Giving Tuesday, and Celebrating 200 Blog Posts

December 7, 2020

It is that time of year again to talk about the importance of Giving Tuesday and generosity as we prepare for the holiday season. Giving Tuesday is a global movement that started in 2012 to encourage people to do good especially during the holiday season. It inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. Last year, according to their website, individuals in the United States raised $511,000,000. While the Giving Tuesday event occurred on December 1st this year, it is not the only time individuals can donate to museums and non-profit organizations. It is a reminder to be inspired and inspire to do good Museums and non-profit organizations prepare each year for Giving Tuesday to connect with the communities they are a part of, including through emails and newsletters, and encourage community members to donate to their causes if they are able.

There are many Giving Tuesday campaigns that museums and non-profit organizations utilize to bring awareness to their causes. Some of them include but are not limited to:

Three Village Historical Society, which works within the community to explore local history through education about the history of the people who have lived in the Three Village area from earliest habitation to the present, sent emails out to members, volunteers, et. cetera the Giving Tuesday campaign. Within the email, they were selling the new book A Celebration of House Tours Past to commemorate the 40 years of the Candlelight House Tour that would have occurred this year and were originally going to have a limited-space dinner to replace this year’s tour but had to cancel due to updated regulations in response to the pandemic. The Candlelight House Tour typically accounts for a large portion of the funding that sustains TVHS for the year to come. The email also stated:

All of us at the Three Village Historical Society are doing everything we can to give back as we continue to adjust to the world around us. We are excited to offer new virtual programming in the coming year to help you engage in online education, and learn something new about our local history!

That’s why we’re asking for your continued support this #GivingTuesday. If you are able, please consider making a donation today. We’ve set an ambitious goal of 50 online donations and new or renewed memberships. You can become one of our generous supporters with a donation of any amount or with a new membership beginning at just $40 annually.

In addition to the donation and membership, there is also an Online Holiday Market. Originally going to be outdoors, the Holiday Market have items that include but are not limited to vintage framed photos, ornaments, books, t-shirts, sweatshirts, and tote bags.

 I received an email from Reimagine which is a non-profit organization sparking community-driven festivals and conversations that explore death and celebrate life. Reimagine shared a letter from one of their collaborators, she wrote about how much Reimagine meant to her when she lost both of her parents, to show how the support they receive helps them build a community that gives needed space for grappling with loss.

Facing History and Ourselves is a global organization with a network of 300,000 teachers, in every type of middle grade and secondary level school setting, that uses the lessons of history to challenge teachers and their students to stand up to bigotry and hate. Through the partnership with educators around the world, they are able to reach millions of students in thousands of classrooms every year. Within their Giving Tuesday email campaign, Facing History and Ourselves expressed their gratefulness for this year’s Thanksgiving for the teachers’ creativity, compassion, and resilience as well as the contributions members made to make the work with teachers and students possible. Also, they expressed that while the holiday season will be challenging for all of us they found hope in the teachers being able to use their resources and being able to help teachers transition to remote learning when the pandemic hit.

The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) shared their Giving Tuesday campaign through the members’ Weekly Dispatch email newsletter. They ask readers to think about doing good with AASLH through the Annual Fund, and shared that the donations power new professional development programs, efforts to improve diversity and inclusiveness, and help promote the relevance of history.

Preservation Long Island sent a thank you letter to express that they are thankful for the continued support through their virtual programming. There were also included links to make donations and becoming a member if one is able to do so.

Each of the above examples pointed out that if you are able to make a donation to please make a consideration to donate, and that you do not need to wait until Giving Tuesday to extend generosity.

In the past four years since starting this blog then ultimately the website, I wrote and released 200 blog posts. Thank you everyone who has read, shared, and commented on the blogs from when I first posted a blog to the most recent blog posts. To celebrate this milestone, I decided to do something really special for the blog and website. The blog and website will be expanded to offer everyone more opportunities to bridge between individuals and the museum and public history field through various projects that strive to be more accessible offsite.

Some of the various projects I am planning include books to become a part of the narrative within both fields. I will be making an announcement soon about an upcoming book project on the museum field I am starting work on.

In order for these projects to come to fruition, I ask you all to make a donation of as little or as much as you can on the donation page.  I believe that every little bit helps, and that it is especially hard nowadays make large donations. This is why I created a page on Buy Me a Coffee, and you can access it on the donations page. Buy Me a Coffee is a more simple and fun way to support projects like this one, and you do not need to create an account to contribute. You can donate as little or as much as you could. On this page, I am also offering consulting to provide advice on content creation as well as advice on any upcoming projects related to museums, history, and public history.

If you are not able to make a donation, you can also share this post and donation page. Also, I will share updates in the blog on how the projects are coming along to share with you what each donation is working towards; so, stay tuned.

Thank you in advance! Your support is greatly appreciated.

Donations Page

To go directly to my Buy Me a Coffee page, click here.

Previous Relevant Blog Post:

Reaction: Giving Tuesday; Low Salaries in Museums

Links:

Three Village Historical Society

TVHS Online Holiday Market

Reimagine

Facing History and Ourselves

AASLH

Preservation Long Island

About Buy Me a Coffee

Reaction: Recognizing the Best in Public History Blog

Added to Medium, January 31, 2019

Since I earned my Master’s degree in Public History, I continue to review sources and read about current developments in Public History. According to my graduate program at Central Connecticut State University, public historians are front-line interpreters bringing historical knowledge to a broad public audience beyond the traditional academic classroom. Public historians expand research skills and content knowledge of traditionally trained historians to incorporate new sources of historical evidence such as oral history and material culture in varied institutions such as museums, government agencies, and heritage destination sites. I recently came across the Backstory website which posted a blog post written by Diana Williams about recognizing various mediums public history is shared.

