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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!

Click here to download the 2018 MANY Annual Report.
  • April 24, 2019 7:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Global museums are defined as well-endowed cultural institutions located in major cities such as NYC, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Shanghai, and London have the power to use data analytics to grow their revenue and respond to audience trends. Many have annual budgets starting at $100M and use their resources to take full advantage of data analytics to generate insights for their visitors, change their admission pricing, or to predict visitor attendance based on factors ranging from weather, public school schedules, and tourism events. While these global museums might have more resources at their disposal, smaller museums can benefit from big data by learning more about the power of data analytics and using simple best practices to make data-driven marketing decisions.

    Kwasi Hope Agyeman is the CEO & Founder of TravelSee, a company that uses data analytics to help museums grow and keep audiences. He is a trained public historian and experienced data analyst, who wants to help smaller museums understand how to interpret their data so that they too can grow their audiences and increase relevancy. Kwasi believes that historical sites, regional art museums, and local zoos do not need a $100M budget to hire data scientists. “I believe data analytics should be accessible to all museums that want to grow and keep audiences. This drive to democratize big data is the reason I launched TravelSee, a museum data analytics company, while I was in museum school at the Cooperstown Graduate Program.”

    Kwasi and his team recently presented at a round-table discussion on “Data-Driven Museums: Using Data Analytics to Make Smart Marketing Decisions” at MANY’s Access and Identity annual conference. “The fact that the discussion was packed and extra chairs were needed, demonstrated a growing awareness on the value of museum data analytics. As the presenter, I worked to address the many discussion points related to data analytics, ranging from the historic site that did not collect visitor zip codes to the science museum that rarely analyzes its visitor data. The best part of the presentation was the sales vendor that happened to enter the discussion and was surprised that most of the attendants were not actively collecting and analyzing audience information to support data-driven decisions - a very necessary practice in any other workplace.”

    Just as retail and e-commerce businesses analyze data to support product development and improve customer experiences, so can museums. By looking at audience demographics, spending habits, location, and more, museums can make better marketing or programming decisions to increase attendance and revenue as well as  diversify visitors. Understanding current or future target audiences can affect admission, exhibit development, membership structure, museum shop items, and more.

    By using Google Analytics, MANY has seen an increase in website visits through our LinkedIn page. This accounts for nearly 20% of all social media referrals to our website in the past three months. We were able to correlate this data to the increase in pageviews to the MANY Job Board webpage as one of the top reporting pages. We analyzed LinkedIn’s insights and discovered that the impressions for job board related posts yielded an average higher impression rate than other posts. This data has helped MANY understand that by using LinkedIn to promote the Job Board we increased LinkedIn’s social media referrals to our MANY Job Board webpage. After the MANY homepage, the MANY Job Board page is now the second most visited landing page because of social media acquisition, specifically LinkedIn.

    Social media platforms have their own built-in analytics and insights that can measure post and event engagement rates, reach, impressions, and click-throughs. Museums can see audience demographics, popular posting times, and user locations. Data captured by social media insights can also be used to clearly share the results of a marketing campaign. By creating a data report, museums can highlight the connection between an event ticket sale and online click ads. Facebook and Instagram ads let museums dictate target audiences, either based on current demographics, or by expanding and diversifying by location and interests. Platforms like Facebook can help museums make better marketing decisions and plan targeted audience campaigns.

    Many smaller museums struggle with audience engagement and community relevancy, using data to evaluate audiences, programming, events, and exhibitions is an important resource to increase audience growth and engagement. Kwasi believes that smaller museums can advance by building a data-driven culture to develop new audiences and remain publicly relevant.


    Further Reading / Resources

    Top 20 Visited Museum Exhibitions of 2018

    https://twitter.com/TravelSee/status/1115278627854331904

    British Museum Data Analytics Partnership with Microsoft

    https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2017/07/04/the-british-museum-is-using-big-data-to-help-visitors-learn-more-about-history/

    Smithsonian Data Science Team

    https://oris.si.edu/data_science

    Top 10 Museum Trends of 2019

    https://medium.com/museum-tech-trends/top-10-museum-trends-in-2019-3c5582ed8253

    How 7 Museums Used Data Analytics To Fix Real Problems

    https://medium.com/museum-tech-trends/how-7-museums-used-data-analytics-to-fix-real-problems-5065c287e7a3

    Five Basic Things All Museum Marketing Professionals Needs to Know

    https://medium.com/museum-tech-trends/museum-marketing-101-ce5add379904

    How the Art Institute of Chicago Uses Data to Predict Attendance

    https://ideas.capacityinteractive.com/ci-to-eye-podcast-episodes/how-the-art-institute-uses-data-to-predict-the-future-dr-andrew-simnick

