MMA Blog

  • August 01, 2016 8:50 PM | Anonymous member

    In past blog posts, we’ve talked a lot about MMA’s strong presence at this year’s joint conference with AASLH.  Obviously, we’re pretty great, so it’s important to highlight where to find MMA throughout the week.  But partnering with a large, national association like AASLH means that this year’s conference is going to be BIG.  And sometimes, bigger IS better.  In our case, it means that there are more sessions, more workshops, more tours… more of everything!

    There really is something for EVERYONE at this year’s conference.  Just check out the program.  This bad boy is 44 glossy pages of great reasons to attend, so let’s take a look.

    The Cover

    Detroit!  Whether you’re a born and bred Detroiter, or a Yooper looking to experience what the city has to offer, you can’t beat the location.  There’s been a lot of growth and change in the city and its museums.  We talked about it at last year’s meeting in Ann Arbor, so this is a great opportunity to dig in and check it out first hand.

    Page 6 – Not Just For Historians

    AASLH gives a great breakdown of who attends the conference.  Yes, with the American Association for State and Local History, you’re bound to bump into a historian or two.  But you will also meet curators, educators, directors, administrators, social media managers, preservationists, and all kinds of other folks who work for and are passionate about museums.  I’m willing to bet you fall in to one or more of these categories!

    Page 7 – Hello Motown Fans!

    If you grew up singing “Stop in the Name of Love” in the bathroom mirror (No?  Just me?), then you won’t want to miss Mary Wilson’s talk on Friday.  Think it o-over.

    Page 11 –  What’s your specialty?

    The whole conference is one big networking opportunity, but for a more focused conversation, you can join up with an affinity group to discuss topics that are especially relevant to you.  And most of them include food!  Many of these meetings require advance registration, so be sure to sign up on your registration form.

    Page 13 – Hi!  It’s us!

    Put a big Post-It note on page 13!  As you can see, there will be TONS of opportunities to connect with your Michigan museums colleagues!  The MMA lounge will be our hang-out on Thursday and Friday —you’re sure to see lots of us wearing our MMA pins there!  There’s also the MMA Business Meeting and Awards luncheon on Friday (remember to register in advance for lunch), honoring several Michigan museum leaders and giving updates about our year-in-review.  Finally, you won’t want to miss our “Choose Your Own Adventure” Pub Crawl on Thursday evening! 

    We’ve even made it easy for you to find the good stuff: just check for the MMA logo!


    Pages 16-21 – Tours and Events

    In addition to the 75(!) sessions offered, you can also find 13 tours, and 4 special events that meet your interests.  You can familiarize yourself with the city of Detroit and its history, catch a *spooky* cemetery tour, or visit the many museums in the area.  There’s also a 7am 5K Fun Run (#oxymoron) if you’re in to that sort of thing. 

    Pages 22-38 – Sessions and Workshops

    That’s right.  16 pages of sessions and workshops to choose from!  As you know, MMA hand-selected 8 sessions, a workshop, and a lab, that highlight the work of our Michigan colleagues and break away from the historical themes of the larger AASLH program (Just look for that MMA logo!).  So whether your focus is science, art, history, archaeology, administration, community engagement, food history, collections management, grant funding, historic homes, LGBT issues, social justice, antiques trading, volunteers, foundations, digital collections, Latinos in museums, theatre, landscape preservation, music history, women in museums, evaluation methods, university partnerships, burlesque (yes, really), tattoos, or prison museums… we’ve got you covered.

    Page 42 – Resources

    We have worked with AASLH to make the conference easy and accessible for EVERYONE who wants to attend.  Attention Students: While the deadlines for scholarships has passed, you still have the opportunity to offset your costs by volunteering onsite.  By volunteering for 2 four-hour shifts, AASLH will cover your FULL conference registration.  (P.S. Being a conference volunteer also makes a great resume line!)

    Additionally, if you have any accessibility or dietary requests, we’re here to help!  We don’t want anything to come between you and a fantastic conference experience.  On your registration form, there’s a spot to let us know how we can help you attend the conference comfortably.

    Something for EVERYONE!

    So there you have it.  Whether you are an art historian who wants to pack your schedule full of tours and events, a grad student focusing just on MMA sessions, or a museum educator inexplicably going for a 7am run, there is something available for EVERYONE at this year’s AASLH/MMA joint conference.  And because you have no reason NOT to attend, we can’t wait to see you in Detroit!

    Jessica Belcoure Marcetti
    George A. Smathers Libraries
    MMA Communications Team

  • July 22, 2016 1:00 PM | Anonymous member

    Are you looking to learn some practical skills from museum professionals who have already done what you’re trying to do? Does learning new ways to approach a problem sound pretty cool? Then make sure to register for the #AASLHMMA2016 conference and select a workshop along with your registration! Workshops are a great way to gain hands-on knowledge about what other museums are doing and what they’ve come up with that’s new and exciting.