Backstory, according to their website, is a weekly podcast that uses current events in America to take a deep dive into the past, and each episode provides listeners with different perspectives on a specific theme or subject by giving listeners all sides to the story and then more. For the first time, Backstory is acknowledging the works of public history with a prize. There are numerous public history projects that deserve to be acknowledged and it is wonderful several of them are being nominated for the prize. I did not know that other than museum associations there are recognition of excellence in public history projects, and it makes me happy to learn there is a way our work in public history that is recognized outside of academia.

I am also impressed that there was so much work that went into researching public history project. In the Williams’ blog post, she pointed out that

BackStory lead researcher Monica Blair created the list, thinking broadly about historical mediums, both physical and digital. In addition to online reviews, she looked up reviews in academic journals like “The Public Historian” and general newspapers like “The Washington Post.” For books, she turned to “The New York Times” Non-Fiction Bestsellers List and for podcasts, she used Apple Podcasts charts. Each nominee fell under a broadly conceived definition of American history.

I can imagine that there are so many projects that are out there but have not been acknowledged or noticed. After reading through the blog, there is a lengthy list for each category for the Backstory prize.

A list of categories and nominees is given to show which ones were nominated for this prize. The categories were films, documentaries, podcasts, plays, books, and exhibits and monuments both physical and digital. In the films category, there were 16 nominations which include The Post, Darkest Hour, First Man, Battle of the Sexes, and American Animals. In the documentaries category, there were 21 nominations and they include Rachel Carson: The Woman Who Launched the Modern Environmental Movement, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities, and Birth of a Movement. In the podcasts category, there were 23 nominations including Ben Franklin’s World, Omohundro Institute, The New York City Public Library Podcasts, American History Tellers, Wondery, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and Witness, BBC. In the play category, there were seven nominations including American Revolutions: The United States History Cycle, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Come From Away, and Days of Rage.

In the book category, there were nine nominations which include The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea by Jack E. Davis, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light: Experiencing Religious Awakenings in Eighteenth-Century New England by Douglas L. Winiarski, Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America by Steven J. Ross, and These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore. In the exhibits and monuments both physical and digital category, there were 31 nominations including The National Memorial for Peace and Justice — Equal Justice Initiative, Black Citizenship in the Age of Jim Crow — New York Historical Society Museum and Library, Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I — Library of Congress, Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and World War II — National Museum of American History, and City of Hope: Resurrection City & the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign — National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Each of these categories, except for the book category, have links to each of the nominations listed to show and describe the projects. The blog post also gave a brief description of the decision process for selecting a project for the BackStory prize.

The hosts of BackStory, Ed Ayers, Brian Balogh, Nathan Connolly and Joanne Freeman, as well as the Senior Producer David Stenhouse were joined by guest judges Chris Jackson (“Hamilton” on Broadway) and Margot Lee Shetterly (“Hidden Figures”) to review the nominees to determine the best project. There was a rigorous debate and ultimately decided and announced The National Memorial for Peace and Justice — Equal Justice Initiative was the winner. The National Memorial, which opened on April 26, 2018 in Montgomery, Alabama, according to the website:

is the nation’s first memorial dedicated to the legacy of enslaved black people, people terrorized by lynching, African Americans humiliated by racial segregation and Jim Crow, and people of color burdened with contemporary presumptions of guilt and police violence.

With so many nominated for the prize, I can imagine that it was a long and challenging process to select one project. Especially in this day in age, The National Memorial is important for all to visit and pay respect, so we will never forget this sad period in our history. I recommend taking the time to review each nomination to learn about what public history projects are out there.

Resources:

https://www.backstoryradio.org/blog/recognizing-the-best-in-public-history/

https://museumandmemorial.eji.org/memorial

https://www.backstoryradio.org/ http://www.ccsu.edu/history/graduate/MA_publicHistory.html

Special Blog Post: The 100th Blog Post

Added to Medium, October 11, 2018

Time has definitely flown by so quickly. I remember as if it was only yesterday when I first started writing my blog on the Medium website. Now I am writing the 100th blog post on my own website. In the two years I have been writing the blog, I have heard from so many of you who have been reading and leaving comments about the posts. I am very thankful for all of you for reading and following my blog whether you started following two years, two months, two weeks, or two days ago. I read all of the responses that were made in various places where I shared each blog post: on my website, LinkedIn groups, Twitter, my Medium page, and my Facebook page. The following are examples of comments shared on each of the previously listed sites.

On the blog post Reaction: The Value of Small Museums, one of the comments from my website shared their perspective in working in a small museum:

I work at a small museum and I understand the comment. Better as in better paying or better as in more hours or better as in more professional. Many museums don’t pay or pay very little. I wouldn’t be offended by that comment. I am learning new skills and helping inspire and teach people something about the past they didn’t know. My work is important, people are often amazed at how knowledgeable I am and what they learned so I see both sides of the issue.
-The Time Treasurer

On the blog post Planning a Summer Program: My Experience Creating a Summer Camp Program, one of the comments on the website asked for further information about the summer program:

What a wonderful idea! Surely the [participants] were thrilled. How much of an age difference was there and why do you think this was the case. Will you state age range in future efforts or go with the flow? Fantastic energy and idea. Great article! Thank you.
-Teresa

Some comments also shared relevant sources to add to the discussion introduced in the blog posts. For example, on the blog post Patron Request: People’s Experiences during the Great Depression they shared their presentation on Medium from the Proceedings of the National Conference of Undergraduate Research 2012:

I wrote a paper on this topic when I was an undergrad. I interviewed three of my grandparents about their memories of Franklin Roosevelt and used those to shape a review of FDR’s rhetoric:
http://www.ncurproceedings.org/ojs/index.php/NCUR2012/article/view/174 
-Daniel

Other comments on Medium have written about how relevant the topics the blog posts were to individuals in and out of the museum field. There was one who wrote their comment about the Significant Resources in the Museum Field:

Lindsey Steward many of your suggestions also apply to historians. I haven’t engaged in the particular museum partnerships you have described, but blogs and public media have been a great method for me to learn and grow.

