Digesting the Fruits of NEMA 2015

Resolutions from the NEMA EdPAG Luncheon
Professional resolutions from the NEMA EdPAG Luncheon (photo by author)

I spent most of last week up in Portland, Maine attending the New England Museum Association annual conference. As in the past, it was an inspiring week full of learning and connecting.

If you missed it, I encourage you to look over the larger conversation under #NEMA2015 (you don’t need to have a Twitter account to search hashtag conversations). Or if you don’t have time to get lost in the Twitterverse, here are ten takeaways from the conference (ordered by the timing of sessions I attended, not their importance).

  1. Conservation is a conversation. A conservator should talk with you, not at you all the way through the treatment process.
  2. When trying to connect school programs to changing communities, bring it back to where the kids are first and then add new layers of content.
  3. Collections photographing is like collections processing. You can get the basics without a lot of time or resources, but the more you spend, the more data you’ll have for each object.
  4. Historic house museums can absolutely lead math-themed field trips! Turn architecture programs into geometry lessons.
  5. Want to bring new people into your historic house museum? Try partnering with other nonprofits whose missions are music, fashion, education, immigrant support, the environment, etc. You can find common ground between your two missions.
  6. We need to move past trying to make our museums multilingual, to making them multicultural if we really want to reach diverse audiences.
  7. If you want to build a program between your museum and a school, remember the 4 C’s: Collaboration, Creativity, Cross-disciplinary, and Critical-thinking.
  8. When crafting story-time programming in your museum, remember to engage the adults as well as the little learners, with gallery exploration and art-making too.
  9. Pay it forward. Last year, I was introduced to many new people thanks to my boss. This year, I was able to introduce my friend (a NEMA-newbie) to many of the people I know.
  10. Your struggles (whether your own or your museum’s) are not unique to you. Many other organizations and/or professionals are working through the same issues. Advise; collaborate, network; we can help each other out!

If you attended NEMA too, I’d love to hear your take-aways from the conference in the comment section.

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