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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!

  • April 28, 2021 11:08 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Shortly after New York’s cultural organizations closed to the public due to the pandemic, Dr. Sarah Litvin, the Director of the Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History, reached out to Sarah Wassberg Johnson at the Hudson River Maritime Museum to discuss how local museums might help each other promote digital programs and resources or even create a new digital projects. Several history museums and historic sites in the Kingston area came together to form the History Alliance of Kingston, a collaborative group that shares local history through events and activities that reflect and promote a deeper understanding of the diverse social and cultural history of the Hudson Valley.  

    The Beginning 

    In May 2020, Litvin contacted Kingston area organizational leaders Troy Ellen Dixon at the African Roots Center and Jane Keller at Friends of Historic Kingston. “I was interested to see if they wanted to do something together,” said Litvin. “I reached out to a couple of folks because I was so new and I was lucky enough to get the support of people like Jane Keller who is so well connected and respected. She reached out to her network and I thought okay, this was really going to happen.” 

    A core group of seven to nine people representing the same number of organizations meets every week over Zoom: The Reher Center, D&H Canal Historical Society, Century House Historical Society, AJ Williams-Myers African Roots Center, Ulster County Archives, Senate House State Historic Site, Hudson River Maritime Museum, and an independent contractor. “It’s pretty remarkable to have this many come every week.”

    Map of participating organizations on the History Alliance of Kingston’s website

    Joining the Alliance is fairly organic. “You show up, share your skills or resources, and contribute,” said Litvin. Not all museums or historic sites participate every week and some only join for one meeting. “We want to connect organizations together to form new partnerships and share resources so we try to be as flexible as possible. We all have a piece of it [the Alliance]...whether it's history knowledge or specific skill sets. We can all contribute.”

    A key goal for the group is to include the public in local history activities. Group members assist each other in the promotion of events, shared or separate. “We really like working together,” said Litvin. “We came up with community agreements and we’ve been meeting with each other once a week for almost a year.” 

    In early meetings, the group discussed three potential ideas for collaboration: combining forces by merging Zoom lectures into one local history series, creating a mobile app for a Kingston history walking tour or creating a local history digital scavenger hunt. “The last one really stuck,” said Litivin. In order to accommodate as many people as possible who might be interested in the scavenger hunt, the Alliance launched an in person and a virtual hunt. 

    Hudson Valley History Hunt

    The concept for the Hudson Valley History Hunt was to promote local history to the public in a new way and help participants discover online collections where they could learn more. The first hunt focused on historical figures in local Kingston cemeteries, Montrepose Cemetery, and the Old Dutch Church Cemetery.  A series of clues guides participants to find specific gravesites on the History Alliance of Kingston’s website. Some clues are linked to further information about the person. The D&H Canal Historical Society’s YouTube Series: Virtual Museum Episode 8  includes information on the gravesite of Louis Hoysradt, a paymaster for the canal. Once a grave is located, participants can take a photo and share it to social media tagging #hvhistoryhunts.

    “There was no literature about Montrepose Cemetery and no signage despite the fact that some very important people are buried there,” said Litvin. “We included key people that can help the public understand the history and diversity of Kingston. We brought together the story of a famous planter with a Jewish immigrant baker and an African American chauffeur. Each of these people and their stories could not be told by any one organization and this became the model for future programming.”

    Promotion for the Hudson Valley History Hunt

    The History Alliance of Kingston also created a Map Hunt to promote Kingston’s historical buildings and a Q&A Hunt in which participants had to answer a series of questions using online resources to help find the answers. 

    The Black History Project of the Hudson Valley Collaborative Research Project

    The History Alliance of Kingston’s next (and ongoing) project is their Hudson Valley Black History Research Project. The Alliance is designing a digital guide to compile existing Black History of the Hudson Valley resources and collect new ones for researchers and the public. This effort builds upon ongoing work done by the region's Black community including Dr. AJ Williams-Myer’s research, the creation of the African Roots Center, the Conference on Black History in the Hudson Valley, and other community projects. “Too little has been written about the Black history of our region, and our institutions did not consciously collect or catalogue items focused on these stories,” says a written statement on the Alliance’s website. “Now, as our member institutions independently undertake Black history research projects and respond to requests from researchers who are eager to learn more, we decided to pool our resources in an effort to share the source materials that can help tell a more complete story.” The History Alliance of Kingston wants to make these resources available and more accessible for researchers and the public.

    The Alliance announced this project to the public via a Zoom presentation as part of Black History Month in February where they shared an early draft and the start of their resource collection.

    “Part of the February presentation was us also sharing work in progress about Black History that we’ve been researching. That was something that the public was most interested in hearing more about,” said Litvin. “We were so focused on creating this resource and it was great to hear that the public wants to also know more about the history itself.” About 60 people attended the presentation. “Our goal was to share the idea, share why we’re doing it, and ask the community for their support and participation.” 

    Ultimately, the Alliance hopes to create a resource guide where the community also contributes. “It’s an ongoing project,” said Litvin. “We’ve identified what we need to do next, but it’s going to be a long term project.”

    Strength in Partnership

    The History Alliance of Kingston created an ecosystem to provide support and share skills. “We (the Reher Center) received funding from the Hudson River Greenway to create outdoor signage that tells a people’s history of Kingston’s Rondout neighborhood and I probably had five members of the Alliance review the signage text,” said Litvin. “The D&H Canal Historical Society loaned me images to use as well. I have learned so much from my colleagues.”

    Zoom screenshot with a few History Alliance of Kingston Members discussing their Hudson Valley Black History Collaborative Research Project in February. 

    Upcoming plans and Goals for the Future

    Since January, the group has been offering a biweekly column about local history in the online news service KingstonWire. Starting this month, the group plans to add more clues several times each month to the Hudson Valley History Hunt via their Facebook page. They are also working together to cross-promote each others’ sites and events through rack cards and a digital calendar.

    “My hope for the History Alliance of Kingston is that it is a mechanism to tell a more holistic story,” said Litvin. “I can’t speak to the structure and future of this specific organization but the legacy I hope will be to put together small pieces into a tapestry that really tells a rich socially, culturally, and diverse narrative of what happened here. The D&H Canal Historical Society knows everything about the canal, but the canal workers lived in the Rondout so I can share that piece of history. The Friends of Historic Kingston know so much about architecture and can tell the story of why the canal workers lived in these types of housing in the Rondout and the significance. That type of filling in the gaps requires humility and curiosity. I think that’s what organizations need, curiosity and humility, in order to work together.”