    Pre-meeting workshops are an additional cost on top of the registration fee and are being held on Wednesday, September 14th.  There are many different workshops to choose from but I’d like to focus on the two that were hand-picked by the MMA Programs Team with our members in mind.

    GRAM staff and Board Members Collaborate to Create a Strategic Plan
    Photo Credit: Design Thinking for Museums article

    Unlocking Innovation: Design Thinking in Museums

    Jon Carfagno (Director of Learning and Audience Engagement at the Grand Rapids Art Museum) will lead this full-day workshop on the topic of Design Thinking. Design Thinking, also referred to as human-centered design, is essentially a process used for problem solving or generating new ideas in a human-centered, collaborative way. The Grand Rapids Art Museum has been using this approach for everything from finding small ways to improve the visitor experience to developing a new strategic plan. Workshop participants will have the opportunity to learn practical methods for applying the Design Thinking process to solving problems at their institution. Hearing more about how GRAM has taken this human-centered approach to planning is bound to be fascinating and useful for institutions of all kinds that are hoping to brainstorm creative changes at their institution.


    Gallery Teachers with Students at the Detroit Institute of Arts
    Photo Credit: Instagram @diadetroit

    Connecting with Art: Continuing the Classroom, Evolving Teaching Practices at the DIA

    Sue Troia (Manager, Gallery Teaching and Senior Trainer at the Detroit Institute of Arts) will lead this afternoon lab. A lab is similar to a workshop, except that instead of being held at the conference center it will be held on-site at the DIA. It will focus on what the DIA has been doing over the past few years in order to reach a larger number of students while simultaneously creating more engaging experiences for those students. These changes include the creation of a mobile interactive classroom called DIA Away: Think Like an Artist, building new partnerships with school districts, and expanding offerings for school groups. Participants will have the chance to spend time in the galleries and experience some of the engagement strategies Gallery Teachers use with students first-hand. There will also be opportunities to discuss with staff some of the successes they have experienced and challenges they have faced during this period of change.

    In addition to the two above, AASLH is hosting a variety of pre-meeting workshop opportunities. In the morning, you can check out, Connecting Audiences to Traditional Stories: Interpreting American Military History in the 21st Century, Housing Materials for Storage and Exhibition of Photographs, making/history, or CEO Forum: Leading the Field—Advocating for History. In the afternoon, AASLH is offering Reassessing Historic Clothing Exhibits: Innovative and Practical Solutions for Costume Mounting on a Budget or The SHA Wednesday Workshop: Meeting Your Educational Mission and Earning Revenue. And if you want a full day workshop experience, try Easy to Read: A guide to Transcribing Historical Documents.

    I don’t know about you, but I wish I could participate in all of the above! Registration is open now and there are just a few more days left to register at the Early Bird rate. So head over and register by July 29th and join us in Detroit in September!

    Julia Toro
    Detroit Institute of Arts
    MMA Communications Team

  • July 18, 2016 8:48 AM | Anonymous member

    I have been trying to pinpoint when it happened, but really, I blame the Pterodactyl.

    It could have happened when I encased myself in a life-size bubble at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum as a child, or it could have been the first time (of many) that I became lost in the frescoes of Rivera Court at the Detroit Institute of Arts. It could have been literally any of the hundreds of moments I have been lucky enough to experience when something from inside a museum seemed to physically reach out and demand my attention, ensnare my interest, and kindle my imagination. However, when I really think back to the pivotal moment, it was the beak of the Pterodactyl literally reaching out from inside its exhibition space to poke me in the back while my terrified, seven-year-old self stood in front of it for a picture at the animatronic “Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs!” exhibit at Cranbrook in 1989 that really drove home for me what I had known since the first time I set foot in a museum: Museums are magic. They reach out and grab you.

    In the act of creating and investing in museums, we preserve that magic. We construct spaces where we can hear the stories of our collected past, witness the dreams and innovation that have shaped our world, and be inspired by the creativity and intelligence behind great works of art. We connect to both people no longer with us, and our contemporaries by bearing witness to the stories of love, loss, and heroism that are the threads with which our historic tapestry is woven.

    When I think ahead to this year’s #AASLHMMA2016 Conference, I have to admit, I am in full-on nerd mode. Yes, admittedly this has a lot to do with the fact that there are going to be incredible events like, Distinctly Detroit: A Night at the Detroit Historical Museum, and the Muse Cruise: Cruisin’ the Museums in the Motor City, where I can immerse myself in the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, the Michigan Science Center (I mean, they are hosting an event called, “The Thinking Person’s Happy Hour,” come on!), and The Detroit Institute of Arts, but it also has to do with spending several days being inspired by colleagues and peers in the museum community.

