Friday, July 30, 2010

"Cautiously" Good News for Save America's Treasures

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has been advocating for full funding for several preservation programs, such as Save America's Treasures, Preserve America, and National Heritage Areas. They've started to see some positive results - but there is a long journey to go. This article on their blog explains more. As so many small museums are also historic houses and properties, this is of great importance for all of us out there. You can help advocate now by clicking here!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Familiar Situation...

The State Newspaper in South Carolina profiles the Karpeles Manuscript Library, which may not have high visitorship but does preserve an important history. This will probably feel like a familiar story to many small museum folks, so I'll be curious to hear your responses to this piece.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Should America have a Cultural Ministry?

This article looks at the radical idea of creating some sort of cultural ministry - a la the EPA - in America. Additionally, it raises interesting questions about copyright law. What do you think?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Behind the Scenes: People Profiles

Karen L. Daly

Position on SMA Board:

Position elsewhere and where:
Executive Director, Dumbarton House, DC

When did you first become involved with SMA?
About 5 years ago when I attended the conference for the first time.

Why did you want to join the board?
SMA is a critical organization for our field--supporting and responding to the needs of the small institutions. The conference is one of the best professional development opportunities I've ever experienced, offering lots of opportunity to network with colleagues and relevant sessions chock full of useful tips and resources. I wanted an opportunity to serve this organization and to support the incredible work that small museums do each and every day.

What is the best thing about SMA?
The conference!

What do you hope to see SMA do in the future?
Continue the great conference and provide more opportunities for small museum staff and volunteers to network and learn from each other.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Federal Grant Opportunity for Small and Mid-Sized Museums

IMLS, in a private-public partnership with Bank of America Charitable Foundation, has released its guidelines for the American Heritage Preservation Grants. This program is designed to fund the preservation of endangered and fragile collections of art, rare books, scientific specimens, and historical documents (photographs, maps, deeds, etc.) held in the nation’s small- and medium-sized museums, archives, and libraries.

Guidelines can be found here. The deadline is September 15, 2010.

So get writing! SMA wishes all applicants luck in applying for this grant opportunity.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Interview with Small Museum of the Month: Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum

Earlier this month, we announced our first Museum of the Month, The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum. SMA recently conducted an interview with their director, Rae Proefrock. Check out what Rae had to say!

SMA: What is your name and position at the museum?

HCFM: Raphaelle A. Proefrock, Director

SMA: What is the best thing to see or do at your museum?

HCFM: Of course, a ride on our 1916 Allan Herschell “Number 1 Special” carrousel with the magical sounds of a Wurlitzer band organ is the best thing, but watching a wood carver or the band organ roll maker demonstrate is also great.

SMA: What is the most surprising/interesting thing in your collection?

HCFM: The different carved menagerie animals always delight visitors, but the hand carved “slaughter bull”, a test of strength for a carnival mid-way, is the most surprising.

SMA: What do you hope people take away with them after visiting your museum?

HCFM: Our goal is to share the history of carousel, rides and band organ production in North Tonawanda, but we hope visitors will also leave with an appreciation for the significant impact these products made on family recreation across the United States, as well as an appreciation for historic preservation.

SMA: What are some of your favorite programs/exhibitions/services that you offer at your museum?

HCFM: In keeping with the light hearted nature of the company products, the museum presents several family oriented events with entertainment, games, treats and crafts. We celebrate the medieval origin of the carrousel with a Renaissance Festival in June. Other events include a Teddy Bear Picnic, Halloween Spooktacular, and Santa on the Carrousel.

SMA: Are there any fun stories about your museum?

HCFM: Certain members and staff believe that the ghost of Allan Herschell roams the second floor of this historic building. I, personally, have never met him.

SMA: Besides your own, what is your favorite small museum and where is it located?

HCFM: I have always enjoyed the Adirondack Museum in northern New York. Last year we visited the SlateValley Museum in Granville, NY and was greatly impressed with what it has been able to accomplish.

SMA: What do you think small museums can do to become better and/or stronger?

HCFM: I wish I knew the answer to this million dollar question. Essentially, we must continue to move forward and expand our services to the community, so that support is there when we really need it.

SMA: Is there anything else you would like to share?

HCFM: The Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum welcomes visitors from across the country and from numerous foreign countries each year. There is something of interest for everyone.