    Met New Ticketing Policy

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/01/arts/design/metropolitan-museum-of-art-starts-charging-non-new-yorkers.html

    How to Setup a Data-Driven Museum Marketing Budget

    https://medium.com/museum-tech-trends/smart-museum-budget-36ade6f10c4b

  • April 24, 2019 7:00 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Museum on Main Street has been part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition service visiting communities across the United States since 1994. Its exhibitions have traveled to 48 states, have been hosted by over 1,400 communities, and are used to kick-start local exhibitions and programming. These exhibitions are specifically designed for smaller museums in rural communities with an average population of just over 14,000. After visiting just about every state, Museum on Main Street or MoMS is making its New York State debut with Water/Ways starting this June and ending in April, 2020 as it travels across the state to six different communities.

    Water/Ways began in 2016 and dives into water as an essential component of life on our planet; environmentally, culturally, and historically. This exhibition takes a deep look at water’s impact on our lives, how it powers the environment, impacts climate, and how it physically shapes and sculpts the landscape around us. Water/Ways asks how Americans use water, how is water represented in our society, how do we use water a symbol, how does water unite communities, and how does water affect the way we live, work, worship, create and play?

    These questions are addressed over five free-standing exhibition panels that feature photographs, text, and objects, with one video monitor, two touch screen interactive computer kiosks, and an iPad-based WaterSim American interactive on a stand. Water/Ways has travelled to states like Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, Arizona, Washington, Oklahoma, and is now it is en route to New York State.

    It seems rather fitting that the first MoMS exhibit in New York State is Water/Ways. New York has more than 7,600 freshwater lakes, ponds, and reservoirs, as well as portions of two Great Lakes and over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams flow within New York’s boundaries. Water has created communities, and economic power like the Erie Canal’s 363 miles that gave New York City’s port an incomparable advantage over all other U.S. port cities and guided the state’s 19th century political and cultural dominance. Water/Ways will travel across New York to six different communities to share stories of how their waterways contributed to their growth, development, and connection.

    To deepen the connection that water has to our communities, MANY is partnering with the New York Folklore Society who will help capture oral stories and histories by offering partnerships with folklorists. These folklorists will work to help capture stories about waters’ deeper connection spiritually and culturally to these communities. These oral histories and stories about water and its effect on life, work, spirituality will help each of the six host communities further create a unique exhibition alongside the Smithsonian’s that will tie larger, more national ideas and concepts to a personal and local level.  


    Starting this June, Water/Ways will mark the Bicentennial of the Erie Canal with its first stop at the Erie Canal Museum. Showcasing the only remaining canal weighlock building in the United States, the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse, New York collects and preserves Canal material, and provides educational experiences that champion an appreciation and understanding of the Erie Canal's transforming effects on the past, present, and future. The Museum is located directly adjacent to the route of the original Erie Canal, which transported goods, people, and ideas across New York State and into the Midwest and was known as the "Mother of Cities" due to its enormous impact on the growth and development of communities including Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Chicago. Their Water/Ways programs will help improve the public’s understanding of technology and engineering related to water, how the Canal affects the natural position of water for different purposes, how it manages water, and how it transported people, goods, and ideas.

    Opportunities to see Water/Ways will continue as the exhibition moves around the state from the Village of Aurora in the Finger Lakes, along the Erie Canal to the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village, the Chapman Museum in Glens Falls, the Hudson River Maritime Museum, and ending at the East Hampton Historical Society on the eastern tip of Long Island. Each host site will expand on the Water/Ways exhibit to incorporate direct links between water and its impact on their community.

    In the Village of Aurora, a partnership between the Aurora Masonic Center, the Village of Aurora Historical Society, and Long Library at Wells College has formed to share their unique water stories that surround Cayuga Lake. Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes in Central New York. Since the withdrawal of the glaciers, the lake has provided important resources to dwellers on and near its shores, from paleo-Indian hunters to the Cayuga people of the Haudenosaunee whose orchards and village, “Peachtown,” was here before the Revolutionary War. By 1789 and the arrival of the Euro-American settlements in this area, the unique climate provided by Cayuga Lake led to the rapid growth of wealth from the land and lake shipping thrived. The Erie Canal brought Aurora’s wool, grain, and fruit to national and world markets. These advancements have contributed to the Aurora we know today as a dual Village of Aurora and Wells College National Historic District, as well as a tourist destination in the Finger Lakes. Like other communities throughout the Finger Lakes, farming is a significant part of the economy and water quality remains an ongoing issue. All of which will be explored during their Water/Ways exhibitions and programming.

