A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.
Last Thursday, I got up early, hopped on my chariot, and headed to Pittsburgh for the Annual Conference for the Mid-Atlantic Association of Museums (aka MAAM). The mission of MAAM is to support and promote excellence, ethics, and accessibility in museum practices; and to make the museums of the Mid-Atlantic region better able to preserve and interpret our diverse cultural, scientific, and aesthetic heritage. I was invited to Pittsburgh as I was recently nominated to serve as a Member at Large on the Board of MAAM to represent the State of Maryland.
The three day conference was jam packed filled with sessions, museum visits, board meetings and just meeting a lot of very nice like-minded museum professionals. On Thursday, we visited the Rivers of Steel National Heritage where we learned about the Carrie Furnaces No. 6 and 7, which are rare examples of pre-World War II iron-making technology. Built in 1907, the furnaces produced iron for the Homestead Works from 1907 to 1978. Since the collapse of the region’s steel industry in the 1970s and 1980s, these are the only non-operative blast furnaces in the Pittsburgh District to remain standing.
We visited the Frick Pittsburgh where we were treated to a preview of a very fun exhibition on loan from London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, Undressed -The History of Underwear in Fashion. The exhibition illustrates how undergarments reflect society’s changing ideas about the body, morality, and sex, and the intimate relationship between underwear and fashion. Thursday evening we were treated to a reception at the Phipps Conservatory and saw the beautiful glass sculpture and art of Jason Gamrath.
Day Two of the conference was spent in sessions – I was attracted to attending sessions on education and was also treated to the keynote address from Ruth Abram, co-founder of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and who has also worked on other projects like the Sites of Conscience and Behold, New Lebanon! On Saturday, I had the opportunity to visit the Heinz History Center and saw the set of Mister Rogers Neighborhood and also celebrated the 100th birthday of Charlie the Tuna!
One of things that impressed me most about the MAAM organization is its desire to foster and mentor emerging professionals in the museum field. One of the best moments that I had of the weekend was seeing former JMM intern, Emma Glaser. Emma interned with the JMM over the summer of 2014 and was instrumental in helping us plan education activities in connection with the Mendes Cohen exhibition. Following Emma’s internship, she contacted me about providing her a letter of recommendation, she wanted to apply to graduate school for museum studies. I was absolutely thrilled to see Emma at the conference and see how learn how happy she is studying in the Graduate Program for Museum Studies in Cooperstown, New York in her chosen field of study!