    Learn more about the History Alliance of Kingston: 

  • April 08, 2021 9:28 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Pomeroy Fund for NYS History, a partnership between the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and Museum Association of New York (MANY), awarded an additional $50,000 to 14 history-related organizations to assist with urgent capital needs projects.

    In this highly competitive fourth round of urgent funding, 167 museums and historical societies submitted applications to support projects such as window replacements, new HVAC systems, technology upgrades, roof repairs, and accessibility for people who use wheelchairs.  

    ”This was an overwhelming response from history organizations, which underscores the incredible need that remains across New York State,” said Deryn Pomeroy, Director for Strategic Initiatives at the Pomeroy Foundation. “Capital improvements are essential to help these important organizations reopen and stay open.”

    “This round helped us see the vast challenges New York’s museums face in the wake of deferred maintenance, limited municipal investment in cultural properties, and the deep financial setbacks incurred through pandemic related revenue reductions,” said Erika Sanger, MANY Executive Director.


    Pomeroy Fund for NYS History round four grantees (listed alphabetically):

    Association for a Buffalo Presidential Center will create an educational space within the museum and will use funding to purchase media technology, chairs, tables, a speakers’ podium, and presentation easels to equip the museum for programming for adult and youth audiences.

    Candor Historical Society will expand accessibility to its research center with the purchase of a computer to send monthly newsletters and a document scanner to digitize the collection.

    Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse Historical Society, Inc. will extend its collection digitization project with a new scanner and computer to offer greater numbers of archival materials on their website.

    Franklin County Historical and Museum Society will upgrade access to archives and collections that will allow staff and volunteers to provide virtual programs to the community.

    Friends of the Three Bears, Inc. will upgrade their technology to better record visitor statistics, capture and store images, allow for on-site donations, and improve outdoor programming with pop-up tents, chairs, and an outdoor A/V system.

    Heritage Foundation of Oswego County, Inc. will complete a rehabilitation project of their structure with a roof replacement that will allow for the installation of new digitization equipment and reopen the space to the public for educational programs and services.

    Historical Society of Saratoga Springs (DBA Saratoga Springs History Museum) will improve their popular virtual programming with the purchase of a new camera, iPad, and computer.

    International Percy Grainger Society/Percy Grainger Society will complete the restoration of the first floor of the Percy Grainger House with the renovation of the dining room to allow the museum to strengthen interpretive tours and programming space.

    Madison County Historical Society’s side porch roof was heavily damaged in an ice build-up from 2020 winter storms. The Historical Society will use funding to repair interior and exterior water damage and install a sealant to prevent future damage.

    Roosevelt Island Historical Society will purchase a printer, scanner, and computer to continue to reach and engage its audience with a daily publication, From the Archives, and virtual programs. 

    Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy Inc will improve public access to the historic Saugerties Lighthouse by constructing a boardwalk extension. The lighthouse is located in the tidal estuary of the Hudson River and the boardwalk is prone to tidal flooding, making access to the lighthouse impossible during high tide.

    Spencerport Depot and Canal Museum is updating and expanding its museum exhibitions and will purchase new frames for exhibitions, a microcomputer and TV mount to create engaging visual presentations for museum visitors, and a computer and kiosk stand for an interactive kiosk.

    The Westhampton Beach Historical Society will complete access to the front entrance of its circa 1735 Foster-Meeker House, the oldest remaining structure in the community. Funding will allow the Historical Society to create a walkway and handrail for public accessibility that will make the structure a usable public space.

    Wilmington Historical Society will purchase new technology including a laptop computer to help volunteer staff to digitize the collection and increase efficiency for entering data as well as creating digital copies of documents and photographs off-site with a portable wand scanner.


    The Museum Association of New York and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation are proud to partner in creating the Pomeroy Fund for NYS History, which has rapidly distributed $197,808 to 83 history-related organizations across New York State.


    #  #  #


    About the Pomeroy Foundation 

    The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history; and to raising awareness, supporting research and improving the quality of care for patients and their families who are facing a blood cancer diagnosis. One of their initiatives is helping people to celebrate their community’s history. They meet this by providing grants to obtain signage in the form of roadside markers and plaques. Since 2006, they have funded over 1,300 signs across the United States, all the way to Alaska. Visit:

    Twitter: @wgpfoundation


    YouTube: William G. Pomeroy Foundation



    About MANY

    The Museum Association of New York inspires, connects, and strengthens New York’s cultural community statewide by advocating, educating, collaborating, and supporting professional standards and organizational development. MANY ensures that New York State museums operate at their full potential as economic drivers and essential components of their communities. Visit

    Twitter: @nysmuseums

    Instagram: @nysmuseums


  • March 31, 2021 9:05 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Student Installation, Teacher's College, Columbia University, April 8, 2017

    Dear Members, Colleagues, and Friends,

    At an exhibition opening almost twenty years ago, I was chatting with a group of people when a woman I didn’t know asked me what I did all day while my husband was at work. When I replied that I was the director of education at the museum; her face broke into a big smile and she said that it sounded like I had the best job because I got to spend my days making art with children. I smiled back and agreed that was part of the job, unsure of how to make the real answer comprehensible. Her comment was a familiar disconnect between what many people think museum professionals do and what our jobs actually encompass.

    Around the time of the abovementioned exhibition opening, the Oxford American magazine was in crisis. They were losing readers, sponsors, advertisers, and donors and eventually they were forced to stop publishing. When the magazine found a new home, its rebirth embraced all of Southern culture, no longer relegating the contributions of people of color and native nations to the last paragraphs of articles about musicians, chefs, writers, artists, and preservationists. They gained new sponsors, supporters, and a much bigger following.

    A legislative aide recently told me that museums don’t have a lot of friends in Congress. His comment launched a cycle of thoughts about how we might take a page from the lessons learned by the Oxford American to help us recover from the multiple crises we face and make more friends. I believe that we need to find a better way to make museums and the work of museum professionals comparable and comprehensible so that when a legislator questions federal funding for museums, we can clearly articulate how museums are essential components of our communities and valuable contributors to our economy.

    Part of the solution will be found in the ways we choose to move forward. Last week someone asked how a museum was supposed to fight racism, sexism, gender bias, and discrimination when their deficit was growing and their access to earned revenue was cut off by pandemic restrictions. I responded that I thought the fight for inclusion, equity, access, and social justice offers a path toward sustainability, that we have the opportunity to take action to create the future we want to see.

