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Read original articles written by MANY's staff about Resources, Community, and Exhibits/Collections. Check out the Letters From Erika to learn about what is going on here at MANY!

  • June 29, 2021 2:20 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Mineral Hall in the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History.

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) opened its Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals to the public on June 12 after being closed for four years. Minerals and gems have been part of the AMNH collections since it was founded in 1869.  The Halls underwent extensive renovation as part of the Museum's 150th anniversary. The 11,000 square-foot space features the Museum's permanent collection of minerals, gems, and meteorites totaling more than 120,000 specimens. The renovation not only showcases the Museum’s collection but provides an engaging guide to current scientific knowledge about the Earth. Multi-media presentations and interactives align with next generation science standards and  can serve as a learning lab for science teacher education and professional development while being accessible to the general public. 

    History of the Halls

    The Museum’s collection of gems and minerals is housed in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. It comprises around 200,000 specimens of minerals, gems, rocks, and meteorites and is continuing to expand thanks to an active research and collecting program. Curators, research scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students study topics that include the origin of rubies in Southeast Asia, volatile gases that lead to volcanic eruptions, past changes to ocean circulation and climate, the formation of rocks in subduction zones, the differentiation of planetary bodies, and the mineral and chemical origins of the solar system.

    Reimagined Spaces

     Before the renovation, the collection was displayed in a warren of galleries that made it a challenge to interpret.  The new Halls were designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates with David Brody Bond as architects who worked with AMNH’s exhibition department under the direction of Lauri Halderman, the Museum's Vice President for Exhibition. The Halls are divided into three sections: the Gem Hall, the Mineral Hall, and the Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery for temporary exhibitions.

    The Gems Hall in the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History.

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    The Gem Hall includes nearly 2,500 items on display and includes precious stones, carvings, and jewelry from around the world. The Mineral Hall comprises four sections: Mineral Forming Environments, Mineral Fundamentals, Systematic Classification, and Minerals & Light. 

    “The goal was to present minerals and gems in terms of answering what they are and then lay out the Mineral hall to address their context on Earth, organized around the environments on Earth in which they form,” said AMNH Curator George E. Harlow of the Museum’s Division of Physical Sciences who organized the Halls. “We defined five basic environments: Igneous (once molten), Weathering (chemical alteration by air and water), Hydrothermal (formed from hot water), Metamorphic (changed by mountain building and shifts in Earth’s crust), and Pegmatitic (a post-igneous condition in which large crystals grow in large spaces).” Harlow describes that the new focus cases can deal with a mineral or place and include historical connections. 

    “We did much more than a renovation,” said Harlow. “These are totally new Halls in the location of the old.”

    Systematic Classification Wall

    Along the west wall of the Hall of Minerals is the Systematic Classification display, which contains 659 specimens that represent the chemical classification system scientists use to organize Earth’s more than 5,500 mineral species. Pictured in the foreground is an orbicular granite from the Yilgarn Craton in Western Australia.

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    “Mineral Forming Environments” is at the center of the Hall and is dedicated to the environments in which and process of how minerals are formed. “Mineral Fundamentals” explores overarching concepts of mineral sciences. “Systematic Classification” runs along the Halls west wall and contains 659 specimens that represent the chemical classification system that scientists use to organize the Earth’s more than 5,000 mineral species. It also has an interactive feature where visitors can explore forming minerals from the elements on the periodic table. The last section, “Minerals & Light,” is a room located off the east wall. It explores the optical properties of minerals and how they interact with light.

    Sterling Hill Fluorescent Rock Panel

    The centerpiece of the Minerals & Light room is a wall-sized panel of fluorescent rock that glows in shades of orange and green, sourced from Sterling Hill in New Jersey. 

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    The “Minerals & Light” space uses a state of the art lighting system that incorporates cool and warm full-spectrum LEDs and sophisticated lighting controls to highlight the texture, color, and reflectivity of the minerals and gems on display. The space also uses short and long-wave ultraviolet sources that reveal colors in fluorescent minerals. The goal was to provide visitors the opportunity to experience the depth and character of the minerals and gems on display. 

    Beautiful Creatures, an exhibition of some of the world’s most spectacular jewelry inspired by animals, is on view through September 19, 2021, in the Melissa and Keith Meister Gallery. The exhibition features imaginative jewels from the world’s great jewelry houses and designers—including Cartier’s iconic panthers, Bulgari's snakes, Suzanne Belperron’s butterflies, and more.

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    The Meister Gallery houses the temporary exhibition, “Beautiful Creatures” that features designs by some of the world’s great jewelry houses and artisans. The pieces on view range from the mid-19th century to the present and are displayed into categories of animals on land, air, and water. 

    Educational Resource

    The Hall’s exhibits, including media and interactive content, were developed to align with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), illustrate Crosscutting Concepts, serve as a lab for science teacher education and professional development, and make connections to other museum halls.

    The Halls were designed as an educational resource for teachers and students to explore current scientific knowledge about the Earth. They Halls support current educational standards by acknowledging the interdisciplinary nature of evidence-based science. This includes: Earth science (how minerals form), chemistry (an interactive periodic table), physics (Minerals & Light gallery space–how light interacts with minerals), and biology (the role of life in the evolution of Earth’s minerals). 

    “When I started at the Museum, there were probably around 2,500 minerals described and now there are more than 5,000,” said Harlow. “The enhanced Halls present up-to-date science, which has progressed significantly.”

    The Mineral Hall in the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History.

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    The Halls play a key role in the Museum’s Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) Program which prepares Earth science teachers for grades 7 to 12 in high-needs schools in New York City and throughout New York State. Teachers that participate in the MAT program will use the Halls as a tangible teaching tool for their own classes once they graduate. 

    Periodic Table Interactive

    This interactive display illustrates the periodic table of chemical elements and allows visitors to “make minerals.”

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    Into the Future 

    The renovation of the Halls is just one part of the physical and programmatic initiatives undertaken by AMNH for the 150th anniversary celebration. This project culminates in the opening of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, a new 230,000 square foot facility that adds galleries, classrooms, an immersive theatre, and a redesigned library. With this new space, the Museum’s research, collections, and library spaces will be revitalized and expanded to include behind the scenes functions that will be visible and accessible to the public. The Gilder Center hopes to enhance the Museum’s capacity to partner with schools, teacher professional development programs, and out-of-state programs for students, introduce digital tools of science, and explore college and career opportunities. The Center will provide new, flexible learning spaces that are integrated with exhibitions, collections, and science labs in order to create immersive learning experiences. The Museum anticipates that the space will add 745,000 visitors annually. 

    Halls Installation  

    Exhibition staff members install specimens in the all-new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History. 

