Small Museum Association

    Small Museums Working Together

2018 Conference Preliminary Schedule 

34th Annual SMA Conference: You Are Here: Mapping the Future

Sunday, February 18 - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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

ASL interpreted sessions will be noted below. 


90 Minute Workshops

1:00 - 2:30pm

Inclusivity: Engaging New and Diverse Audiences, ASL interpreted session
Holly Burnham, Amanda Elliott, Samantha Ferris, Edna Graham, Stacey Hawkins, Mary Jurkiewicz, Kristin Montaperto, Susan Proctor, Ann Wass

Get your creative mind buzzing with ideas as the Historical Resources Team, Maryland’s Prince George’s County Department of Parks and Recreation, lead hands-on activities inspiring you to expand your museum’s reach and relevance. Successful programs, from hands-on S.T.E.A.M., to festivals, to the immigrant experience will be shared. Programming/Education Track

Core Documents Workshop, ASL interpreted session

Allison Titman, Danyelle Rickard

We will provide attendees with training, tools, and resources to help their museums develop or improve their core documents. We will review the basics of all five core documents—mission, code of ethics, collections management policy, disaster preparedness/emergency response plan, and strategic institutional plan—and then let attendees vote for one document into which to dive more deeply. Attendees will leave with a workbook and other resources they can take back to their museum to continue working on their documents. Management Track

3:00 - 4:30pm 

More Than Just Looking: Creative Visitor Engagement with Collections, ASL interpreted session

Katherine C. Grier, Nicole Belolan

This workshop will focus on prototyping some (inexpensive) new ways to get visitors engaged with your collections. We'll focus on visitor-generated cataloging; alternative labels created by audience members; and other experimental strategies for waking up your Sleeping-Beauty collections. Programming/Education Track


Who Makes a Program? Changing the Hierarchy in Museum Education Programs, ASL interpreted session
Alan Beyersdorf, Michael Madeja, Alex Richmond, and Alexandra Rospond

This workshop will be broken into two parts. The first part will be a workshop based on how groups can shift leadership dynamics and how those groups can then come up with creative solutions to program planning. The second part will provide a case-study, via the American Philosophical Society Museum’s Second Saturday programs, on the successes (and failures) of sharing program development with floor staff. Programming/Education Track

Wine and Cheese Reception, Maryland Milestones Heritage Center, 5:30 - 7:30pm

Join us for a special wine and cheese reception at Maryland Milestones Heritage Center to kick off the conference. 

Eat & Engage Dinner (transportation & cost are attendees' responsibility), 7:30pm

Make new friends or reunite with old ones during the Eat & Engage dinner, held at Franklins Restaurant and Brewery. If you are attending the wine and cheese reception, Franklins is right around the corner. Attendees are responsible for their own dinner bill and transportation (carpooling is encouraged).

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.


Breakfast, 7:15 - 9:15am

Keynote Address, 8:15 - 9:15am

Dr. Taylor Stoermer, Author and Professor at Johns Hopkins University (Museum Studies), "The History Doctor"

"The Mouse that Roared: How Small Museums Triumph in 2018"

The keynote address will be ASL interpreted. 

60 Minute Sessions, 9:30 - 10:30am

Museums of the Future Ask Better Questions, Andrea Jones
ASL interpreted session

Thought-provoking questions lie at the heart of all human curiosity. Now that knowable answers can be found at the touch of a button, museums who remain relevant will need to hone the craft of asking better, more compelling questions. This session will focus on ways to frame content (exhibits, programs, digital) using essential questions -- not themes or theses -- which will help visitors to learn more about themselves and leave them wanting to know more. Management Track, Emerging Professional Track

Collection Policies other than the Collection Management Policy, Elizabeth L. Maurer, Elizabeth Lay, Laurie Baty, and Cara Seitchek
ASL interpreted session

A panel discussion about policies your small museum should have in place beyond the 5 required for AAM accreditation. Panelists will discuss housekeeping policies, interpretive plans, collection plans, and Significance 2.0. Management Track

You Are...Where? Resume Review & Career Planning, Allison Titman and John Orr

Need help mapping your future in the museum field? Join us for advice on resumes, cover letters, and career planning. Bring your resume for review by a panel of mid-career and experienced museum professionals. Emerging Professional Track

All Aboard! 10 Simple but Effective Steps for Building Board Relationships That Will Move Your Museum Forward, Amy Walton
ASL interpreted session

How important is your board for the success of your museum? In a word, EXTREMELY! This session will focus on 10 simple but very effective steps for creating fruitful relationships with your board members, relationships that will move your museum forward! Management Track