    In the past five years I have read innumerable mission statements, vision statements, statements of need, and statements of solidarity. I remain unsure that these successfully communicate why our museums are important to our audiences and funders. Today I would be able to say to the guest at the opening that I work with teachers, artists, families, and community leaders to make the museum a significant part of their lives. I could have offered insight into my work without going into the details of planning meetings, grant applications, and budgets.

    With the data shared by colleagues in our 2019 State of NYS Museums and Covid-19 Impact surveys, I am learning how to tell the story of NY’s museums in compelling ways by comparing our museums to other non-profit sectors and sharing the ways in which we make a difference in our communities. If you haven’t contributed to the 2020 State of NYS Museums survey yet, click here to participate and help us tell the stories of NY’s museums more inclusively.

    With thanks for your support, 

    Erika Sanger

  • March 30, 2021 2:25 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    There is a saucepan that is slightly dented from the nightly 7 o’clock clapping sessions to thank the health care workers in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pan was one of the first objects included in the Museum of the City of NY’s New York Responds exhibition. More than 20,000 objects, photographs, artworks, and stories were submitted through  the Museum’s open call for items that help to reflect on the changes and challenges of life in New York City from March through August 2020. These items document and interpret the COVID pandemic, the uprising for racial justice, and how New Yorkers fought to cope, survive, and build a better future. 

    Inside the main exhibition space. Photograph by Brad Farwell, courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

    Rapid Response

    “We wanted to start quickly,” said Sarah Henry, Deputy Director and Chief Curator for the Museum of the City of NY. “It was important for us to document for the future and also play a role of service in the crisis itself.” The Museum has been collecting for almost 100 years and has done public and responsive collecting before, including open calls for exhibition objects around historical and contemporary events like Hurricane Sandy, Occupy Wall Street, and September 11. 

    On July 23, MCNY unveiled the first phase of New York Responds, an outdoor installation featuring 14 images that were submitted as part of ongoing collecting efforts. This outdoor exhibition captured the early days of the pandemic and the Black Lives Matter protests. “There was a powerful sense when we were creating the first phase of this exhibition,” said Henry. The Museum built upon the outdoor installation in the summer to open the full exhibition in December. “We included a phrase on the outside of the building, ‘history is happening now’ and it was palpable that this was living history and a moment like no other.” 

    Collecting and Exhibiting

    There were two parallel processes: collecting for the Museum’s permanent collection and selecting items for the exhibition. Lindsay Turley, Vice President of Museum Collections, wrote the collecting plan and led the museum’s collecting efforts to review crowdsourced items and targeted outreach. “We were accepting submissions not only through the open call but also through email,” said Henry. “[Turley] contacted people and other institutions about offering items for the collection.” 

    As Chief Curator, Sarah Henry planned the exhibition with her curatorial team and reviewed the items that Turley was accessioning into the museum collection or considering. “Separately, my colleagues and I went through the submissions from the open call. At the end it was a combination of items that were solicited for the collection or in some cases had been promised gifts. We also borrowed and licensed materials that were not being considered for the collection, including my team approaching artists about lending for the exhibition.” Both processes intersected with one another but the selection for either the museum collection or for inclusion in the exhibition remained independent.

    A pan used during the nightly 7 o’clock clapping for healthcare professionals. Meyer Corporation, c. 2015, Museum of the City of New york. Gift of Majorie Rothenberg, 2020.16.1. Courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York. Photography by Brad Farwell.

    Open Call

    In addition to objects that were nominated through the open call, more than 18,000 posts were submitted using the hashtag #COVIDStoriesNYC and more than 5,000 using #ActivisitNY on Instagram. “We had our marketing and communications team work with our photography curator and social activism curator to help monitor and review these hashtags throughout the year,” said Henry. Marketing and Communications and curatorial staff selected highlights to re-post on the Museum’s social media channel. Curatorial staff also monitored the hashtags to either include them into the collection or for consideration for the exhibition. 

    Among the photos that made it into the exhibition is of a window, full of toilet paper rolls titled “Toilet Paper Hoarder” submitted by photographer Ruben Natal-San Miguel. Another is a photograph of the question, ‘what is essential?’ graffitied onto the side of a wall captured by Russ Rowland. Included in the exhibition are the photographer’s reflection who recalled how strange it was to see how few people were outside despite it being a beautiful day. “It was a people-less vision of NYS I’ve only seen during snowstorms in the middle of the night. It was strange, and kind of a delight.”

    Ruben Natal-San Miguel, Toilet Paper Hoarder, Manhattan, NYC 2020 

    Courtesy of the photographer

    There were physical objects too that were submitted including a COVID pinata.“Early in the pandemic the New York Times posted instructions of how to make a pinata of the COVID virus to bash at home,” said Henry. Material items like these reflected on how New Yorkers endured and coped with the pandemic. “Coping became one of the themes of the exhibition.” 

    Masks were also submitted and included in the exhibition. “Masks became a big interest and so for the exhibition we were able to represent artistic uses of masks as pieces of self expression and personal protective equipment.” There is an N95 mask from the collection of the Mount Sinai Health System and a hot dog face mask. The hot dog face mask was a People’s Choice Award winner at Maskie Awards in Coney Island, and was donated to the Museum’s permanent collection by Suzie Sims-Fletcher. 

    Masks on display [far left] an “Enough Is Enough” face mask, –Sheila Stainback / CAMBA [bottom] a face mask used by counselors for the Greenwich House Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program, courtesy of Sally Young/Greenwich House [top] Suzie Sims-Fletcher, the HOT DOG! Mask- Gift of the artists; and [far right] N95 face mask from the Mount Sinai Health System Collection. Photograph by Brad Farwell, courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

    Three plywood artworks were loaned to the museum for the exhibition.These were part of a massive art project launched by Art 2 Heart and SoHo Social Impact, transforming the neighborhoods of SoHo and NoHo into an “open-air museum.”

    Entrance to the exhibition. On the left hand side you can see the three plywood artworks on loan to the museum. Photograph by Brad Farwell, courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

    Items like hand sanitizer produced from a Brooklyn distillery illustrated the different ways that manufacturing pivoted to provide materials. “There’s an improvised ventilator made from a respirator by medical personnel at The Mount Sinai Health System that reflected things that medical personnel had to do in order to do their jobs and serve the people affected by the crisis,” said Henry. “Items like these were sometimes mundane in their physical appearance but powerful in the stories they captured.”