    There are going to be sessions and discussions directly involved with fundamental issues we all face in the museum realm; Funding, understanding and engaging ever-changing audiences, and the technical craftsmanship that goes in to making a memorable museum experiences. This will be a great time to talk shop with the best and to be invigorated by learning from each other.

    Staff from the Arab American National Museum will be hosting the Educators and Interpreters Annual Meeting Kick-Off, focusing on cultural competency and the importance of understanding how to work with new and changing audiences, and the team from Michigan’s Thunder Bay National Maritime Sanctuary will host a session about raising awareness and creating sustainable audience engagement entitled, Connecting with Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Through Participation, Partnerships, and Publicity. Leslie Ann Pilling, the President of the Metro Museum of Design Detroit, will chair a session that focuses specifically on the use of sound as an essential tool to use when crafting your museum experience. This year’s conference also promises to focus on keeping the interpretation of history fresh and invigorating. I’m sure that we have all run to that perennial misconception: museums are quiet and static places. I’ve personally never understood it. History, art, and culture are such vital, living things, and the interpretation and presentation that we bring as museum professionals is so dynamic that the label of stagnancy just doesn’t apply. In Art|History: Crossing Disciplinary Borders to Make an Exhibition, we see the care to always challenge ourselves to think outside the box when planning our exhibits. Additionally, we all know there are many creative ways to generate funding for museums, but if you are looking for new avenues to explore, in the Friday session, Working with Foundations, Lisa Plank, Executive Director of the Lowell Area Historical Museum will be chairing a discussion that will cover the importance of partnering with foundations as a funding source for museums.

    When I think about the tours that are organized for this year’s #AASLHMMA2016 Conference, it makes me want to click my ruby heels three times right now and transport myself two months in the future. From Vehicle City to Most Dangerous to Something New will take you to visit the Whaley House Museum, Durant-Dort Carriage Co., the Sloan Museum, and Applewood: The Charles Stewart Mott Estate in Flint. Detroit’s Island Jewel: A Tour of Belle Isle Park, will not only send you on a tour of this unique Detroit gem, but include a visit to the Dossin Great Lakes Museum. History is more than just the artifacts we leave behind, and More Than Just Friends? Trailblazing Women at Rochester Hills Museum and Farm, is a companion tour to a roundtable discussion focused on how to thoughtfully include interpretation of female relationships in historic tours. Dodge vs. Ford: The Way They Lived, is your chance to visit several museums in the Metro Detroit Area, including the Dodge home, Meadow Brook Hall, and Henry Ford’s estate, Fair Lane. There will also be a Religious History Affinity Group Breakfast hosted at the Historic First Congregational Church of Detroit, where you can explore the Underground Railroad Living Museum. I don’t know many people who doubt the relevancy of museums in today’s day and age, but should you ever find yourself in a discussion defending the relevancy of museums, attending Celebrating Detroit’s Arab Heritage, and sharing your experience will help you win that argument. Staff from the Arab American National Museum will talk about the current issues the Arab-American community faces, and how they are working to overcome stereotypes and discrimination through education and sharing the rich and vibrant culture of Arab Americans with everyone who visits the museum.

    As the home of the Motor City and the birthplace of Henry Ford, Michigan is often primarily associated with the automotive industry, innovation, and labor history. Not only does The Henry Ford have an incredible collection of historic artifacts, (Thomas Edison’s last breath anyone?), but it also has Greenfield Village, which is really the only place of its kind. An actual outdoor village where Model-T’s are still driven, a carousel from 1913 still runs daily, and you can have an authentic culinary experience from 1850 are not something you find everywhere. Attending The Henry Ford Un-Conference, where you will get you experience all of this and more, promises to be the experience of a lifetime.

    In Michigan, we are uncommonly fortunate in the breadth and quality of our museums and historical institutions. From the American Museum of Magic in Marshall to the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame in Lansing, from the National Arab American Museum in Dearborn to the Iron Industry Museum in the U.P., from the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids to the birthplace of Motown at the Hitsville, U.S.A. Museum in Detroit, Michigan museums have collected stories and artifacts from all points of our shared experience, and the range of subject matter catalogued within these institutions is as rich and diverse as the state itself. I hope you are as excited as I am to celebrate Michigan's magical museums at this year’s #AASLHMMA2016 Conference!

    Elizabeth Palmer Jarvis
    Selinsky-Green Farmhouse Museum
    MMA Conference Communications Team

  • July 11, 2016 10:49 AM | Anonymous member

    I am here to tell you that it is never too early to attend a conference. Whether you are still a student or currently on the job market, MMA’s joint conference with AASLH is a great place to start if you have even the slightest interest in working in the history or museum fields. So here is my very own top 10 list for students and job seekers.