Escape Boring Tours!  Mike Connolly and Alli Schell

Learn how the Chadds Ford Historical Society designed an innovative escape room program to teach people about the Battle of Brandywine and Revolutionary War spy techniques while experiencing their historic Chads House in an exciting new way. We'll discuss mission alignment, planning and design, marketing, staffing and pricing to help you create your own escape room program! Programming/Education Track

Coffee Break in the Foyer, 10:30 - 11:00am

90 Minute Workshops, 11:00am - 12:30pm

Shaping Your Brand: e-Portfolios as a Means of Communication
Robert Forloney, Erika Goergen, Mary Alexander, Kevin MacDonald, Tracy Jentzsch, and Kelli Coles

Creating and maintaining an e-portfolio (which can include everything from videos, podcasts, portfolios of photographs, articles or blog posts, reports, exhibit scripts and other materials) allows you to capture, organize and share your best work from internships, courses, volunteer work or employment in an easy-to-access setting. Learn how a number of academic programs are using e-portfolios both as a way of assessing student progress as well as training them how to utilize tools that are increasing important in our field. Following the session, individuals wishing to create an e-portfolio will be able to consult with faculty and students from several museum studies programs at a table in the Exhibit Hall. Emerging Professional Track

Grant Mapping at Small Museums, ASL interpreted session
Maddie Mott and Kirsten Straus

This interactive workshop will show you how to make a better map of the grant-awarding terrain. Collect, identify, and analyze trends in grant awards and use that information to create exhibition plans, develop new public programs, craft strategic plans, reevaluate mission statements, and more. Participants will grant map for a sample museum, learn how this data was used at the Clackamas County Historical Society, and discuss how this process can be used at your institution. Please bring your own laptops. Management Track

Champagne Exhibits on a Beer Budget: Professional Exhibits are Not Out of Small Museums’ Reach, ASL interpreted session
Carol Greene, Shawn Gladden and Shawn Herne 

This hands-on workshop walks participants through the steps of planning, designing and installing quality exhibits with limited resources. Participants will be introduced to a step-by-step process that includes developing a budget, making use of existing resources, acquiring and preparing graphics, adding technology and maximizing volunteers’ skills. Programming/Education Track, Management Track

Preservation Planning for Cultural Institutions, ASL interpreted session
Samantha Forsko

Preservation planning for cultural institutions can be a complex and overwhelming endeavor. In this workshop, participants will learn about the components of a preservation plan, discuss the building of a planning team, methods of assessing need, be introduced to various prioritization tools, and develop strategies for implementation of the plan. The presenter will provide participants with the information, tools, and guidance to help them understand the importance of and to develop a useful and effective preservation plan and provide a hands on opportunity to practice prioritization of needs and map out a preservation plan for the sample institution. Management Track

Place-Based Cultural Storytelling: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly! 
Heather Shelton & Selwyn Ramp

A hands-on training that dives into the nuts and bolts of cultural storytelling using creative peacemaking theory and combining it with 21st century technology and place-based education in- and especially around your museum. This workshop will not just provide practical tips and tricks, but also incorporate some of the lessons learned from #BeHereMainSt – A digital cultural storytelling project which MuseWeb Foundation piloted in partnership with the Smithsonian Museum on Main Street team. Programming/Education Track

Lunch, 12:30 - 1:30pm

30 Minute Discussions, 1:30 - 2pm

#membersaredonors they just don't know it yet, Amanda Rawson and Elizabeth Wilson

Listen to San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles development team discuss their experience working through the museum's donor and membership data base. Learn how a small staff museum can use painless tools to create a structured yet flexible strategy that engages grant management, donors and membership. Hard tools will be provided to guide you through the structure SJMQT has used. Management Track

Homeschooling History: The Benefits and Challenges of Single Session Museum Education, Amy Guess
ASL interpreted session

Using the personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors, this panel will explore the challenges and potential benefits of single session museum visits particularly for homeschool driven programs. Curriculum development, future learning and age driven engagement will be topics of discussion. Programming/Education Track

Preserving Deaf Art and Culture in Museums, Amelia Dall and Tabitha Jacques
ASL interpreted session

The problem of the preservation of Deaf Artworks has been an issue within the Deaf community for years, decades even, because of the lack of funding and support. There is no nationally recognized museum that, is not an affiliate with any university or deaf school, houses Deaf Artists’ works permanently. Management Track, Programming/Education Track

Keynote Follow-Up Discussion, Dr. Taylor Stoermer
ASL interpreted session This session will be a continuation of Keynote Dr. Taylor Stoermer's presentation, "The Mouse that Roared: How Small Museums Triumph in 2018."
What did you think?: Improving evaluations and visitor feedback, Kathleen Lugarich and Sarah Rauscher

