the amazement of even the staff, the Seaport has become relevant in a way that would have been unimaginable ten years ago. 92% of the Seaport annual visitation can be attributed to its risky business, new programs and events it took a chance on. Join Brooke Salvanto, Museum Director, as she chronicles the outstanding opportunities that rose from unimaginable chaos at this Jersey Shore museum. Discover how the Baymen's Museum has strategically transformed into a community museum, serving over 58,000 guests each year with only one full-time and four part-time staff members. The Seaport brings traditions of the Barnegat Bay to life through a plethora of nontraditional programming including TRUCKerton Food Truck & Craft Beer Festivals, a makers-focused on-site restaurant, a STEAMpunk Tea Room, Little Free Library, and Community Garden, as well as a recently launched water ferry service.   Programming/Education

Break and State Meetings, 3:15 - 3:45pm

 *During this time, we will also hold State Meetings in assigned rooms*

30-Minute Discussions


3:45 - 4:15pm

Invisible Hands: Achieving Excellence Through an Economical and Diverse Student Workforce

Taras W. Matla, Abby R. Eron
In response to funding cuts and full-time staffing shortages at small museums, administrators and curators often resort to empowering students to take on challenging leadership roles within their organizations. From graphic design to marketing and communications to collections management and curatorial services, student's invisible hands have become the backbone of the small museum's operational structure and well-being. This roundtable explores the impactful role student labor plays at small museums. Whether they work as graduate students, on a voluntary basis or through subsidized programs such as federal work-study, students gain practical skills that translate to vast expertise in the field, resume enhancing opportunities, and personal growth. Student work is likewise beneficial to the small museum, enabling it to better manage its resources on a shoestring budget. Management/Administration  

Making the Change: Eliminating Single-Use Plastics at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum

Jill Ferris, Allison Speight

In 2018, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum unveiled an initiative to eliminate single-use plastics on its 18-acre waterfront campus. Led by CBMM's Sustainability Committee, the group is also developing resources to assist other museums in taking a similar step forward. In this session, join CBMM Sustainability Committee chairs Jill Ferris and Allison Speight as they review the steps taken to move CBMM towards a single-use plastic free campus, as well as the challenges they have faced along the way. Management/Administration, Emerging Professional Track

Community Building through Diversifying Exhibits

Brittany Merriam

Northampton County Historical and Genealogical Society (NCHGS) has existed in Easton, Pennsylvania for over 110 years. Recently, NCHGS curator Brittany Merriam has launched an ambitious initiative to diversify the permanent exhibits in the NCHGS museum to include stories of immigration (and migration) from the Lebanese, Filipino, Hispanic, and African American communities respectively. Partly, this is an effort to build community relationships that have been essentially non-existent for the past fifty years. Museum staff are working alongside community and cultural liaisons to change and reshape the museum's displays to more accurately reflect the stories and material culture of Northampton County people. Thanks in part to the help of a very timely Mellon grant through the Lafayette College, Brittany Merriam and NCHGS have become leaders in the Lehigh Valley for how to work WITH and FOR your community - and your museum can be those leaders, too.   Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Engaging Rhode Island's Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Community in Small Museums

Ryan Saglio

For the past 30 years, museums have made great strides towards creating a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities. This talk, in particular, will take a close look at the relationships between museums and people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (ID/DD).  Currently, the United States is rethinking the way it cares for and provides services for people with ID/DD diagnoses. There is a tremendous push for community integration, life-learning opportunities, and employment.


In the past, many small museums have struggled to find the resources to best serve people with disabilities, but as we move forward and rethink community integration for people with ID/DD, small museums have the potential to create tremendous impact and change. During this talk, we will look at some of the challenges small museums in Rhode Island are facing as the state starts to transition individuals with ID/DD diagnosis towards community-focused care and some of the creative solutions that are emerging. Programming/Education

Emerging Museum Professionals Roundtable
Facilitated by Kelsey Brow, Queens EMP Chair 

Come meet other EMPs and talk about what makes working in a small museum as an emerging professional both special and uniquely challenging! Bring business cards, your questions about resumes, grad school, or career-building to this informal mixer and leave with new friends, a stronger professional network, and at the very least, some inspiration and catharsis.

Emerging Professional Track


Annual Banquet 

5:30 - 9:00pm

The Dapper DJ's will return to provide music for the banquet.  Additional activities include an Amelia Earhart costume contest and raffle and silent auction announcements.  The banquet will be ASL interpreted.