    The Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village in the Western Region of New York State, is located at the confluence of the original Erie Canal and Tonawanda Creek. BNHV will use Water/Ways to further connect their community by inviting residents to share their family’s own water story and contribute photographs, stories, and other memorabilia. Their upcoming Farm to Table exhibit will highlight the impact of local water resources, including the Erie Canal, local bodies of water, and Niagara Falls, on agriculture and local ways of life.

    Water has been an important factor in the history surrounding the area of the Chapman Historical Museum. Its rivers and lakes offered transportation for armies during the French & Indian War and during the American Revolution. The Hudson River provided water power for the lumber and paper industries, and later, the generation of electricity. During the Water/Ways exhibition, the Chapman Historical Museum will present multidisciplinary programs that deal with three key waterways in the region around Glens Falls: The Hudson River, The Champlain Canal and the Lake George/Champlain watershed. These waterways are crucial to the region, providing drinking water for municipalities and serving as the main attraction for tourism.

    Located on the historic Rondout Creek, the Hudson River Maritime Museum collects and displays four centuries of technological, industrial, and ecological innovations in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Kingston’s location, halfway between Albany and New York City, allowed the city to flourish during the time when coal was the dominant fuel source in use. Steamboat transportation and commercial fishing expanded simultaneously, and the Rondout Creek thrived as an economic driver and premier tourist attraction for the Mid-Hudson Valley.

    East Hampton Town, the home to the East Hampton Historical Society, is fundamentally linked to water and its power to move and sustain people. The East Hampton Historical Society documents the history of the bay-men and fishermen who lived and worked on the water for decades- clamming, fishing, and whaling. The East Hampton Historical Society focuses on the rich history of Native Americans using and honoring the waterways long before European settlement, and eventually teaching Europeans successful methods of whaling and how to navigate the waters in canoes. Today, East Hampton is defined by its proximity to the ocean. It's location as a tourist destination and a residential area allows them to expand education about the importance of waterways, teaching the next generation about pollution and conservation.

    The Museum Association of New York is working with OnCell to create an exclusive New York Water/Ways app where you can learn more about each host site, their specific interpretations, programs, images, videos and more.

    The arrival of the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street exhibition to New York State not only marks the first MoMS exhibition for New York, but opens the door for future MoMS exhibitions and further collaborations and partnerships between the Museum Association of New York and museums. It has created and expanded partnerships with the Erie Canalway Heritage Corridor, the Hudson River National Heritage Association, and the New York Folklore Society.

    The Museum Association of New York is incredibly excited to finally have MoMS travel to New York State bringing the Smithsonian outreach program to help engage our museums and their communities and amplify our museums.

    Find out more information and start planning your New York State Water/Ways experience with the links below.

    Follow along with @nysmuseums and #nyswaterways

    Read more about the Water/Ways tour in New York State:

    https://nysmuseums.org/WaterWaysTour

    Learn more about each host site:

    https://nysmuseums.org/Host-Site-Profiles

    See a preview of the exhibition:

    https://nysmuseums.org/WaterWays-Images


    Support for the New York Tour of Water/Ways has been provided in part by:



  • April 23, 2019 2:05 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Dear Members, Friends, and Colleagues,

    Each and every time I attend an event where groups of museum people come together, I learn something new. In Cooperstown, I learned about how the museum field is changing, how we iterate faster as technology expands our reach, and how, when facing challenges, if we work together we can reach new levels of excellence.

    I am also struck by the ways in which MANY is changing because who joins us at the table has changed. John Duane Kingsley, Zach N Bowman, and Danielle Bennett filled a room passed capacity for the panel discussion “The Present is Queer: Case Studies & Strategies for LGBTQ+ Representation in US Museums.” On his travels home, John wrote a Facebook post in which he shared, “Having attended MANY conferences in the past, the conference had largely served as an echo chamber for the same institutions and voices. It did a wonderful job of connecting small museums and empowering them with tools to maintain their operations but did little to challenge the status quo. This year’s conference changed that mode entirely.” MANY does not exist in a small room in Troy that overlooks the Hudson River, we exist in the places graced by the energy people bring and what and how they share.

    At this year’s annual conference the weather smiled on us, we had a beautiful place to gather, and generous host museums to welcome us. If you were among the 446 museum professionals who joined us in Cooperstown, thank you for the journey, your time, and your expertise.

    Planning has already begun for “The Power of Partnership,” our 2020 annual conference. Downtown Albany will roll out the red carpet for us and members of the local planning committee are cooking up unique experiences that showcase how partnering institutions create a cultural community together.