    Photo courtesy of D. Finnin/©AMNH

    Harlow hopes that visitors to the Halls will be greeted with a feast for the eyes with many interesting stories that are told by the minerals, including large sized specimens consistent with the geological environment. “My hope is that a visitor’s curiosity about a specimen or case will lead to the discover ‘I didn’t know that’ or ‘that is very interesting.’” 


    Learn more about the Halls of Gems and Minerals at the American Museum of Natural History: 

  • June 29, 2021 2:18 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    For decades, Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute has engaged with its local community through exhibitions and programming. Its latest exhibition Call & Response: Collecting African American Art pulls back the curtain on how the museum has acquired work by Black artists over the past 30 years. The exhibition is about making connections between works of art and the artists who created them. To offer visitors new perspectives, the museum invited eight community contributors who shared their interpretations of the exhibited work using music, personal history, and comparative works of art. 

    Inside Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute in the Philip Johnson Building. The Museum has close to 12,000 items in its collection, predominantly American art. 

    Long-standing Community Relationship

    Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is a multifaceted arts organization located in Utica, New York, a city with a large refugee population. There are more than 40 languages spoken in the school district. “It’s really a dynamic, diverse city and we have one of the largest per capita refugee communities,” said Anna D’Ambrosio, President and CEO of Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute. The Museum has a long-standing relationship with dozens of organizations throughout the community including a program to help refugees to the area transition and settle through programs and activities using art. Munson-Williams-Proctor began working with the refugee and immigrant community in the late 1990s and gathered momentum in the mid-2000’s. “It’s included running special tours and programs with the refugee community and running National Endowment for the Arts funded programs that use the collections and exhibitions for English language learners from recent adult refugees,” said D’Ambrosio. 

    In 2019, Munson-Williams-Proctor unveiled its long-range initiative, “MWP 2025” –its strategic plan to lead its programming into the future. As the plan was developed, the museum held a series of focus groups to help gather valuable community input.

    African American Community Partners

    Formed in September 2019, the African American Community Partners (AACP) advisory panel is made up of 12 members of the Black community from Utica who meet monthly. “The panel was originally created in conjunction with an Allan Rohan Crite exhibition scheduled to open in February 2022,” said D’Ambrosio. “From that, they’ve grown to help the museum in so many respects from marketing to program ideas. They’re great meetings and it’s become a model of what we can do with other types of focus groups going forward with how they can help with other aspects of the institute.”

    Among the advisory panel participants are Freddie Hamilton, a 5th Ward Councilwoman in Utica and the area’s first Black woman to hold public office, and Patrick Johnson, a Utica native who has taught hundreds of Mohawk Valley residents at racism awareness seminars. 

    “Working with the AACP has been a great experience,” said D’Ambrosio. “Part of their formation came out of the groundwork that we did for our strategic plan when we did community focus groups and really listened to what people said about their feelings about the organization as a whole or their experiences at the museum. It reinforced something that we kind of thought but had no hard data on. The AACP is one of the outgrowth of our community engagement efforts.”

    Munson-Williams-Proctor approached the panel for guidance for Call and Response to help select community contributors as part of its interpretation.

    Community Contributors

    “Part of this program that we’re doing is called ‘Coming Into View’ and it offers visitors new ways to explore works of art and the artists who created them. For Call and Response, eight African American members of the community contributed their responses to artwork in the exhibition through a variety of media including video, other related artwork, photos they’ve submitted, text, and audio conversations we’ve had with them,” said Education Director April Oswald. Two college students, a health professor, a professor of sociology, a minister, a professor of art, a medical professional, and a Utica City administrator each recorded their comments on three different works of art. “It’s an opportunity to bring in different perspectives on our collections and exhibitions. It’s something that we’ve been working on doing for a while but this is new in that it’s really a chance for us to get away from how museum people see things and to get how other people see it. It’s an opportunity for more informed culturally shared experiences and insights that we don’t have.”

    One community contributor Tracy Latty interpreted Counting by Lorna Simpson (left)–a photogravure with screen print on paper. The art is quite large, almost 6 feet in height and is composed of three images; the neckline of a woman, a circular brick building often found in the South for curing meats, and an overhead photo of a woman's braids. “This work suggests associations with the history of African hair braiding traditions in addition to aesthetics and social status,” said Latty.  “Some cite the lore that seeds were woven into braids, others say that braids may have been designed as maps for those fleeing enslavement. This South Carolina smokehouse is the product of the work of the slaves who produced the bricks.”

    Munson-Williams-Proctor provided some comments around the artwork but just enough to provide some context. “For each community contributor we went through the objects with them and had a VTS (visual thinking strategies) conversation with them, a learner centered, inquiry-based way of looking at works of art,” said Oswald. 

    “‘Coming Into View’ interests me because of the demographics the Museum is engaging. On walks around Munson-Williams admiring the beauty of the grounds, I consider this a wonderful opportunity to join such a platform that’s transitioning to a new way for the community to interact with the Museum,” said Latty. “This is a way to engage in dialogue with people in our own community, as well as a change for Africans living in America to expand their awareness of each other.” 

    Another community contributor Marques Phillips, Codes Commissioner and Director of Utica City Initiatives, interpreted Bob Thompson’s Stagedoom, (1962) and compared it to Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos, no. 2. Phillips uses Thompson’s fascination with Goya’s Los Caprichos series after Thompson’s year in Ibiza, Spain in 1961. “At the time Bob Thompson was painting, as today, there was debate about Black culture and what that should mean,” said Phillips. “Should Blacks merely imitate European culture, play classical music, write in European prose or paint the way it was done in the Renaissance?” 

    Bob Thompson (American, 1937-66) Stagedoom, 1962 gouache and charcoal on paper

    Continuing Community Engagement

    D’Ambrosio hopes to continue to engage the community. “For me the challenge remains getting people to make it a habit to come all the time, not just the special exhibitions. The community needs to be welcomed and feel part of the organization so that they come back to the next exhibition to learn more about a topic that they might be far removed from.” Oswald says that the museum plans to continue the “Coming Into View” initiative with future exhibitions and include more community contributors. “I hope that the outcome of what we’re doing is to keep people coming back to have the opportunity to see what's happening in other communities.” 

    Future Plans

    Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute exterior on Genesee Street in Downtown Utica

    In 2021, Governor Cuomo announced 16 transformational projects for Utica as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award, including Munson-Williams-Proctor. The Museum is expected to receive $819,500 to create a large public-access park on underutilized institute land in the Oneida Square neighborhood with arts and cultural programming. 

    “We want to really activate that part of our campus because it is so central to the neighborhood and make it a real community hub for concerts and festivals, things we already do at Munson-Williams-Proctor,” said D’Ambrosio. “We want to have more partnerships and make sure that everyone feels comfortable and participates at the museum. For Munson-Williams-Proctor, the real strength of the institution is that it can bring all aspects together around a topic to create huge community impact.”