    10. The Travel! Detroit is a beautiful city and attending a museum conference is a great way to experience its culture.

    Campus Martius is an awesome place to meet up and hang out!

    9. Find Your Museum Peeps! You can find other people who know every word to the opening song from “Hamilton: An American Musical.” Or…maybe that’s just me. The point is, you will be surrounded by other people interested in the same kinds of ideas and questions as you. This year AASLH is even starting an Emerging History Professionals affinity group that you’ll be able to join.

    8. Visit Potential Employers! Since we are teaming up with AASLH for this year’s conference, there are loads of extra trips, tours, and site visits to take part. You can see small historic house museums and large institutions, like The Henry Ford while learning about all of the ways YOU could actually work at one of these magical places. Seriously, museums are magical.

    7.  Show Your Face! One of the best ways to break into any field is to participate. The more people see you around, shake your hand, or hear a question from you after a session, the more they will remember you. And just maybe that person will be sitting down to interview you one day. After hours events are the perfect time to meet and get to know other museum pros. Limit your drinks, but don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and have fun.

    CMU students really got into the fun at the Muskegon conference!

    6. Free Swag! You always leave a conference with new buttons, badges, stickers, etc. to perfectly represent your museum/history nerd personality. Seriously, the button swag is strong at this conference.

    5. Stay Current! Learn about current trends in the field. Attending sessions and workshops will allow you to learn where the field is headed and pick up on buzzwords that will allow you to impress colleagues, potential employers, and more!

    4. Network! There are great networking opportunities. I think we all fear that word and the thought of making small talk sends shivers down our spines, but networking is crazy important. You’ll be able to learn from people working at museums across the country and you never know when the name on one of those business cards will come in handy. At the MMA Lounge, we’ll have a cool place to hang your business card so don’t forget to stock up!

    3. Test the Waters! You’ll be able to get a feel for the museum field in general. What kinds of people are working in museums and what are they working on? Does the museum field sound like an exciting, dynamic, and meaningful place for you to make your mark on the world? This is the perfect place to find out.

    2. Find a Museum Mentor! Museum people are friendly and helpful. If you have questions about course of study, how to find internships, where to look for job postings or anything else, ask someone. The MMA members will all be sporting a pin with the MMA logo and we’ll be hanging around the MMA Lounge in Cobo. Feel free to find one of us and I’m sure you’ll find someone more than happy to help.  

    All MMA Members will be wearing a pin with the MMA logo. Find us!

    1. Gain Experience! Conferencing is a part of museum life. If you plan on making a career out of this, there will be more of these in your future, so by attending one early, you can be a professional conference-goer when some people may be attending their first one. Additionally, if you are a student, you can register for free if you sign up to volunteer, and working as part of a conference team is a worthwhile experience on its own!

    Hopefully this list of reasons to attend has been helpful! Throughout the week our social media posts will be geared toward answering questions that a first time conference attendee may have. If you have any specific questions, leave them on our Facebook page and our team will try to answer them!

    Samantha Engel
    Whaley Historic House Museum
    MMA Conference Communications Team

  • July 04, 2016 5:22 PM | Anonymous member

    Last month, a colleague from the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center and I were talking to a recent grad about the upcoming AASLH/MMA conference. The grad asked us why she should attend the conference, and what to expect.  Of course, we gushed about the MMA conference experience – the great sessions and discussions, the wonderful sites that host the conferences, and the truly amazing networking opportunities. As I reflected later on this conversation, it got me thinking about just how much fun the conferences truly are, and not just because of the fantastic content in the sessions and tours. It’s the fellow “museum nerds” we meet, and the memories we make – it’s easy to come back year after year.

    Remembering the Good Times

    I remember when the Museum Café session first started (it’s my favorite!). No one knew for sure how it would turn out – who would stay during a break to try out a “speed-dating” type roundtable of museum topics? I don’t think anyone anticipated the success, and I remember that after the first round was up, it was hard to pull people away from their conversations to switch to another topic (specifically the “horror stories” table…). Now it is a staple of the MMA conference, with topics submitted by conference-goers prior to the Café and more participants in general. This year, the MMA Lounge will host two Museum Café sessions on Thursday and Friday at 9:45 a.m.

    Even students get in on the fun!

    How many people do you know that can say they enjoyed Fort Mackinac without a mass of tourists? In 2014, early-arriving conference-goers attended an evening reception at the Fort, complete with weapon demonstrations and a cannon firing. Everything was open for perusal, there was an amazing spread of food and drink, and it was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone before the conference got into full swing. When asked, many MMA’ers said that their favorite part of the evening was the chance to watch the sunset from the Fort.  Watching as the light faded over the island landscape with our fellow nerds was one of those moments that are a reminder that living in Michigan and being a part of Michigan museums is AWESOME. Looking over the schedule for the conference this year, the special events each day look like a blast. Which one will you choose – Distinctly Detroit, the Muse Cruise, the Leadership in History Awards Banquet, or The Henry Ford Un-Conference? I’m so torn about which one(s) to attend, they all look amazing. Find out more in the conference program.

