Small Museum Association

    Small Museums Working Together

2020 Conference Schedule 

36th Annual SMA Conference: Honoring the 100th Anniversary of Women's Suffrage: Museums as Catalysts of Social Change

Sunday, February 16 - Tuesday, February 18, 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 pm - 5 pm

90-Minute Workshops, 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

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

What is Digital Curation and Why Should I Care 

Rachel Rabinowitz 

This session will cover what it means to manage and collect born-digital and digitized objects in your collection as well as what is created in everyday work a the museum. We will define the meaning of digital curation, review aspects of managing and preserving digital objects, and discuss what you can do at your museum today. Participants are asked to please bring a laptop to this session. Collections/Exhibit Development

Beyond Just a Welcome: Facilitating Informal Learning Environments

J. Michelle Martz

Museums can engage visitors on a wide range of social issues by creating welcoming physical and emotional spaces where visitors can learn, connect, and share. The histories museums share are not just records of the past but also stories of human experiences. When visitors hear these stories, they make meaning by connecting the past to the present. As facilitators, museums can use the past as a foundation to engage visitors on contemporary issues and inspire future activism. Management/Administration, Programming/Education

90-Minute Workshops, 3:00 pm - 4:30 pm 

Accessibility Lab

Nicole Belolan

Is your small museum serving people with disabilities? Maybe you want to, but you don’t know where to start! This hands-on workshop will introduce simple steps you can take today to make your programming and space more accessible to people with disabilities and their friends and families. This workshop will give participants quick, easy, and virtually free tips and tricks to make everything from social media posts to tours more accessible. Since accessibility is also about providing disability-related content when appropriate, this workshop will also provide participants with a primer on how to interpret the history of disability at their site. In addition, participants will get a quick overview of the history of museums serving people with disabilities within the broader context of the history of disability rights in the US so they know how they fit into the longer history of advocating for and serving people with disabilities. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Articulate Your Mission: Writing a Case for Donor Support

Molly Fannon Williams

Every small museum has a unique and important mission that creates a positive impact on society. To attract attention, involvement and funding, a cogent and compelling "case for support" is essential. This workshop will provide an understanding of the basic elements of a written case for support and engage participants in identifying the unique and most important aspects of their own work that they wish to communicate to potential donors. Management/Administration 

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

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. If you are staying at The Hotel at UMD, you can ask for a shuttle ride to the College Park Aviation Museum!

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

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.  

Battle Decks!, 9:00 pm – 10:30 pm

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. 



Registration, 7:15 am-4:15 pm 

Breakfast, 7:30 am - 9:00 am

Keynote Address, 8:15 am - 9:15 am 

Randi Korn, Founding Director of RK&A

Intentional Practice for Museums: A Guide for Maximizing Impact

Intentional practice is an impact-driven approach to museum work that is designed to help staff work collaboratively and in unison towards one pursuit: achieving specified outcomes that support the museum’s intended impact on the audiences it serves. Randi Korn will dissect the Cycle of Intentional Practice, share principles required for intentional museum work, and facilitate a simple yet powerful exercise that attendees will be able to replicate back at their home museums.

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

Women’s Suffrage: 400 Years in the Making from Slavery to the Present

Trenda Byrd

This session will address what impact the Women’s Suffrage Movement had on the lives and rights of African American women and how that impact differed from that on their white counterparts. We will look at several aspects of how the Women’s Suffrage Movement for African American women began in 1619 with enslavement by highlighting examples of enslaved interpretations presented at Historic Brattonsville Plantation in McConnells, South Carolina and through traditional programming conducted at African American history museums. Attendees of the session will walk away with an understanding of practical ways museums and historic sites can present programming on slavery and interconnect it with the Women’s Suffrage Movement in such a fashion that it generates conversations on the status of African American women since the movement. Programming/Education

What Teachers Want: Developing Effective Education Programs at Museums & Historic Sites

