Saturday, February 16, 2013

SMA Conference – Managing Your Many Hats: Multitasking in the Small Museum

Do you feel like you need superhuman strength to balance all of your responsibilities at the museum? Do you get sidetracked easily by visitors, impromptu meetings, and unexpected phone calls? Please join Ann Persson in a discussion on multitasking and come away with a fresh perspective on the limitations of multitasking, why its necessary in the museum world, and how you can work toward a healthy balance of your responsibilities. Take away practical tips and worksheets to bring home to you organization!

Ann S. Persson

PastPerfect Software Inc.
300 N. Pottstown Pike, Suite 200
Exton, PA  19341
voice: 1-800-562-6080 ext. 109

Friday, February 15, 2013

SMA Conference: Identifying Your Kryptonite: Risk Assessment for Small Museums

Please join me after luncheon networking on Monday for an active and potentially hair raising session that focuses on our kryptonite - those little hazards that could fell our otherwise strong, stable institutions.  For many of us, risk assessment may seem like a frightening endeavor but is essential to ensure that your museum, no matter how small or large, will weather whatever mother nature and others throw at us. We will be discussing how and what to look for and will have some group exercises in discussing sample cases as well as an opportunity to discuss our own.  The session will give you the knowledge and the tools to return to your museum and see it with new eyes.   But wait, there’s more!  We will also discuss what we can do once we have identified our risks with minimal budgets and time.

Please bring your questions on risk assessment and disaster planning in general – don’t be caught off guard this coming spring and beyond!  I’m looking forward to my first SMA  and hope it will be the first of many.

Donia Conn

Thursday, February 14, 2013

SMA Conference: Emerging from the Shadows: Using Paranormal Programs to Build the “Spirit” of Community

Have you noticed the growing popularity of paranormal programming in the museum and historic site community?  Have YOU ever suspected you are not alone when working late?  If so, then perhaps your site has an opportunity to expand your program offerings with something “spirited!” 

When I joined Fort Mifflin as Executive Director a couple of years ago I was very skeptical of how paranormal programs fit within the context of a National Historic Landmark. After a quick review of the financial statements the mist cleared – this was an essential financial element of our program calendar.  Still, I wondered if it made sense from an historic context.

Over my tenure our paranormal programming has evolved, and I am happy to report that we consider it to be fully mission based, no longer on the “special event” line on the IRS Form 990.  This is just another avenue for us to tell the story of the site, and by its nature, a paranormal investigation will yield different results every time.  There is always an incentive for a visiting investigator to return!  Repeat visitors often develop a relationship with the site, and we have found that a significant portion of our essential volunteer pool comes from folks who initially visited to check the dark corners of the Fort for ghosts.

Let’s get together to explore possibilities at YOUR site – I will share my experience at Fort Mifflin, review our successful programs and talk about how we manage the unique challenges of extensive night time programming.  I might even bring a few photos that will make believers out of skeptics….

Elizabeth Beatty
Executive Director
Fort Mifflin on the Delaware

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Employment Opportunity: Milton Historical Society

The Director is the chief administrator of the Milton Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) organization and reports to the Board of Trustees.  The Milton Historical Society is the social hub of a historic community of 2000 residents at the head of the Broadkill River in Milton, Delaware.   The Director is responsible for a wide range of administrative and programming activities to advance the society’s mission and will support the effort to complete an ambitious strategic plan.  During the next 5-10 years, the Milton Historical Society plans to expand its physical space creating a vital, attractive town center while preserving its high standard of dynamic programming, preservation, governance, and financial strength.

1.    Provide leadership in developing programs, projects and financial plans.
2.    Supervise the Visitor Services and Volunteer Coordinator and Administrative Asst. for Finance, oversee staff and volunteer training, and promote active participation by MHS members and volunteers to support the organization.
3.    Develop and maintain sound financial practices, work with the Finance Committee to prepare a budget and develop fundraising strategies to ensure adequate operating funds.
4.    Identify, prepare and submit grant applications to fund programs and needs and insure that all requirements of grants awarded to the Society are met in a timely and successful manner.
5.    Maintain official records and documents and ensure compliance with all pertinent regulations.
6.    Direct all activities involving research, documentation, collection and management of archival and society holdings and provide for safe, secure and environmentally appropriate storage of all items.
7.    Develop exhibits on and off site including collateral programs and activities that will enhance community participation.
8.    Oversee the maintenance of the Lydia B. Cannon Museum building and grounds.
9.    Inform the Board of Trustees of all conditions impacting the Society, prepare quarterly Board meeting agendas and minutes, and implement authorized plans and policies.
10.  Publicize MHS activities and accomplishments through the website, newsletters, press releases, online media and publications.
11.  Network with local, state, and regional historical and preservation groups to foster cooperative relationships.
12.  Interact in a positive manner with the community to foster trust, commitment and support for the MHS.

1.    Possess an interest and passion for learning, preserving, and sharing the history of Milton and the Broadkill Hundred.
2.    Completion of a Bachelor’s degree in Museum Studies or a related area. 
Demonstration of training and experience in a museum setting.
3.     Exhibit strong interpersonal skills.
4.    Possess effective communication skills both verbal and written including public speaking.
5.    Demonstrate initiative, creativity and dedication.
6.    Demonstrate knowledge of conservation and preservation techniques.
7.    Demonstrate computer operation skills and experience required to manage the museum collection and analyze and share records and inventories. (Knowledge of Past Perfect software preferred.)
8.    Demonstrate ability to produce publications and utilize and implement web resources.
9.    Availability to supervise evening and weekend programs and events.  Scheduled events sponsored or supported by the Society, including those held in the evening and on weekends, can cause the time commitment required by this position to vary.  

The work schedule requires a minimum 4-day work week of 30 – 35 hours per week.  Hours are flexible; however some weekend and evening hours are required.  Interested individuals should email a cover letter, résumé, salary requirements and a list of three references to by March 1, 2013.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

SMA Conference: Evil Nemesis or Grand Alliance: Exploring the Effect of Volunteers on Emerging Museum Professionals

This is my third year attending the SMA conference, and my first as a speaker.  During this time, I have transitioned from student to museum professional.  This experience raised in my mind many questions about the value of history education in the job market and the devaluation of the work of professional historians.  Positions once considered ideal for a newly minted historian are now highly competitive and graduates find themselves competing against colleagues with years more education and experience for entry level positions.  Many of these new professionals opt to volunteer at local institutions in the meanwhile, gaining work experience and waiting out the recession.  For some, this strategy ultimately secures them a paid position within the institution.  But what about the rest?  By willing to work for no pay, are new professionals doing themselves a disservice?  Are they unintentionally devaluing the years of training and expense spent to earn the title of historian?  

Small museums thrive on the time and work of dedicated volunteers or docents.  Without the efforts of those individuals vital programming, events, education, and outreach would never be accomplished.  Clearly, volunteers are a valuable asset to the small museum.  And so a catch-22 emerges.  How can we, as museum professionals, make the best use of our volunteers without writing ourselves out of a job?  What role do volunteers play at your museum?  My session will explore these questions and more in an attempt to ferret out how to achieve the fine balance necessary for a successful museum professional/ volunteer relationship.

-- Colleen Walter