In particular I have found podcasting and the audio documentary field as a wonderful set of media to teach historians new skills to engage with an audience and to help people learn. I have found several tools useful in that, with blogs, organizations.

Other resources that have helped me grow as a historian and develop new skills are programming and digital humanities work. For instance forums and online courses are great sets of resources with formal and informal sets of instruction. These have been the biggest ways to help.

One last thing I’d share is undertaking projects. While many resources have been useful to help me learn about new ways to engage and think about my profession, but they have also shown me that the best way to learn is to model and try. Ive tried to experiment with lots of different tools and such, which have taught me immensely through experience.

Just a few thoughts to reply

Thanks for the provoking post!

-Christopher

Another comment written about the blog post What Grants Mean for Museums, which I shared on LinkedIn, expressed gratitude for writing on this topic:

As a public historian trying to break into grant writing to help support museums and historic sites I found this very encouraging and helpful. Thank you.
-Meghan

On Twitter I noticed that there are individuals who retweet the posts I shared to followers and readers. Some have added their own comments to their retweets and shares. This is one of the tweets I saw after I shared my blog post “Leaving the Museum Field”: A Reaction to the Alliance Labs Blog:

“Leaving the Museum Field”: A Reaction to the Alliance Labs Blog - Museums will not change overnight, we have to keep having these conversations to evoke change. This is something that is really resonating with me atm #EvokeChange …https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com/2017/09/27/leaving-the-museum-field-a-reaction-to-the-alliance-labs-blog/ … via @Steward2Lindsey
-Karen

I have also had a couple of conversations on Twitter related to the blog posts I shared. One of them had asked me if they could use some of the information from my post Maker Space: Museums Can Benefit from Having a Creative Space to use in their proposal to their local museum to consider opening a space for something similar to a maker space. Another conversation I had was about a book and book review I wrote for Katie Stringer’s Programming for People with Special Needs: A Guide for Museums and Historic Sites; they wished that they found the review sooner so they could use it for their capstone research but thought that having a personal connection to the topic like I have is helpful in creating educational programs for all capabilities.

Each of the comments I read gave me so much insight on what individuals thought about the blog post and their insights on the topic. While I was not able to include every single comment I read from the past couple of years, I am thankful to all of you for sharing your thoughts, expertise, suggestions, and appreciations. I started writing this blog to not only record my own experiences but to start conversations among individuals who are in and out of the museum field. This blog will continue to write about history, the museum field, and other topics suggested by all of you.

Thank you all for these past two years, and I look forward to many more in the future!

If you are interested in contributing financially to the website, I have a Patreon page that allows artists, video makers, and writers like myself continue to work on projects. You can contribute starting at one dollar a month and there are tiers that reveal benefits you will receive for contributing; the link can be found here: https://www.patreon.com/lindseysteward.

I also have an announcement: Next week I will be taking a break from writing a new blog posts because I will be preparing to visit family and celebrating my 30th birthday! I will continue to share previous blog posts so you will still have plenty to read.

Anniversary Special: One Year of Writing about Museum Education

Added to Medium, October 19, 2017

As a way to celebrate both the one-year anniversary and my birthday tomorrow, I decided to reflect on the past year and share plans moving forward for the blog. It has been exactly a year today since I started my first blog entry on Medium, and so much has happened since then. When I began my blog, I talked about how I became the museum educator I am and what led me to start writing it. I stated in my blog,

 
This story will continue not only with a discussion about my experiences in greater detail but I also will discuss recent topics in the field as well as recent books and journal articles I read. I also will write about conferences and workshops I attended. What I hope to accomplish with this blog is to give educators and aspiring educators both a personal account of and resources on the museum education field.

Now a year later, I kept my promise and discussed recent topics in the field including museum professionals leaving the field and what to do to make the field more appealing to stay in. Also, I discussed what I have been reading and discussed topics based on what I read in books, journals, blog posts, and articles. I briefly discussed my professional development experience in the blog.

Since I started the blog a year ago, I have met with many people who have expressed their thoughts, opinions, and insights on the ideas I shared. I shared my blog posts each week on social media outlets LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter to reach out to people especially other museum professionals. Especially on LinkedIn, I read many comments, opinions, and insights to the topics I discussed. I am thankful for everyone who has read and responded to this blog since you all gave me insights on your perspectives on the museum field and continued the discussion on these topics. Also, I thank those who reached out to ask me questions and for my advice. When you respond to these blog posts, I am able to not only know what you thought about the current topic we are also able to learn from one another to keep moving our field forward. Because of this blog, I have also became even more involved in the field than before I started writing.

Ever since I began writing this blog there have been many developments including meeting new people, joining Gender Equity in Museums Movement (GEMM), and creating a new website to promote the blog in addition to sharing resources I come across.

After writing about gender equity in the Lunch with NEMA program, I was asked if I would be interested in joining Gender Equity in Museums Movement (GEMM) which is dedicated to educating museum professionals about gender equity and assisting museum professionals in discussing gender equity among colleagues. In addition to this, I created a website that is used as my professional reference and where I promote my blog.

When I created my website, https://lookingbackmovingforwardinmuseumeducation.com, I hoped to promote not only my blog but to also promote my expertise by sharing resources I refer to and open communication with viewers to discuss topics on museums. I designed my website so visitors can see an abbreviated version of my resume, and if they are interested in learning specific experiences there is a contact page where they can ask me to send them a copy of my resume. Also, my website has various resources organized into various topics including education and interpretation, educational resources, books on museums and public history, and blogs I read. These are resources I share that show I keep up to date on current topics and trends in the field. While I update my website, I also check on the number of individuals who have accessed my website.

I have seen people who have visited my website come from not only within the United States but from many countries around the world. There were individuals from Iceland, Israel, Ghana, South Africa, Australia, Canada, Japan, India, Spain, Germany, Ireland, China, Bangladesh, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Brazil, Peru, Russia, Switzerland, and Italy. When I saw the amount of people from different countries visiting my website, I saw the potential in continuing to make my website grow and reach out to more people.