The session will focus on restructuring visitor evaluations for better feedback. We will discuss paper versus electronic methods, feedback from adults and students, and using the results to increase the efficacy of the programs. Evaluations will be from a variety of programs including guided tours, general admission, and overnight education programs. Management Track, Programming/Education Track

60 Minute Discussions, 2:15-3:15pm

Where’s the Line? Negotiating the Space between Making Money and Mission-Based Programs, Lauren Maloy

When creating public programs for non-profits, there is a constant struggle to increase audience and make money while simultaneously adhering to mission. So where is the line? Using the programs at Historic Congressional Cemetery as a case study, this presentation will discuss one non-profit’s journey to make a mark in programming, recounting successes and failures along the way. While this session will suggest best practices, we also want to know where you think the line is – if there is one at all for small non-profits and museums competing for the public’s attention. Programming/Education Track

Off the Grid: Challenges in Museum Leadership, Mark Thompson, Rod Cofield and Lindsey Baker
ASL interpreted session

Sometimes being a Museum Director means facing challenges that do not have a set course of action. Museum leadership is often tasked with making decisions that balance a variety of factors to determine the way forward. Take a peek into the work life of Executive Directors by learning from our mistakes (and successes). Attendees will engage with the Executive Directors of three very different types of museums about the challenges and successes they've found along the way. We'll also play a game of "what would you do?" when faced with some of our most interesting experiences at the head of our organizations. Management Track

Game ON: Museum Education through Movement & Play, Jose Marcos Salaverria

“Corn-hole Cannonball!” a teaching tool game based on the British Bombardment of Lewes, DE in 1813. Four focus elements exist to effectively teach through play. In a hands-on workshop, identify these elements within your own individual historic site/museum to create your own unique learning through play approach. Programming/Education Track

Strategic Goal Based Budgeting, Cynthia R. Bergvall
ASL interpreted session

When we take the time to assess our current level of resources in conjunction with our strategic goals, we are more likely to reach our goals. Our resources are not only financial, but time and people. In this practical session we will look at how we can coordinate our strategy with our financials. Management Track

“We’ll Figure It Out”: Creating a Visitor Experience from Scratch, Kyle Cantarera and Dorothy Leventry
ASL interpreted session

We’ll travel the path that a four-year-old Visitor Experience Department is navigating to bring remarkable experiences to a rapidly growing visitor population. Topics discussed will include brand repositioning, strategic planning, change management, business operations development, public programming, interpretive planning, evaluation, staff expansion and training, and interdepartmental collaboration. We’ll share the lessons we’ve learned along the way, our ongoing challenges, how we’re measuring our success, and what’s next for us as we continue to figure it out. Management Track, Programming/Education Track

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

 *During this time, we will also hold State Meetings in assigned room*
Maryland State Meeting will be ASL interpreted

30 Minute Discussions, 3:45 - 4:15pm

Internships: The Next Step in Becoming a Professional, Aimee Tillyer
ASL interpreted session

Professional experience is required in all types of job descriptions. Internships are how most up-and-coming professionals gain real-life experiences in their future careers. Small museums need to develop more practical internships for all departments of museum professions. Management Track, Emerging Professional Track

LGBTQ* in Museums Coffee Talk, Meg Hutchins

Bring your questions and points of discussion to join colleagues in a conversation about being LGBTQ* and telling LGBTQ* stories. This is a facilitated session that provides space and time for museum professionals to talk about this topic, bounce ideas around the rooms, and gain valuable feedback. Management Track, Emerging Professional Track

Historical Society 2.0, Mary Alexander
ASL interpreted session

What is a Historical Society in the 21st century? What can/should it be? Management Track

STEM Education and Career Pathways, William P. Roulett and Amy Landsman

By framing the work of the fire service as a STEM career and leveraging its exhibits, the Fire Museum of Maryland has established several STEM programs. The practical examples of STEM solutions applied to solve the problems of the fire service create an immersive and inspiring experience for students. These programs have attracted grantors and partners interested in connecting students with STEM-related education and career options. Programming/Education Track

Unconventional Funding Sources For Large Museum Projects, Ronald Marvin, Jr.
ASL interpreted session

Most museums have large scale projects they need to complete but do not have the funds set aside for them in the annual budget. Learn how the Wyandot County Historical Society recently completed several major exhibit, storage, and renovation projects at the sites they manage without breaking the bank through an unusual variety of public and private partnerships which provided the resources and manpower to accomplish the projects. Management Track

Annual Banquet 

5:30 - 9:00pm

This year music will be provided by The Dapper DJ's. Additional activities include awards, raffle, and silent auction announcements. The banquet will be ASL interpreted.      


Breakfast, 7:15 - 9:15am

Plenary Address, 8:15 - 9:15am

Dr. Dennis Montagna, National Park Service's Monument Research & Preservation Program
"Some Assembly Required: Preserving the Documents that tell Narberth Borough's Stories."
The plenary address will be ASL interpreted.