SMA: Thank you!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Rotten Bananas, Stinky Flower, and a Suddenly Popular Museum

A single item is drawing people from across Texas to the Houston Museum of Science. What is it? The rare, stinking Corpse Flower named Lois that has been toying with us all week - not quite opening but getting closer to bloom. Now they're employing rotten bananas to help Lois "open up." Check it out here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Would you want someone living at your museum?

I doubt anyone considers the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago to be a small museum. Though I wonder if this idea couldn't be adapted at smaller organizations -- assuming they want someone literally living at their museum for a month. Check out more here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Professional Development Calendar Update: July

Have you submitted your CFP for the SMA Annual Conference in Ocean City, MD from February 20 – 22, 2011? Find out more on our website at

AAM Museum Essentials Webinar

July 21, 2:00-3:30 (Eastern)

21st Century Museum and School Partnerships: What Museums Need to Know

For additional information on the Museum Essentials Webinar Series, please visit

In an effort to encourage discussion and idea-sharing about healthy and sustainable museum and school partnerships, EdCom is sponsoring viewings of the webinar, as well as discussion and networking sessions in each of the six regions across the country. These sessions are free and open to all museum educators who wish to attend one of these gatherings. Space is limited, so please RSVP to the venue host:

Western Region: Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson AZ , contact Stephanie Coakley at

Mountain-Plains Region: University of Colorado Museum of Natural History, Boulder, CO, contact James Hakala at

Midwest Region: Minnetrista Cultural Center , Muncie , IN , contact George Buss at GBuss@MINNETRISTA.NET

Southeast Region: Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga , TN , contact Hassan Najjar at

Mid-Atlantic Region: Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia , PA , contact

New England Region: Currier Museum of Art, Manchester , NH , contact Leah Fox at

If you would like to host your own convening, EdCom has created a discussion guide and worksheet template to help you craft your own meeting. You can download the discussion guide at Also, we hope you will find us on Facebook and continue the discussion.

AASLH presents Collections Camp: Textiles

Date: July 28-30, 2010
Location: Marjorie Russell Clothing and Textile Research Center, Nevada State Museum, Carson City, NV
Cost: $275 members/$340 nonmembers

$20 discount if registration received by June 28

This focused workshop will concentrate on the care and conservation of textiles in museum collections. Spend time working with expert textile conservators and curators to learn proper stewardship of your textile collection.

Learn more at

July 28, 2010 – 2:00 - 4:00PM (EST) - NAGPRA for Museums Webinar

Under NAGPRA, museums are defined as any institution or state or local government agency (including any institution of higher learning) that receives Federal funds and has possession of, or control over, Native American cultural items. In this webinar we will review the obligations of museums under NAGPRA, with an emphasis on policies and procedures, consultation, and the NAGPRA notice process. In addition, we will review NAGPRA civil penalties and discuss strategies and best practices for ensuring compliance with NAGPRA. Participants are strongly encouraged to share strategies and tips for success.

Learn more at

Visitor Studies Association Annual Meeting in Phoenix, AZ from July 28 – 31, 2010

Learn more at

Association of African American Museums in Pittsburgh, PA from August 4 – 8, 2010

Learn more at

The Great Library, Inc. would like to inform you of our new 1-day interactive Museum Education workshop that will be released the fall of 2010. Available September 1 – January 1, 2011

"Diversity in a 21st Century Museum" is an innovative and interactive workshop that will contain museum theory, but highlights and focuses on innovative educational programming and the visitor experience. This workshop is for every member of the museum staff, from docents to board members.

The following objectives will be addressed in each workshop;

A. Museum Educational Theory

B. Effective Programming for Museums

C. Research and Evaluation


$250.00 (State of Texas)

$350.00 plus travel (out of state)

For more information:

For Registration information click on the contact us tab and fill out the request form and enter in the comment box "Fall Registration" along with museum contact information name and phone number, we will contact the facility within 24-48 hours with a phone call and all other information.

Applications are being accepted for an EarthScope workshop for interpretive rangers and museum educators in the Yellowstone--Snake River Plain--Teton region. The workshop will be held September 9-12, 2010 at the Teton Science School in Jackson, Wyoming.

For information about EarthScope Interpretive Workshops, please visit:

Details about the Yellowstone--Snake River Plain--Teton Workshop and an online application form are at:

Questions and further information, please contact:

Bob Lillie

EarthScope Education and Outreach Manager Professor of Geology and Certified Interpretive Trainer Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University Corvallis, OR, 97331

Phone: (541)-737-1242; Fax:(541)-737-1200


Mountain Plains Museum Association’s Annual Conference in Rapid City, SD from September 13 – 17, 2010.