Jenna Tshudy

This session will explore how small museums and historic sites can work more collaboratively and efficiently with one another and with classroom teachers, schools, and districts. There will be an emphasis on planning field trips, creating classroom teaching materials, and developing professional development programs for teachers. Focusing on the intersectionality of teachers’ needs and museums’ goals, this session will empower attendees with the tools and communication strategies needed to build meaningful, lasting relationships with K-12 educators and their students. The session is a great fit for those planning to develop new—or improve existing—school programs at their sites, hoping to better understand the vernacular and operations of K-12 schools, seeking to better align programs with national and state curricular standards, or striving to more effectively communicate with teachers. Programming/Education

Women in the Arts: Everywhere but the Pinnacle

Laura Freebairn-Smith

Does gender matter in leadership roles in the arts? According to the recent literature, the answer is yes. In early 2017, the New York Times published an article entitled “Gender Gap Persists at Largest Museums.” The piece cites a study from the Association of Art Museum Directors, which found that while 48 percent of art museums are led by women, a major gender gap persists at the US’s largest museums. Only one of the US’s 13 largest museums is run by a woman, and only 30 percent of museums with budgets of $15 million or higher have female directors, according to the study. Why might this gender disparity exist? There is no firm consensus on which factors create the glass ceiling, though there are some theories. Laura can speak to these theories and how this translates to smaller museums too.  Management/Administration,Programming/Education

Building Meaningful Relationships in Communities: Latinx Outreach and Engagement

Camilla Sandoval

This session will discuss methods and strategies for how to engage Latinx audiences by building meaningful and trusting relationships in communities. Participants will learn how to find common ground with Latinx communities and to collaborate on mutually beneficial project goals. We will discuss Latinx usership of the Maryland State Park system, which led to the creation of the "Es Mi Parque" program, as well as case studies from a Latinx community engagement program in South Baltimore. Using the Community Outreach and Engagement Toolkit, we will look at the options for the way forward. We will cover some of the most important steps you can take to strengthen your relationship with the Latinx community beyond translating materials. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Preserving What Inspires: Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions

Margaret Walker, Heather Hansen, Julie Rose, Kay Palmateer

This session will center on collections care in small museums, highlighting the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Preservation Assistance Grants for Smaller Institutions (PAG) and the impact they have had in three instances. Awards can provide up to $15,000 in outright funds to help organizations improve their ability to preserve and care for significant humanities collections. The program encourages applicants, especially first-time NEH applicants, to engage consultants with relevant preservation or conservation expertise to establish priorities and identify solutions for specific needs. It also provides for the purchasing of preservation supplies, disaster preparedness, staff training, and planning activities for the 250th anniversary of the US's independence, among other activities. Management/Administration, Collections/Exhibit Development


Break, 10:30 am - 11:00 am

60-Minute Sessions, 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

For The Record: The Stories of Historic Women in Their Own Words

Howard Menaker

This session will discuss how the Riversdale House Museum presents the story of Rosalie Stier Calvert, and what her life teaches about societal norms in the early 19th-century US. An immigrant who came to America in 1794, Rosalie Stier Calvert married George Calvert, a descendant of the Lords Baltimore, but Rosalie was no traditional housewife. The session will discuss methods of research and interpretation and share best practices using historic documents to make the lives of historical figures come alive and be relevant to today’s museum visitors. Attendees will learn to use original letters and other contemporaneous documents to illustrate the societal norms of their time and to prompt discussion with visitors. Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Evaluation for Everyone: Techniques for Gathering Data so You Can Continue to Learn, Improve, and Live Your Mission