Registration, 7:15am-10:45am

Light Breakfast, 7:15 - 8:15am

Plenary Address, 8:15 - 9:15am

The Plenary address will be ASL interpreted.     

60-Minute Sessions

9:30 - 10:30am

Passing the Baton: A Practical Discussion on Leadership Transition at Your Small Museum

Ann Bennett, Robert Bennett

What are the steps that you and your organization need to take to prepare for a change of leadership at your small museum? What happens when Directors or Board Presidents suddenly leave? Who is in charge during the interim period, and what is the quickest way for the new leader to get onboard? This session will focus on the transition to an external candidate, but will cover a range of scenarios. Participants are encouraged to share their experiences and learn from others. Co-presenter Robert Bennett shares his perspectives as a former Executive Director and Board Member of a historic house museum. Management/Administration, Programming/Education


It's Not My Story to Tell

Rebecca Dupas, Adriana Usmayo

"It's Not My Story to Tell" shares the conception, successes, and challenges of the Bringing The Lessons Home Program (BTLH) at The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Since 1996, BTLH has served nearly 800 museum "ambassadors" of mostly non-Jewish faith. The program encourages young people to examine the implications of the Holocaust for their own lives and to carry those lessons to their communities and the larger world. As the program nears its 25th Anniversary and inducts another class of students into the program, program staff grapple with new ideas and continue to employ strategies proven to sustain relationships and provide meaningful opportunities for local youth. Participants will gain strategies for engaging youth in historical and cultural museum content, examine the tenets of successful and sustained community partnerships, and discuss inclusive ways to serve and empower youth within museums and museum communities. Programming/Education


Crowdfunding Secrets of Success

Lauren Silberman

Crowdfunding campaigns have transformed traditional appeals into dynamic movements integrating social media with fundraising in novel ways. Crowdfunding can provide museums with a way to reach a broader audience and allow their supporters to feel like they have a concrete impact, creating a stronger sense of community. In 2018, Historic London Town and Gardens launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise $15,000 to rebuild its colonial tavern's lost bar. The campaign surpassed its goal within a week, eventually bringing in more than $18,000 from 95 donors including some who had never given to the museum before. However, achieving that goal wasn't magic but the result of a lot of hard work. Learn the steps London Town used to succeed and how their methods can be replicated by your museum. The session will focus on selecting an appropriate project, building a team of supporters, determining the schedule, choosing which social and traditional media to use, and how to launch (and follow up!) for success. Communications/Marketing, Management/Administration

Field Trips and Outreach Programs 101

Julie Bryan

The presenter will discuss strategies that all museums can use to create successful field trip and outreach programs. Tips to make good programs into great programs will also be discussed. Examples of applications of these tips in a variety of different types of museums will be given. Discussion will be encouraged. Programming/Education

Heritage Areas: Allies of Agents of Change

Lindsey Baker, Betsy Kellner, Aaron Marcavitch, Liz Shatto, Lisa Robbins, Rob Forloney

Heritage Areas are unique allies for small museum leadership. Each Heritage Area has a unique structure, but for all, their success is deeply tied to the success of the small museums in their area. This session will clarify the work of Heritage Areas, expanding participants understanding of a resource that many do not completely understand. In a field where many leaders feel overburdened, isolated, and without support, Heritage Areas are hoping to help. Participants will leave understanding that lifting up the efforts of small museums and helping to build capacity with partners is a mainstay of Heritage Area work. The panel will focus on real life examples of how small museums have utilized Heritage Areas for technical assistance, building partnerships, advocacy, financial assistance, and outreach. Each Heritage Area is quite different and we have a variety of presenters who cover a wide range of experiences including several perspectives from the small museum point of view. Moderator: Lindsey Baker, Patapsco Heritage Greenway Presenters: Betsy Kellner, Venango Museum of Art, Science and Industry; Aaron Marcavitch, Maryland Milestones/ATHA; Liz Shatto, Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area; Lisa Robbins, Four Rivers Heritage Area; Rob Forloney, Independent Consultant Programming/Education


60-Minute Sessions


10:45 - 11:45am


Changing the Narrative: Consensus Building to Embrace Challenging Topics at a Historic Site

Jill Barry, Elizabeth G. Allan

Executive Director Jill Barry and Curator Elizabeth Allan of Morven Museum & Garden undertook a two year process to prepare the board, staff, volunteers, and audiences for the new permanent collection installation opened in September 2018 that is more inclusive of the slave-holding history, women, children, servants and employees that called Morven home for 260 years.