Learn more at

This conference provides the perfect opportunity for museum professionals and folks new to the field to expand their knowledge, network and share experiences with museum people from MPMA's region.

AASLH Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, OK from September 22 – 25, 2010

Learn more at

Association of Science Technology Centers Annual Conference from October 2 – 5, 2010 in Hawaii

Learn more at

Association of Midwest Museums Annual Conference from October 6 – 9, 2010 in Cleveland, OH

Learn more at

SouthEastern Museums Conference from October 12 – 17, 2010 in Baton Rouge, LA

Learn more at

Space Odyssey: Storage Strategies For Cultural Collections

Presented by the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts in partnership with the Midwest Art Conservation Center and cosponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society in St. Paul, MN

October 12 & 13, 2010

Participants in this two-day conference will hear experts in the field of design, space planning, and environmental control and modification speak about practical methods and applications to improve and maximize storage spaces for cultural collections. Sessions will include case studies that demonstrate how institutions of various sizes have implemented storage initiatives.

For more information and to register online, go to:

The Academy of Certified Archivists will award 10 Accreditation Recertification Credits to eligible Certified Archivists attending this program.

Questions? Call 215-545-0613 or email us at

Wednesday 13 October, 10.00-11.00 (EST); 15.00-16.00 (GMT)

We are delighted to announce that Dr Neil Kotler has agreed to present an International Online Seminar on the theme of Audience Creation in Museums on Wednesday 13 October.

Dr Kotler is world-renowned as a leading thinker and practitioner in the field of museum marketing, with his groundbreaking book, "Museum Marketing and Strategy: Designing Missions, Building Audiences, Generating Revenue and Resources" - now in its second edition and translated into Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Korean - regarded as the key work in the field.

To register, please visit:

Western Museums Association Conference from October 18 – 21, 2010 in Portland, OR

Learn more at

National Digital Forum 2010 Conference

Linking data, linking people

Monday 18 – Tuesday 19 October 2010

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand

Registration for NDF 2010 is now open. Please click here to register!

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us: Paardekooper and Associates, Conference organisers of NDF 2010

P: +64 4 562 8259

F: +64 4 562 8269


Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums Conference from October 24 – 27, 2010 in Philadelphia, PA

Learn more at

New England Museum Association Conference from November 3 – 5, 2010 in Springfield, MA

Learn more at

Museumwise and the Museum Association of New York are sending out a call for participation! Our Museums in Conversation Conference will be heading to the Hyatt Regency in Buffalo, New York, April 3-5, 2011 and we’ll be asking participants to tackle the question: How Do We Prove the Value of Museums? Learn more at

Do you have a professional development opportunity that you would like to announce? Email us at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

IMLS Awards $19.5 M in Museums for America Grants to 178 Institutions

July 13, 2010

IMLS Press Contacts
Jeannine Mjoseth,
Mamie Bittner,

IMLS Awards $19.5 Million in Museums for America Grants to 178 Institutions

Washington, DC-The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is pleased to announce that 178 museums across the country will receive a total of $19,550,456 in Museums for America (MFA) grants. These museums, chosen from 510 applicants, represent 39 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Grants will support high-priority activities that advance the missions and strategic goals of these museums, helping them to serve the public more effectively.

"This year's MFA grant recipients are truly an exciting and diverse group of museums, representing the remarkable ways that large and small institutions are serving communities. Funded projects support digitization and collections management plans, enhanced accessibility, environmental literacy, and much more. The work of these institutions will educate and inspire citizens of all ages," said Acting Director Marsha L. Semmel. "IMLS is pleased to support museums as they engage their communities through programming tailored to their specific needs, and this round of MFA grants furthers this work."

Awarded in three categories (engaging communities, building institutional capacity, and collections stewardship), MFA grants fund projects such as educational programs and exhibits, staff and volunteer training, research, planning, technological upgrades, and equipment purchases.

This year, MFA grant awards include projects such as:

* The Massachusetts Audubon Society in Lincoln, MA, will add ADA-accessible elements to eight nature trails. These enhancements will provide culturally-competent content and experiences that are sensory-rich, tactile, universally themed, and designed for visitors who have rarely had the opportunity to visit a wildlife sanctuary.

* The University of New Mexico's Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in Albuquerque, NM, will develop a collaborative digital repository for New Mexico museums. This innovative repository will provide participating museums with a cost-effective long-term data storage capability and a public access Web site to foster and support collaboration and education across disciplinary, social, political, and geographical boundaries.