    Sunset over Mackinac Island and the bridge

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the “after hours” fun too – when I polled my contacts, almost every person who responded included a memory from one of the very popular MMA Pub Crawls. Many pointed out their favorite location, beverage choice, or shared a story about the shenanigans that were had, but to protect the innocent I won’t share them here (thanks for the stories everyone, I enjoyed hearing [or being a part of] them).  My first experience with the pub-crawl included a “round 2” group, led by a seasoned museum professional who said to the group, “You’re only young once. I’m a lot older than all of you and I’m headed back out – you have no excuse!”  This year, getting the opportunity to experience the night-life of Detroit will be amazing. Plus, anything with “Choose Your Own Adventure” in the title is bound to be a good time! Michigan museum people sure know how to have fun!

    MMA brings together all of the museum nerds!

    Making New Memories

    This year at #AASLHMMA2016 we’re hosting the MMA Lounge - a swanky, fun area in Cobo for you to meet up and network with your Michigan museum besties. There, you can mark where you’re from on the big map of Michigan, leave your business card on the Michigan museums garland, and even leave analog status updates on table tops with the hashtag #oldschool. We know how special those memories from previous conferences are, and we want to make sure that you feel engaged with the Michigan museum community within the larger conference.

    As we get closer to the MMA/AASLH Conference (only 73 days away!), I bet I’m not the only one who gets excited just thinking about it. So many great memories have been made at previous conferences, and joining with AASLH for this one, I can only imagine the number of amazing people we will meet, and the wonderful experiences we will have. I cannot wait to see you there!

    Shannon Pinkster
    Historic Charlton Park
    MMA Communications Team

  • June 27, 2016 2:15 PM | Anonymous member

    If you have been following this blog since the beginning, you might catch on that the MMA Conference Team is really excited for the chance to spotlight Michigan and its many wonderful and diverse museums. The American Association of State and Local History (AASLH) is a huge organization and draws a very big crowd for its Annual Meeting. That’s why this week I’m delighted to share with you the ways this conference will feature our beautiful state and its museums with the rest of the nation’s museum professionals.

    This is our opportunity to shine, and the AASLH Local Committee has organized several tours and events that will not only interest out of state professionals, but in-state ones too. The tours and events offered within the program are a highlight for this conference and feature a wide array of Michigan’s museums and cultural sites. You can read more about these tours and events in the Preliminary Program.


    See the Whaley House Museum and others on the Flint, MI tour

    Possibly one of the best parts of the AASLH Annual Meeting are the tours that are organized by the local committee. Even if you’re local, this is your chance to get to know area museums and historic sites in greater depth. So numerous to describe them all, check out this list of museums and areas that are featured on the various tours offered:

    •          Whaley House Museum
    •          Durant-Dort Carriage Co. (Birthplace of GM)
    •          Sloan Museum
    •          Applewood: The Charles Stewart Mott Estate
    •          Eastern Market
    •          Mexicantown
    •          Greektown
    •          Chinatown
    •          Hamtramck
    •          Corktown
    •          Black Bottom
    •          Wyandot historic sites
    •          Birmingham Historical Museum
    •          Pine Grove (former home of Michigan Governor Moses Wisner)
    •          Ford Motor Company Archives
    •          Benson Ford Research Center at The Henry Ford
    •          Various downtown Detroit sites and monuments
    •          Woodlawn Cemetery
    •          Belle Isle Park
    •          Dossin Great Lakes Museum
    •          Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory
    •          Rochester Hills Museum and Farm
    •          Arab American National Museum
    •          Dodge home - Meadow Brook Hall
    •          Henry Ford Estate – Fair Lane


    Don't miss Distinctly Detroit: A Night at the Detroit Historical Museum on September 14th

    Let’s not forget the evening events. The AASLH Local Committee organized evening events that feature some of Detroit’s biggest, coolest museums:

    •          Detroit Historical Museum
    •          Charles H. Wright Museum
    •          Michigan Science Center
    •          Detroit Institute of Arts
    •          The Henry Ford

    First stop on Wednesday, September 14 is Distinctly Detroit: A Night at the Detroit Historical Museum. You won’t want to miss this fun event where you will get to take photos in a Model T, sing like a Motown legend, and walk the streets of old Detroit.

    On September 15, Muse Cruise: Cruising the Museums in the Motor City promises to be a fun event that directly links to Detroit’s past as a “cruising” city. What better way to see Detroit’s coolest museums? Beginning at Charles H. Wright Museum, moving on to Michigan Science Center, and ending at Detroit Institute of Arts, this evening’s “cruise” is sure to give you a taste of what Detroit has to offer.