60 Minute Sessions: 9:30 - 10:30am

Raise Your Exposure, Raise Your Revenue, Jovan Rogers and Lindsey Baker
ASL interpreted session

Learn about shifting the focus from your expenses/revenue to being exposure driven. How can a few programs that are not “cost effective” beget an increase in venue participation in other areas? Hear the struggles and success of programming with the sole purpose of experiencing the benefits later with Jovan Rogers and Lindsey Baker. Management Track

The Delaware Abandoned Cultural Property Initiative, Tess Frydman, Sara McNamara, Kate Lenart and Sharon F. Hess
ASL interpreted session

Until 2018, Delaware was one of only four states that did not have a law regarding Abandoned Cultural Property. In this session, the University of Delaware students behind the new law will discuss their work in researching and preparing a policy brief to present before the State Legislature and their work in advocating for a museum-friendly bill. Management Track

Absent Narratives, Local Perspectives – A Case Study from Museum on Main Street and its Collaborators, Carol Harsh, Robbie Davis, Selwyn Ramp, Theresa Worden and Nina Johnson-Wright
ASL interpreted session

How can hosting a Smithsonian exhibition lead to change? Using Sumner Hall's experience with hosting a Museum on Main Street Exhibition as a case study, Presenters will introduce a variety of tools and resources for community museums to collect and present absent narratives. These cultural stories, combined with other local perspectives, function as a catalyst for building partnerships and fostering mutual understanding that can transform communities. Programming/Education Track

Lessons from the Workplace: Women in the Museum, Anne Ackerson and Joan Baldwin

Women have worked and volunteered in museums for more than 125 years, yet persistent biases keep gendered stereotypes in place. Most museum women face low salaries, constricted access to top jobs, and many forms of harassment. This session sheds light on the extent of gender inequity in American museums and encourages participants to identify changes small museums and heritage organizations can make to level the playing field in their workplaces and boardrooms. Management Track, Emerging Professional Track

Ch-ch-changes: Evaluations as a Catalyst for Reinterpretation, Stephanie Boyle

The traditional decorative arts tour is attracting less visitors to historic house museums; shifting the model to include a more diverse story and tour options can increase attendance, revenue, and visitor engagement. Using Dumbarton House as a case study, participants will learn how formative and summative surveys were used, including onsite interviews, staff observations, and on-line surveys as a catalyst to change the way the museum was interpreted to the public. Participants will explore evaluation techniques and practical methods to create inexpensive ways to pilot guided and self-guided tours. Management Track

60 Minute Sessions, 10:45 - 11:45am

Small But Mighty: IMLS Grant Opportunities without the Burden of Cost Share, Mark Feitl
ASL interpreted session

Did you know that the IMLS Museums for America program and the Museums Empowered special initiative have a $25,000 funding level that doesn’t allow a cost share? Numerous small and mid-sized museums have already had success with this funding option. Hear from IMLS Program Staff about the benefits of these types of grants, which can include activities such as planning, professional development, collections digitization, exhibition design and fabrication, and community programming. Management Track

The Door's Always Open: Helping Museums to Better Serve Local Communities, Stefanie Basalik, Brittany Wedd and Anna Cueto
ASL interpreted session

Small museums rely heavily on community support for visitation and crucial funding. But is your museum doing all it can to support and grow those community partnerships? Get ideas, tips, and tricks from two museums who have undertaken big changes to better serve the local community - without sacrificing their missions. Programming/Education Track

Goals before Tools: Charting Your Social Media Course, Hillary Mohaupt and Rebecca Ortenberg

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 we will discuss CHF’s 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 chart a social media course for future online success. Management Track, Programming/Education Track, Emerging Professional Track

Developing and Growing Hands-on Volunteer Programs, John P. McCarthy, RPA
ASL interpreted session

Among John McCarthy’s dues at Delaware State Parks was resuscitating the Time Traveler volunteer program, now in its third year of operation. John will share from the failures and successes of his experience with the Time Travelers program and encourage attendees to contribute their ideas toward beginning to define best practices for developing and maintaining hand-on volunteer programs. Among the topics discussed will be: the nature of modern volunteerism, program goals and objectives, branding, buy-in and partnering, media and communication, training, recognition and rewards, and ethics and program responsiveness/evaluation. Management Track, Emerging Professional Track

Charting the Course: From Strategic Plan to Action PlanElizabeth Vibber, MS

Articulating and visualizing an organization's strategy is some of the most important work a board will do. Often boards of directors take the step of creating a strategic plan that then collects dust on the shelf. A key element of a successful organizational strategy or strategic plan is the action that follows. Management Track

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