Posted on May 30th, 2016 by Rachel
Over the past few days, I (along with most of the staff at the JMM), attended the American Alliance of Museum’s (AAM) annual conference in DC. This is my third AAM conference and I am always amazed by the scale of the event. Roughly 6,000 museum professionals from around the world attended. Throughout my time at the conference, I sat in on sessions on volunteer management, accessibility, audience engagement, docent training and how to effectively supervise college interns. I also socialized with present and former colleagues and made lots of new contacts in the museum community.
The first session I went on to on Thursday was titled “Embracing the Power of Older Adult Volunteers.”
As Ilene Cohen, our current volunteer coordinator will be leaving us shortly and I’ll be taking over some of her responsibilities, I thought it would be a good idea to get some tips about how to advocate for our fabulous volunteer corp. At the session, I learned techniques for training older adult volunteers on technology and got some suggestions of places to recruit for new volunteers.
I then went to the MuseumExpo exhibit hall where I browsed through exhibitors relating to audio tours, admissions, educational programs and regional museum associations. I met with a representative from Blackbaud to get some tips about the new Altru ticketing/donor management system which we will be implementing soon at the Museum.
I also tried out a virtual reality station about the Wright Brothers flight and bought two books to help me in my current position.
I then went to a session called “Museums for All,” which was about an initiative developed by the Institute of Museum of Library Services. This program offers free or reduced admission to museums across the country to low-income families. I discovered that this is a great way to broaden our visitor base, reach out to under-served audiences, and perhaps most importantly, to be socially conscious and inclusive. In the coming weeks, I hope to implement it at the JMM.
In the evening, I went to a Happy Hour from the Museum Education Roundtable and another one sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Museum Studies program, which I graduated from a few years ago.
On Friday, I went to a session called “60 Great Ideas for Historic Sites and Historic Homes” where I got lots of ideas ranging from improving the visitor experience to forming new partnerships and increasing attendance at special events.
I then went to the General Session where Robert Edsel, author of the Monuments Men, spoke about the legacy of the Monuments Men, the unsung heroes (both men and women), who saved the world’s greatest art and cultural treasures during World War II. He challenged all of us to become advocates for the return of artwork to their rightful owners and reminded us that modern day monuments men and women are still working to safeguard our cultural heritage in war torn-places like Iraq and Syria.
A packed general session!
In the afternoon, I went to the Marketplace of Ideas “Small Museums Talk Volunteers and Sustainability,” where I got to brainstorm with other volunteer managers about issues that we have been facing at JMM.
On Saturday, I went to a session on “Training 21st century Docents” where I learned the importance of encouraging more participation and discussion into tours and sharing best practices among the docents. I also got ideas such as field trip exchanges to other museums to see how they do their tours and ways to incorporate direct feedback at the end of each tour.
I then had lunch with an intern from a prior position, visited “Crosslines,” a two day exhibit featuring artists and scholars at the newly restored Arts and Industries Building, and met up with a former boss and mentor.
I concluded my experience with a stop by the Party “Inside the Great American Outdoors” at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. I felt privileged to be able to explore the museum after-hours with many of my colleagues.
To sum up, I had a jam-packed time at the conference and came away with many takeaways which I hope to implement at the JMM.
A blog post by Graham Humphrey, Visitor Services Coordinator. To read more posts by Graham click HERE.
Posted on April 19th, 2013 by Rachel
In this month’s JMM Insight we wanted to take you into the world of government relations. In the last few years direct support from government agencies to museums has fallen sharply at both the state and federal levels. However, government policy – on issues ranging from education to tax law still have a profound effect on museum operations. The American Association of Museums changed its name to American Alliance of Museums last year to reflect its important role as a collective voice for the industry on a national scale (JMM is an accredited member). While we work closely with the Baltimore Jewish Council on government issues of local concern, we also participate in the Alliance’s national efforts to make the contributions of museums better known to Congress. Each year we send a delegation to Museum Advocacy Day. In this issue you’ll hear from Esther Weiner, store manager, board liaison and museum advocate extraordinaire.
MUSEUM ADVOCACY DAY 2013
February 25 and 26, 2013
When Deborah Cardin sent out an email to the staff asking for volunteers to attend a 2-day meeting in Washington, sponsored by the American Alliance of Museums, a meeting titled, “Museum Advocacy Day 2013”, I jumped at the opportunity.
I was quite familiar with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a key federal agency, having worked with the grants that came to the JMM from IMLS, so I knew of the marvelous work that they accomplished with museums all over the country thru their grants. I wanted to learn the inside of this organization, as well as AAM, and see how they accomplished the quite amazing things that they did through the grant awards that were given. Another key federal agency is the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH); the JMM has been the beneficiary of grants from this agency as well.
Robyn Hughes, our wonderful and amazing docent, had already volunteered for the second time, so I thought this would be great, the two of us to represent the Jewish Museum of Maryland. In her own words, Robyn said, “I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to represent the Jewish Museum of Maryland and the American Alliance of Museums as an Advocate on Museums Advocacy Day 2013 on Capitol Hill. It is my sincere hope that our lobbying efforts for the inclusion of museums in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act will enable thousands of public school students from city schools across the nation to continue to benefit from museum outreach programs.”
There were approximately 270 representatives to this conference from all over the country. Most of the representatives had been to this conference before, but there were also novices like myself. The conference was a two-day affair. The first day the meeting was held at George Washington University, in their Marvin Center, with speakers all day long. It was also a great opportunity to network with representatives of museums from all over the country and to learn how to advocate for our own museum, in two minutes or less! We heard of the unique budgetary and political challenges that museums face in 2013 and the power of having the museum speak with one voice.
On the second day, all of us were inspired and primed with our own two-minute talk to the representatives and senator that the Alliance had arranged for each of us. I had prepared an Economic Impact Statement well as an Educational Impact Statement with facts about the JMM. Our preparation was to encourage the representatives and senators to vote for increased funding for IMLS, which we knew would be cut in the new budget. We went in groups to the offices of Congressman John Delaney, Congressman Elijah E. Cummings, and in the afternoon to the office of Senator Ben Cardin. We were always cordially received, and met with the Legislative Assistants in each case.
It was an extraordinary experience and I am so glad that I volunteered to represent the JMM and to travel around the House and Senate with Robyn Hughes. Robyn was great, and having her mother with us was a treat. Being “on the Hill” has its own particular fascination, and fascinated I was! Would I do this again? You bet, so thank you Deborah, for giving me the opportunity to hopefully make a difference for the JMM.