Small Museum Association

    Small Museums Working Together

39th Annual Conference


Announcing our Keynote Speaker: Lindsey Baker

"Prioritizing Joy and Showing Grace: A Small Museum Call to Action"

Being a small museum person is a mindset. We pride ourselves on being determined, nimble, and thrifty. But for too long, we’ve also been overworked, under-compensated, and treated poorly as a regular part of our day-to-day work. 

Many small museum professionals started in the field because we believed in the power of history and the important role small museums can play in creating better communities.  Because of our belief in the importance of the mission, we have rarely stopped to consider what we ourselves need to continue doing the work in a sustainable way.  Post-2020, we’re all looking at our work lives with new eyes. Museum professionals are no different. We are nimble, thrifty, and determined. Why not use those superpowers for our own well-being?

This keynote session will challenge small museum folks–paid staff, volunteers, board members, and funders to lead the way in finding a new path where caring for those who do the work is a top priority.


Lindsey Baker started interning in small museums as a freshman in college. In the 20 years since she first fell in love with hanging out in the collections, her dedication to small museums has only grown. She spent almost a decade as the Executive Director of a small historical society with an annual operating budget of around $100,000. Currently, Baker is the Executive Director of Maryland Humanities. In her role at Maryland Humanities, her efforts are focused on lifting the field of humanities for the state of Maryland and making Maryland Humanities an employer of choice.

Baker’s commitment to the museum field and to non-profit leadership has led her to a variety of service positions. She has served on both the conference committee and the board of the Small Museum Association. She became deeply involved in the national museum field and was appointed Chair of the Small Museum Administrator’s Committee of the American Alliance of Museums, where she also served on the National Program Committee. She has also served on the Leadership Nominating Committee and Small Museums Committee for the American Association of State and Local History. Her past board service includes the Friends of Patuxent, Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, the Maryland Museum Association, Hike It Baby, and more. Her current areas of service activities include serving as a Gubernatorial Appointee for the Maryland Semiquincentennial Commission and the Racial Equity Committee of the Federation of State and Local History.

Baker received her Master’s Degree from the University of Delaware in History with a Concentration in Museum Studies. She is a proud alumna of Goucher College, having graduated cum laude with History Honors, too many museum internships, and 4 years of playing Women's Soccer. She currently resides in Laurel, Maryland with her husband (Danny Cruz), two kids (Adriana and Axel), extended family members Rubidia, Erick y Cris, Great-Dane mix (Stella), barn cat (Raven), and a variety of unnamed chickens and fish. In her free time, she founded Baker Cruz Services with her husband, which provides translation and interpretation services.

Conference Sessions

Current Confirmed Sessions- Check Back for Updates!

Decolonisation as Care: Reimagining our Futures - Francis Mahon

Over the past ten years cultural heritage institutions have increasingly contextualised their collections and exhibitions within decolonial terminology, i.e. “reparations,” “repatriation,” “land/labour acknowledgements,” etc. But what is decolonisation? This session and workshop will provide audience members with two packets of resources useful in discussing, defining, and thinking more deeply about what decolonisation is, and how we can use its theories to collectively reimagine our futures.

A Free Online Toolkit for Streamlined Collections Management Policies - Dyani Feige

This session will introduce the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA)’s freely available Collections Management Policy Toolkit (CMPT), developed with funding through an Institute for Museum & Library Services National Leadership grant. The online toolkit will help museums and other collecting institutions create customized Collections Management Policies through a simple website. By sharing information about this free, practical tool, we hope that staff at small museums will feel empowered to pursue this work that may otherwise feel challenging and overwhelming. 

Curating for Community Impact: Finding Greater Purpose in our Work - Jonathan Goldman

Curating with a purpose and with an impact-driven mindset not only benefits our communities, but the museum staff working on the project, as well. When, from the on-set, we put positive community impact at the forefront, we find new solutions, new stories, and a new-found worth in our careers and lives. This session look at how we can find more joy and purpose at work by serving community through curation and programming by tracing the creation of the B&O Railroad Museum’s newest exhibition “The Underground Railroad: Freedom Seekers on the B&O Railroad” - from creating a meaningful mission statement, to conducting research, to engaging authentically with the community.

Why We Turned to People & Puppets During the Pandemic - Drew Baker

As a small gallery within a larger educational institution, we decided to appeal directly to our immediate community upon re-opening in the fall of 2021. We learned/confirmed that people want to express themselves, people love puppets, and people will always create and connect. We should continue to ask two curatorial questions: Why this content now? & Why should patrons (and staff) care?

Mental Health in Museums - Meg Hutchins

We all love working in museums but sometimes the environment can be less than ideal. In this session a fellow museum professional who has gone through it will help facilitate open discussions, provide resources, and try and demystify the connection between mental health and museum work. Let’s come together to have honest discussions and support each other in the work that we are all so passionate about. Disclaimer: this session is not run by a mental health expert but rather a museum professional that has gone on their own mental health journey and has a desire to form community, bring awareness, and help others in the field.

Producing a Museum Podcast In-House: A Complete How-To Workshop - Hannah Hethmon

In this workshop, museum podcast expert Hannah Hethmon will walk participants through every step of making an affordable in-house podcast to complement your museum's programming. Throughout, attendees will be able to work on their own podcast production plan and get feedback on their ideas. This workshop will also be perfect for anyone thinking of creating their own audio tour or any other audio project.

Collections Care Resource Swap - Robin Bauer Kilgo

The creation of various new and expanded resources for collections care has truly exploded over the past few years. In this session participants will learn of the various programs that are offered, at little or no cost, by the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation to assist small institutions in the care of their collections. Then participants will be asked to split into small groups to trade what they think are their top resources based on the sub-disciplines of collections care and finally, at the end of the session, the group will come back together and trade what they consider their top resources to assist their institution in collections care.

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