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Letter from Erika: What Are You Learning?

January 13, 2022 9:43 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

New York State Education Department Historic Marker, 1932, Cooperstown, NY

Dear Friends, Members, and Colleagues,

When I was young and was asked what I wanted to do when I grew up, I didn’t have an answer. I tried being a park ranger, an artist, and a teacher before I found museum education. At the time, being a museum educator encompassed everything I sought in a career. But the thing that kept me motivated in the face of innumerable challenges was that I was able (and required) to continuously learn new things.

Professional development opportunities for people entering the field may have been more prevalent forty years ago. I regularly attended trainings in content, pedagogy, and administration as I moved forward in my career. Today, the acquisition of a university or college degree can be a barrier for many people interested in museum work. But lack of access to time and money for formal education doesn’t mean that museum professionals must stop learning. In fact, to keep our field vital and current, staff professional development should be a priority no matter the budget size or discipline of a museum.

We are fortunate that in 2022, the New York State Council on the Arts has made a significant investment in professional development for New York’s museum professionals. With the American Association of State and Local History annual conference in Buffalo, the American Alliance of Museums annual conference in nearby Boston and their virtual museum advocacy training (MANY members get discounted registration), and of course, MANY’s conference in Corning, there are exceptional opportunities to advance your professional practice, build connections, and learn with your colleagues in 2022.

Applications for New York State Council on the Arts Professional Development grants are due on February 7th, and you can access the application here.

In 2022, I hope to learn how to be a better listener, grow MANY’s advocacy for New York’s museums, and discover ways to call out things that can create positive change.

The historic marker pictured above was placed in 1932 as part of the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the American Revolution. By the late 1960s, the function of the state’s historic marker program shifted from a short-term commemorative program to a long-term educational program. With all that we have learned in the past 100 years, the approaching 250th anniversary presents us with an opportunity to expand our learning together and change the stories we tell to more accurately reflect the history of all who call New York home. I look forward to learning together this year and changing the things that we can.


With hopes for the new year,

Erika Sanger

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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