    With the help of those who have taken our 2019 survey of the field, I have learned that what we know about our members and colleagues is also changing. Although we have heard from more than 10% of our state’s museums, we want to include as many of you as possible. Please know that your voice matters, and your data counts, click here and take the survey! Your legislators, members of the Board of Regents, and the Governor’s office are waiting to learn about The State of New York State Museums.


    Thank you for your support, e


    Erika Sanger

    Executive Director, MANY

  • March 28, 2019 8:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On March 16, I got a sneak peek at the new Tompkins Center for History and Culture where The History Center, is now located right in the heart of Ithaca’s Downtown Commons. The new Tompkins Center for History and Culture was designed to stimulate thought and create a lasting impression for its visitors. 

    To prepare themselves for this new space, all twelve organizations who call this incredible refurbished building home: The History Center, the Tompkins Chamber, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Visit Ithaca, Wharton Studio Museum, Historic Ithaca, Community Arts Partnership, The Dorothy Cotton Institute, Discover Cayuga Lake, Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, Discovery Trail, and the Christopher Community Planning Center, all played an important role in its redesign. I spoke with The History Center Executive Director Rod Howe about the The History Centers' role in the design process and how they will use the space. Rod Howe, Executive Director of The History Center told me that this new building will view the history and culture of Ithaca and Tompkins County as a P.L.A.C.E. (people, land, architecture, culture, and the environment).

    The History Center in Tompkins County analyzed and adapted their collection interpretation. As part of the process, they asked themselves: Should there be an expectation for visitors to start at a certain point? Was there too heavy a concentration on facts and figures? Should the exhibition design be more open and have visitors leave not with all the answers but a lasting impression?

    P.L.A.C.E. is reinforced in the main hall in five exhibit towers that use different communication styles to connect with visitors. Each tower concentrates on one part of P.L.A.C.E. and uses digital interactive screens, artifact displays, images and videos. The gallery has an open design that allows visitors explore based on their interests and choose how they approach the towers.  

    The space has revitalized and transformed a former bank building, but maintained elements of the original architecture. Its principal designer, Tessellate Studios, incorporated key architectural elements from the bank like using one of the vaults as a “story vault” to house Tompkins County oral histories. Visitors can record their own stories in this vault and listen to others.

    Part of the new exhibition space is the research library. It’s not tucked away on a different floor, or even behind a solid wall but on display as part of the exhibition and viewable through a glass wall that overlooks the main hall. This strategy not only lets people see in real time the research done by museum staff and volunteers, but lets visitors know that the library is accessible and open.

    Yet, one of the most compelling parts of this new space wasn’t the incredibly technologically advanced towers but the acknowledgement and influence in the exhibition design of the Cayuga Nation.

    The Cayuga Nation does not view time as linear. When designing a timeline for Tompkins County they also interpreted the history of the Cayuga Nation in a nonlinear form with images that reflect the people, land, architecture, culture, and environment of the Cayuga Nation.

    The History Center will also observe a land acknowledgement at the beginning of events and gatherings. Land acknowledgment is an important way to show respect and move toward correcting the stories and practices that have erased Indigenous people’s history and culture by inviting and honoring the truth. It is usually a statement that acknowledges the traditional people of the land.

    The Center isn’t expected to open until later this Spring, but touring the exhibition space and seeing it in its final construction stages provides a clear vision of their objective to create not only a destination but a gathering space for locals. It is a space that will open as the new home for twelve organizations: The History Center, the Tompkins Chamber, Cayuga Chamber Orchestra, Visit Ithaca, Wharton Studio Museum, Historic Ithaca, Community Arts Partnership, The Dorothy Cotton Institute, Discover Cayuga Lake, Ithaca Aviation Heritage Foundation, Discovery Trail, and the Christopher Community Planning Center. While all of these organizations will have their own offices, they will cohabitate in their events and gatherings in the exhibition space of The History Center. All twelve organizations contributed to the overall design and structure of how this building would be repurposed.

    The History Center’s goal (along with the other organizations at the Tompkins Center for History & Culture) is to have visitors begin their Tompkins County experience here by stimulating thoughts that will linger throughout their trip and seek out other experiences. For locals, The History Center hopes to give ownership to its community as this new space becomes a gathering space and meeting point.

    EDIT: A previous version of this article suggested that The History Center was the primary designer of the Tompkins Center for History and Culture but all twelve organizations that also contributed to the design and use. 

    Learn more about The History Center:

    https://thehistorycenter.net/

    Learn more about the Tompkins Center for History and Culture:

    http://tompkins-center.net/

  • March 28, 2019 7:30 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The Dyckman Farmhouse is the oldest remaining farmhouse on Manhattan Island in New York CIty and serves as a reminder of the city’s rural past. This Dutch Colonial-style farmhouse was built by William Dyckman in around 1785. Today you can find the Dyckman Farmhouse in a small park on the corner of Broadway and 204th street in the Inglewood neighborhood.

    Over the past four years, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Executive Director Meredith Horsford has focused on making the museum an inclusive community resource through expanded public program offerings and a growing list of neighborhood partnerships. Under Horsford’s supervision, the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum has added board members from the local community, installed bilingual interpretive signage, increased local partnerships, and began working with artists to create exhibitions.

    Meredith grew up in the museum world. Her mother, Gretchen Sorin, Director and Distinguished Professor of the Cooperstown Graduate Program, has spent her entire professional career working in and for museums. It might have seem inevitable that Meredith too would enter the museum field, but she took a slightly different path through historic preservation and worked for the Historic House Trust for about ten years.

    When Meredith started as the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Executive Director, she realized that the farmhouse did not have a strong relationship with the community, and the neighborhood did not view the farmhouse as a resource and usable space.

    “I would tell people I was with the Dyckman Farmhouse and many responded with, ‘do you live there?’” Yet, instead of feeling discouraged, Meredith viewed this as an opportunity. The farmhouse was a blank canvas with lots of potential possibilities and all of those possibilities needed to incorporate the community.

    Historic house museums reaching out and engaging with their local communities is not a new concept, but what that historical content is and how the museum shares that history is evolving. By telling all of the stories of those who have lived in historic houses, including the indentured and enslaved, the historic house staff can engage new audiences.

    “We’re not a typical historic house… it’s important that we not just talk about the history of the Dyckman family.” There is the history of the enslaved and the history of the people that lived on this land long before the Dyckman family built their farm.

    Part of creating an inclusive museum environment is telling this history. The Dyckman family had slaves. The stories of the enslaved are important to the history of the site. Meredith and her team have been working with local officials for proper recognition beyond the farmhouse site to mark a burial ground where some of the enslaved from the Dyckman Farmhouse are buried.

    The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum also looked to the community's artists as new museum partners. The museum has local artists exhibit each quarter which has helped to connect the museum to its artistic neighborhood. The museum is also partnering with author Peter Hoffmeister to create a year-long art installation project inspired by the history and stories of the enslaved peoples who lived there and how specific Dyckman family members felt about slavery.

    Historic buildings are prioritizing their spaces to serve as a neighborhood gathering space housing meeting, business incubators, and targeted events for new audiences. “Our community is around 70% Spanish speaking but we didn’t have any bilingual signs,” Meredith said. Her Director of Education Naiomy Rodriguez was able to translate and redesign the museum signage to include Spanish. Developing these signs created a physical acknowledgment to its neighbors that this was an inviting and inclusive space that attracted a new audience.

    The Dyckman Farmhouses’ bilingual signage and inviting artists were all part of Meredith’s goal for the museum to create a welcoming and inclusive environment. For her, it was about learning and understanding who the museum audience was or could be. Having a breakdown of who wants to come to your site or asking who are you trying to attract and how can you communicate that all are part of her focus to create an inclusive museum environment.

    By increasing different types of public programming, creating a comfortable and welcoming environment, and making the museum seen as an inclusive community resource are just key parts in developing a sustainable future for this historic house museum. Moving towards the future with a complete and inclusive narrative are helping the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum better serve its community and fulfill its mission.

    Learn more about the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum:

    http://dyckmanfarmhouse.org/

  • March 27, 2019 3:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Dear members, friends, and colleagues,

    One of the first questions I was asked when I became the MANY Executive Director was “when are you going to do a salary survey again?” We were very fortunate that the AAM had just taken on the enormous task of conducting a national salary survey and we were eager to be included. Since that survey was published in 2017, it has been suggested to me on numerous occasions that “New York is different” and “we need our own data.” As I have traveled around the state, I’ve been collecting questions that people have asked me about New York Museums.

    NYS Education Department wanted to know how we work with schools, tourism partners wanted to know how many people from outside NY were coming through our doors, and architects wanted to know how many of museums were in landmarked buildings. Last fall we put a call out to field and gathered questions that museums wanted to know about each other. We received several about museum partnerships with community organizations, many about state and federal grant funding, and more than I could count about museum staff and salaries.