    Above is the improvised ventilator made from a respirator by medical personnel at The Mount Sinai Health System. Photograph by Brad Farwell, courtesy of the Museum of the City of New York

    Targeted Outreach

    “We tried to be open minded about the criteria in order to see what themes were emerging,” said Henry. “As people were submitting, we began to create a rubric of what was being brought forward and began to see patterns. When we saw people nominating things in a certain genre, we wanted to make sure it was represented in the exhibition.” Some themes like “Art as Response” and “Masks” emerged organically, others like “Mutual Aid” that focuses on New Yorkers who launched initiatives to help their communities during the pandemic and “The New Normal” that illustrated empty streets and playgrounds, required more targeted outreach. 

    Sébastien Vergne[In the absence of city resources, volunteers from the community group Echoed Voices clean up their Greenpoint neighborhood] July 2020 

    Courtesy of the photographer 

    “We created a concept document of what were the stories that we wanted to make sure were represented so we could then do further outreach and make sure there were materials representing those stories even if it hadn’t come through the open call,” said Henry. 

    The Museum invited a jury of twelve people to make selections and recommendations for the exhibition. Jury members represented a range of backgrounds and perspectives of the city from across the five boroughs. 

    “We wanted to keep it [the jury] small so that they could really talk qualitatively with each other and just have a voting process with a majority rule,” said Henry. “We wanted jury members to have a substantive conversation.” The jury also looked for what was missing. 

    “We would use their comments to go out and look for other materials to tell stories that they felt should be represented but weren’t present from the crowdsourced items,” said Henry. During the first meeting, the jury discussed issues such as the demonstration at City Hall that felt very iconic. “So we went back into the social media streams to look for materials that captured that moment.” 

    Other things like portraits of essential workers did not emerge from the open call. “We did a targeted outreach to fill that gap. It was kind of like a dialectic process between following the crowd sourced materials and letting themes emerge organically versus identifying thematic gaps in what people were bringing forward but were still important to include. People definitely gravitate to certain kinds of images to share on social media but there were other things happening in the city that people weren’t thinking of to submit.” 

    Moving Forward

    The Museum of the City of NY made the exhibition available online in its entirety. It is organized into 19 thematic sections including an interactive timeline. “The timeline originally covered the first six months and was only available to those who visited the exhibition,” said Henry. The timeline, curated by Azra Dawood, the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, was expanded to capture the entire year and can be viewed on the museum’s website. “It weaves together the stories of COVID and the movement for Black lives in a powerful way.” More than a year after the pandemic began, the Museum continues to mark important anniversaries. 

    Francesca Magnani [Juneteenth protest crossing the Brooklyn Bridge] June 19, 2020 

    Courtesy of the photographer 

    The Museum continues to collect stories through an oral history project in partnership with StoryCorps that allows people to submit their experiences online. Stories are saved at StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. 

    “We know that this is a really important story for our city and the world where central characteristics of urbanism were brought into question,” said Henry. “The Museum of the City of NY is dedicated to the past, present and future of the five boroughs of NYC and urbanism. We know that we are going to be contending with the repercussions of these events for years to come.”

    Explore New York Responds online:

  • March 30, 2021 2:22 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park is a 50-acre site overlooking Canandaigua Lake that features gardens, a historic mansion, and a greenhouse complex. Sonnenberg’s Queen Anne-style mansion was built in 1887 and is the former summer home of Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson. Mary Clark Thompson’s utility garden produced food that was donated to the Ontario County Orphanage and Thompson Hospital for decades. In the past six seasons, Sonnenberg has donated over 6,000 pounds of fresh produce to the local community. 

    Lasting Legacy

    The utility garden is formerly the kitchen garden and is in the area of the mansion grounds that was the working end of the farm where all of the food was grown. “Mrs. Thompson has a garden here that she used to feed people in need in Ontario County,” said Executive Director David Hutchings. “We’ve reinvented that starting back in 2010 or 2011 with replicating Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s White House kitchen garden.” By 2015, Sonnenberg then moved on with a revamping of Mrs. Thompson’s utility garden. “The garden today is 70 by 100 square feet with raised garden beds to help make the garden accessible for day camp participants from the ARC and YMCA.” Sonnenberg utilizes its historic greenhouse to display its horticultural collections and grow thousands of annual and perennial plants and vegetables each year. The 13,000 square foot greenhouse maintains its original frame and is climate controlled year-round.

    Community of Volunteers

    “The garden is planted each year with volunteers,” said Hutchings. Pat Hutchings, David’s wife, is the lead volunteer and designer of the garden. Other key volunteers include David DeMallis, Jun Lui, Kerry Mette, Laura Mauser, and several others including workforce development program personnel. In addition to being Sonnenberg’s Executive Director, Hutchings is also the Horticulturalist, overseeing all the gardens. 

    Before COVID, other volunteer groups included parishioners from the Church of Latter Day Saints. In the early days of COVID, student interns from Finger Lakes Community College helped plant the garden. During the pandemic, Nate Wendroff was awarded his Eagle Scout Merit Badge as he led his troop with many COVID-19 safety restrictions to help plant the garden for the 2020 season.

    Feeding the Community

    The seeds are donated by Seedway and All-American Seed Selection and the planting begins in March in the greenhouse and then in the ground each May. The food is harvested in the summer through Thanksgiving. “In the summer we harvest squash, eggplant, many varieties of tomatoes and peppers, herbs, beans, and corn,” said Hutchings. Flowers are also grown for visitors to enjoy and as a companion crop for natural pest control. “The herbs from the garden are grown and used at the specific request of Gleaners Kitchen to enhance the fresh flavoring of the meals made for the community they serve.” 

    In 2020, Sonnenberg donated nearly 1,000 pounds of produce to Gleaners Kitchen to meet the 90 meals per day as well as donating to the Zion Church which recently opened up a county-wide food bank. Gleaners Kitchen is a community kitchen that opened in Canandaigua in 1987. It takes the name “gleaning” from the act of collecting crops leftover from farmers’ fields after a commercial harvest. “One of the cool things is that any leftover produce at the end of the week is included in the other end of the week leftovers for people to come and take,” said Hutchings. “Now there are fresh vegetables to go with it so we’re rounding out people’s diets for those who need it.” Gleaners Kitchen partners with Wegmans and Tops grocery stores to receive food donations that would otherwise go to waste.


    Sonnenberg received support from The Mary Clark Thompson Community Health Grant which previously funded the site’s wheelchair accessible greenhouse work area and multi-level handicap work benches. Other funding partners include the Canandaigua Rotary, the Sonnenberg Garden Club, and Walmart Community grants. “The Canandaigua Rotary donated $3,000 for an updated irrigation system. We’re grateful for the community’s support.”

    Future Goals

    Sonnenberg recently received funds for their restoration project for the West Display Greenhouse to make the space safe for visitors. The greenhouse, called Gardenia Greenhouse, will become an educational area greenhouse for students to work with their local schools to develop science programs at Sonnenberg. “We have six greenhouses and we’re trying to use all of them,” said Hutchings. This grant will help with the operational sustainability of the greenhouse that is currently not utilized because of physical deterioration. 

    Hutchings is also looking to partner with area colleges to further develop their Horticulture Program. “We are continuing to be the only institutions in the Finger Lakes introducing a Vocational Therapeutic Horticulture Program for continuing education,” said Hutchings. “Area colleges like Nazareth and FLCC are exploring how to develop this aspect of their horticulture field.” 

    Sonnenberg is one of just two public gardens in the New York State Parks system. “In 2021, we plan on donating another 1,000 pounds of fresh produce and continuing the legacy of the Thompson and their property to the local community,” said Hutchings. “We feel like we are fulfilling the lasting legacy of the garden’s original purpose.”

    Learn more about Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park:

  • March 30, 2021 11:03 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Federal Funding

    MANY thanks Senate Majority Leader Schumer for including museums in the Shuttered Venue Operating Grants and non-profits in the March 2020 CARES Act, the December 2020 Consolidated Appropriations Act, and the March 2021 American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ARPA included additional funding for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) which now totals over $16B in funds available. It also added $7.25B for the PPP program and extended the application deadline to May 31. The SBA will begin accepting SVOG Applications on April 8. Eligible museums may apply for the PPP prior to applying for an SVOG as they await the application. The SBA would then reduce any SVO grant award by the PPP amount received.

    The ARPA also included $135M each for the NEA and the NEH; application portal will open in late April. Humanities NY and NYSCA will soon announce how they will distribute those funds allocated to them for regrants. $178M of the $200M allocated to the IMLS was directly distributed to State Libraries. The NY State Library received $6.2M; they also received $1.7M in CARES Act funding. We await guidelines on distribution of remaining funds and are monitoring the IMLS website. 

    Representative Paul Tonko (NY 20) is circulating a letter in the House of Representatives in support of robust funding in 2022 for the Office of Museum Services at the IMLS. The request is for $80 million in FY 2022, an increase of nearly $40 million, including $2.5 million to fund a pilot project to establish a museum Grants to States program that could parallel the long-established Library Grants to States program. The request also includes a waiver of required matching funds for grants in 2022 and to once again allow OMS grants to be used for general operating funds.  

    The deadline for Representatives to sign is Friday, April 16.

    In 2020, sixteen of NY’s Representatives signed onto the OMS letter. The four representatives below are the only ones from NY to have signed on as of March 24. 

    Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19)

    Joseph Morelle (D-NY-25)

    Elise Stefanik (R-NY-21)

    Paul Tonko (D-NY-20)

    Please help us secure more signatures from NY’s Congressional Representatives. The easiest way is to use the AAM’s template to ask your Representative to sign on before the April 16 deadline. 

    New York State Funding and COVID-19 Restrictions

    MANY commends members of the Assembly and the Senate for including significant funding to arts and cultural organizations, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquaria, in the 2021-2022 budget. But as I write, the negotiations between the Governor, the Assembly, and the Senate continue and final allocations will not be known until the budget is passed.

    Budget proposals included in the Assembly and Senate one-house bills provided an additional $100M to NYSCA for grants to non-profit cultural organizations and $10M for the Arts and Cultural Facilities Improvement Program to provide facility enhancement grants to arts and cultural organizations, administered by NYSCA. 

    The Assembly budget also included $100 million for a new Arts Recovery and Revitalization Program. This public arts initiative will assist with reopening efforts of various arts organizations, employ artists and others in the creative economy, and provide financial support for the conversion of new outdoor venue spaces.

    MANY has been working with legislators to update the COVID-19 capacity restrictions imposed upon NY’s museums which have not been substantially revised since June 26, 2020. The recent announcement that capacity restrictions on arts and cultural venues can increase to 33% on April 2 established a conflict within the guidelines that apply to museums. A theater or event space in a museum can accommodate 33% capacity, but the galleries in the same building remain limited to 25%. We have requested an increase in occupancy levels to 50%.  

    A 25% capacity restriction at museums is a capacity restriction on every community that depends on museum visitors to thrive and limits the community’s ability to move towards economic recovery. Be it Cooperstown, Corning, Rochester, the Adirondacks, or Jamestown, these communities cannot recover until the museums can welcome more visitors. The limit on museum capacity limits traffic to local retailers, eateries, hotels, craft beverage producers, and secondary activities like golf that depend on the draw of the bigger institutions to bring visitors into their communities. 

    Social distancing, mask wearing, adequate space, and thorough cleaning procedures have allowed museums to ensure a safe indoor environment. The air exchange systems in most museums are filtered with MERV 14 filters and the air is exchanged more than 6 times an hour. 

    With a loss of more than 75% of earned income and fewer than 10% of NY’s museums securing PPP, EIDL, and direct federal agency funding, one in four NY museums are in danger of permanent closure without an increase in capacity as soon as possible. 

    In 2020 New York’s museums continued to serve audiences virtually despite being closed to the public with educational resources, lectures, digital access to collections, and interpretive programs. Without an increase in capacity, 65% of museums envision further layoffs and cutbacks in public service. 

    NY’s largest museums are already turning people away on a daily basis. The majority of people surveyed by the American Alliance of Museums, Culture Track, and ArtNet intend to visit museums as soon as they are able. They believe that museums are safe and play an essential role in their communities. 

    As the number of people in NY who have received vaccinations increase, the number of people who feel safe to visit museums will increase. Continuing to suppress museum gallery capacity will increase financial losses beyond the point of sustainability.