    The Henry Ford Un-Conference on Saturday, September 17 promises a peek “behind the curtain” at one of Michigan’s biggest museums. This special event bookends the conference with individual experiences for each type of museum professional.

    Remember, all of these tours and events are a la carte and are additional fees to your conference registration. You can add them when you register online.

    Michigan’s museums and cultural sites are set to be the star of this conference. Even if you’re from the Detroit region, there is so much to explore right in our own backyard. I know I plan on it! I hope you will join me and others in Detroit in September.

    Caitlyn Perry Dial
    Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame
    MMA Communications Team Lead

    Still wondering about how to offset the costs of going to the conference? Check out last week’s blog and submit your MMA Scholarship today. Applications are due July 8.

  • June 20, 2016 2:04 PM | Anonymous member

    Over the past few weeks, this blog has been covering some of the reasons why you should attend this year’s joint AASLH/MMA conference. We’ve been telling you about the networking opportunities, the awesome events organized by AASLH, and the sessions hand-picked by MMA with you in mind. Attending the conference will also give you the opportunity to visit downtown Detroit and experience the resurgence of the city firsthand. The Cobo Center is just steps away from it all!

    The People Mover passing by the Cobo Center

    There are so many reasons to attend. But this week we’re changing gears to talk about one of the challenges of attending this year: the cost. The AASLH conference is more expensive than our annual MMA conference typically is. For non-members the cost is $343. The early-bird member rate is $253 and the cost for full-time student members is slightly lower at $195. Tours, events, workshops, and luncheons are all extras you can choose to pay for in addition to the base registration fee. This can all add up and is definitely more of a financial commitment than the regular MMA conference. Although the cost is high, the conference will be well worth it and we hope to see you there. So, we want to make sure all MMA members are aware of the opportunities available to help offset the cost of attending this year’s conference.

    Here are a few:

    MMA Members get the AASLH Member Rate

    Although registration is being handled through AASLH, MMA members will also get the member rate! Current MMA members should have already received an email with a code to enter during registration. Contact Lisa at if you haven’t received yours. Remember to register before July 29th to get the early-bird rate.

    MMA Conference Scholarship: new this year!

    MMA is offering a number of scholarships for members. Scholarships will cover the cost of the full conference registration, the MMA Awards Lunch, and will also include a stipend to help cover the cost of other events or travel expenses. The stipend will be $200 and will be issued after the conference as a reimbursement. Can’t attend the entire conference? Don’t worry! You can still apply for a scholarship for a one day registration. The stipend that accompanies a one day scholarship will be $100. Since there are other opportunities to offset conference expenses for students (see below) this scholarship is primarily intended for members. But students are still welcome to apply. Head over to the MMA Conference page to learn more. The deadline to apply for the conference scholarship is July 8th and you can download the application here.

    So far, MMA has secured enough sponsors to offer 13 scholarships, 10 of which have been provided through the generosity of the 2016 AASLH Local Planning Committee. MMA is still looking for additional sponsors through the end of June so that we can offer even more scholarships. If you or your organization would be interested in becoming a sponsor you can learn more here.

    AASLH Scholarships

    AASLH is also offering a number of Annual Meeting Scholarships, including the 2016 Detroit Fellowships for Minority Professionals. There are ten of these and they are also sponsored by the 2016 AASLH Local Planning Committee. Read more about the other AASLH scholarships that are available here. The deadline to apply is July 1st for the remaining scholarships, so act quickly!

    If you are a full-time student: volunteer at the conference!

    Student volunteers receive a complementary conference registration if they work a total of 8 hours, broken up into two 4 hour shifts. Volunteers will be doing things like monitoring sessions, distributing session evaluations, and assisting with transportation to evening events. If you’re interested, you can sign up here.


    Conference goers having fun last year at the University of Michigan Museum of Art

    I know it’s more expensive than we are used to, but this year’s conference is going to be excellent and I would hate to hear that my Michigan colleagues missed it because of the cost. So, apply for scholarships, share a room with a friend or coworker, and come join us for one of the biggest and most exciting MMA conferences yet!

    Julia Toro

    Detroit Institute of Arts
    MMA Communications Team

  • June 14, 2016 9:36 AM | Anonymous member

    In Part I, you learned about the eight sessions that MMA hand-picked for the AASLH/MMA joint conference program. In Part II, we wanted our members to know why these eight sessions were picked.

    MMA sessions came from several different places and were chosen to meet specific needs. In particular, we wanted to make sure to include sessions that would be relevant for our members that did not work at history-based museums. We also wanted to take advantage of opportunities offered as part of a larger conference. MMA sessions were selected by the MMA Conference Programs team, which had a good representation of different types of museums, with some input from myself. Several members of the MMA Programs Team were also part of the AASLH Programs Committee.