    Last week we launched our first survey of the field designed to gather answers to these and other relevant questions. Answers will be aggregated, analyzed, and the report will be shared with the state’s legislators, funders, the NYS Education Department and museum colleagues. It will help you see how your Museum fits into the incredibly rich and diverse picture of Museums in New York State. It will also allow MANY to help you with real, current, and accurate data for new advocacy initiatives.

    It has taken the 56 people who have responded already about a half hour to answer the survey questions. So, while we are getting ready for the annual conference and packing up to head to Cooperstown, grab a cup of coffee (or tea or) and click here to add your voice to the State of NY State Museums 2019.


    Thanks in advance for your time and your data,



    Erika Sanger

  • March 18, 2019 9:01 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The Museum Association of New York Announces 2019 Awards of Merit

    The Museum Association of New York (MANY) has announced their 2019 Awards of Merit that will be presented to twelve individuals, museums, exhibitions, and programs from across New York State. The Awards of Merit were judged for programs conducted in 2018 and will be presented as part of the Museum Association of New York’s 2019 conference “Access and Identity” at the Otesaga Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, NY on Monday, April 8, 2019 at 8 AM.

    The Awards of Merit recognizes outstanding and innovative programs, staff and volunteers who have enriched New York State museums with new and remarkable projects. The Awards of Merit are judged in seven categories by an Annual Review Committee.  

    The Anne Ackerson Innovation in Leadership Award recognizes a board member or staff leader that saw their organization through a critical challenge or significant opportunity in a creative, effective manner. Kate Bennett, Past President of the Rochester Museum & Science Center will receive this year’s most prestigious award. Members of the committee noted that her work at RMSC was exemplary for the field and that she led the organization to new levels of community engagement, relevance, and sustainability.

    The Rising Star Award recognizes a museum professional who is under the age of 35 and currently employed at a cultural institution. The Rising Star displays creative thinking and inspired institutional change. The Rising Star for Education/Public Programs was awarded to Kara Augustine. The committee was impressed by her work and thought-provoking approach to public programming at Historic Huguenot Street. The Rising Star for Collections/Exhibitions was awarded to Miranda Peters. The Award Review Committee was impressed by Miranda's work and how she continues to contribute meaningful work to the collections management of Fort Ticonderoga and how generously she shares her work with the museum community. 

    The Award of Merit for Individual Achievement recognizes devoted staff and volunteers who are instrumental in moving their organizations forward over a sustained period. This year the committee recognized Starlyn D'Angelo for the volume and scope of work she completed in her tenure as Executive Director, her tireless motivation and significant achievements at the Shaker Heritage Society that will have lasting benefits for generations to come. 

    The Excellence in Design Award, sponsored by the National Association for Museum Exhibition (NAME), recognizes an exhibition produced by a cultural institution that articulates content through engaging design and creates a satisfying visitor experience. The Excellence in Exhibition Design was awarded to Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination by The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The committee was impressed with its bold exploration of how the Catholic imagination has shaped the creativity of designers and how it is conveyed through style and narrative. The exhibition utilized several different gallery spaces starting at The Met Fifth Ave and ending at The Met Cloisters.

    The Hudson River Train Tour App by Hudson River Valley Greenway and Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area and OnCell for an Award of Merit in Excellence in Digital Design. The committee thought it was a compelling submission remarking that. “...this is one of the best things happening in our state and should get recognition for how it connects the public to our history and heritage.”

    The Innovation in Collections Access Award recognizes exemplary projects that broaden access, preserve, and catalog museum and heritage organization collections. This year the committee recognizes Where Slavery Died Hard: The Forgotten History of Ulster County and the Shawangunk Mountain Region by the Cragsmoor Historical SocietyThe research revealed in the video was extensive and took tremendous effort for an organization of this size and resources. The story told is engaging and revelatory. The Historical Society took an impressive step towards telling difficult stories.

    The Engaging Communities Award recognizes organizations that use creative methods to engage its community and build new audiences. Projects can include collections interpretation, exhibitions, lecture series, educational or public programs, focus groups, strategic planning, or other community engagement efforts. This award is given to organizations based on their operating budget:

    Volunteer- $100,000

    Living History Day, Boston Historical Society

    Hosted by SUNY Fredonia, the Living History Day was offered on Thursday, June 7, 2018. It featured reenactors and highlighted different cultural and historical perspectives. Seven selected schools and the community were invited to participate.

    $100,000-$500,000

    Teaching with Primary Sources, Warwick Historical Society

    The education team at the Warwick Historical Society received a Library of Congress grant to create a Teaching with Primary Resources Program to implement in the Warwick Valley Central School District. The Warwick Historical Society’s teaching team, 13 volunteer teachers, connected with children and young families and searched through the society’s storage barns, historic homes, and archives for artifacts that told the community's stories. Using these primary sources, they created a catalog of lessons and programs for elementary school students to adults.

