It is once again the time for me to regale you all with tales from the Tennessee Association of Museums Annual Conference. This year, the meeting was held just up the road in Franklin, which gave participants a great opportunity to visit the sites of near-by Columbia and the rich Civil War history of Franklin.
This year I attended as a conference presenter (twice!), PhD Candidate for MTSU, and as the Director of Collections, Interpretation, and Development for the Sam Davis Home and Museum (that’s a whole other post – if you’ve wondered where I have been, there is your answer – I intend to post more updates in the next week).
In among the sessions, great lunch and dinner breaks, site visits, and of course, hospitality suite shenanigans, I had a great opportunity to chat with and learn from other museum professionals about struggles and triumphs that we all share. This fit in very well with the theme of this year’s conference, “Against All Odds: Stories of Determination and Resilience.”
The first day we traveled to Columbia, Tennessee to visit the James K. Polk Home, the Athenaeum, and a private residence. We then had the awards dinner and tons of fun at the Veteran’s Memorial Hall.
Early the next morning, I chaired a panel called, “Acting on Accessibility in a Post-ADA America” with Dr. Brenden Martin from MTSU, Jared Norwood from MTSU, and Ashleigh Oatts from Marble Springs State Historic Site. We asked such questions as: Is compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) enough? Is your site targeting and building an important audience by creating new opportunities for visitors with disabilities? The session discussed ways that museums and historic sites can develop accessibility through exhibits, site layout, and program offerings in a post-ADA world by going beyond the typical “fixes” of ramps and benches. Topics covered included the historical context of ADA, universal and exhibit design, reaching out to Special Education classrooms and individuals with cognitive delay, and struggles specific to historic sites and historic house museums. Strategies and tips were provided, and we facilitated a short discussion about possibilities and solutions for specific sites. Below is my presentation:
The same afternoon, fellow PhD Candidate Rebecca Duke and Rachael South Bogema from the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa joined me for a session called, “Rookie Roundtable: Discussions and Tips for Young Emerging Professionals.” The session was designed as a group discussion to talk about challenges, issues, and advice for people just getting started in the field, students, or those that are trying to figure out where to go next. We had a great conversation with people from all over the state, and everyone had great stories and advice to share! Please see Rachael’s blog on the C.H. Nash Museum site for more information!
Thursday night we visited Carnton Plantation, and then we got to experience the highly-anticipated dinner and live auction! Table 1 walked away victorious, with every person seated there taking home at least one prize. I even walked away with the most coveted prize: the Hospitality Suite Painting, which was created in the bathtub of the suite by TAM members the evening before the auction.
On Friday I attended two great sessions: “Against All Odds: Social Media Strategy and Planning on a Shoestring Budget” with Catherine Shtyenberg, assistant curator/web and social media coordinator, at the Frank H. McClung Museum and then a session about commemoration at historic sites which included: Melissa Davis from Humanities Tennessee, Myers Brown from the TN State Museum, Charlie Rhodarmer from the Sequoyah Birthplace Museum, and Jeff Wells from TN State Parks. I know I took a lot away from both of these sessions, including a great program through Humanities Tennessee that will take place at the Sam Davis Home next month! More information here.
You can see Shtyenberg’s wonderful and informative presentation on slideshare by clicking this link.
As always, I could go on much longer about how wonderful TAM was this year (as it is every year). Instead, I will include these pictures from Rebecca Duke and Tori Mason and the official TAM facebook page so you can live vicariously: