Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Counting Down till Tomorrow... Ask a Curator!

I don't know about you, but I can't wait until tomorrow for Ask a Curator... Check out the website here for more information.

SMA Board Meeting Report

SMA Secretary Karen Daly has submitted the following summary of the SMA Board Meeting from last week in Lewes, Delaware. Check it out!

"Small Museum Association board members met in Lewes, Deleware last week for our annual planning retreat. Ten board members --seven meeting in person, and three joining in via conference call-- enjoyed a fruitful day discussing the current state of and future vision for SMA.

The SMA conference has always stood at the heart of our association’s activities, so the board spent a good deal of time hearing plans from the conference committee to make this year’s Night at the Small Museum: Bringing Museums to Life Conference a success. While the conference will maintain its usual favorites --engaging speakers, wine & cheese reception, stimulating presentations, and the costume banquet-- new initiatives this year will be added to make the conference even more personal and relevant for participants.

Conversation moved from the conference to the association’s financial health. Believing that SMA should strive for financial sustainability in much the same way that we encourage our member institutions to, the SMA board voted unanimously to establish an endowment for the association. Such a step can prove vital to the long-term success of an organization --even a small one, like SMA. Look out for more information about planning for and implementing an endowment at a small institution in upcoming SMA venues online and in person at the February conference.

The board agreed that our efforts to become financially sustainable come with a responsibility to continue to serve our members --small museums, their boards, and their volunteer & paid staff members-- as best we can. In that vein, our planning turned toward member services and exploring ways that we can serve more small museums without needlessly duplicating efforts by our peers at larger, national associations. Recent efforts to reach out to our constituents through an updated website, Facebook page, and blog, have proven successful and started to raise awareness for the organization --beyond our traditional bases of support. In the coming months, SMA will survey our membership and meet with representatives from peer associations to begin drafting a strategy for the future of the association.

Small museums continue to be vital resources for their communities throughout the country, and SMA looks forward to expanding our ability to support these institutions in the days ahead!"

Monday, August 30, 2010

First Glance at the SMA Save the Date Card!

Within the next few weeks, SMA member institutions will be receiving the new save the date card for this year's conference in their mailboxes. We wanted to give you a preview!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Call for Proposals: Annual Conference

There is still time to get your proposals in!! Contact us today.

Small Museum Association

2011 Annual Conference Call for Proposals

The Small Museum Association (SMA) is planning its 27th Annual Conference, which will be held in Ocean City, Maryland, February 20 – 22, 2011. The most important part of that planning is assembling speakers for the 40+ concurrent program sessions that will be presented during the conference. Through this Call for Proposals we invite you to share your knowledge, experience and lessons learned with hundreds of colleagues who – like you – are committed to small museums everywhere. The deadline for submitting all proposals is September 1, 2010.

As the only conference in the country dedicated specifically to small museums, the Annual Conference draws museum professionals from the Mid-Atlantic region and from across the country as our membership and attendee base continues to expand. The conference goal is to support and nurture the small museum community through a mix of invited speakers, contributed proposals, workshops and engaging discussion. The conference provides a unique and comfortable learning environment for individuals and institutions with diverse experiences to meet and learn from each other, to share their expertise, build capacity and increase professionalism. Conference sessions typically provide practical, relevant discussions and examples for small museums and institutions limited budgets and staff.

This year, the Small Museum Conference would like to offer sessions that address the conference theme, Night at the Small Museum: Bringing Museums To Life. We invite proposals based on institutional experience or original research. Proposal topics should explore how organizations can find new and exciting ways to make small museums relevant, lively and sustainable. This should be a central theme to any presentation, whether it addresses fundraising, education, curatorial issues, museum boards or volunteers. Sessions should also indicate the level of information that will be provided, and whether it is most appropriate for a beginner who is new to museums, someone with intermediate experience, or an expert in the field. Possible session topics include:

Diversifying the Museum Board
Creative Fundraising
Successful education programs that engage new audiences
Volunteers - Mining new sources and sustaining engagement
Professional Development and Staff Unity
Marketing and PR – Changing the image of small museums
Collections Care for the 21st Century

Contact SMA Speaker Coordinators Helen Wirka, helenwirka@gmail.com, or Jennifer Ruffner, jagmuseweb@gmail.com with questions and to receive the CFP form. Forms must be submitted no later than September 1, 2010.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I Love the Archives!

Check out this enjoyable video from The Jewish Museum of Maryland of staff and interns singing about how much they enjoy collections stewardship.

You can see the entire post on their regularly updated blog here.

This is the sort of thing I've been looking for in terms of museumians responding to those librarian folks on the other side of the pond. (See post here) It doesn't have to be anything but fun!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Behind the Scenes at SMA: People Profiles

Mike Henry

Position with SMA:
Board Member, SMA

Position Elsewhere and Where:
Site Administrator, Colvin Run Mill Historic Site
Adjunct Professor, NVCC
Member, AAM, AASLH, VAM, NVAH, Loyal Order of Water Buffalos, Bedrock lodge

When did you first become involved with SMA?
I first became involved with SMA when a number of colleagues suggested that I attend the annual conference at the Princess Royal Hotel in OC. It was a great conference - I was hooked - and for the next 6 or 7 years I had the opportunity to present a number of sessions at the Conference with the likes of Mr Bow Tie , John Verrill, the always enchanting Lisa Mason-Chaney, and several others. I finally joined the board several years later when the legendary Ann Korzeniewski, the big man, Mike Leister and the almost life-like Ken Hickman took turns holding a gun to my head until I agreed.