    $500,000-$1,000,000

    Art Travelers through Time, Hofstra University Museum of Art

    This year-long elementary school program is a transformative learning experience for third grade students and teachers from nine school districts and was nationally recognized by the IMLS and the NEA. It links works of art from the Hofstra University Museum of Art to school curricula, expanding and deepening classroom studies through experiential and interdisciplinary learning.

    Over $1,000,000

    Take It Down: Organizing Against Racism, Rochester Museum & Science Center

    Using the removal of a racist panel from the historic Dentzel Carousel at Ontario Beach Park in Rochester, NY, the Take It Down: Organizing Against Racism exhibit and related programs benefited the public by galvanizing conversations around the racial inequity that has divided Rochester. Community receptions, panels, and rich discussion-based programs at each Take It Down exhibit venue demonstrated the exhibition’s ability to serve as a springboard to address issues of social justice in the Rochester community.

    The Citizenship Project by the N-Y Historical Society will be presented with a MANY Board of Directors Special Achievement Award. They noted that the project transcended several of the Award Categories, was outstanding, relevant, innovative, groundbreaking and in the words of one of our reviewers "a truly brilliant use of museum resources - to the benefit of not just those who are new to our country - but to the community as a whole."

    The Award Ceremony will take place at 8:00 AM on Monday, April 8, 2019 at the Otesaga Resort Hotel, Cooperstown, NY. Photo opportunities will be available. For further information please contact info@nysmuseums.org or 518-273-3400.

  • February 27, 2019 7:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Looking for a way to develop content and engage your community? The Museum on Main Street’s Stories: YES program offers a great way to share local history. The Stories: YES initiative helps students connect to local history and understand its significance by building skills in interviewing, research, and creating non-fiction narratives that are shared with the community through exhibitions, social media, and digital video exhibition kiosks.

    The Museum Association of New York (MANY) is bringing the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street Traveling Exhibition “Water/Ways” to New York State starting in June at the Erie Canal Museum and ending at the East Hampton Historical Society in April 2020. MANY has partnered with the New York Folklore Society to help find and share local water stories with high school students in Amsterdam, NY as part of the “Water/Ways” community programs.

    Stories: YES was created to help museums strengthen or develop new relationships, with kids, youth groups, teachers, or schools. These students and teachers use the art of interviewing and filmmaking to research and share local water stories.

    At the end of January, I joined a workshop hosted by the New York Folklore Society that taught students basic filmmaking skills, like pre-production planning and interviewing on camera. Media Consultant and Communications Lecturer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Dr. Lillian Spina-Caza provided helpful resources for the students and New York Folklore Folklorist and Executive Director Dr. Ellen McHale taught how to conduct an interview. Despite the freezing and snowy weather, these students arrived with an enthusiastic attitude and eager to learn.

    During the training, students not only learned interviewing and filmmaking, but analyzed “Water/Ways” student films from previous exhibitions. This immersive and engaging way to capture local history teaches students lifetime learning skills and allows them  to participate professionally in the community.

    Students first watched interviews without sound and then only listened to the audio before putting both elements together. Students were able to focus on and identify positive and negative attributes of the film by isolating the audio and video. They identified things like the background music was too loud and made listening to the interviews difficult. They also noticed other things like corresponding “b roll” footage with relevant narration and using two different camera points of view for the interview subject to add variety to the video and enhance the story narrative.

    Then, students used cameras, tripods, and boom mics provided by the New York Folklore Society to film mock interviews as practice. Lillian taught the students to frame their subject and making sure the camera is level with the subject’s eye line and to not put the subject in the middle of the frame, but slightly to the left or right of the center of the frame. Students needed to be aware of lighting, and where the interviewee sat. Lillian had them choose the interview spot and right away they noticed the need for natural light and opened up the shades. The students were conscious of the background of the interview, opting for a wall that wasn’t too busy. They even arranged the shelves to make them more visually appealing. Ellen taught the students about asking opened ended questions. Asking questions that require more than a yes or no response and engaging the interviewee with follow up questions was tough for the students at the beginning. Once they became more comfortable being the ones who asked the questions, they began to have intriguing conversations. The only other real struggle was the weight of holding up the boom mic, but they adjusted their position to sit on the floor to capture the subject’s sound which made it easier for them to hold the mic boom.

    These students came ready and excited to learn. I was immediately impressed by the students ability to take initiative. As an amateur film maker, I found the day educational and it was fun to talk about different film editing software and film making tools. I am a believer in that it doesn’t matter what type of film making hardware or software you have, but what matters is the ability to tell a story, an approach that was echoed throughout the day.