I have learned a lot in this experience and I am thankful for each moment that led me to this point in my career.

Moving forward, I have additional ideas and projects I am continuing to work on. Since I realize there is international attention to this website as well, I will look out for resources that discuss international museum topics to add to my website.

While I have posted for the most part only once a week, I know that there is so much I want to write about so I want to write more than once on a regular basis. In order to do so, I want to make sure this blog and website can be financially supported to keep it running. I will launch my Patreon page to help support my website and blog.

Patreon, for those not familiar with the website, is a membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, as well as ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or patrons. It is popular among YouTube video makers, artists, writers, podcasters, musicians, and other creators who post regularly online.

On my Patreon page I encourage all to make a contribution to help support the blog and website, and/or share my page with others. There are a number of rewards you can earn when you contribute which are: acknowledgement on my website, send information you come across to me on museums and history, and make requests for what I should write about for the blog. When you make higher contributions, in addition to the previously mentioned rewards we can arrange for an hour meeting, a two-hour meeting, or an unlimited meeting for either a meet and greet or seek consulting advice.

My goals are when I reach 50 patrons contributing I will post two blog entries per week instead of once per week. As more patrons contribute to my blog and website, I will increase the number of blog entries per week.

I encourage visiting and sharing my Patreon page, listed here: https://www.patreon.com/lindseysteward

Thank you all for your continued support during the past year, and I hope you all continue to read as I continue to give educators and aspiring educators both a personal account of and resources on the museum education field.

“Leaving the Museum Field”: A Reaction to the Alliance Labs Blog

Added to Medium, September 27, 2017

This week I am posting earlier than usual because I have a family event this weekend I am preparing for and I also want to address a blog post from Alliance Labs, the American Alliance of Museums blog, discussing the topic of why many museum professionals are leaving the field.

It is an important topic because there are so many people considering leaving the field for various reasons, and we need to do something to work towards making our field more inclusive and rewarding for museum professionals to make it more appealing to stay. After reading this blog and similar articles, the experience made me think about my own reasoning for staying in the field as well as my resolve to be a part of making this museum field a more encouraging field to continue working in.

Sarah Erdman, Claudia Ocello, Dawn Estabrooks Salerno, and Marieke Van Damme last week talked about this topic in their blog “Leaving the Museum Field”. These four museum professionals got together after the 2016 AAM conference in DC to try to find out the reasons museum workers leave the field. In this blog, they presented their findings based on the over one thousand individuals who participated in a survey with open-ended questions. One of the questions that were placed in the survey include,
Why we stay. Hands down, we stay because of the work we do. Unsurprisingly, for those of us who have made lifelong friends at our museums, we also stay because of our coworkers. The close 3rd and 4th reasons for staying are “Pay/Benefits” and “No Other Option.” The least popular response was “Feel Lucky to Have a Job” (1%) and the write-in “I love dinosaurs.”’

I have mentioned in previous blog posts my reasons for joining the museum field, and for me my reasons are definitely for the love of the work I do as well as my passion for museums. In my very first blog post, “Writing about Museum Education”, I mentioned my family trips to museums inspired my passion for and my career in museum education. I also pointed out that

“Education for me has always been my favorite part of life, and while at times it was challenging for me field trips especially to museums have given me a way to understand the lessons I learned in the classroom.”

I still believe museums can illuminate an individual’s educational experience, and by continuing in the museum field I hope to make an impact on the public. It is a challenge to accomplish this when there are things that prevent me from fulfilling this goal.

As I was graduating with my Master’s degree in Public History, there were limited opportunities to get a position in the field that would meet the typical needs. Similar limitations were addressed in the blog post as reasons museum professionals are leaving. According to the blog,

Reasons why museum workers leave the field. We had about 300 answers to this open-ended question. We grouped them by theme and found the following reasons (in order of frequency of response):
1. Pay was too low
2. Other
3. Poor work/life balance
4. Insufficient benefits
5. [tie] Workload/Better positions
6. Schedule didn’t work.”

There was a point that I thought I should consider leaving. However, I thought about my experiences I have had at this point, and knew there is so much I still have to offer to the field. I began working at the Maritime Explorium, a children’s science museum, which is a little different from my previous experiences but is just as passionate about education for children and the public as I am. Also, I began work on this blog sharing my experiences in the museum field as well as my impressions on current trends in the field. I also became involved in museum organizations, including the Gender Equity in Museums Movement, to help other museums and museum professionals make a difference in the community and within their institutions.

In a way, I adapted my career in the museum education field and I found a way to stay in the field. I continue to work hard to stay in the field. This blog pointed out a number of ways to help museum professionals stay; it stated,

How can we prevent museum workers from leaving? Again, increasing pay was at the top of the list, but respondents also suggested many free or cost-effective ways to create better working environments, like:
Create mentoring opportunities
Respect each other – break departmental silos
Make room for new ideas.”

By following the previously mentioned suggestions, we as museum professionals will be able to work towards making museums a better workforce to stay in so we would be able to work within our communities better.

While I continue to face challenges in attaining these needs, I am thankful for every opportunity that I have experienced in the field. Each experience has led me to getting to know various people in the field and to learning lessons in the field that help me grow as a museum professional.

The key to making this field a more appealing field to stay in is to keep working towards making a change in our museums and the museum community. It would not be realistic to expect the museum field to be better overnight. We need to keep talking about this situation, and be able to learn from this experience to move forward. I included the original link to the blog in my resources section for all museum professionals to refer to, and it also includes a variety of resources related to this topic to refer to.

Please leave your responses about this topic on my blog and/or the Alliance Labs blog, and continue this discussion among your colleagues.
Resources:
http://labs.aam-us.org/blog/leaving-the-museum-field/
https://www.genderequitymuseums.com/

 

What Can We Learn From the DreamSpace Project?