    Look for more to come as we try to effect positive change for our museum community. 

  • February 24, 2021 12:22 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Museum Association of New York to Accept Online Applications Beginning February 24 

    Troy, N.Y. — The Pomeroy Fund for NYS History, a partnership between the William G. Pomeroy Foundation and the Museum Association of New York (MANY), will provide $50,000 in grants to assist 501(c)(3) history-related organizations with capital needs expenses in 2021. MANY will accept applications through a portal on their website starting on Wednesday, February 24.

    In this fourth round of the Pomeroy Fund, a total of $50,000 will be distributed for capital needs in individual grants not to exceed $5,000. Grant requests will be considered for technology equipment, facility maintenance equipment, furnishings, major material purchases, renovations, refurbishments, remodeling and rehabilitation. If your organization received funding from the Pomeroy Fund for NYS History in 2020, you are eligible to apply, but preference will be given to those who have yet to receive funding.

    Eligible organizations must be a history-related organization located in New York State and have an annual operating budget of $150,000 or less.

    Pomeroy Fund applications will be accepted through Monday, March 22. Funding notifications and assistance grants will be issued in April 2021.

    “The first three rounds of the Pomeroy Fund for NYS History granted over $147,000 to 69 history organizations across the state,” said Bill Pomeroy, Founder and Trustee of the Pomeroy Foundation. “However, an urgent need for further support remains during these difficult times. In response, we are opening a fourth round of funding to make additional financial support available to these irreplaceable assets in our communities.”

    “In 2019, more than half of the history-related organizations with budget sizes under $150,000 indicated in their response to the State of NYS Museums survey that they were located in a historic structure,” said Erika Sanger, Executive Director for the Museum Association of New York. “These small organizations located in historic structures, as well as those in more recently built museums facilities, have unique capital needs that are not being met by other funders. We are grateful to the Pomeroy Foundation for their ongoing support to help meet the needs of these organizations.”

    To begin an application starting February 24 or to learn more, visit the Pomeroy Fund for NYS History webpage at:


    Grant applications will be reviewed by a panel that includes MANY Board members, MANY staff and Pomeroy Foundation staff. Grants are available to all qualified organizations; an organization does not have to be a member of MANY to receive funding, nor will preference be given to MANY members.


    #  #  #


    About the Pomeroy Foundation

    The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history; and to raising awareness, supporting research and improving the quality of care for patients and their families who are facing a blood cancer diagnosis. One of their initiatives is helping people to celebrate their community’s history. They meet this by providing grants to obtain signage in the form of roadside markers and plaques. Since 2006, they have funded over 1,300 signs across the United States, all the way to Alaska. Visit:

    Twitter: @wgpfoundation


    YouTube: William G. Pomeroy Foundation


    About MANY

    The Museum Association of New York inspires, connects, and strengthens New York’s cultural community statewide by advocating, educating, collaborating, and supporting professional standards and organizational development. MANY ensures that New York State museums operate at their full potential as economic drivers and essential components of their communities. Visit

    Twitter: @nysmuseums

    Instagram: @nysmuseums



  • February 23, 2021 12:37 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Dear MANY Members, Supporters, and Colleagues,

    I’ve had an awful case of cabin fever for a couple of weeks and I know I’m not alone. The past year has left those of us who have dedicated their work to the museum field tired, isolated, and grieving. 500,000 Americans have died, an estimated 30% of New York’s museum professionals lost their jobs, and our physical and mental health has deteriorated. The vaccine is the hope on the horizon, but I am concerned that in our haste to recover financially, we will lose the opportunity to make the changes necessary to reach our audiences with relevant content whether they are on site or in their living rooms, to deepen our role as essential community partners, and to develop a workforce that reflects all New Yorkers. 

    Lately, a friend is texting me things like “did you read that awful thing about that museum on Instagram?” And since I consume museum social media omnivorously, I can usually reply, “yes, I did.”  In return, my friend texts something like, “do you remember when we had to leave work by the loading dock so the major donors at the party in the lobby wouldn’t see the staff?” and “when they threatened to fire me if I didn’t come to work when my child was in the hospital.” As young white women entering the museum field, we were taken advantage of by older colleagues in positions of authority, but were told our mis-treatment was the price we had to pay to work in museums. The dues we paid are small compared to the intolerance and racial bias people of color continue to face as they advance their museum careers. 

    As we prepare to launch the State of New York State Museums survey, we asked colleagues to contribute questions. The most frequently submitted question was “How are museums addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion in their workforce?” Over the next decades, the demographics of New York are going to change. We will become older and more racially and ethnically diverse; crossing the line to become “majority minority” by 2035. Although we are already one of the most diverse states in the nation, we are far from immune to disparities by race, ethnicity, and geography in access to resources of all kinds. Museums need to prepare today for tomorrow by bringing more voices to the planning table, and finding ways to sustainably diversify staff and audiences. 

    To help New York’s museums move from intent to action, I am proud to share the news that MANY’s board of directors has approved the launch of a New York Latinx Museum Professional Network later this spring. The light of earlier sunrises, later sunsets, initiatives like this, and your support for MANY’s work brings me hope for a better year ahead. 

    With thanks for your support,

    Erika Sanger, MANY Executive Director

  • February 23, 2021 11:29 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    By Miranda Peters, VP of Collections & Digital Production, Fort Ticonderoga

    Like museums across the country, Fort Ticonderoga prioritized virtual engagement over the past year to remain connected with our stakeholders and audiences throughout the pandemic. Over this time, we launched and expanded the Center for Digital History, and tackled numerous practical, technical, and methodological challenges along the way. Recently, Fort Ticonderoga Museum staff discussed their practical tips and lessons learned creating programs for an online audience, developing a virtual studio, sharing videos on social media, and engaging with educators in a webinar. You can watch the full webinar here (and discover why tip #3 is so critical 6 minutes and 45 seconds in). This webinar is suited for museums who are new to virtual programming, or who want some real-world advice as they seek to expand their reach. Below are a few takeaways from the program.

    1. Make a plan

    You have to think through why you want to virtually engage with your audiences. Is this just a short-term solution? Something your institution has been planning for a while and will continue after the pandemic? Who are your audiences and what are their needs? Fort Ticonderoga’s strategic plan set forth goals to increase access and awareness and expand educational impact.  This work began in earnest in 2019 when we invested significantly in a new website and made museum collections accessible on-line for the first time.  This foundation made it feasible to launch the Center for Digital History in 2020.  Thanks to Covid-19, staff were able to take the opportunity to pivot time and resources from the front-line on-site experience to invest heavily in developing on-line program content.  