Kirsten Buchner

It is more important than ever to have information about your audiences—who they are, why they visit, what they do at your site, and what they take away from their experiences there, among other things. This information can help you challenge assumptions, bolster funding requests, make strategic decisions, and support more inclusive practices. However, gathering and analyzing this kind of information can seem like a daunting process, especially if you or your staff/volunteers have limited time, resources, and/or expertise in evaluation or audience research. This presentation will provide small museum practitioners with a variety of techniques to collect data on audience demographics, as well as to obtain feedback about visitor reactions to programs, exhibitions, and other initiatives. The focus will be on interactive techniques that can be implemented quickly and inexpensively; we will also look at the use of approaches that are appropriate to the context to ensure that cultural identities and differences are being acknowledged and respected. Management/Administration, Programming/Education

Like, Subscribe, Follow: Next-Level Strategy for Social Media Mastery

Ceci Dadisman

Are you looking to take your social media strategy to the next level? This session will equip you with strategies and methodology for how to best utilize social media to engage current and future patrons. You'll learn how to achieve the highest return and how to track the results. This session will focus on a tactical approach for organizations of all budget sizes, and attendees will walk away with actionable knowledge about identifying target audiences, post structure best practices, creating compelling messaging, successful advertising strategies. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development, Communications/Marketing and Emerging Professional

Small Is A Strength: Creating High-Tech Museum Experiences in a Small, Rural, Museum through Strategic Community Partnerships

Raven Bishop, Sara Clarke-Vivier

Virtual reality (VR) and digitization projects may seem out of reach for small, rural, or community-curated museums, but when we view small as a strength, these endeavors become much more achievable. This session will provide an in-depth discussion of a large-scale interdisciplinary digitization and VR project undertaken between a small community museum, a college, and a public middle school on a next-to-nothing budget. This session will provide a counterpoint to prevailing assumptions about the types of resources required for such projects, and outlines a set of best-practice suggestions for collaborations of this nature. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Telling the Invisible Stories at Historic Sites and Museums

Samuel A. Stephens

This round-table discussion will focus on three main topics with initial presentations on the experience at the William Trent House Museum by two trustee-volunteers and the researcher/docent. Over the past several years, the museum has been expanding its interpretation of African American history, starting with William Trent’s participation in the slave trade and enslavement of at least 11 people on his plantation in New Jersey and continuing through the present day. The three topics for discussion are discerning the motivations and goals for the presentation of the lives of those whose stories are often unknown or untold at historic sites and museums, developing approaches for presenting and discussing with visitors the challenging issues revealed in those stories, and engaging relevant communities – whether defined by race, gender, language, immigration status, sexual orientation, or other characteristics – as partners. By presenting our work to date, we hope to stimulate the sharing of similar experiences by others and encourage the brainstorming of ideas to address the challenges historic sites and museums face in uncovering and interpreting the lives of those whose stories are often unexplored and ignored and in connecting injustices of the past with current issues. Management/Administration, Programming/Education


Lunch, 12:00 pm - 1:15 pm

60-Minute Sessions, 1:15 pm – 2:15 pm

Expanding Your Career: No-Cost Professional Development Opportunities

Tiffani Emig, Danyelle Rickard

This session will explore two sources of free (or better than free!) professional development opportunities for mid-career professionals: Peer Reviewer for AAM/MAP and Connecting to Collections. Danyelle Rickard, an Accreditation Program Officer with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), will show how attendees can engage with the field while helping other museums by serving as a peer reviewer for AAM accreditation or the Museum Assessment Program (MAP). Peer reviewers are museum professionals who volunteer their time to review museum self-assessment materials, conduct site visits, and facilitate the institutional planning process. Tiffani Emig, Programs Director & Administrative Manager at the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation, will introduce Connecting to Collections Care (C2C Care). Through free webinars, searchable resource links, and a moderated discussion forum, Connecting to Collections Care provides professional development in the field of collections care. Because small and mid-sized museums are the primary audience for C2C Care, advice is targeted towards those with limited staff and budgets. Emerging Professional