    The selection process started with Michigan-based sessions that were submitted through the AASLH program committee process but not selected by that group. We had encouraged MMA members to submit through the AASLH process, partly so we could compare apples to apples when we were making our own selections. Because of this, there were several sessions that did not necessarily fit the AASLH model for history related sessions and were not selected, but that were excellent sessions and exactly met our desire to focus on sessions that were not history-related. Those sessions included In Sounds from Over and Out, which focuses on sound design and Connecting with Great Lakes Maritime Heritage through Participation, Partnerships, and Publicity, which is an example of STEM-based programming and community engagement. The team also selected the session The Power of Museum Theater to Engage Audiences because it involved The Henry Ford museum and was a focus that could be applied to all types of museums. Also selected by the team was Art│History: Crossing Disciplinary Borders to Make an Exhibition. These sessions were submitted directly to the MMA Programs Team and filled our desire to have strong art-museum related content.

    Three of MMA’s sessions were related to conversations during the AASLH selection process. MMA had a sizable number of representatives as part of that process, and were distributed throughout the selection discussions. For the final discussion for the group, there were several sessions that were of significance interest to the MMA contingent, but had been amply covered by AASLH at recent conferences. MMA articulated the desire and willingness to use our session spaces for ones related to national granting organizations because it would bring national resources to our members in a way that would not be possible for our smaller, state conferences. This resulted in the MMA sessions Making the Most of Your Local Resources: Reimagining NEH Support for Small and Local Organizations and Revitalize Your Museum with IMLS Funding. In both cases, the sessions will include information on how Michigan museums have been involved with these granting programs, though the focus on the sessions will be national. The session Working with Foundations also came from conversations between MMA representatives and the AASLH programs committee during the selection process. There was a lengthy discussion about the lack of session proposals dealing with fundraising, and in particular working with foundations. Because Michigan is home to so many major foundations, we felt that a session on that topic would be relevant for our members, but also be a way to add value to the overall conference program for all attendees.

    The final MMA session was also selected for its relevance for MMA members but also the opportunity to contribute to conversation by members of AASLH. The Creating Connection through Creative Expression session focuses on a major arts advocacy project led by Arts Midwest with support from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and involvement by a variety of Michigan arts organizations. This movement to better understand how the arts, or creative expression, is relevant and valued by all members of society in everyday life closely mirrors the efforts the History Relevance campaign, a national history advocacy project led by AASLH. The focus of the session will be of strong interest for all of the art-related MMA members, but will hopefully also be useful to those involved with the history relevancy campaign.

    As stand-alone sessions, the eight spots filled by MMA are not necessarily focused on Michigan museums or representative of what is happening at museums in Michigan, or even reflective of typical sessions at MMA conferences, but the MMA sessions are intended to serve a balance to the history-based programming provided by AASLH programs, as well as take advantage of opportunities for our members that are available because of the increased size of the conference.

    Lisa Craig Brisson
    Executive Director
    Michigan Museums Association

  • June 13, 2016 2:03 PM | Anonymous member

    One of my favorite parts of attending the MMA conference is seeing what other Michigan museums are doing, so I love going to sessions that highlight the great work of our colleagues and their institutions.  At this year’s joint MMA/AASLH conference, there will be no shortage of opportunities to hear from Michigan institutions at the eight sessions that were hand-picked by MMA.

    AASLH has put together a wonderful program of sessions and activities, but we wanted to be sure that our MMA members had full access to the depth of resources a national organization like AASLH could provide.  So our MMA Programs Team sat down and hand-picked eight sessions that represent the theme of a “Spirit of Rebirth” and could really offer something special to the multifaceted community of museum professionals in Michigan.

    Every session proposal we read was fantastic (I know people always say that—but it’s really true this time!) and it took a very long conference call to get the sessions narrowed down.  We are very proud of the place these MMA sessions hold in the AASLH program, so if you’re thinking that this year’s conference will be full of national-level sessions that may not apply to you, think again! 

    When you get your conference program, you can find the MMA sessions by looking for the MMA logo next to the session description.  But until then, here’s a taste of what you can expect:

    Making the Most of Your Local Resources: Reimagining NEH Support for Small and Local Organizations
    How can small organizations and local projects access new scholarship, employ best practices, and leverage community relationships?  Discover successes and struggles of projects endeavoring to engage communities and preserve local history with NEH support.  Explore new NEH initiatives designed for underserved populations, telling local stories, and supporting small organizations.

    Art│History: Crossing Disciplinary Borders to Make an Exhibition
    This panel discussion will explore how interdisciplinary connections can foster new ways to interpret art. The panelists will discuss the Detroit Institute of Arts’ 2015 exhibition Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit, reflecting on successes and missed opportunities that resulted as the fields of art history, obstetrics, psychology, and history intersected.