* The New York Hall of Science in Queens, NY, will begin The Sustainable Community Collaborations Project which will engage local Hispanic, Chinese, and Korean communities in a process to develop science programming. Programming will be steeped in the cultural and scientific histories of these groups and will make science accessible by embedding it within familiar cultural traditions.

* The Arkansas Museum of Science and History in Little Rock, AR, will create two new exhibit experiences: "Tornado Alley Object Theater" and "Extreme Weather Channel." The exhibits will educate visitors on the causes, potential effects, and safety measures to follow when threatened by tornados-an event familiar to the region.

* Historical Society of Saginaw County in Saginaw, MI, will facilitate "History on the Move," a unique mobile classroom, which will teach local history in a modified tractor-trailer. The project addresses the need for substantive local history education in Saginaw County, Michigan, and provides an innovative solution to the lack of time and funding for students to visit museums during the school day.

* The Cleveland Museum of Art in Cleveland, OH, will create a team of staff members representing education, curatorial, conservation, and collections departments to jointly interpret 425 art works in the museum's Lifelong Learning Center. These "Behind the Scenes" spaces will introduce visitors to the concepts of collecting, understanding, preserving, and presenting works of art.

* The Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, CA, will expand its professional development programs for teachers, providing 450 teachers with new tools, skills, and the support they need to engage and inspire approximately 49,500 students to gain the basic ocean science and critical thinking skills necessary to be effective citizens and ocean stewards. An online professional community will also allow teachers to network with their colleagues about their successes and roadblocks through wikis, blogs, and mentor connections.

For more information about the rest of this year's grantees, click here View 2010 Museums for America Grant Award Statistics here

To learn more about Museums for America, the largest museum grant program administered by IMLS, please click here The next deadline for the Museums for America program is November 1, 2010.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Services The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.

The Institute's mission is to create strong libraries and museums that connect people to information and ideas. The Institute works at the national level and in coordination with state and local organizations to sustain heritage, culture, and knowledge; enhance learning and innovation; and support professional development. To learn more about the Institute, please visit

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Advocacy Alert: AGO Listening Session and Request for Full Funding

From Kristen Harbeson at the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers:


In Philadelphia on July 27th, a meeting will be held in which you can play a major role in making sure that the needs of museums and historic preservation are addressed in America’s Great Outdoors; a major initiative which has the potential to shape the priorities of historic sites and cultural resources within the Federal government in the Obama administration. I strongly encourage you to consider attending, and spreading the word to your networks, friends and colleagues. Information on how to attend is below.

Some Background:

On April 16th, the President announced the America's Great Outdoors (AGO) Initiative, a multi-state agency effort to enhance conservation. Listening sessions of this kind are being held around the country, however this is only one currently planned to address historic preservation and cultural resources. A strong turn-out could make all the difference to whether museums, historic preservation, culture and heritage are included as priorities or not. Early indications show that the initiative will be heavily influenced by our conservation friends, although a national coalition (, of which Small Museum Association is a member, has been tirelessly working to bring the Historic Preservation Fund on equal footing. Our campaign has been persistent and people in charge certainly know what we want.

More important, however is the AGO “Listening Session” in Philadelphia on July 27th: This is the most direct way to influence the direction that the America’s Great Outdoors initiative takes, and to make sure that cultural resources and the Historic Preservation Fund are included in the mix. This meeting (unlike any of the others so far) will be specifically focused on heritage issues, and so is an absolutely critical opportunity to convey a clear message of grassroots support for the HPF and cultural resources. If it is at all possible, please make an effort to attend this meeting, and spread the word to your networks, friends, neighbors and partners.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Information on how to RSVP for this critically important meeting is below.


Kristen Harbeson, State Services Director | NCSHPO | National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers |

444 N Capitol St NW Suite 342 | Washington DC 20001-1512 | 202-624-5465 | 202-624-5419 fax | |

Join the Coalition for Full Funding of the Historic Preservation Fund. visit the website at:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Behind the Scenes at SMA: People Profiles

Name: Jason Illari

SMA Position: SMA Conference Planning Committee Chair

Museum: Executive Director Blount Mansion Association Knoxville Tennessee

When did you first become involved with SMA?
Attended my first SMA conference as a scholarship recipient in 2005. I have been attending ever since!

Why did you want to join the board?
I wanted to somehow be of service to the many small museum professionals who are themselves striving to serve local communities and audiences from diverse backgrounds.

What is the best thing about SMA?
It really should be called SMF... Small Museums Family.