    Learn more about Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute:

    Explore more community contributors for Call & Response on Munson-Williams-Proctor's app: 

    Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is part of the Museum Association of New York's Building Capacity Project funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) designed to help museums impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic share their collections and reach audiences who cannot physically visit their museums. 

  • June 29, 2021 2:15 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Universal Hip Hop Museum is set to open in 2024 and will be the first museum dedicated to the preservation of Hip Hop. The museum is part of a $349 million mixed-use project to transform Bronx Point along the Harlem River waterfront. The museum broke ground this past May after ten years of work on the part of Hip Hop legend and historian Paradise Gray, a team of Hip Hop icons and enthusiasts, and the museum’s Executive Director Rocky Bucano. 

    Rendering of the Universal Hip Hop Museum 

    The Beginning

    The journey to create the Universal Hip Hop Museum started nearly ten years ago when Rocky Bucano was approached by a developer Young Woo who was working on a project proposal to redevelop the Kingsbridge Armory and was thinking about including a Hip Hop museum. “And Rocky has a long history of being in the Hip Hop culture,” said Adam Silverstein, Director of Museum Collections and Archives. “He was a DJ early on in the Bronx and said yes and recruited some people including Kurtis Blow, Shawn LG Thomas, Grand Wizzard Theodore (inventor of the scratch), Grandmaster Melle Mel, and others who said they would support this.” That project would eventually fall through, but the group kept the dream alive of one day opening a Hip Hop museum. 

    The founding members discussed the idea of creating a virtual museum or renovating the old Bronx Courthouse. Then L + M Development Partners and Type A Projects approached the group. “They were responding to an RFP from the City to create affordable housing, retail, and a park space. They asked Rocky if the Hip Hop museum would be the cultural anchor of this project,” said Silverstein. The museum gained its 501(c)(3) register non-profit status in 2015 and moved forward with L + M to include the museum in this multi-million dollar project at Bronx Point.

    Bronx, the Birthplace of Hip Hop

    For Bucano and the founding members, the museum was always going to be in the Bronx. “We were always looking at the Bronx. It was never really an option to go anywhere else.” Silverstein said that it was like Hip Hop was finally taking control of its own narrative and recognized the importance of building the museum in the Bronx. “It’s the community that spawned a global culture and now it’s time to come back to the community. We talk about it like a phoenix, Hip Hop rising from the Bronx and then spreading across the world and now it’s returned. It’s time for the institution of Hip Hop to make itself in its birthplace.”

    The Universal Hip Hop Museum is south of 1520 Sedgwick Ave, a 102-unit apartment building in the Morris Heights neighborhood of the Bronx, widely regarded as the birthplace of Hip Hop. The museum’s collection tracks the history of Hip Hop starting at Sedgwick Avenue where at a party in 1973, DJ Kool Herc was the first person to use two turntables to extend a song’s drum beat, the “beatback” where you switch from one record to another. The museum aims to tell the story of Hip Hop’s rapid growth and cultural impact from graffiti, sneaker culture, dance, urban fashion, and other movements that can trace their history back to Hip Hop. 

    Keeping it “Fresh”

    The museum will occupy 52,000 square feet over two-floors in a 22-story building that includes 542 affordable housing units, 2.8 acres of public open green space, and retail space. “It's not a tremendous amount of space so one of the things that we want to do is to keep the museum fresh,” said Silverstein. “Not only by retaining the exhibitions, but we want to make this a technology advanced museum. It’s been part of our goal since the start.” The museum has three areas of interest: physical space, traveling exhibitions, and virtual. “These plans have gained traction at different times and obviously when L + M came along we went forward with the physical plan for the museum but we still have plans for a virtual museum and plans for traveling exhibitions. It’s part of why we are called the Universal Hip Hop Museum because this is a universal culture,” said Silverstein.

    The museum will have an immersive 1970s experience including space where visitors can create and spin their own records in an imitation DJ Booth and visit a recording studio. There will also be a virtual reality theatre where visitors can interact with some of Hip Hop’s biggest icons. 

    “When we get into the permanent space, the goal will to be to exhibit our artifacts but we really want to focus on technology and being able to give people multiple experiences in our space that will change frequently,” said Silverstein. “An element of Hip Hop is to be fresh and if you're not fresh, you’re wack and we don’t want to be that. We want to be cutting edge just like Hip Hop is cutting edge.”


    The museum received funding from the New York City’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Housing Development Corporation, and Empire State Development. The total funding for the entire building is $323.5 million with an additional $27 million for waterfront construction. During the groundbreaking ceremony on May 20, 2021, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announced that he would contribute $4.2 million from his office’s capital budget to support the museum’s capital campaign. It's one of the largest single funding allocations made by Diaz. 

    “The groundbreaking for the first phase of Bronx Point is a tremendous step forward for our borough,” said Diaz at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Not only will this project create much-needed affordable housing units, but it will also activate underutilized space, open up more waterfront for public access, create new public spaces and retail amenities for community use. This development will combine two of my favorite things, history and Hip Hop, bringing the Universal Hip Hop Museum to its rightful location in the birthplace of Hip Hop, The Bronx.” 

    The reimagined Harlem River waterfront space

    The groundbreaking ceremony served as the official launch of the museum’s $100 million capital campaign. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Hip Hop legends including Nas, LL Cool J, Fat Joe, and NYS Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joined the event. 

    Empire State Development awarded the Universal Hip Hop Museum $3.5 million in Round IX of funding, citing its community programming and an in-house museum job training program as central components of the project in addition to attracting worldwide visitors and furthering the development of the Bronx/Harlem waterfront. 

    The museum plans on continuing to reach out to individual donors and to the Hip Hop community. “We want everyone to feel included in this,” said Silverstein. In addition to reaching out to local Bronx businesses, the museum is approaching large companies like Adidas, Nike, Sprite, and Gucci. “We’re reaching out to larger companies that are now supporting underserved communities but also because a lot of these companies have profited off of Hip Hop for years and this is an opportunity for them to give back,” said Silverstein. 

    Silverstein said that the museum’s approach to these larger companies is to not only have them donate, but that they also have a Hip Hop story that needs to be told. 

    Staying Engaged: AI and Temporary Exhibition Space

    The Bronx Terminal Market located directly across the street from the museum’s soon to be permanent home  offered the museum space for the public to preview the collection and created temporary exhibitions The first, [R]evolution Exhibition uses a fabricated subway car as display space and focuses on Hip Hop’s emergence from park jams and the projects to nightclubs, national concert tours, TV, and film from 1980 to 1985. This temporary exhibition space will change every six months. It  began with Hip Hop’s origins in the 1970s and will continue with new exhibitions, each focusing on a 5 year period until the museum opens.