Added to Medium, August 24, 2017

I was reading the Alliance Labs blog posts when I came across one that I found not only interesting but also relevant for museum professionals and other readers alike. It is an example of a blog post that provides information about how to have a better understanding of race and racism. American Alliance of Museum’s Ford W. Bell Fellow in P-12 Education and Museums Sage Morgan-Hubbard has transcribed an interview she had with Alyssa Machida, an Interpretive Specialist at the Detroit Institute of Arts, about the workbook, The DreamSpace Project in the Alliance Labs blog post “Building the Dreamspace in Museum Education”.

What is a Dreamspace? A Dreamspace is a place in the museum where museum educators are able to learn how to provide a safe space for discussion about race and racism.

We need to take the time to acknowledge what is going on in our nation and look deep down into ourselves and in our communities. The Dreamspace project is one of the ways we can do so in the museum field.

According to the blog post on incluseum website called “The Dreamspace Project: A workbook and toolkit for critical praxis in the American art museum Part I”, there is a growing need for tools and resources to guide museum educators in developing more nuanced understandings of race and racism throughout their institutions; in order to do so, Alyssa Machida researched concepts from critical pedagogy, critical race theory, and ethnic studies to integrate with museum education pedagogy.

Machida, as of last year, was working on the Dreamspace workbook which translates theoretical concepts into practical language and frameworks adaptable for art museum professionals with key vocabulary, diagrams and graphic organizers, ideas for building tours, and questions for critical reflection.

The purpose of this workbook is to take educators through a significant amount of content for the purpose of raising critical consciousness. Educators, especially in this day and age, engage us in wide-reaching social forces and dynamics beyond our peripheral vision, and as a result teach us how to become better human beings in the process.

Machida also discussed in the blog post “The Dreamspace Project: A workbook and toolkit for critical praxis in the American art museum Part 2” contextualizing, deconstruction, and decolonization. She explained that in the chapter of the Dreamspace workbook “Contextualizing: Mapping and Navigating Terrains” it introduces the practice of developing critical self-awareness, building knowledge of the many ecologies we inhabit, and expanding understandings of our roles and responsibilities. There are also key points that museums have to keep in mind when establishing critical self-awareness and openness to being challenged within ourselves to see individuals as agents of change.

The key points in mindfulness to keep in mind provide a framework for openness. In the blog post, she stated the first key point is everyone is complicit with racism; in other words, it is everyone’s responsibility to be attuned and counteract deeply ingrained behaviors and biases which will take time. The second key point is don’t let emotion get in the way of critically and consciousness; while learning about racism and systems of oppression is an emotional and painful, it is important to not let emotions take control since we are learning something that is changing our perspectives, and make sure we breathe, stay calm, and keep going. Then the third key point is to bring it up; these conversations are difficult to bring up to colleagues and supervisors but if you have trust and respect speak up since it is an opportunity for learning, teaching, and growth. The fourth key point is listen with your skin; in other words, when the subject of racism is brought up, be ready to put all biases and assumptions aside as well as listen for understanding. In addition, it is important to be open to being challenged and look for multiple ways to be supportive.

Machida’s work has gained a lot of attention in the past few days especially after what had happened in Charlottesville this month. These blog posts about her work were included as resources to look over while reading the Alliance Labs piece by Sage Morgan-Hubbard.

In the interview, Morgan-Hubbard used some of the questions in the Dreamspace toolkit. Some of the questions include: What was one of your first experiences with a museum? What does education mean to you? What is your personal learning style? Do you teach in a way that leans towards your personal learning style? and How do you see your role in society, or in your community?

By learning about Machida’s background in museum education and her work on the Dreamspace project, I am able to think about my own background and know that there are many museum educators that can identify with her answers.

When we understand more about individuals of all backgrounds within our own communities we would be able to provide a safe space for both museum professionals and visitors.

Here are the links to the blogs I referred to:
http://labs.aam-us.org/blog/building-dreamspace-in-museum-education/
https://incluseum.com/2016/08/11/a-workbook-and-toolkit-for-critical-praxis-in-the-american-art-museum/
https://incluseum.com/2016/10/13/the-dreamspace-project-a-workbook-and-toolkit-for-critical-praxis-in-the-american-art-museum-part-2/
Have you read the Dreamspace workbook? What do you think of the Dreamspace workbook and toolkit?

Reactions to Blog: “Emotionally Charged Spaces”

I read another blog post from Museum Hack, which is one of their case studies, called Emotionally Charged Spaces: Why You Should Create Immersive Tours with Sensitive Subject Matter. While this was a case study of one of the services they performed for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba, there is a lot to learn about the challenges of telling a story of a difficult past. According to the blog post, the Canadian Museum of Human Rights’ mission “to create lasting global change in the field of human rights, shining a spotlight on some of the most egregious violations of human rights around the world, and to inspire activism.” To help fulfill the mission, Museum Hack provided the staff training on how storytelling can help people connect with the subject matter the museum presents.

Museum Hack uses the case studies in their blog not only to share what they were able to do for the museums that asked for their services but Museum Hack shared case studies like this one to show what museums can learn from these organizations.

As we know as museum educators, it is important to know how to tell a narrative or story effectively to show audiences how significant these stories are to be able to understand our past or subject matter. Museum Hack pointed out that the goal for programming on difficult subjects is for visitors to be educated, informed, and inspired to make change instead of leaving the place depressed. Also, it stated creating programming and telling stories that both acknowledge the gravity and seriousness of issues while getting audiences engaged without overwhelming them is a challenging objective but worth the effort when received positively. As a public historian, I have both learned and practiced storytelling of difficult subjects, especially slavery.

My previous experience was more focused on doing research for Stanley-Whitman House in Farmington for their symposium program discussing slavery in 17th century Connecticut. In addition to the research presented at the symposium, there were other colleagues that did their own research and presented their findings to share with the community of professionals and individuals interested learning more about the subject.