Lesbian Histories and Queering the Historic House

Victoria Munro

The Alice Austen House fosters creative expression, explores personal identity, and educates and inspires the public through the interpretation of the photographs, life and historic home of pioneering American woman photographer, Alice Austen (1866-1952). In June of 2017, the Alice Austen House marked its national designation as a site of LGBTQ history. The museum’s listing on the National Register of Historic Places was amended to include LGBTQ history as an area of significance. Integrating Alice Austen and Gertrude Tate’s loving relationship story into the museum’s core interpretation bridges a gap between the institutional narrative of Austen’s story and the truths that the LGBTQ community has long known about her life. While in some ways, we are catching up, the Austen House is at the forefront of LGBTQ interpretation at historic sites. There are still few places that venture to address the LGBTQ stories of historical figures. LGBTQ history remains underrepresented in American history. This session will explore the process of transformation of this historic home and artist studio to reinterpret and truthfully represent the life and work of Alice Austen to include LGBTQ+ histories in its permanent gallery spaces and public and educational programs. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Interpreting Women at Historic House Museums

Mary van Balgooy

Although women are a crucial part of our heritage, historic sites portray them as pleasant homemakers or radical feminists. Is this an accurate representation? No. Historians use many tools in interpreting history, and the tools used by present-day historians give the impression that men make history. However, by using a different set of tools to interpret women, a new narrative arises in which women are just as active as men, participating in all facets of society and redefining history as we know it. In this presentation, Mary van Balgooy will discuss the right tools to research, uncover, and interpret women and their significance in history so museums can interpret and give new narratives at their sites. Programming/Education

Walking in Our Visitors' Footsteps: The Visitor Experience from A to Z

Sarah Coster, Lacey Villiva

From the moment they find out about us ( DID they find out about us?) to the moment they drive away, the visitor experience matters now more than ever. Free time is at a premium for our visitors, so let’s make their experience one they won’t soon forget. The visitor experience is more than just tours and collections and it starts well before visitors open our doors. So let’s walk (or drive, or take the subway) a mile in our visitors' shoes and see our museums from their eyes! This session will be interactive and conversational. We will present our experiences but also ask the audience to share theirs. Some questions we will cover include: How do people find out about your museum? How can you work with hotels and visitor centers? What information is on your website? Then once they decide to visit, how is their experience in finding you? How is the signage in your community and at your site? How is the parking? How can you improve the first impression visitors get when they walk onto your property? Who sells memberships and where? Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Communications/Marketing 

Who Runs the World? Girls: The She the People Politics Camp is Creating Future Leaders Through Politics and History

Artura Jackson

Come learn how a summer camp is empowering young women and introducing them to politics while immersing them in local, regional, and national history. Artura Jackson is the Historian of the Black History Program of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County. Artura developed and created the curriculum for the camp. During the two-week session, the young women at the camp visit 10-15 museums, meet with local and national politicians, develop their public speaking skills, and learn to debate. The camp uses the rich history surrounding the nations capital to teach about how women have engaged in politics throughout history. The She the People Politics Camp is a non-partisan summer camp offered by the M-NCPPC Department of Parks and Recreation, Prince George’s County. The camp is for teen girls, ages 13-17. Management/Administration, Programming/Education


Break, State Meetings, and SMA Interest Session, 2:15 pm – 2:45 pm

60-Minute Sessions, 2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

Change the Stereotype, Change the Narrative: Best Practices for Storytelling at Historic House Museums

Hannah M. Gaston

Historic house museums have a stereotype of being old houses with a dusty collection of objects that talk about people who are no longer relevant to visitors today. This session will explore how historic house museums can use storytelling to break away from those outdated ideas and learn to tell stories that are relevant, compelling, and socially aware. This presentation is the culmination of a year of research for my Master’s thesis project. Through an extensive literature review and a survey of 171 historic house museums in the United States, I learned that while literature discussing best practices for storytelling exists, many small museums do not know where or how to begin implementing these best practices. This presentation provides practical, actionable steps for implementing storytelling best practices at both historic house museums and other small museums. I will begin with a brief overview of my thesis project and the need for research in this field today. I will then discuss four best practices for storytelling in historic house museums that focus on instigating change. To help museums implement these practices, I will outline five actionable steps for each best each best practice. Programming/Education, Communications/Marketing, Emerging Professional

