This week I went to the Society of American Archivists national convention, held this year in Cleveland. I had the honor of being a part of a panel discussion on nontraditional outreach in archives and museums and how institutions of any size could reach new audiences through creative programs.
Caitlin Brennecke with Troy Historic Village; Caitlin Christian-Lamb with Davidson College; Kelsey Duinkerke with Thomas Jefferson University; Jessica Holden with the University of Massachusetts, Boston; and I gave a panel discussion moderated by the wonderful Michelle Ganz from Lincoln Memorial University, Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum. We each discussed specific outreach programs from our institutions that step a little bit outside the box.
|Cleveland Convention Center, home of SAA 2015|
In my case, I talked about the IVDM's Coiled Clay Art Program. As our signature program, we have done it so often the staff doesn't think of it as 'outreach'- just fun. But one of the big questions we asked on this panel was: "If you're not having fun, why would anyone else?" Each of us explored the idea that outreach events should be fun and engaging as well as educational. Being unique and going beyond the walls of our institutions means that we reach wider audiences and interest them in different ways. Through the fairs, festivals, and field trips the Museum has done, I know we've met many people we might not otherwise have gotten the chance to talk to, and introduced many kids to the idea that museums can be fun.
Between 125-150 people attended our session, and we were thrilled by the many interesting and insightful questions asked after the talk. Clearly a lot of people were already starting to think about what new and exciting programs they could start at their own institutions. We were also surprised and flattered by the amount of positive feedback we got after our talk. It was very encouraging to a group of young professionals giving their first large conference presentation! If you follow the Museum on Twitter ( @IVDesertMuseum) you saw some of the lovely comments people tweeted about our session: "Just saw a fabulous session on outreach. Thanks to the panelists on #s303 #saa15!"
It was a wonderful experience for me as a young archival professional, and a great spotlight for the IVDM on the national stage.
|Caitlin, Anne, Jessica, Kelsey, & Caitlin, celebrating a presentation well done!|