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Museum News

How are museums growing institutional resources? How are museums working with their communities? How are museums using their exhibitions and collections in new ways? Explore original articles by MANY staff about NYS museums. 

What's happening at your museum? Submit your museum news and we might feature you in our next This Month in NYS Museums newsletter!

Email meves@nysmuseums.org 

  • November 16, 2021 11:07 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Museum Association of New York (MANY) is excited to announce the 2022 Annual Conference “Envisioning Our Museums for the Seventh Generation.”

    The Seventh Generation is a core value among the Indigenous nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora peoples. The principle, which is rooted in the preservation of Indigenous culture, underscores the importance of the human continuum. It advocates for informed, long-term decision-making that recognizes and draws from the past while laying the groundwork for the future.

    The annual conference will be held in Corning, NY on April 9-12, 2022 on the ancestral lands of the Seneca. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet and connect with colleagues in beautiful, unique museum spaces including The Rockwell Museum and Corning Museum of Glass. Conference plans include Saturday Workshops, Conference Capstones, special events, and more than a dozen sessions that will advance professional practice and develop leadership skills.

    MANY is seeking session proposals that address the theme, that are engaging and interactive, and offer multiple perspectives. 

    In addition to sessions that meet the “Envisioning Our Museums for the Seventh Generation” theme, we are looking for sessions about how museums:

    • Change systems to address diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and justice

    • Build financial stability

    • Create digital access to collections and born-digital content

    • Partner to share collections and resources

    • Revisit foundational policies and procedures to adapt to change

    • Break down barriers and convey that museums are for everyone

    • Strengthen community engagement

    • Employ and expand the use of technology

    • Support staff leadership

    • Reconstruct interpretation

    • Expand board engagement and resource development

    • Respond to pandemic-related challenges

    We are also calling for proposals from emerging museum professionals and students for 10 x 10 sessions where EMPs and students can share their vision for the museum field through 10 PowerPoint slides in ten minutes. 

    Proposals from organizations in the Southern Tier can include Saturday Workshops and Tuesday Capstone Programs. Workshop and Capstone Programs should offer attendees a closer look at museum practices, exemplary projects, hands-on learning opportunities, and offer perspectives from the leadership of organizations hosting the program.

    All session proposals are due by 5 PM on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Proposals will be reviewed by a committee of MANY board members and museum professionals from the Corning area. Lead presenters will be notified at the end of January and conference registration will open on Monday, February 7, 2022. 

    For more information, visit nysmuseums.org/annualconference, email info@nysmuseums.orgor call 518-273-3400.

  • October 28, 2021 3:37 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Institute of Museum and Library Services awarded $15,255,733 in American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act grants to institutions across the country. 390 projects out of 572 applications we awarded funding including 33 New York State museums that received a total of just over $1.4M. These funds are to support the role of museums in recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. New York State museums plan to use these funds to upgrade digital infrastructure, increase access to collections, invest in digital and online content staff, support and strengthen DEAI initiatives, and more.

    Click here to for the full list of NYS museums

    Adirondack Experience, $50,000

    The Adirondack Experience (ADKX) in New York will partner with the Adirondack Diversity Initiative, Akwesasne Cultural Center, Mountain Lake PBS, The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter, and The Wild Center to facilitate a series of free virtual public programs throughout 2022 that reexamine the history of Adirondack Park through the lens of environmental justice, especially regional inequities established by policies to manage land and water access, as well as conservation principles. The collaborative will facilitate a series of livestreamed discussions as a launching point for public engagement and host a symposium to convene Indigenous and non-Indigenous historians, educators, storytellers, and social scientists to discuss these issues. ADKX seeks to address the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and social injustice protests on the region through these virtual programs.