    In Sounds from Over and Out
    Sound is an important part of the museum experience. Experts in the field will discuss innovation through history of sound in museum settings. Participants will learn tricks of the trade to use sound to intrigue audiences, engage millennials and make sound an integral part of the museum experience.

    Creating Connection through Creative Expression
    Midwest and Metropolitan Group are leading a national effort to build public will for creative expression by connecting it with people’s deeply-held values. This session will explore this initiative’s research findings, our theory of change, and how pilots are implementing messaging and recommendations to create long-term change.

    Revitalize Your Museum with IMLS Funding
    The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provides funding for museum activities including exhibitions, collections management, and programs. This session will provide an overview of grant programs and demystify the application process with practical examples of what makes a competitive application from museum peers.

    Connecting with Great Lakes Maritime Heritage through Participation, Partnerships, and Publicity
    How does your institution generate sustained engagement from diverse audiences? In this session, maritime archaeologists and educators from northeast Michigan's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary explore their team's proven success in engaging audiences with interactive participation, inclusive partnerships, and innovative publicity.

    The Power of Museum Theater to Engage Audiences
    In the spirit of rebirth, some sites turn to museum theater for its power to make people, events, and issues from the past relevant and to stimulate dialogue. This session will explore the ideas and research supporting museum theatre and provide activities and strategies for its use.

    Working with Foundations
    Foundations can be an important source of funding for museums.  In this session, presenters will focus on various aspects of museum-foundation relationships.

    We hope you’ll join your colleagues in Detroit for this year’s joint conference.  See you there!

    Jessica Marcetti
    George A. Smathers Libraries
    MMA Communications Team

    P.S. We were so excited about this topic that we decided to break up this week's blog into two posts. Come back tomorrow for Part II!

  • June 06, 2016 9:13 AM | Anonymous member

    By now you’ve probably heard that this year, the Michigan Museums Association (MMA) conference will be held as a joint conference with the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH).  
    And if you’re like me—an MMA member whose institution does not fall under the category of “state and local history”— you may be wondering why you should attend this year’s conference.  

    There are many great reasons for you to attend, but I've narrowed it down to a few I'm particularly excited about:    

    The MMA portion of the conference has been designed with you in mind.  

    We recognized that non-history museum professionals might be curious about how they'll fit into the conference. We responded by organizing a conference program that ensures there is something for everyone. Presenters include representatives from the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Detroit Institute of Arts, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and the Institute for Museum and Library Services.  

    In the workshop "Unlocking Innovation: Design Thinking in Museums," participants will learn strategies to implement human-centered design practices at their institutions. The session "Creating Connection Through Creative Expression" will focus on creating public will for the arts by connecting it with people's personal values. 

    Sessions like these—both of which put people at the center of our work—were conceived of by art organizations but will share information that is applicable to all types of museums. The AASLH program also offers many sessions with broad-based appeal.  View the preliminary program hereAASLH website

    Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

    Attendees have the opportunity to explore some of Detroit's non-history museums. 
    Tours and special events like the Thursday evening "Muse Cruise" will take attendees to several of Detroit's non-history museums. This event---co-hosted by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, the Michigan Science Center, and the Detroit Institute of Arts---invites attendees to explore each museum's varied offerings after hours.  
    You can register for this and other fun events when you register for the conference. We'll let you know when registration officially opens!

    Detroit Institute of Arts


    Conferences are the perfect place to catch up with old friends and make new ones. This year's conference is expected to be 3 to 4 times larger than our traditional conference, giving MMA members unprecedented opportunities to meet, share, learn, and collaborate with museum professionals across the country without ever leaving The Mitten. 

    Worried about missing your Michigan colleagues? Don’t be. MMA has several MMA-specific events planned that will help you get connected. Keep watching our blog for more information.

    Our 2015 gathering in Ann Arbor was unforgettable. We hope to see you again in Detroit this year!

    The conference theme, "The Spirit of Rebirth," is relevant to all of us 

    The Spirit of Rebirth is about revitalizing ourselves and our practice in response to our changing world.  As professionals, our collective responsibility to the future of museums is greater than the differences of our individual subject areas. Whether a history museum or a science center, museums today are faced the same opportunities and puzzles: the desire to be partners with our communities; the expectation that our collecting practices and exhibition choices reflect the diversity and embrace the individuality of our visitors; and the quest for sustainable funding sources and equitable hiring practices. Just to name a few!  
    MMA conferences always provide a space for this dialogue, but this year an even greater number of passionate and creative museum minds from unique institutions nationwide will be at the table, too. Let's come together in the "Spirit of Rebirth" and pave a new path with a brighter future.  

    I hope to see you in Detroit this September! 


    Melanie Parker 
    Detroit Institute of Arts 
    MMA Communications Team Member

 The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software