This experience is one of the examples of the points the blog made that not many challenging subjects are told through engaging programming but mostly through lecture series. To create more engaging programs and storytelling on difficult subject matter, there must be human connection to the topic discussed.

In the case study, Museum Hack revealed that by having guides share their personal connections it will further humanize what the visitor is interacting with. I agree with this because to have relevance in museums, especially with museums discussing difficult subject matter, visitors have to recognize the human connection in these stories. Whether they have their own personal connections to difficult subject matter or not, visitors should at least be able to learn from and understand those who have a personal connection.

Museum Hack also briefly talked about one of their best practices called scaffolding. According to the blog post, scaffolding is a way to strategically maximize visitor engagement throughout a tour. This practice is vital to making sensitive environments less overwhelming for visitors. Scaffolding is a practice museum professionals continue to adapt the museums’ stories to the visitor tours.

What we should take away from the Museum Hack blog post is when presented with the challenge to create an engaging tour with difficult subject matter it is important to make sure there is human connection with the stories. This is also an example of how relevance can be used to encourage engaging visitors to the museums.

What did you think of Museum Hack’s blog post on engaging in emotionally charged spaces? Have you seen scaffolding in other emotionally charged spaces? Share your thoughts. Here is the link to the original post:
View at Medium.com

Reactions to Blog: “9 Ways To Supercharge Your Museum Volunteers”

Also posted on Medium, June 29, 2017.

I decided this week to talk about another one of the blog posts I have been reading this week. I found this blog on Medium, 9 Ways To Supercharge Your Museum Volunteers, written by Ashleigh Hibbins for Museum Hack. As I prepare to help with revamping the docent manual for the Three Village Historical Society, I review resources I have to use as guides for this project. Part of developing the volunteer program is working on the docent manual. When I read this post, it reinforced what I already learned from the webinar I attended in January and the book I have read, Recruiting and Managing Volunteers in Museums by Kristy Van Hoven and Loni Wellman. Museum Hack’s post provides additional resources that are very helpful for the readers, and there were many statements they made that reaffirmed not only the knowledge I have gained but the importance of maintaining a great relationship with volunteers.

In the past and currently, I have volunteered for various organizations that have different ways of running their volunteer programs. I have also run a volunteer program in the past where I was responsible for volunteers teaching larger school programs. By learning how they could be run through professional development and reading books, I gain knowledge on how I should be treated as a volunteer and learn how I can improve my skills when I run a volunteer program. There is always something to learn when revisiting a subject including volunteer management, and this post is no exception.

I liked that they included how important volunteers are to museums at the very beginning of the article. They stated “Who are the most excited and engaged people in your museum?… Your volunteers!” And this is very true because as a volunteer and a leader in the volunteer program I see so many passionate people who have been volunteering for many years. It is important therefore to make sure that passion is kindled and used to help complete projects for their museums. Also, the post pointed out the importance of keeping volunteers happy.

It is true that volunteers are our museums’ biggest fans and advocates since they are dedicating their time to help museums to continue to adapt and develop. What I have not thought about before that they pointed out was according to a U.S. survey two-thirds of volunteers also donate money to their place of volunteering (they used Fidelity® Charitable Gift Fund Volunteerism and Charitable Giving in 2009 Executive Summary as a source). It makes sense because they work hard to keep the museums running and they are willing to do whatever is possible to keep them running including donations of time and sometimes money. The rest of the post gave the ways to supercharge volunteers, and then gave detailed explanations for each way.

Some of the ways they shared in the post include treat volunteer interviews like job interviews, don’t just smile and nod-volunteers have great ideas, volunteers are your secret recruiting weapon, and remind your volunteers how awesome they are. While these tips should seem obvious when considering volunteers, there are various points that need to be brought to our attention. For instance, when it was stated that readers should treat volunteer interviews like job interviews they pointed out that “don’t set someone up for failure by giving them a position they are unable to perform.” It is not only important to keep this in mind because no projects will be accomplished if volunteers cannot perform tasks but it will also affect their self-esteem and passion for the organization. Without that passion, we will not be able to retain the hard-working volunteers we need.

The post also pointed out how important it is to learn about volunteer programming from other museums in the community. In the post, it talked about being a nosy volunteer manager, or be continuously involved in making sure volunteers’ and museums’ needs are met, and then they stated “Also, be nosy with volunteer managers at other museums so you can pick up tips and tricks from them too.” I believe that it is important for volunteer managers should learn from other museums on how they run their volunteer programs not only because the programs can inspire their own way of running volunteer programs but museum professionals can come together to learn how to keep their museums relevant in the community through their volunteer programs.

What we should take away from this post is to be sure to keep our volunteers needs and happiness in mind when developing volunteer programs. I have also provided the link to the original post from Museum Hack for you all to read, and links to the resources they used in their post especially for anyone running volunteer programs.

Do you run volunteer programs? What do you think of Museum Hack’s contribution to the subject of museum volunteers? Have you followed similar advice Museum Hack discussed? What challenges have you faced when developing your volunteer program(s)? Share your reactions.

Resources used in Museum Hack article:
https://aamv.wildapricot.org/Standards-and-Best-Practices

Click to access Technical_Bulletin_45_-_Creating_a_Successful_Volunteer_Program.pdf


Click to access Volunteerism-Charitable-Giving-2009-Executive-Summary.pdf

View at Medium.com

Response to Blog: “Museums are places to forget”

Originally posted on Medium, May 4, 2017. 

I chose to do something a little different this week for my blog post. While I have done something similar in the past by responding to what museum professionals discuss in professional development programs. This time I decided to write about what other people discuss about in the museum field in their own blogs. I came across the blog post “Museums are places to forget” written by Steven Lubar. Lubar is a professor of American Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and a museum consultant. Before that, Lubar was the Curator at the National Museum of American History, Director at the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, and Director at the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage. He has written a book called Inside the Lost Museum: Curating, Past and Present which will be released in August.