    Universal Hip Hop Museum’s temporary exhibition at the Bronx Terminal Market

    This space also features the museum’s first AI project, “Breakbeat Narratives” which is a collaboration with the MIT Center for Advance Virtuality and Microsoft, the museum’s official technology partner. It uses AI to help categorize the complex evolution of Hip Hop to create a personalized experience for every visitor. It’s goal is to help visitors explore various narratives in Hip Hop using their personal taste in music as an entry point. Visitors can take away a personalised playlist. “We’re not using technology just for the sake of technology, but to really empower people so that they get information in a very unique way that they weren’t expecting,” said Bucano. Microsoft has committed both technological resources and $5 million to expand the museum’s cultural heritage program. “Documenting, preserving, and presenting the history of the culture for generations of Hip Hop lovers globally via exciting new tech innovations from Microsoft is thrilling,” said Bucano. “This partnership is truly a milestone for Hip Hop culture.”

    Once the museum opens in its permanent home, it will continue to utilize technology and AI. “Technology changes and so we want to be flexible within the museum,” said Silverstein.

    The museum hoped to open in 2023, Hip Hop’s 50th anniversary but because of the pandemic, the museum is now set to open in 2024. “The heartbeat of Hip Hop culture will live at Bronx Point, the future home of the Universal Hip Hop Museum,” said Bucano. 

    Learn more about the Universal Hip Hop Museum:

  • June 15, 2021 11:23 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Museum Association of New York [MANY] is excited to announce the 2021 in-person fall programming schedule for Partnership Forums, Grant Writing Workshops, Museum and Folk Art Forum, and the Museum Institute at Great Camp Sagamore. 

    Partnership Forums

    MANY will host ten, day-long Partnership forums carrying the theme of The Power of Partnership around the state. In these multi-presentation forums, museum professionals will have the opportunity to learn from leaders in the field and spend valuable time with colleagues in small group settings.

    Each Partnership Forum will be from 10 AM - 4 PM. Registration is $30 for MANY members and $25 for Non-members; includes museum admission and lunch.

    To learn more about these Partnership Forums and to register, visit

    Partnership Forums are sponsored by the New York State Council on the Arts, Humanities New York, Aria Strategies, Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, NYS Canal Corporation, and the New York Council of Nonprofits. 

    Tell Your Story and Make Your Case: A Workshop to Build Grant Writing Skills

    These workshops are being produced as a program of the Pomeroy Fund for NYS History with support from the New York State Council on the Arts. In these participatory workshops, MANY Executive Director Erika Sanger will guide attendees through the grant writing process to build skills and develop insights, including analyzing guidelines, outlining narratives, writing statements of need, and developing budgets. Sanger will share examples of successfully funded grant narratives, hints for streamlining work processes, and designing visually appealing attachments.

    Each workshop will be limited to 20 people with priority given to employees and volunteers of 501 (c)(3) designated museums and history organizations in New York State with operating budgets of $150,000 or less. There is no charge for the workshop but participants must apply and meet the requirements. 

    To learn more about these grant writing workshops and to apply, visit

    Museum and Folk Art Forum

    On Sunday, November 14 from 10 AM - 5 PM, the Museum Association of New York is hosting the Museum and Folk Art Forum at the Everson Museum of Art. This forum will feature live demonstrations, performances, and discussions to explore and strengthen the ways museums, folklorists, and traditional artists can work together to build community around the interpretation and preservation of traditional arts and shared informal learning practices. 

    Registration is $30 for MANY members and New York Folklore members and $25 for cultural professionals; includes museum admission, lunch, and reception.

    To learn more about the Museum and Folk Art Forum and to register, visit

    The Museum and Folk Art Forum is supported by New York Folklore and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

    The Museum Institute at Great Camp Sagamore

    The Museum Institute is a retreat for museum professionals held at Great Camp Sagamore in the heart of the Adirondacks. This years’ theme is “Leadership, Partnership, and Mentorship.” Participants will have the opportunity to learn from other leaders in the museum field who will share their expertise to help create solutions, build audiences, and develop institutional management skills. Presenters include Franklin Vagnone (Twisted Preservation and Old Salem Museums & Gardens), John Yeagley (Twisted Preservation), Dr. Georgette Grier-Key (Eastville Community Historical Society), Rob Cassetti (Corning Museum of Glass), and Chloe Hayward (The Studio Museum in Harlem). 

    Registration is $725 for MANY Members and $775 for Non-members and includes tuition, housing, all meals, and activities including a boat tour on Raquette Lake. Space is extremely limited and early registration is recommended. 

    Learn more about The Museum Institute and to register, visit

    The Museum Institute at Great Camp Sagamore is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. 

  • May 26, 2021 4:54 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Water Hole, Hall of African Mammals, American Museum of Natural History

    Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,

    Many of my childhood memories were formed in New York City’s museums, zoos, and gardens. In those places I came to know the world outside of my constructed environment - about things that grow in fertile soil, not between cracks in concrete; places where fish swim in rivers unbounded by sea walls; creativity beyond paint on canvas; and how people live close to earth, not in boxes twenty stories above the ground. 

    Some of you know that I have a taxidermy fixation. I consider and reconsider why people choose to live with dead animals and how museums use taxidermy as interpretive vehicles. I admire the skills and imagination of great taxidermists and the juxtapositions created in museum installations. This pursuit has led me to museums I may never have visited aside from their taxidermy collections. I carry a map in my mind of The American Museum of Natural History whose dioramas can still ignite my sense of wonder about the variety of life on earth. 

    As a museum educator, I spent incalculable hours thinking about how people learn in museums, cultivating wonder, sharing knowledge, and helping visitors appreciate different perspectives. Last week The New York Times published Museums: A Special Report that included articles focused on how museums are moving beyond hardships exacerbated by the pandemic through work with their communities. The journalists offered excellent examples and touched on important issues facing our field, but referenced art museums almost exclusively and peppered their text with phrases that generalize museum practice. I don’t believe museum professionals were the intended readers as the articles outlined what many of us already know. 

    It may be tempting to put our memories of the past year behind us, but there is too much at stake to close the door on our multiple national crises. The question before us now is: How can we learn from our history and create professional practices in which centering community engagement is too routine to be the topic of a New York Times special report? The answers will most likely will be found by museum professionals listening, learning, and working in community while sharing their knowledge and experience with each other. We look forward to gathering together in the Fall in Partnership Forums to learn together and inspire the future of museums.

    Registration will open on June 15 for grant writing workshops, Partnership Forums, a Museum and Folk Art Forum, and the Museum Institute at Great Camp Sagamore where we will explore “Partnership, Leadership, and Mentorship.” You can get a sneak peek of the exciting opportunities in the links above. Attendance will be limited, and all safety protocols established by the museums in which we will meet will be honored. We can’t wait to see you, learn together, and create new collective memories.