What is the best thing about SMA?
The best thing about SMA is the people. I don't think I've ever met a group of people so quick to offer help, suggestions and resources. The very best way to experience this is to get involved in SMA - join the conference committee, plan a session, help with the local arrangements. I promise you'll enjoy it and you'll be helping a a great organization.

What do you hope to see SMA do in the future?
As for the future of SMA, I think it is limitless! There are some great officers on the Board now and the energy and enthusiasm of the SMA membership is contagious. Plus just take a look at how many formally big museums are starting to qualify as small ones now!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Interview with Small Museum of the Month: The Goldstein Museum of Design

Earlier this month, we announced our August Museum of the Month, The Goldstein Museum of Design. SMA recently conducted an interview with their director, Lin Nelson-Mayson. Check out what Lin had to say!

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

GMD: Lin Nelson-Mayson, Director

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

GMD: Exhibitions regularly explore design thinking and design process, linking contemporary design problems with ideas from across cultures and time.

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

GMD: GMD's collection contains several ergonomic chairs. The earliest of these, from 1929, may have belonged to one of the Goldstein sisters, the museum's namesakes.

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

GMD: We hope visitors leave with an awareness of the designed objects/spaces/systems in their lives and that design can help us live more harmonious lives.

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

GMD: GMD presents exhibitions in two locations at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities: 3-4 in McNeal Hall on the St. Paul campus and 4-6 in Rapson Hall on the Minneapolis campus. We present a wide range of programs on design and designers including lecture, panel discussions, films, and workshops, plus special events in collaboration with area cultural organizations. Designer, scholars, and students can make appointments to view items from the 28,000 piece collection. In addition, staff develops and presents programs for community groups that may include an on-site viewing of collection items.

SMA: Are there any fun stories about your museum?

GMD: As an academic museum, we employ undergrad students as gallery staff and grad students as collections and communications assistants. Gallery staff members become the installation crew between exhibitions and have learned to paint, install vinyl, and proper object-handling techniques. New members to the gallery staff are sometimes surprised to be involved in these tasks, but gain a sense of pride when they see visitors enjoying their contributions to the success of the exhibitions.

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

GMD: My favorite small museum other than GMD is the Ross County History Museum, located in Chillicothe, Ohio. It was the first museum I attended as a child and later the first museum I worked for after graduate school.

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

GMD: Small museums have developed a much more active presence within the profession, emphasizing the value we add to our communities, the richness of our collections, and the unique experience people have as visitors and supporters. Continuing to work together collaboratively and increasing public awareness of our unique qualities will continue to build on this strong foundation.

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

GMD: Thank you for selecting the Goldstein Museum of Design as the August Museum of the Month. We have enjoyed sharing this honor with our academic and community colleagues.

Photos courtesy of the Goldstein Museum of Design. All copyright reserved.

Want to be a Small Museum of the Month? Learn more here!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Small Museums and Small Towns

This article from the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal in Texas documents the difficulties both small museums and small towns face - all the way stressing the importance of the heritage they are entrusted with to preserve. The website for Floyd County Historical Museum, which is profiled in the article, can be accessed here.

What do you think? What are some methods we can consider in facing these obstacles?

Image from the Floyd County Historical Museum website.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Librarians vs. Museum Peeps

I had the opportunity to post on the Center for the Future of Museums blog on how much more adept librarians have been in utilizing social media than museum folks. The link is here. Essentially, I'm throwing down the gauntlet to museum peeps to go viral. Do you know of any great videos and links about museums? Do you have a great idea? Let me know! Thanks.

Photo of Lauren and friend at AAM's Annual Meeting in L.A. 2010.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Does Attendance Matter?

How should we evaluate the successes (and failures) of a museum? Is it in objective, quantifiable terms, such as attendance, or in the abstract, like the quality of the collections or the light bulb that goes off in a visitor's mind? These are not easy questions.

The New York Times has run a series of articles exploring the Brooklyn Museum of Art. While it is by no means a small museum, it does face a problem that many smaller institutions do - it lies in the shadow of a larger, better known museum. Additionally, it has set a variety of goals for itself - from the ludicrous of tripling their attendance to the important reaching of a more diverse audience.

Take a look at each article and think about what are your measures of success, whether it be for your institution or for museums on a macro level. Then, let us know... Does attendance matter?

Article #1

Article #2

Article #3

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Tannehill Silent Auction

Friday night, September 17th, 2010
In the Alabama Iron & Steel Museum
6:00 – 8:00 PM
Admission: $5.00 adults
After Class band will perform http://www.after-class.com
Civil War Re-enactors will man the auction tables.
Everyone involved will be volunteers.
All proceeds go to the restoration of the casting sheds at the Tannehill Furnaces.