The Management and Deaccession Toolbox: Making the Right Decision for Your Collection

Ellen Endslow

AAM's Management and Deaccession Task Force has created a toolbox to help our peers navigate the sometimes-treacherous waters of collections care and deaccessioning. This session is designed to share the progress of these tools and demonstrate how they can be used effectively by museums of any size and discipline. A rubric that illustrates the relationship between collections management, institutional management and governance will be discussed and reviewed. A resource list accompanies this chart. This session is suitable for any level of experience because there will be ample time for audience questions and input. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Time to Think Big: Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

Reagan Moore

Have you heard the big news for small museums? Get inspired during this session as IMLS 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

Slavery Is Not A 4-Letter Word

Shemika Berry

Slavery was an atrocity that plagued this nation for over 400 years and continues to have generational consequences. Educating people on the history of slavery motivates our present and inspires a better future. Discussing slavery in open forums using various tools, including museum theatre, storytelling, hands-on demonstrations and multi-media presentations, is an innovative option for museums of all sizes. Come learn about creative ideas that help facilitate the discussion of this difficult and controversial topic. Programming/Education

Heritage Areas: A Resource for Social Change

Lindsey Baker, Betsy Sweeny, Emily Huebner

The role of museums in pushing for social change is now well understood within the museum field. However, many small museum professionals work alone or are the only ones at their sites with a deep understanding of the museum’s role in social activism. Many work directly with a board, county agency, or community that sees this work as tangential to the “real” job of museums. When this happens, professionals at small museums can become isolated in their work. They are ready to do the work that should be done, but often lack the resources or institutional support. For some small museums, their local National Heritage Area can be an untapped resource. National Heritage Areas understand the importance of placing current events in context and exploring our difficult shared history. They are prepared to engage in topics surrounding social justice and equality as well as difficult topics in our shared story. Through their role working with an area filled with multiple sites, heritage areas can support small museums in this endeavor in several ways. This session will engage a panel of 3 different National Heritage Area staff to discuss the ways in which they have worked with and supported small museums seeking to work for social change. Management/Administration, Programming/Education


Annual Banquet, 5:30 pm - 9:00 pm

The Dapper DJs will return to provide music for the banquet.  Additional activities include a raffle and silent auction announcements. 




Registration, 7:15 am-10:45 am

Light Breakfast, 7:15 am - 8:15 am

Plenary Address, 8:15 am - 9:15 am

Rachael McCullough

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

Making History Our-Story: An On-going Case Study from an Open-air Museum

Joseph Villari

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation owns and operates a ~2,350 acre preserve that sits just 35 miles outside of our nation’s capital. In 2002, this land holding was selected to receive permanent protection of its significant natural and cultural holdings by becoming a state-designated Natural Area Preserve. This site, located in the Bull Run Mountains, was historically home to many marginalized peoples of diverse backgrounds. This is known through many significant prehistoric sites, homestead ruins and primitive graveyards found throughout these holdings – with many sites dating back to the 1700s. We know through preliminary archival and oral history research that men and women from black, white and American Indian populations called this mountain home. We hope to tell the story of this diversely peopled past through informal educational experiences. Despite much improvement and forward momentum, the site still doesn’t have adequate publicly accessible outreach facilities or infrastructure – though we hope to change that. Here we present this case of punctuated equilibrium and share our struggles in presenting a diversely peopled past to a (hopefully) increasingly diverse user base.  Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Building the Future: Developing an Internship Program at your Small Museum

Jill Ferris, Meg Hutchins, Dr. Katherine Grier, Susannah Philbrick, Norma Jean Fowler, Leigh Rifenburg