What do you hope to see SMA do in the future?
Make the annual conference and its resources more accessible to a larger number of Small Museums.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Pinball Museum in an Unexpected Location

Small museums often have to fend for their space, and it's not uncommon to find them in unexpected locations. The National Pinball Museum has been offered a space in the Shops at Georgetown Park in the heart of Georgetown in Washington, D.C. Read the full article here.

Which leads us to ponder - where have you found museums unexpectedly? And more so, what do you think about a museum going into a shopping mall?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What Do 40,000 Museum-Goers Think Of Small Museums?

Reach Advisors’ recent study of over 40,000 museum-goers yielded some positive results for smaller museums. While only 10% of respondents in the overall survey felt the museum brought the community together, for small history organizations, it was much more typical to see significantly higher results in the 20% - 40% range. Similarly, while only 14% of respondents in the overall survey felt the staff really cared about them, for small history organizations, it was much more typical to see higher results again, in the 20 – 30% range.

Great work, Small Museums!

Interested to learn more about the 2010 National Visitor Study? (It's quite fascinating!) Check it out here!

Reach Advisors have a number of postings extrapolating information from their study. You can find all data posts here. It already extends more than one page and posts are in reverse chronological order.

So, what do you think about it all?

Thanks to Susie Wilkening from Reach Advisors for extrapolating this information for us.

Update on the Babe Ruth Museum Baseball Card Mystery

The card is staying! Check out the remainder of the story here.
See the first part of the article here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CFP in Word Form!

Last week, we posted the Call for Proposals for the Small Museum Association's 2011 Conference in PDF form. In case you'd like it in Word form, you are in luck! Download it here.

Photo: Attendees at 2010 SMA Conference.

Behind the Scenes at SMA: People Profiles

Name: Mike DiPaolo

SMA Position: President

Museum: Executive Director, The Lewes Historical Society, Lewes, Delaware

When did you first become involved with SMA?

First attended the SMA conference in 2002 and joined the conference committee in 2004; elected to the Board in 2005.

Why did you want to join the board?

I wanted to join SMA’s board because it is a group of great people who are committed to the impact small museums can have on their communities. We realize we’re all in the same boat!

What is the best thing about SMA?

The best thing about SMA is the people; we’re dedicated and know we have to have fun with what we do while at the same time conduct ourselves professionally – both with SMA and at our museums.

What do you hope to see SMA do in the future?

I would like to see SMA expand our offerings using the web in an affordable and inclusive way to museums both within our core region of the MidAtlantic and nationally but in a measured way that makes sense for the organization. I also know SMA runs perhaps the best museum conference in the nation at the most affordable price – bar none.

When you’re not busy with SMA, what else do you do?

I serve on the Board of the Delaware Museum Association, Preservation Delaware, the U.S. Life-Saving Service Heritage Association and the Delaware Tourism Alliance. I’m a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation Board of Advisors and was appointed by Governor Ruth Ann Minner to the Delaware Archives Commission.

Photo: Mike and son William at SMA Conference 2010.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Where is Your Unexpected History Trip?

The New York Times is sharing "12 Unexpected History Trips." From Selma, AL to Santa Fe, NM. Which leads SMA to wonder... Where is your unexpected history trip?

Friday, July 2, 2010

Call for Proposals for 2011 SMA Conference

Our annual call for proposals for the sessions for our 2011 conference is now available!

Access the information here.

The conference is Sunday, February 20 - Tuesday, February 22, 2011 in Ocean City, Maryland.

Submission deadline is September 1, 2010.

For more information, email our speaker chairs here and here.

Photo from SMA Conference 2010.

Webinar by AAM: Museum Standards and Best Practices Primer - July 7

This Wednesday, July 7, join senior AAM staff and other leading practitioners for the new AAM webinar, Museum Standards and Best Practices Primer, a valuable overview and introduction to National Standards and Best Practices, the museum field's core operational principles. Build your awareness of the standards, how they are developed, applied and used, and what they mean to you and the day-to-day operations of your institution.

Museum Standards and Best Practices Primer 90-minute "Basics" Webinar, July 7, 2-3:30 p.m. (EDT) In collaboration with the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) and LearningTimes.

Register now here!

Individual Registration: AAM member: $35; Non-member: $135 Group Registration: AAM member: $55; Non-member: $155

Registration includes access to the live webinar, the on-demand webinar for up to six months, and the online community and resources, including presentation handouts.

Learn more and sign up for this professional development opportunity here!

Do you have a professional development opportunity? Email