By looking at the historic site as a unique lens to view American history, the lives encapsulated in the walls show national and international issues and movements on a very human and humane level. The new galleries include previously unheard voices, as well as present the head-of-household personage in a more robust and truthful manner, that at times can be quite complex. Taking the traditional patriarchal narrative, and showing the conflicted people who were reacting to the day's events presents a very different conceptual approach than galleries that merely repeat historical canon.

Through this project, we had to increase the comfort level for risk to our board and staff, encourage and excite our docents, and, for the first time, reach into the African American local community. New community partnerships have been formed, and programming has taken a much more important role in our ongoing community engagement efforts. Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development


Email Marketing Makeover

Ceci Dadisman

Are you maximizing your email campaigns to drive open rates, engagement, and conversions? Learn best practices that can lead to more engagement and ensures clickthroughs and conversions. Explore email automation functionality that will revolutionize the way you think about and deploy your email campaigns.  In this session, we will cover: Design best practices, List segmentation, Automation, Behavior-based sending. Communications/Marketing

Improving Hiring Practices in Small Museums: A Conversation

Katherine C Grier, Andrew Coulomb

This round-table session will open with short presentations on two efforts to promote change in museum hiring practices. The first will report on an effort by the Emerging Professionals Committee of the Virginia Association of Museums to define what constitutes "entry-level" jobs and promote supportive work environments for emerging professionals. The second project, from the Museum Studies Program at the University of Delaware, is working to promote transparency in hiring practices through its MuseWeekly e-list and to create a document on best hiring practices for small museum boards that will become part the Sustaining Places website, with a link in MuseWeekly.

The second part of this session is discussion about your experience with current practices, both good and not-so. How can we use these experiences to help promote positive change? What good practices are out there? We want to know what your institution is doing to make things better. What can we, as working professionals and organizations that support the museum field, do to educate and guide boards and executive directors toward positions that offer living wages and basic benefits? Management/Administration

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen: Building a Shared Education Program through Leadership and Partnership

Jenna Tshudy, Michael Madeja

This session will explore how open and active collaboration can take different backgrounds and different organizational goals and shape a successful education program. Addressing how conversations between organizations can spur collaboration beyond a single program, presenters will discuss experiences (positive and negative) and obstacles in meshing the workflow and approach of two different organizations. Further, the presenters come from different professional backgrounds and, through this collaboration, learned to leverage those varied experiences to create a cohesive program. The end result being a successful program that engaged 400 students in a three-month span.

Through a case study of the American Philosophical Society and Historic Philadelphia's full-day field trip program and roundtable discussions, attendees will leave the session with a set of thought models for creating educational programs by analyzing staff, institutional, and local strengths and weaknesses. Those discussions will stem from a comparison of the presenters, their institutions, and a larger conversation on what resources Philadelphia's Historic District provided and continues to provide. This expanded framework will then be applied to the attendees, their organizations, and their locales. The session is a great fit for those who are seeking lessons from collaboration, creating new education programs, in need of learning how to effectively communicate with teachers and schools, and those who would like to know more about working with emerging museum professionals. Programming/Education


What's the Hurry? Building a Case for Rapid Response

Callie Hawkins, Jenny Phillips

On November 9, 2016, President Lincoln's Cottage, a small historic site and museum located in northwest Washington, D.C., extended our operating hours so that the community could use this house as Lincoln did - a place for peaceful reflection. Just one day after the 2016 Presidential election results stunned the nation's capital, Cottage staff determined that leaving our lights on for anyone who needed to reflect was a necessary first step to foster unity in our divided nation. While this decision may seem reactionary or even a bit risky, opening the site for an Evening of Reflection the day after the election was not viewed as a political statement by our community, but as a natural outlet for expression. But, this event would not have been possible if not for the trust we built in our community through exhibits, programs, and online engagement over 10 years in operation. Because rapidly responding to community needs has become a habit of our practice, and advocated for at all levels of the organization, when the 2016 campaign got heated, we were ready.

As small historic sites we are often the cultural anchors of our communities, and the public is increasingly looking to us to help them make sense of what's happening in our world. President Lincoln's Cottage staff members Callie Hawkins (Director of Programming) and Jenny Phillips (External Communications Coordinator) will discuss how staff cultivated trust from our community, assess the benefits of rapid response programming, help participants devise a plan for constructing their own rapid response teams, and build confidence in leveraging social media to spread the word. Programming/Education

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software