Friday, February 24, 2012

From the SMA Board President: John Pentangelo

SMA Board President John Pentangelo
Now that I’m back from Ocean City I just wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on this year’s conference. First I want to thank the attendees for coming. Conference costs are as reasonable as possible so that volunteers and staff from smaller institutions can afford to attend. It speaks volumes that so many of you make this investment and take time out of your busy schedules to share new ideas for building on the success of your museums. I also want to commend the committee for a fantastic conference. I’ve been attending for six years and have never heard so many positive comments about the sessions.  The incredibly hard work that went into registering attendees, organizing speakers, advertising, working with the hotel, coordinating with vendors, selecting scholarship winners, and setting up the banquet and silent auction certainly did not go unnoticed.
At this year’s conference, I attended a workshop on using Facebook and other new social media tools such as HistoryPin to engage and build audiences. During the session “Turn it Up,” the director and an intern at the New Castle Historical Society discussed some of the free or inexpensive tools you can use to create an audio tour. In “Collections that Bite” the Air Mobility Command Museum’s director focused on identifying and mitigating some of the health and safety hazards in museum collections. Perhaps the most rewarding session was a roundtable with emerging professionals also attended by trustees, mid-career professionals and directors with decades of experience. The free discussion about experience, job searching, and what to expect when you begin your career was extremely valuable. On behalf of the SMA board I thank all of the speakers for their preparation, enthusiasm, and hard work in contributing to the success of this conference.  Special thanks to Sarah Brophy and Cinnamon Caitlin-Legutko.
What I will take away most this year was this: there is a common perception that small museums should learn from larger museums. However, as plenary speaker Cinnamon Caitlin-Legutko reminded us, small museums can also be models for the rest of the field.  By our nature we are deeply embedded in our communities. We deliver programs, produce exhibits, and achieve high standards of collections stewardship with very limited resources.  By sharing our successes and failures we help each other succeed and that is a worthy model to promote.  Thanks again and I hope to see you next year in Ocean City!

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