Some of the items in the auction are: A spray on bed-liner, Town & Country Ford Collision Center, Bessemer, Alabama (a $475.00 value). A Book from the Bear Bryant Museum. A 7lb chocolate Bama football from the Tannehill Sweet Shop. A $50.00 gift card from the Bright Star Restaurant. Serra Honda donated a TomTom GPS.

Pieter Kes donated an original Civil War framed print. Other donors include the Alabama Museum of Health Sciences, Bob Sykes BBQ, Brian Jordan, resident potter at Tannehill. ©MomenTaker Photography donated two portrait packages.

Securitas Security Company will provide security during the event at no cost.

Lots more to come. All donations are welcome and are tax deductible.
Tannehill needs your help, to make a donation or for more information contact Vicki Kes 205-907-1375, tannehillsilentauction@gmail.com or Jim Bennett at

Tannehill Ironworks Historical State Park
12632 Confederate Parkway
McCalla, Al.
(205) 477-5711

Do you have an event or item you'd like to see posted to the SMA blog? Email us at conference@smallmuseum.org.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Small Museum Pro!

This link is for a series of online courses designed for those at small museums. Here is their description:

Small Museum Pro! is a professional certification program for people who work, or who would like to work, in small, local museums and who need practical guidance and education on running and managing a museum. This program is a partnership between Museum Development Associates and Eastern New Mexico State University's Distance Learning Program. To obtain a certificate, participants will need to complete all five Small Museum Pro! courses, all offered only online. Each course earns students three Continuing Education Units (CEUs).

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tip Sheet: How to Use Social Media to Recruit, Retain & Recognize Volunteers

Check out this post from Hands-On on the basics of using social media/web-based resources for working with volunteers in a non-profit setting. If your site is using social media, what have you found works or doesn't?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Workshop: Textile Exhibits in Small Museums

Saturday, August 21, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Workshop: Textile Exhibits in Small Museums

The New Castle Historical Society is partnering with the Costume Society of America to present a workshop on textile exhibits in small museums. Based on the Society's current textile exhibit, Tying The Knot - New Castle Nuptials Since 1784, the workshop will be ideally suited for staff and volunteers working in small museums.

Pre-registration is required. Contact the New Castle Historical Society at 302-322-2794 or nchistorical@aol.com for more information and to register.

Download a flyer here.

Do you have a program you'd like us to promote? Email conference@smallmuseum.org.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Connecting with Teens in a Novel Way!

Find out what it means to really serve "underserved" audiences on this post from the Museum 2.0 blog run by Nina Simon (author of The Participatory Museum). While this is hosted at a larger institution, the practices of how they work with the youths can be adapted anywhere on a different scale. Feel free to share if you are working with "underserved" audiences in novel ways.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Small Museum of the Month: The Goldstein Museum of Design

* Mission * As an educational and cultural institution, the Goldstein Museum of Design advances the understanding and appreciation of design and cultivates an awareness that designed objects can contribute to quality of life by providing effective solutions to human challenges and aesthetic satisfaction.

* About * GMD is part of the University of Minnesotas College of Design. GMD was founded in 1976 and is named after two legendary U of M design professors, Harriet and Vetta Goldstein, who taught design from 1910-1940s. Their teaching philosophy and personal collecting formed the basis for GMD’s collection and emphasis on design that touches people’s lives. The collection now contains over 26,000 objects that include clothing (the largest group), textiles, decorative arts, furniture, and graphic design. GMD presents 3-4 exhibitions in McNeal Hall and 6-8 in the HGA gallery in Rapson Hall. Exhibition topics explore design, including clothing, textiles, architecture, housing, furniture, and landscape architecture. Each exhibition is accompanied by 3-4 public programs. GMD shows collection objects to U of M classes, classes from area universities, and K-12 classes. The collection is a major design resource for local designers and is becoming increasingly accessible through an IMLS-funded digital database project.

* Visiting GMD * McNeal Hall, 1985 Buford Avenue, on the Saint Paul, Minnesota campus contains the gallery (241), collection Research Center (333), and the administrative office (364). Gallery hours are:

* Tuesday – Friday 10:00 am to 4:00 pm; Thursday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
* Weekends 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm

HGA Gallery at Rapson Hall, 80 Church Street, on the Minneapolis, Minnesota campus is open seven days a week. Both galleries are closed for University holidays.

Website http://goldstein.design.umn.edu See links to Facebook, Twitter, and Flicker on the home page.

Want to be a Small Museum of the Month? Learn more here!

Photo of Museum of the Month will be added to the front page of the SMA website shortly. All photos courtesy of the Goldstein Museum of Design. The three photos are of a class doing an artifact analysis from the collection and two images of exhibition openings - "Good Design: Stories from Herman Miller" and " Ethnic Dress and Folk Costume." The Herman Miller exhibition was organized and toured by the Muskegeon Museum of Art. The ethnic dress exhibition was organized by GMD from the collection.