    2. Who are your audiences? Invite them to participate!

    Once you have a new program developed that you think is ready for launching, invite others to participate in a dress rehearsal. Fort Ticonderoga staff invited educators, volunteers, co-workers, and family members to watch their programs and solicit commentary. It can be hard to receive constructive criticism, but getting feedback results in a stronger program in the end. Really thinking through programming with educators led to staff delivering programs beyond the 9-5 workday so more teachers could attend after school.  

    3. Have a moderator! 

    All things in moderation—or in this case—all things moderator. Fort Ticonderoga staff discovered very quickly that it is essential to have a moderator for every live virtual program they do. The moderator is there to let guests in from the virtual waiting room, reply to any discussions in the chat box, oversee the tech-side of the program, lead tech-tests 30 minutes before a program begins to ensure good connectivity, lighting, staging, etc. Having a moderator ensures that the person who is delivering the program can focus on the content. Depending on how you set up a program, the moderator can also be the voice of the audience during moments where there is feedback from the chat box, or during a Q&A session. 

    4. Equipment

    You don’t need to invest hundreds or thousands of dollars to deliver engaging live virtual programming. Tech gadgets don’t make the program—YOU do. The basics you need to have if you or your institution are new to virtual programming are: 

    • A reliable internet source. This can be a strong WiFi signal, or ethernet connection. 

    • A camera. The video for your program can come from multiple sources, including a cell phone, laptop, or desktop with webcam. 

    • Good lighting.  Good lighting directly correlates to better video quality during a program. A very clear overhead light or some lamps that you can find in your house or in your office to set up so that you have clear lighting

    • Good audio. Make sure that the microphone that your computer or phone has is close enough to the person delivering the program that the audience can hear them clearly. 

    5. A virtual sandbox for experimentation 

    Fort Ticonderoga uses both Facebook Live and pre recorded videos that we share on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, primarily. For Facebook Live, we created a private Facebook page for staff to be able to practice the process of going live, and for sharing feedback and tips. This was especially vital as we practiced going live while sharing PowerPoint presentations, or when testing out new locations where we weren’t sure of the internet quality. It takes the pressure off of making technical mistakes in front of a large audience. The team also develops a schedule every month for digital programming that is shared through the website and with media outlets. Each month the team revisits lessons learned from the previous month and can experiment with new ideas or refine existing ones.

    6. Be kind to yourself

    Expanding digital engagement can be hard. Fort Ticonderoga spent years prioritizing hands-on tactile experiences and shifting that to a screen was a difficult process. In-person programs don't necessarily directly translate to a virtual audience. There isn’t the same energy or real-time feedback from speaking to guests in a room with you. Take breaks, try to remain positive, and think about your end-user. Your virtual program can reach people who need museums now more than ever. You are doing a great job and you can do this!    

    Fort Ticonderoga’s approach isn’t simply digital or on-site – it’s an integration which will continue far into the future beyond the current constraints of the pandemic. In fact, a site visit is an extension of the digital engagement which has tremendously expanded this year. We see this moment in time as an opportunity to embrace new opportunities, learn new ways and methods to engage, and test concepts to better serve our audiences. 

    For any questions about the Center for Digital History or the webinar, Fort Ticonderoga’s staff are available to assist.

    Miranda Peters, VP of Collections & Digital Production,

    Stuart Lilie, VP of Public History,

    Matthew Keagle, Curator,

    Rich Strum, Director of Academic Programs,

    Kaitlin Long, Museum Education Coordinator & Fife Major, 

    The “From Fort to Screen” webinar was made possible through the National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act grant. 

  • February 23, 2021 9:52 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Located on Albany’s South Pearl Street, Historic Cherry Hill is a 1787 wood-frame structure that was home to five generations of the Van Rensselaer family. Its last resident, Emily Rankin, bequeathed her house and its thousands of artifacts and documents that spanned three centuries to “the people of New York State.” The house opened as a museum in 1964, a year after her death. For more than ten years the site has undergone an extensive $2 million restoration to preserve the historical structure and is now undertaking a NEH CARES Act grant funded project to digitize and interpret more inclusive stories of underrepresented narratives and perspectives. 

    Historic Cherry Hill, photo courtesy of Discover Albany

    Structural Issues

    Staff began seeing evidence of facilities deterioration in the 1990s and brought in a structural engineer to help with the assessment. The engineer discovered that while the house was likely designed to hold about 30 pounds per square foot in the attic space, it was now holding an excess of 100 pounds per square foot. The weight was coming from the 70,000 collection items stored on-site that were threatening the museum’s largest artifact, the house itself. To save the house, the engineer recommended relocating the collection to another structure. 

    Historic Cherry Hill under restoration. Photo courtesy of Historic Cherry Hill

    “We’re a tiny museum, so the idea on how to accomplish this was a bit mind blowing,” said Deboarah Emmons-Andarawis, Historic Cherry Hill Director. “But the staff and board were on board and were able to raise the fund needed to build a collections center that opened in 2003.” 

    The Edward Frisbee Center for Collections and Research is a 3,500 square foot state of the art facility with environmental controls. Historic Cherry Hill received IMLS funds to improve the management of and access to collections by upgrading the museums’ collections database. With the move of museums’ historical objects, manuscripts, textiles, books, and photographs into this new space, both physical and digitally accessibility for staff and researchers became a possibility. “Once the Center was opened and the work of moving collections over to that new space began, it opened up new opportunities to make our collection accessible to students and researchers that wasn’t possible. Once most of the collections were moved out of the attic, it was at that point that we were able to consider undertaking how we fix this [the house]. It’s been a decade in the making.”

    Inside the Edward Frisbee Center for Collections and Research. Photo courtesy of WAMC.

    In 2012, Historic Cherry Hill received $575,00 from the National Endowment for the Humanities “We the People” Challenge Grant as part of an initiative to strengthen public access to the humanities that not only included funds towards the restoration of the house, but also to an endowment for the curatorial and research department. “Gaining intellectual and physical control of the collection was such a big endeavor,” said Emmons-Andarwis. 