When I came across this blog and finished reading this blog, I thought it was an interesting piece since it reminds me of lessons I have learned while in both college and graduate school. At least one of my previous classes had a deep discussion about what it means to be a professional historian, and one of the topics discussed was about history and memory. The relationship between history and memory is an ongoing discussion that takes place outside of the classroom especially during my experiences as a museum professional. This blog post Lubar wrote is a discussion about how museums are examples of how history and memory are dealt with within our community.

One of the things that caught my attention as I read the blog was this subtitle for the blog. Lubar stated that “sometimes, museums are places of forgetting, not remembering” which I find interesting since in general people believe that they are supposed to attend museums to be reminded of our past and learn about a part of the past that help them understand a community’s culture. While this is true that people come to museums to be reminded of the past, museums can represent what we have forgotten and chose to forget. Museums can also sometimes choose to forget the past and/or unintentionally forget the past.

Museums have the purpose to tell a narrative that supports the institution’s mission, and sometimes when museum professionals decide on a narrative not every item in its collections can be displayed to explain their narrative. For instance, when I worked at the Butler-McCook House & Garden in Hartford, the historic house is set up to tell the story of the third and fourth generations of the family who lived in the house during the 19th century even though the history of the house and family can be traced back to the 18th century.

The staff created an exhibit in the History Center that gives an overall history of Hartford and of the family during the 18th and 19th century; the exhibit included not only narratives but also objects and photographs from the house’s collections. While I was there, the staff and myself worked on projects based on the interpretive framework that will help start including more information from the Butler-McCook House’s history; to this day, the Butler-McCook House continues to create interpretive programs that covers more history that can be shared with visitors of all ages and backgrounds interested in learning more about this family.

The example of the Butler-McCook House showed how a historic house museum while still maintaining its display in the house as a 19th century house it also works on incorporating other significant parts of the house’s history. There are more objects that are found in both the collections storage room and on the third floor of the house not open to the public which are not seen by the public.

This brings up a point Lubar brought up in his blog that there are times that not everything in a museum, especially at the Butler-McCook House, can be viewed by the public for various reasons. Some items in museums’ collections are those that are in poor condition, and even have stopped serving purposes for the museum and are forgotten with the passage of time.

Of course, there are more than a couple of reasons museums forget. Lubar pointed out that sometimes “society decides that it’s not longer ethical for museums to hold certain kinds of artifacts.” And this can be true especially for museums that have Native American artifacts in its collections. The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990) was created to require museums receiving federal funding to return Native American human remains and other artifacts to appropriate tribes. Between museums and the government, they work together to find out what is no longer ethical to hold onto for educational purposes and it is important for all museums to acknowledge ethical issues and find ways to make sure artifacts are given respect. It is also important for museums to serve and work with society to remain relevant, and to stay relevant museums need to pay attention to how society views its own practices in ethics.

Another statement that stood out to me was this statement about religion and religious artifacts. Lubar stated in the blog “When something’s put in a museum, it loses part of its meaning. Religious artifacts become art.” That can be true for museums that include religious artifacts in the collections. As Parish Historian at my childhood church, I have seen a unique situation where the meaning behind the artifacts in Trinity Church that have both its own original identity and an identity as a historic collection item. When I last talked about my experience as a Parish Historian, I talked about the exhibit I designed to celebrate the Easter season using items that were viewed as items used in church services in addition to photographs.

At the same time, Trinity Church also has items in the collections that are not stored with the rest of the items but are still used in church ceremonies (such as the chalice and prayer books); these items are listed in a book of donated items to the church which is one of the items in the collections. In my experience, the collections are constantly crossing the line between being part of a collection that is, until recent years, has been forgotten about by the Trinity community and being part of Trinity’s practices today. The Trinity community continues to rediscover its collections from the past as future projects are getting underway.

Museums today continue to practice its practice of helping the public remember and forgetting its history, and will always constantly cross the line between remembering and forgetting to meet expectations of society and its surrounding communities.

The link to the original blog post can be found here: https://medium.com/@lubar/museums-are-places-to-forget-ba76a92c5701
Do you agree that museums are places to forget? What are some examples you have seen and experienced with remembering to forget and forgetting to remember?

Equity and Inclusion in Museums

Originally posted on Medium, March 10, 2017.

This week’s blog post is both a continuation of the previous blog post “How to use Food to Create Relevance in Museums” and a discussion on equity and inclusion in museums. The topic was inspired by a New York City Museum Educators Roundtable (NYCMER) event Lessons in Equity from Culturally-Specific Institutions: Beyond the “Target Program” that took place this week at the Museum of Chinese in America. This panel began with a gallery exploration of the exhibit “Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America” and snacks and refreshments were provided based on the exhibit.

The panel was moderated by Stephanie LaFroscia who is the Arts Program Specialist at New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Each of the panelists who spoke at the program represent culturally-specific institutions and discuss their experiences and challenges of inclusivity and equity. The panelists were Nancy Yao Maasbach (President of the Museum of Chinese in America), Shanta Lawson (Education Director at the Studio Museum in Harlem), Joy Liu (Education Specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York), and Isra el-Bishar (Curator of Education and Public Programming at the Arab American National Museum). While I was listening to the panelists’ experiences, I also thought about how equity and inclusion is discussed in the general museum field. Last month’s Museum magazine issue was dedicated to the topic of equity and inclusion. Also, I recently received my issue of the Journal of Museum Education which includes articles based on the issue’s title “Race, Dialogue and Inclusion” (Volume 42.1, March 2017). By attending this program, I learned more about how to create an environment that is more inclusive as a museum professional.

The program took place at the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) located on Centre Street in New York City. The Museum of Chinese in America is an organization that is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history, heritage, culture and diverse experiences of people of Chinese descent in the United States; the museum also promotes dialogue and understanding among people of all cultural backgrounds. The central part of this museum’s mission is the goal to make Chinese American history accessible to the general public. Also, the museum not only promotes the understanding and appreciation of Chinese American arts, culture, and history but it also informs, educates and engages visitors of Chinese American history in the making.