    The “Water/Ways” exhibit is enhanced by participating host sites abilities to connect local stories to the exhibition concept. There are a lot of community stories waiting to be told. Stories about local history, culture, and traditions. These are the stories of a community. Using community members, like students who have a desire to learn and develop their skills, can provide a wealth of information that add value to any exhibition.
  • February 27, 2019 7:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    When the Cooper Hewitt Museum reinstalled their galleries in 2014, their priority was to provide access to their physical and digital collections, which number more than 200,000 objects. Allowing visitors to interpret an exhibition in their own ways creates a unique and personal experience for every individual. Letting visitors engage with an exhibition and understand the collection on their own terms can offer much more meaningful museum experiences.  

    But how could a museum allow visitors to navigate and engage with exhibits and their digital collection at the same time? The Cooper Hewitt invented the Pen and Interactive Tables as tools to help visitors navigate the museum and learn about the collections. With the Pen, visitors can “collect” and save objects they find in exhibitions and then revisit those saved or “collected” objects when they return home using a code on their museum ticket.

    The Cooper Hewitt also wanted to increase public access to the collection. At the Interactive Tables found throughout the museum, a river of objects floats in the center. Using the Pen or a finger tip, objects can be dragged to a home base and the display expanded for  more information. Visitors can recall items saved on the Pen to the Interactive Table to learn and play with color and pattern with “design it” elements built into the table. Visitors can use the Pen tip to draw on the interactive tables and then save those designs.

    This technology empowers the visitor to interpret the collection and exhibitions on their own terms and curate their own experiences. It is a great tool for tourists, or first time visitors to explore the scope of the collection and to save and share what they liked. Yet, it is also a resource for researchers and designers to return to over and over again and have a different interaction each time.

    During my visit to Cooper Hewitt, I spoke with Adam Quinn, Digital Product Manager, who shared the history of this technology as well as its the future. “A lot of your experience in the museum revolves around the Pen,” Adam told me. It’s been four years since the Pen debuted, so what’s next for digital engagement at Cooper Hewitt? Adam said that the museum team is always looking at what they’re going to do next, what the ideal visitor interaction should be and learning what people love about the museum now. The Pen is iconic to the Cooper Hewitt, but what else can or should the museum do to further enhance a visitor’s experience during and after their visit?

    Opened in 2014, the Immersion Room is a major feature of this interactive and immersive use of its collections, in this case of digitized images of wallpapers, originally collected by the Hewitt sisters, and is one of the most exciting spaces in the museum. In the Immersion Room, visitors can view the digital wallpaper collection using an Interactive Table highlighting wallpaper patterns. Adam described that using the Interactive Table and Pen in the Immersion Room lets you not only explore the wallpaper collection, but manipulate digitized images and become a wallpaper designer in your own way.

    It is a completely interactive space and with the large projections on two of the walls, you can transport yourself into the design. “The room is designed to reach a wide audience and allow interactions that are interesting to a lot of different people for a lot of different reasons,” Adam said. The technology appeals to multiple targeted audiences -- tourists and first time visitors, museum members who are designers, and kids. The Immersion Room’s intuitive interface  appeals to multiple audiences and allows visitors to go as deep into the collection or design learning and experimentation as desired. That can mean just drawing a wallpaper design, seeing it projected onto the walls, taking a picture with your cell phone, or a designer using the room to explore the collection for research and inspiration.

    Moreover, beyond the specialized experience that the Pen and the Immersion Room can offer to visitors, the digital image technology also creates an organic promotion for the museum. The Pen is designed to allow visitors to save their favorite collection items, “bring” them home with them, and share their museum experience. They can also share with their friends or the world, via social media. Scrolling through the #immersionroom on Instagram, or visiting the tagged photos on the Cooper Hewitt’s Instagram page, there are hundreds of visitor self photos engaging with their wall paper designs that generate a lot of engagement in likes and comments.

    Cooper Hewitt isn’t fearful that by making their digital collection accessible that they are losing control of their content or even a possible revenue source. Their priority is making their collection as accessible as possible.

    The final phase of a visitor’s experience at Cooper Hewitt is after they’ve left the museum. Cooper Hewitt calls this the “post-visit experience.” By prioritizing access to the collection, Cooper Hewitt lets visitors relive their museum visit long after they’ve left. This unique and personal approach to exhibition interpretation creates a connect between the museum and its visitors and allows the visitors to shape their museum experience.

    @cooperhewit Instagram feed #immersionroom


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