Interested in having interns at your organization but not sure where to start or how to supervise them? Have you had interns but hope to build a bigger (and better-organized) internship program? As an academic program that places students in both large and small cultural institutions, the University of Delaware Museum Studies Program staff have learned a lot about what makes internships successful. This workshop will help small museum staff and board members define a manageable internship program. Participants will learn the difference between internships and volunteer work and how to build an experience that benefits both the site and the students. The Museum Studies staff will also provide templates for position descriptions, contracts or work agreements, and post-internship evaluations. Other presenters in this workshop will share their firsthand experiences (good and not-so-good) as interns, internship supervisors and internship program coordinators. Students will discuss the experience of being interns in small organizations. Internship supervisors will share their stories of the successful supervision of high school, undergraduate and graduate students and address the challenges and commitment involved in developing good internship experiences at their small museums. Management/Administration, Programming/Education

Appealing to a Wider Audience

Caitlin Playle

Museums dedicated to a single subject often face issues appealing to a wider audience outside of a specific gender and/or age groups. How do you appeal to all genders and ages? Solutions include featuring collection objects that appeal to minority genders and/or ages, highlighting important figures who are often overlooked, and featuring activities that all genders and ages can enjoy. Join attendees from various museums to share solutions on how to appeal to everyone who visits your museum! As an example, antique boating is traditionally viewed as a male-dominated hobby, with the average age of boaters being 50+. The Antique Boat Museum incorporated the following activities for appealing to a wider audience: the 1903 houseboat, La Duchesse – frequently enjoyed by female visitors or visitors who are more interested in historic houses; the Quest for Speed! exhibition, which incorporates female racers; on-water activities that are accessible to people of all abilities; and classes for women to build an interest in boating and boatbuilding. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Targeting Diversity and Inclusivity through Creative Programs Based on Traditional Exhibits: Steps Taken and Lessons Learned

Julianne Snider, Jane Cook, Claire Cleveland

The Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery is the museum of an earth, material sciences, engineering, and energy-focused college within a large university located in the Appalachian Mountains. The museum serves not only the college community but the surrounding region’s communities, which are predominately rural or low socioeconomic status. The museum draws heavily on its diverse collections—geological specimens, fine art, mining equipment, technology—to create thematic exhibits that reflect the history of the college as well as promote new pathways of engagement in science, technology, engineering, and art. Working within a limited budget and with two full-time staff, concerted effort to bring diverse audiences into the museum have resulted in a series of programs designed for inner-city middle school students, ESL elementary school students, middle- and high-school girls interested in science, LGBTQ college student groups, and more. This session will highlight the development of exhibits exploring women in science and the intersection of art and science; exhibit-related programs targeting the college community and groups of middle- and high-school students from the region; and the creation and sustainability of a museum-affiliated volunteer-driven organization that provides engagement and outreach opportunities designed to bring new and diverse audiences into the museum. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Multi-Sensory Mapping: Design for an Inclusive Visitor Experience

Carolina Uechi

How do we collaborate effectively on deep accessibility for exhibit experiences? The session will describe how multi-sensory mapping is being used for the design of the Smithsonian Latino Center’s Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History. This analytical sensory mapping tool was developed to help the team visualize access issues together. Acknowledging that all visitor experiences are unique and based on each person’s individual needs, the tool highlights a range of movement and sensory issues that impact diverse visitors’ abilities to feel welcome and ready to engage. Sensory maps also serve as a pre-visit planning tool to offer visitors the ability to predict what they may find in a space, while also helping the designers identify priorities for promoting a better visitor experience. The presentation will demonstrate how the tools were developed, and how the process can be applied to small museums. Participants will benefit from understanding how to analyze sensory data as a design tool. Collections/Exhibit Development