Museum of Chinese in America

After I walked from the subway to the Museum of Chinese in America, I had the opportunity to try the food related to the museum’s exhibit “Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America” before the program began. The snacks were provided by Nom Wah Tea Parlor which is a vintage dim sum parlor that dates back to 1920. There was a sample of various dim sum featured on their menu as well as sparkling water and lemonade for beverages.

I had the opportunity to try vegetarian dumplings, scallion pancake, chicken siu mai, and fried sesame ball with lotus paste. Vegetarian dumplings have mixed vegetables and mushrooms in homemade tapioca starch wrappers. Scallion pancakes are made with wheat flour batter mixed with scallions and then the batter is pan-fried. Chicken Siu Mai is minced chicken in wonton wrappers. The fried sesame ball with lotus paste is lotus paste (sweet and smooth filled paste made from dried lotus seeds) that is wrapped in rice flour dough and then wrapped in sesame seeds. Each of these were delicious, and it is different from other Chinese dishes I have had during my lifetime so far. By trying dim sum, I was able to see what authentic Chinese food tastes like and I had the opportunity to appreciate the culture even more than I had before this experience.

Once I finished eating dim sum, I explored the exhibit “Sour, Sweet, Bitter, Spicy: Stories of Chinese Food and Identity in America” which opened on October 6, 2016 and will now close on September 10, 2017 due to its popularity. The exhibit had a large table and chairs around it in the middle of the room which featured plates, utensils, place settings, and ceramic sculptures; this exhibit told stories of thirty-three Chinese and Asian-American chefs. Also, this exhibit weaves together various complex stories through video installations featuring pioneering chefs including Cecilia Chiang, Ken Hom, Anita Lo, Ming Tsai, and Martin Yan; new restaurateurs like Peter Chang, Vivian Ku, and Danny Bowien; and persevering home cooks like Biying Ni, Yvette Lee and Ho-chin Yang.

This video as well as the large table in the center of the room create a tapestry of various stories that tell their experiences with immigration as well as sharing food memories, favorite dishes and cooking inspirations that define the culinary and personal identities of these chefs. The name of this exhibit comes from an expression that not only refers to the balance of flavors that define Chinese cooking but it also refers to the ups and downs of life. As I read each personal story and explored the rest of the museum’s exhibits, I began to understand the Chinese American experience and I was able to see the relevance of how important it is to continue telling stories of and to appreciate various cultures in our nation.

The program began, after spending time in the exhibit, with each representative from culturally-specific institutions describing their institutions’ missions. For instance, Shanta Lawson of the Studio Museum in Harlem stated that the museum, founded in 1968/1969, was created in response to the lack of diversity in the community and fifty years later there is still a long way to go, and was created to support black artists and art education. Nancy Yao Maasbach of the Museum of Chinese in America discussed the Journey Wall which features Chinese immigrant families and talk about how each of the items in their collection (which is about 65,000 items) have value to the museum and the community. Also, Isra el-Bishar of the Arab American National Museum stated that the museum has been around for twelve years and continues to fulfill its mission by finding ways to represent individuals’ narratives from each Arab country. At the conclusion of the program, after answering various questions from the moderator and people in the audience, each panelist discussed how their respective organizations move forward towards inclusion and equity.

Lawson, for instance, stated that the Studio Museum in Harlem staff plan to continue challenging themselves on how to push forward and challenge norms to see what works and what doesn’t work. Joy Liu of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York discussed the opportunity to include other indigenous peoples’ stories (Latin American indigenous groups), integrate indigenous history, and answer the question what does it mean to be indigenous today? Liu also stated that it is important to emphasize that indigenous peoples’ stories continue to this day, and make sure the truth about indigenous people (indigenous people are the majority in North America for example) is told. Also, Maasbach stated that the museum will use technology more to help visitors understand stories in a way people of different cultures can understand what they did not experience (such as the chair to simulate interrogation of twelve-year-old that was separated from family on Angel Island, California). This program made me think more about equity and inclusion, especially how it is discussed by organizations such as the American Alliance of Museums and the Museum Education Roundtable.

The American Alliance of Museums publishes Museum a magazine that publishes articles written by museum professionals and by writers who write about topics that help museum professionals run their museums. As an AAM member, I have the opportunity to subscribe to this magazine. The previous issue, January/February 2017, main topic was “Equity in the Museum Workforce”, and each article was written with this topic in mind. For instance, there is an article written by Elizabeth Merritt (founding director of the Center for the Future of Museums [CFM]) called “Taking the Bias out of Hiring” which discusses identifying and eliminating unconscious bias in the recruitment process. Another article is “We’re Not That Hard to Find: Hiring Diverse Museum Staff” by Joy Bailey-Bryant (who is responsible for the U.S. operations of Lord Cultural Resources) which presents a set of guidelines to implement change in the museum and identify a pipeline of diverse employees.

Museum Education Roundtable’s publication Journal of Museum Education presents articles written by museum education professionals and museum professionals to discuss current trends and practices in museum education. This month’s journal is on the topic of “Race, Dialogue, and Inclusion: A Museum on the National Stage” and it is broken down into a few sections. The Journal starts with an editorial from Cynthia Robinson, editor-in-chief, and then moves on to an article from guest editors and additional articles from various museum professionals; the Journal also includes a section Tools, Frameworks, and Case Studies which provide exercised examples of how the topic can be addressed in the museum, and What the Research Says which is a research study. I will also be participating in AAM’s discussion on Race, Dialogue and Inclusion based on this month’s Journal of Museum Education so I will discuss this one in further detail. I leave you with these questions to ponder on:

What is your museum/organization doing to move forward on equity and inclusion? Have you read any of the above articles and journal I referred to? If so, what do you think?