    With thanks for your support,

    Erika Sanger

  • May 26, 2021 4:50 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Round 11 applications for New York State Regional Economic Development Council opened on May 11 with a total of $750 million in economic development funding available across New York’s ten REDC regions. The program focuses on projects that advance a region’s long-term economic development strategies, including job retention and recovery in industries disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    This year, the state has changed the process for how the money will be distributed. Rather than one large funding announcement in December, $150 million from Empire State Development (ESD) will be available to fund certain projects on a rolling, competitive basis. To be considered for the first-round of grants, applications must be submitted by July 30. 

    Funding Opportunities for New York State Museums 

    Market New York

    Market New York (Market NY) is a grant program established to strengthen tourism and attract visitors to NYS by promoting destinations, attractions, and special events. In 2021, Market NY has up to $15 million available in funding across the state. Funding will be awarded to projects that will create economic impact by increasing tourism in the state. Funding is available for tourism marketing initiatives, capital and construction projects, and for development of special events (like meetings, conferences, festivals). The REDC identifies two significant tourism initiatives. The first is COVID impacted tourism projects, events, and businesses, and the other are projects that market or promote “New York’s unique, world-class destination and special events, broad array of available activities, and strength in creating family memories through activities, like outdoor recreation, historic sites, and museums.” There are two categories of funding available.

    Up to $7 million is available for regional tourism marketing. This fund supports projects that market NYS regional tourism destinations or attractions. Applicants must demonstrate how their project will promote the tourism goals for the REDC’s overall strategic plan as well as demonstrating increased visitation or increased spending per visitor. It is also noted that successful tourism marketing projects will also complement the goals and strategies of I LOVE NY. 

    Applications must request a minimum of $50,000 to be considered for funding. There is a 25% match of the total project cost. No other state funding can be used and the ESD will pay grantees on a reimbursement basis. It’s advised that the grantee should be prepared to subsidize the project for up to 6 months or more before reimbursement. 

    Explore & More Children’s Museum in Buffalo received $150,000 in Regional Tourism Marketing in Round 9 of REDC funding from Market NY. The grant was used to increase marketing outreach through a campaign that used play to tell the unique story of Western NY through the museum’s exhibits that celebrate waterways, cultures, traditions, architecture, agriculture, and more. 

    The Center for Brooklyn History received $169,950 to launch a marketing, advertising, and PR campaign in Round 9 aimed at increasing Brooklyn tourism by expanding its visibility. This campaign will promote two of the Brooklyn Historical Society’s unique sites, a landmark 1881 building in Brooklyn Heights and a 3200 square feet gallery in the Empire Stores building in DUMBO. The Center for Brooklyn History notes that this project is the most comprehensive campaign of its kind in its 155 year history.

    In Round 8, the Genesee Country Village & Museum used Market NY funds to increase targeted tourism marketing efforts throughout the Northeast United States, Canada, and other selected countries to further promote and expand visitor engagement opportunities through their three core agritourism programs. In their successful application, GCV&M demonstrated that their efforts would grow the number of non-local visitors to their museum and the greater Finger Lakes region, arguing a broad economic impact. 

    Up to $8 million is available for regional tourism capital projects with a minimum grant request of $150,000. Applications will be accepted for projects that include plans to expand, construct, restore or renovate NYS tourism destinations or attractions. Like with regional tourism marketing, applicants for regional tourism capital must also demonstrate how the tourism capital project will work to promote and forward REDC’s tourism goals as well as I LOVE NY’s tourism goals and strategies. 

    Among eligible expenses for this category include pre-development costs, improving accessibility services, acquisition of land or buildings, remediation costs, and administrative costs up to 10% of the total project cost. An 80% match is required in addition to a $250 application fee. Similar to the regional tourism marketing grants, grantees will be paid on a reimbursement basis. 

    In Round 9, Storm King Art Center was awarded $460,000 to support the construction of its 221 Sarah Sze commissioned work, Fallen Sky, and the accompanying exhibition to increase tourism in Orange County and the Mid-Hudson Region.

    The New-York Historical Society received $500,000 in Round 9 to construct an annex to house the new Academy for American Democracy, public galleries with exhibitions for family audiences to increase visitation.

    In Round 8, the Rochester Museum & Science Center used $200,000 to purchase a new star projector for the Strasenburgh Planetarium renovation.  

    Non-profit organizations must be qualified in the New York State Grants Gateway (, be registered and up to date with filings with the NYS Office of the Attorney General’s Charities Bureau and be registered and up to date with the NYS Office of the State Comptroller's VendRep System. It is also strongly advised that all non-profit organizations register with Grants Gateway during the application process. 

    Applications that will be highly considered for funding should demonstrate that their project will increase tourism to and within NYS and will have an overall positive impact on their region. I LOVE NY will give additional consideration to applications that identify and demonstrate project partnerships, like collaborating with regional partners on the project, especially tourism promotion agencies (TPAs). 

    Market New York Guidelines and additional resources can be found at or email the Division of Tourism at

    Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

    Up to $19.5 million is available from the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation via the Environmental Protection Grants Program for Parks, Preservation and Heritage. Grants can cover up to 50% of the total eligible project cost. Grant awards are capped at $500,000, however if the total project cost exceeds $1 million, up to $750,000 may be requested. 

    Under the Historic Preservation Program, funds can be used to acquire, improve, protect, preserve, rehabilitate or restore properties listed on the State or National Register of Historic Places and for structural assessments and/or planning for such projects. 

    This grant program is administered on a reimbursement basis and successful applicants are expected to fund project expenditures upfront and then submit for reimbursement. 

    In Round 9, the George Eastman Museum was awarded $600,000 to restore and repair three original, historic garden structures that are integral to the National Historic Landmark. The Museum also added accessibility features to increase visitation. 

    In Central NY, the Oneida Community Mansion House was awarded $600,000 to complete Phase 1 of its exterior rehabilitation project for the museum, education center, residence and inn buildings. The work includes roof repairs, drainage, masonry, painting, and window restoration. 

    In Round 8, Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park received $500,000 used to secure an additional property once part of the original estate to create a new entrance and visitor center for offices and collections storage. 

    New York State Canal Corporation

    Up to $1 million in funding is available for the Canalway Grants Program. Non-profit organizations that are along the NYS Canal System (Erie, Champlain, Oswego, and Cayuga-Seneca) are eligible to apply for special canal related projects. 

    Projects applying for NYS Canal Corporation funding should achieve at least one of the following for the NYS canal system–including the Canalway trail: expand public access, increase visitation and recreational use, stimulate private investment, improvise services and amenities for Canalway land and water trail users, and enhance connections between the canal and the corresponding region consistent with the REDC strategic plans. 

    The minimum grant request is $25,000 and the maximum grant request is $150,000. These funds must be used for capital improvement projects, requires a 50% match, and grant funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis. 