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

Stepping into Mental Wellness: New Social Awareness for Museums

Susan M. Ward

Museums are well suited to nurture their community’s mental wellness. Building emotional resiliency and mental wellness includes providing opportunities for creative expression, a sense of achievement, contact with nature, social connections, rejuvenation, and feelings of awe and wonder. Approximately 26% of US Americans have a diagnosed mental health issue each year (Johns Hopkins Medicine), and nearly 50% of US Americans have a mental health issue in their life (USA Mental Health First Aid). Nearly everyone, even those without diagnosable mental health issues, struggles with varying degrees of stress, anxiety, loneliness, and grief. On a small scale, museums with an outdoor space might build awareness about that space on their website as a place where visitors can come and find peace and relaxation to reduce stress. Museums might develop tours that helps visitors look at artwork through the eyes of local psychotherapist. Museums might collaborate with yoga instructors to teach self-calming strategies in a gallery filled with beautiful art or historic artifacts. This presentation will provide attendees with practical information. It will begin with a brief overview of mental wellness, a description of the kinds of activities museums might easily integrate into their current format and will conclude with a short question and answer session. Programming/Education

Making Anniversaries Meaningful in Museums

Auni Gelles, Theresa Donnelly

This 60-minute roundtable session will explore how small museums can leverage anniversary commemorations and traditions to serve their communities and address social concerns. From measuring the “collective emotional barometer” of a community to providing an opportunity to grapple with difficult issues, anniversaries can serve as a tool for small museums to work with their neighbors and stakeholders. This session is designed for those who plan public programs and work on community engagement at their museums. Powerful anniversary commemorations need not require large staffs, hefty budgets, or fancy technology. Rather, constructive, creative, and collaborative programming is possible through partnerships and a focus on relevance. Staff and volunteers from museums of all sizes can craft anniversary programs that draw on local traditions, raise critical questions, and address social concerns. Not only does sensitive anniversary programming serve a community need, but it also can also engage new audiences and boost your museum’s public profile. Participants will break into small groups to discuss how they might apply insights from case studies to their own sites. This session aims to bring together peers who will ask critical questions of each other’s work and share experiences, critiques, and suggestions to strengthen future programs at their institutions. Programming/Education

Learning S'more About Museum Day Camps

Abbie Wilson

During this session, attendees will learn best practices for marketing, planning, and hosting on-site day camps at their small museum. Attendees will also discover why day camps may be a great fit for the various groups within their community and what topics may be of interest for campers at different age levels. These practices are based on the nationally recognized standards of the American Camp Association. Programming/Education

Community: A Pillar Not a Project, The First Steps Toward Institutional Community Engagement Reform

Amber Emory

Ever wonder where to start with community engagement reform at your institution? This session will introduce attendants to the steps developed in my graduate thesis, “Community: A Pillar not a Platform”, and the process I used to enact them at the National Museum of Industrial History less than 6 months from accepting my position on staff. This work aims to break the inertia of project-based community engagement and create momentum in the long-term commitment to institutional community engagement reform. I will share the things that have changed from research to implementation and offer topics I am still wrestling with for group dialogue and problem sharing. An example of this work in action is the museum’s commitment to honoring the 100-year anniversary of Women’s Suffrage throughout the month of March 2020, with an opening celebration on International Women’s Day during the weekend of March 7th- 8th. This opening event will provide a promotional platform for businesswomen, leaders, entrepreneurs, and inventors from the local area and unearth the stories of the women of STEM throughout the museum collection. These unearthed stories from our collection will remain on display to the public throughout the month of March, with the intention of utilizing this public presentation to support a funding initiative for a permanent display. Management/Administration, Programming/Education, Collections/Exhibit Development

Museum Roadmaps: Strategic Plans that Work

Julie Bryan

Strategic Plans provide a roadmap that allow staff and boards to focus on the things that are important and make it easier to eliminate distractions that can set your museum off-course. The presenter will explain why museums need a strategic plan, how to get input from stakeholders for the strategic plan, how to write a strategic plan, and how to utilize the strategic plan. The presenter will include examples of programs that were implemented through a strategic plan that help ensure people of all socioeconomic backgrounds are able to benefit from the museum. Management/Administration

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