Affiliates provided alot of insight at the recent AAM meeting in Philadelphia.
Cassie Chinn, Deputy Executive Director of the Wing Luke Asian Museum in Seattle, presented in a session titled Community-Curated Exhibit Programs. She described how the process of incorporating the community into every exhibition process is time-consuming and complicated, but that the Museum has made that conscious and ultimately rewarding decision to focus its entire operation toward community engagement and empowerment. Wing Luke has lots of information about organizing their process, which you can find here. As a testament to their leadership in this area, the Wing Luke was mentioned at other community-curation sessions as a model example of how to do it right.
Ken Bubp, Chief Operating Officer at Conner Prairie talked about the historical site’s transformation in the face of declining attendance when they decided to overhaul their approach to the visitor experience. He, and the others on the panel entitled, Achieving Impact: Intentionally or by Chance, described the difficulties and rewards of facing down staff entrenchment and ultimately challenging and empowering staff to turn an organization around.
Carrie Gustavson, Director of the Bisbee Mining and Historical Museum in Arizona spoke at a lively panel, Beyond the Gala: Quirky New Ways to Engage Donors. She talked about taking donors into mining pits to find turquoise, and not underestimating the potential support of volunteers. The point of many of the panelists’ comments was that donors will often go to lengths and do things a Museum might not expect – like traveling on dangerous research trips or not-so-glamourous digs. So be adventuous!
And of course, the two Philadelphia Affiliates proved to be wonderful hosts to the whole AAM community. The African American Museum hosted a panel about going green, and shared tips and advice from their current renovation and installation of “Audacious Freedom,” a new permanent exhibition about African Americans in the city between 1776-1876. The National Museum of American Jewish History also shared a plethora of lessons learned in the construction of their new $150 million building on Independence Mall. Among the expert advice: seize unexpected opportunities, even if it throws a project off the planned course in the process.
If you haven’t seen the video produced especially for the meeting by our museum colleagues in Philadelphia, it was wonderful. Check it out on YouTube.
And you – what did you most take away from Philadelphia this year?