    In Round 9, the Buffalo Maritime Center was awarded $120,000 to construct an historically accurate replica of DeWitt Clinton’s 1825 Erie Canalpacket boat. After construction, the Maritime Center will partner with cultural organizations in villages, towns, and cities where the packet boat can play an inspiring role in helping other communities to identify their unique Erie Canal culture and history and will be central to a grand reenactment of Governor DeWitt Clinton’s opening voyage from Buffalo to New York City in 1825.

    For more information, visit or email

    Helpful Next Steps

    To be considered for the first-round of early grants, you must get your application in by July 30. Be sure to read the CFA Resource guide, watch the program webinars that are relevant to your project, and attend public meetings held by your Regional Economic Development Council. 


    Click here to learn more about REDC Funding including the 2021 REDC Guidebook, 2021 Resource Guide (including more details regarding the funding opportunities listed above) and for upcoming webinars. 

  • May 26, 2021 4:48 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    In May 2021, nearly eight months after the Seneca Nation made a formal request, the Buffalo History Museum returned the 200-year old Red Jacket Peace Medal to the Seneca Nation in a ceremony at the Onohsagwe:de’ Cultural Center. The medal is an object of cultural patrimony and a symbol of peace, friendship, and enduring relationships among the United States and the Six Nations. The petition for return was made by the Seneca Nation under the aegis of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). NAGPRA was passed in 1990 to provide a process for museums and federal agencies to return items such as human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, etc. to lineal descendants and culturally affiliated Native Americans. 

    Buffalo History Museum Executive Director Melissa Brown with Seneca Nation President Matthew Pagels with the Red Jacket Peace Medal in a ceremony at the Onohsagwe:de’ Cultural Center

    The Red Jacket Peace Medal

    The Medal was awarded to Chief Red Jacket, the Seneca statesman, by President George Washington in 1792 as a symbol of peace between the Six Nations and the newly formed United States. It commemorated the discussions that eventually led to the 1794 Treaty of Canandaigua, one of the earliest treaties between a Native Nation and the United States.

    The medal passed through Chief Red Jacket’s family and descendents including Colonel Ely S. Parker, secretary to General Ulyses S. Grant during the United States Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln was said to have held the medal the day before his assassination. Although the medal was the cultural patrimony of the Seneca Nation, it was acquired by the Buffalo History Museum in 1895. 

    The Buffalo History Museum

    The Buffalo History Museum has been a collecting institution since 1862 and is one of the largest history museums in New York State with nearly half a million objects. “During the Civil War, Buffalo History Museum curators wanted to make sure that global history was being documented for the museum to serve as a wider educational function, ” said Melissa Brown, Executive Director of the Buffalo History Museum. It wasn’t until the 1920s and 30s that collecting shifted to focus more on local history. 

    Repatriation and Reconciliation

    Dr. Joe Stahlman is the Director of the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum. In January 2020, then Seneca Nation President Rickey Armstrong reached out to Stahlman with the idea of repatriating the Red Jacket Medal. Stahlman reached out to the Seneca community for feedback. “I discussed the idea of the Seneca Nation doing this and no one had objections.” The Buffalo History Museum quickly responded to this request and immediately participated in the detailed procedure prescribed in NAGPRA to determine that the rights to the medal were not held by any other Native Nations. “We wanted to follow the federal process and we wanted to be sure that we were doing our due diligence,” said Brown. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed the overall process, but the medal was formally returned to the Seneca Nation in early May. 

    The 200-year old Red Jacket Peace Medal

    “For us, we don’t want to diminish anyone’s stewardship or their contemporary roles in our communities,” said Stahlman. “We simply want to reclaim what is rightfully Seneca.” Stahlman commended the Buffalo History Museum for their stewardship. “Museums do offer a service to all of humanity and I really do believe that, whether a native museum or a non native museum. That’s the role of museums and I appreciate it.” Stahlman described that these discussions between nations and museums are difficult because there are a lot of emotions and sensitivities on both sides. “But there has to be some kind of reconciliation,” said Stahlman. “One of the things we do in our culture is called polishing the chain.” An idea where two parties enter an engagement that ends in an agreement that is supposed to hold up over time. Stahlman explains that you have to “polish the chain” so not to forget. “We can’t let the chain get rusty from disuse. For millions of Native Peoples living within the boundaries of the United States, history is something that we are trying to keep alive and remind everyone else who has forgotten these commitments.” 

    The Treaty of Canandaigua established peace and friendship between the US and the Six Nations. It specifically acknowledged the lands of the Seneca, Oneida, Onondaga, and Cayuga. In the treaty, the United States agreed never to claim nor to disturb any of the Six Nations living on the lands described in the treaties. Although relations between the United States government and the Six Nations have been strained and there have been violations of the treaty, the treaty has never been broken and is still actively recognized by the Six Nations and the United States governments.

    Stahlman hopes that as museums continue to review their collections through the lens of NAGPRA, they will look closely at objects and work with Native Nations to determine if they are sacred or items of cultural patrimony. Stahlman explained that some items like the Red Jacket Peace Medal, fall into the realm of both spiritual and patrimony. “So it gets a little fuzzy on what is what.” Some institutions like the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) have taken the guidelines from NAGPRA and have adapted them to their own repatriation policy. NMAI lists five categories eligible for repatriation: human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, objects of cultural patrimony, and illegally acquired items. Moving forward, Stahlman would like to see more museums come forward with lists of potential items in their collection for repatriation. His advice to museums is to reach out to local Native Americans to establish a relationship and help identify what these objects are and what should be returned. NMAI works closely with Native peoples and communities on repatriation cases and proactively conducts casework to address items of cultural patrimony under its stewardship. 

    Despite identifying other objects at the Buffalo History Museum, the Seneca Nation does not want everything to leave the museum. “We don’t want everything, not because we don’t care, but some of it has to be out in the world. I mean that’s what a museum is,” said Stahlman. “The Buffalo History Museum should educate and inform everyone about the Western Region across time and across the landscape. Native peoples fall into that space and there should be objects that represent us within those collections so that people can be inquisitive and learn more about the places they live and visit and who lived there before them.”

    Strengthening Relationships for the Future

    “We have always struggled with maintaining, what I would describe as a relationship, with the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum,” said Brown. “I think we had a lot of transactional engagements that had nothing to do with repatriation, but if we were working on a Native American exhibit we might reach out for consultation, but I wouldn’t say it was necessarily a relationship.” 

    Brown’s goal moving forward is to establish a more meaningful relationship with the Seneca-Iroquois National Museum through partnerships and collaborations. “Whether it’s with the Native American community and repatriation or it’s just with the Native American community, we really need to engage both perspectives and how we share this history,” said Brown. “There’s a big difference from when I started working at the museum in how we always talked about how we told history. Now we’re definitely sharing the story through different experiences and perspectives. So I think this was a really solidifying and good first action.”