    The museum received funding from the New York State Council on the Arts to:

    work with an architect and structural engineer to plan for the interior repairs and restoration based on the findings of an existing conditions survey 

    • restore thirty three windows, 

    • address the environmental issues within the structure, and

    • reinstall 1,863 objects and furnishings within the historic structure–including paintings, prints, photographs, wall-mounted cremains, carpets, and furnishings. 

    Collections Relocation and Accessibility

    With the relocation of the collection and improvements to the museums’ collections database also came a discovery of collections items long stored away. 

    “One of my big moments of discovery when I was curator was when we were immersed in moving the textiles from the historic house to the collection center. We were dealing with infestation issues when we saw this 18th century textile, made in India that was a wow moment for me,” said Emmons-Andarawis. “It was this magnificent morton dyed piece and it was just hidden away in a trunk for many years. It was pristine because it was packed away for so long.”

    The creation of the collection center supported the museum’s efforts to serve a broadening audience of users and its transformation into a center for the study of American social, political, and economic history. 

    “Because we’re a small staff, [this relocation project] consumed most of our resources,” said Emmons-Andarwis. Access to the collections was through in-person visits and now, during the pandemic, by appointment only. The massive project of digitizing the collection only happened recently. “It was a project that was, ironically, possible because we are in a pandemic. There was this extra funding source available and we were able to take advantage of that.”

    Staff on-site reinstalling furniture. Photo courtesy of Historic Cherry Hill.

    Opportunity in a Pandemic: Digitizing the Collection

    In June 2020, the NEH announced $40 million in CARES Act Grants to support essential operations for cultural institutions across the country. Historic Cherry Hill was awarded $30,000 for the retention of two staff members to expand remote learning opportunities about African Americans at the historic site. The project, “Historical African American Experiences at Cherry Hill: Lessons for the Digital Age,” focuses on slavery and emancipation and 19th and 20th century African American siblings who were taken as orphans in the mid 1800s and occupied a “quasi-family” status as servants and wards of the Van Rensselaers. 

    “We were aware of some really wonderful collections that have and had been wanting to learn more about these stories for sometime but were looking for the opportunity for the right grant,” said Emmons-Andarwis. “When we originally conceived how we were going to tell these stories, it was not going to be digital. We were going to work on school programming and imaging on-site programs. When the NEH CARES opportunity came up, it seemed obvious that the right way of focusing on these stories during the pandemic and this historical period that we find ourselves in was exploring them digitally.”

    Staff began photographing and digitizing historical objects and documents belonging to these siblings including toys, photographs, letters, and other ephemera all intended to expand on their neglected lives. 

    Training session with consulting digitization librarian Jennifer Fairall and interns working to digitize Historic Cherry Hill collections on Black life including scanning and transcribing letters, assigning metadata, and marking the connections between Cherry Hill and the broader world. Photo courtesy of Historic Cherry Hill

    “It was a very fascinating relationship that we were aware of but it was an opportunity to explore more of the stories related to these siblings and there was a lot there,” said Emmons-Andarwis. A series of papers associated with one of the siblings emerged, William James “Jimmy” Knapp who resided at Cherry Hill over sixteen months over four years from 1880 to 1884. Knapp was a musician, a piano tuner, and worked in a music store. He also was a composer and some of his sheet music was published locally across today’s capital region including Troy and on State Street in Albany but most of his work was published in major cities like New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and Boston. “We were able to piece together most of his life because he was the most documented of all of his siblings. We have his letters, which are a big part of this collection and about 150 pieces of his sheet music.” Emmons-Andarwis initially believed that staff would be digitizing 200 or so documents associated with Knapp and his siblings, but currently staff has digitized more than 600. “It’s exciting about where we can take this project next and going further to contextualise these stories. These are the stories that are not well documented elsewhere.”

    Staff has uploaded hundreds of this digitized collection to NY Heritage for public access, created a 3D model of the house, and is currently developing teaching prompts. “A key part of this project is creating tools for teachers to use these digitized collections in their classroom.” In 2018, the museum evaluated its school programs. The museum partnered with Claudia Ocello of Museum Partners Consulting to conduct an evaluation of past and existing programs and launch an online survey of hundreds of kindergarten through Grade 12 teachers in the Capital Region and conducted focus groups with teachers from public and private schools. One of the main recommendations from the evaluation was the creation of inclusive, hands-on programming using primary source materials to make local connections to larger historic events, including the perspectives of African Americans and women. “Many of them articulated that they wanted local resources that they can use to talk about slavery and African American history. We’re thrilled to be able to answer that request.”

    One short term goal that the museum has is to continue to build more digital and virtual programs. “We’re working on some school programs in addition to the NEH funded resources. We have worked to convert one of our outreach programs called the Cherry Hill Case to a virtual program,” said Emmons-Andarwis. In the Cherry Hill Case, students work in groups to investigate the lives of household members using educational props. The virtual program will use new research to better represent the makeup of the household and perspectives of its members using recently digitized collections. 

    Re-Interpretation and Vision for History Cherry Hills’ Future

    Before the pandemic forced the Historic Cherry Hill to close its physical doors to the public, restoration work had already interrupted on-site tours. “I think that having to stop giving our core tour forced us to explore other things and other stories,” said Emmons-Andarwis. 

    Historic Cherry Hill was awarded $46,979 in federal funds from IMLS’s Inspire! Grants for Small Museums for museum staff to work with a consulting interpretive planner, designer, and evaluator to develop a new interpretation plan. “Our main goal is to present a story that is more inclusive of underrepresented narratives and perspectives,” said Emmons-Andarwis. Early on, the museum recognized the importance of immigration in Albany as a key theme of the house’s history as it related to Catherine Rankin’s story, but not all perspectives were presented in that theme. “It was all told from Catherine’s perspective and how she experienced the change in her community. We strive to create an emotional connection and critical distance, but what we are really keen on is making sure that our interpretation is told from many different angles.” The new plan will incorporate insights from a newly formed Community Advisory board, audience research, and a panel of interpretive specialists and scholars. 

    Emmons-Andarwis and Education Coordinator Shawna Reilly are both project participants in the Museum Association of New York’s IMLS Building Capacity Project who are utilizing the resources and training to develop more content and share more perspectives into the main narrative of Historic Cherry Hill. “That’s what we’re finally after all this research and digitization,” said Emmons-Andarwis. “To be able to really build out those perspectives that wasn’t possible before.”

    Learn more about Historic Cherry Hill: 

    Explore their digitized collection on NY Heritage: 

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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