    Stahlman wants to be sure that when sharing Native histories, those stories should not just be within the Euro-American viewpoint. “The conversation has to change and if we're talking about equity, then let’s talk about the subjects that we want to talk about.” 

    Moving Forward

    The Buffalo History Museum will continue to reassess its collection in order to ensure that any objects of cultural patrimony are rightfully returned. “I do expect there to be more...I wish if anything that I had prompted the conversation first.” Prior to the return of the Red Jacket Peace Medal, there were no conversations about it being an item of cultural patrimony. “That conversation had never happened, but then again no real conversations were happening. So I think that being proactive and making that time is important.” Brown hopes to ensure that the museum has a relationship with the Seneca Nation. “To do that work that we need to do right now –both with DEAI and sharing stories from multiple perspectives— we need to meet people where they’re at, which is really important.” 

    Brown stated that the repatriation of the Red Jacket Peace Medal represents a sign of friendship and connection between the museum and the Seneca Nation. “We plan to collaborate with the Seneca Nation for future exhibitions, programs, and events in order to ensure the legacy of Red Jacket.”

    Stahlman wants to see more museums have these conversations. “When museums begin to think about protocols and policies, their next exhibits, and future steps, especially when thinking about how the pandemic has changed how they operate, this is the space where they have the opportunity to think about how to be more inclusive and not just with native folks.”

  • May 26, 2021 4:45 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum is celebrating its 20th anniversary by sharing its art collection with six other institutions in Saratoga and Warren Counties. All Together Now, organized by Dayton Director Ian Berry and Independent Curator Lisa Kolosek, is a regional collections sharing project created to strengthen and form new collaborations between neighbor arts organizations while showcasing rarely seen objects from the Tang Museum. Each partner organization will exhibit a selection of work from the Tang Collection and partner organizations will offer special public viewing hours during the course of the exhibitions. 

    All Together Now wordmark designed by Jean Tschanz-Egger, Head of Design, Tang Teaching Museum

    Sharing Collections and Strengthening Community

    In March 2020, The Tang Museum received a $275,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation. “Thinking about collaborations, there has been a lot of emphasis among grant funding organizations - that they want to see collaborations across organizations,” said Michael Janario, Head of Communications at The Tang. Prior to All Together Now, The Tang had stronger relationships with some museums more than others in part because missions for these organizations were so different. “Part of this project was thinking about how can we strengthen our sense of community with our neighbors,” said Janario. “Is there a new way for us to share our collection with the public?”

    The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College photograph by Tom Jenkins

    The Tang does not have a permanent collection exhibition space and Janairo explained that in the seven and a half years since he has been with the museum, the collection has grown from 6,000 to more than 17,000 objects. “We are constantly rotating our exhibitions and like so many museums, we can only show a fraction of our collections,” said Janario. 

    All Together Now partner institutions include The Hyde Collection, Ellsworth Kelly Studio, the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, Saratoga Arts, Saratoga County History Center, Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC), Shaker Museum of Mount Lebanon, and Yaddo. It was important for the Tang Museum to share its collection in both traditional and non-traditional spaces, like the SPAC, a large amphitheatre dedicated to music and performative arts. From June to October, the Tang Museum’s exhibition “Chromatic Scales: Psychedelic Design from the Tang Teaching Museum” will feature more than 30 recently acquired 1960s San Francisco psychedelic rock concert posters. The exhibition will be located in SPAC’s new “The Pines” facility lobby. Another partner institution, Yaddo, a retreat for artists that offers residences to professional creative artists, will open public access to its space. The exhibition, “Carl Van Vechten On Dance: Photographs from the Tang Teaching Museum Collection” will feature more than 80 photographs from the 1930s to the 1960s of dancers and choreographers by American photographer Carl Van Vechten. 

    Each exhibition coincides with the host location’s mission or identity of each institution. For example, the “Chromatic Scales” exhibition that features posters of major bands such as The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Van Morrison at SPAC, a well-known summer performance venue for musicians. “The Social Lives of Hats” at the Saratoga County History Center (SCHC) pairs more than 25 hats in a variety of styles from the SCHC with several of Alfred Z. Solomon’s wood hat forms from the Tang collection. 

    Partner organizations can charge admission to see their exhibition but, in an agreement with the Tang, there must be times for free admission to the public. 


    Victor Moscoso, The Chambers Bros Concert Poster, 1967, screenprint, 21 3/8 x 15 /4 x 5/8 inches, Tang Teaching Museum collection. Gift of Jack Shear. 2018.36.3

    Growing Audiences

    A large part of All Together Now was thinking about audience sharing and marketing. “If we were able to show photographs from the Tang collection at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, maybe some of that audience would visit the Tang,” said Janario. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fames’ exhibition “Muybridge and Motion” is on view from July 2021 through January 2022 and features a series of animal locomotion photographic studies from the late 19th century that changed the way people thought of the way horses moved. Curator of the National Museum of Racing, Victoria Reisman organized this exhibition utilizing the Tang collection of English photographer Eadweard Muybridge as well as the National Museum of Racing’s collection of equestrian paintings by American artist Henry Stull. 

    “This project welcomes visitors back to our institutions and develops new audiences for all of us,” said Ian Berry, the Dayton Director for The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum in a statement. “It is thrilling to see new research, conservation and photography already emerging and especially to see the connections between arts presenters in our region strengthen and flourish.” The Tang hopes that these exhibitions will also encourage locals to reconnect with their local museums and cultural organizations. 

    Challenges and Adaptations

    The pandemic definitely changed some of the structure of All Together Now. The Tang was able to push All Together Now forward a year with permission from the Luce Foundation. Other casualties include a map and marketing brochure and the concept that someone visiting Saratoga could visit multiple exhibitions at once, but the pandemic changed the schedule with not all of the exhibitions happening at the same time. Some partners dropped out, but the core idea of the project remained the same–collaborating and working with other curators to produce an exhibition to be shown at different institutions. 

    Another change was a special event where The Tang commissioned ten poets from the Academy of American Poets to write in response to the exhibition Energy in All Directions that will be on view at the Shaker Museum of Mount Lebanon. SPAC commissioned composer Ken Frazelle to incorporate the poets’ words into a new composition for percussion and voice. Originally this was part of an in-person celebratory event. The Tang plans on recording this in the coming weeks and will release the recording to the public later this year.

    At the beginning of this project, the focus was mainly about The Tang sharing its collections but All Together Now has developed into sharing conversations and resources. The Tang hosts weekly check-ins with partner organizations to discuss events, promotions, and provide an update about what is happening. “It’s great to hear the different ways that this project excites people,” said Janairo. “Hearing those kinds of attitudes shows a little bit of the difference of where people are coming from.”

    Future Casting

    Through All Together Now, The Tang has strengthened its sense of community among its regional museums and cultural institutions. In a statement to the Daily Gazette, Berry hopes that through this project, it “will be the start of a tighter, much more connected arts ecosystem in Saratoga.”

    Learn more about All Together Now:

  • April 28, 2021 12:38 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Map of 2021 State of NYS Museums respondents

    Dear Members, Colleagues, and Friends,

    When I looked out my window this morning, I saw maple leaves unfurling, sunlight on the river, and men fishing from small boats floating south on the falling tide. After living with uncertainty for so long, I have stopped trying to see beyond what is in front me while keeping the pursuit of a more inclusive, sustainable museum sector tied to my optimism for our future. 

    We await word from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Humanities New York, and the New York State Council on the Arts about the dispersal of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and the New York State Legislative Appropriations. Applications to the National Endowment for Humanities are due May 14. When we know more, we will share it with you. 

    With data from 207 museums in NY, we are working to create a picture of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on our state’s museums. The top line data from the survey shows us that half of the respondents received PPP loans and a third lost full time staff in 2020. In 2018, 32% of the museums that responded to our survey reported closing their fiscal years in a deficit position. We are pleased to report that despite the financial impact of the pandemic, that number remains relatively stable with 37% reporting a deficit position in 2019 and 34% in 2020. Once we are done with the analysis, I believe that the data will show us a picture of a sector that is creative, resilient, and committed to preserving and sharing our state’s history, art, and culture.

    The two speakers for our May virtual programs– Rob Fields Former President & Executive Director, Weeksville Heritage Center and Hannah Fox Director of Projects and Programmes for Derby Museums, UK– prevailed and succeeded in the face of tremendous adversity by connecting deeply with their communities. On May 7, Rob will share how in 2019, he spearheaded a crowdsourcing campaign that raised over $700,000 to help save the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn. On May 14, Hannah will join us from the new Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, which will open to the public on Friday, May 21. Hannah will share the journey they’ve been on to embed co-production and human-centered design methodologies into a major museum development. 

    We hope you can join us on May 7 and 14 to listen and learn from these deeply passionate museum professionals who have much to share about how community partnership can secure and fuel a museum into the future.

    With thanks, e

    Erika Sanger

  • April 28, 2021 12:29 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Upon receiving a request for historical LGBTQ+ artifacts from a local Pride group, the Fenton History Center discovered that they did not have much in their collection. The Center then committed to build a community archive by crowdsourcing materials for the exhibition Protest and Pride: The LGBTQ+ Community in Chautauqua County. The exhibition, which opened on March 31, 2021, features stories and artifacts that document the lives of the LGBTQ+ community in Chautauqua County. 

    The Fenton History Center, photo courtesy of Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

    Initiative to Document the LGBTQ+ Community in Chautauqua County

    In 2019, Fenton History Center Executive Director Noah Goodling was approached by Jamestown Pride who were looking to include a historical connection for their June Pride Celebration in 2020. “So I said sure, of course and went to the Fenton History Center to see what I could find on the LGBTQ+ community and found nothing,” said Goodling. “It was shocking. It was more than a simple gap, it was a complete absence.” Goodling decided that the Fenton History Center would build a community archive and exhibition dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community in Chautauqua County.

    Goodling began by attending Pride meetings. “I had to tell them that we [Fenton History Center] didn’t have anything in our archives but we wanted to start by documenting the planning and implementation of Pride 2020.” 

    He wrote two grants to support the project, a Humanities New York Action Grant and a Greater Hudson Heritage Network Creativity Incubator Grant (a grant partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts). “I wanted to have an exhibit that would help promote that we were seeking donations to our archives for LGBTQ+ stories and artifacts,” said Goodling. 

    Community Support

    The Fenton History Center received in-kind support and volunteer help from a number of local organizations including Jamestown Pride, the local PFLAG chapter, the Mental Health Association, Preservation Works/HOPE Chautauqua, the Jamestown public Market, the Robert H. Jackson Center, Jamestown City Historian, local news stations, individual professors from SUNY Jamestown Community College and SUNY Fredonia, and more. “Many of these organizations came to us to ask how they could help before we even thought to get them involved. It was one of the things that made this project special, and helped me feel that we were on the right track in serving our community.” Fenton History Center’s Curator Victoria Parker also played a key role in executing the creative and technical aspects of the exhibition. 

    Crowdsourcing the Exhibition

    “In the beginning, we were focusing on documenting the planning process for Pride 2020 but because of the pandemic, we had to shift,” said Goodling. After Pride 2020 was canceled, the exhibition shifted to focus on all of the interviews Goodling conducted throughout 2020 and into 2021.

    “Our goal was that we wanted to be sure that we represented as many people as possible from the LGBTQ+ community and allies,” said Goodling. “We wanted to have a mosaic of different voices and by talking to a number of different people, we‘ve put together a chronology of experiences from the early 20th century to present day about what it has been like to experience being part of the LGBTQ+ community in Jamestown.” 

    The Fenton History Center continues to receive donations for the collections and the exhibition.  Goodling hopes that with the opening of the exhibition, more people will donate and share their stories. “We’re starting to get some more supplemental things and we’re hoping that it’ll continue to grow,” said Goodling. Donations include written stories, audio recordings, videos, photos of places and events, and physical items. One person donated their wedding dress. Another Jamestown resident wrote a poem based on her experiences in the LGBTQ+ community. A professor at SUNY Fredonia offered to create an interpretive dance to reflect on his own experiences. 

    “Part of what I wanted to do with this project was to open it up, maybe further than we usually would, with what we were collecting. There’s all sorts of ways that people connect with being LGBTQ+, so we wanted people to contribute something that is representative of how they have connected with their identity.”

    Reaching and Engaging New Audiences

    Since the start of this initiative, the Center has reached new audiences. “We have stronger partnerships with LGBTQ+ groups and we have new school groups visiting us to see the exhibition,” said Goodling. The other week a class from Jamestown Community College that is studying the intersection of identity and gender identity visited the exhibition. “There is a whole new group of people that we are reaching; before, they just didn’t have a reason to associate with the museum.”

    Goodling wants this exhibition and archive to educate people and help strike down prejudice. “I want to get a community dialogue going and get people thinking in new ways by introducing them to different aspects of their community that they might not have thought about before or even encountered.”

    Protest and Pride exhibition entryway

    Identifying Priorities

    “We’re a small museum with a small staff and limited resources,” said Goodling. “Some people might be intimidated by a project like this or choose not to do a project like this because they think that it’s going to take up too much time or that it might not give them a return on investment.” In terms of taking up a significant amount of time, Goodling says yes, but this project became a priority for the Center. “It’s something that we chose to focus on and I would encourage other museum professionals like us to ask themselves; are we doing work that is just supporting a narrative that is already in place and reaching the same people? Or are we doing work that is pushing our organization forward by asking our community to consider new perspectives?”

    Learn more about the Fenton History Center:

The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

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

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