    Albany Institute of History & Art, $37,801

    The Albany Institute of History & Art (AIHA) will create an online resource of one hundred digitized items from the museum’s collection exploring the Black experience in Albany, New York, from 1650 to 1877. AIHA’s project team will identify, contextualize, digitize, and upload collection items highlighting Albany’s African American history as the first part of the much larger Albany African American History Project, which seeks to expand the limited scholarship and research about African American lives in Albany during this period. The project pairs seasoned museum professionals with emerging museum and library/archives professionals in a collaborative mentorship model to grow the pipeline of underrepresented professionals in the field. The project will help with COVID-19 pandemic recovery by creating more online resources, building staff capacity through mentorship, and establishing a framework for future online projects.

    Alice Austen House, $30,693

    The Alice Austen House (AAH) in Staten Island, New York, will implement the Expanded Digital Access Project developing three 3-D virtual tours, online artist talks, and exhibition catalogues for learners of all ages to expand the museum’s audience geographically, culturally, and socioeconomically. The virtual tours, talks, and catalogues will incorporate the work of three women, BIPOC, LGBTQ+ artists whose work exposes societal inequities. This project will promote community healing from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic while expanding the reach of important photographic works to a national audience of all ages and create financial support for the AAH as we await a full resumption of our financial support through educational programming and in-person attendance.

    American Folk Art Museum, $50,000

    The American Folk Art Museum in Long Island, New York, will upgrade its software and database to make more images of art and archival information available online. Digital content has been an important element of the museum’s work following the COVID-19 pandemic. The new software will allow the museum to add audio, visual, and other media files to its website for the first time, including adding archival photos, letters, ephemera, and recordings to an artist’s web page to give a fuller understanding of their work. The upgraded software will be available to individuals from any web-connected device. The museum will prioritize digitizing images and archives for artists who have been historically underrepresented in the art world—including Black, Indigenous, and other artists of color; women-identified artists; and neurodiverse artists—to more accurately reflect the museum’s collections.

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden, $32,105

    Brooklyn Botanic Garden in New York City will restore an assistant position to rebuild its community greening outreach programs. In a typical year, the garden’s community greening outreach programs impact an estimated 70,000 residents. Since the pandemic’s onset, the garden scaled back and modified its programs for remote or socially distanced delivery in line with evolving public health guidelines. Fully staffed, these programs once again will have the capacity to engage residents in gardening, nature appreciation, and environmental stewardship. Feedback from past program workshops, listening circles, and check-ins during the pandemic consistently highlighted that these outreach programs contribute to community resilience, a key driver of recovery from the collective trauma of COVID-19. The organization will survey participants to evaluate program success.

    Brooklyn Museum, $50,000

    The Brooklyn Museum will create intensive arts education curricula for up to 10 underserved schools during the 2021–2022 academic year. The museum aims to create inspiring encounters with art that transform the ways we see ourselves, the world, and its possibilities. Through its school partnerships, the museum expects to reach roughly 1,000 K–12 students, specifically prioritizing Title I schools whose districts have experienced severe trauma resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This project will address multiple issues facing New York City educators right now, including the need for arts education curricula that aligns with New York City Department of Education learning objectives; content that addresses history and art through an anti-racist lens; and free or low-cost arts education resources.

    Burchfield Penney Art Center, $29,000

    The Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo, New York, will hire a full-time social media and digital content specialist to manage the center’s website, social media channels, emails, and digital communications and marketing buys to meet audience needs through a hybrid model of on-site and online programming during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This new hire will work with the center’s curatorial, educational, and public program departments to plan and create content, including evaluating the center’s work against its diversity, equity, and inclusion vision and goals. The center serves the eight counties of western New York and has strong ties to the Buffalo community. The center is gathering data to better understand and leverage potential opportunities with broader local, national, and international audiences.

    Center for Jewish History, $34,891

    The Center for Jewish History had to shift its programs and offerings online during the COVID-19 pandemic. This caused staff at the Center to realize they needed to be more accessible to its diverse patrons. When the Center reopens, it hopes to be a more inclusive institution by increasing accessibility of its online and onsite programs and services and by installing a hearing loop in its auditorium and at all service counters. It also plans to implement accessibility features on its website, provide high-quality live captions for a lecture series, and add closed captions to all recordings of public programs in order to better serve all visitors.

    Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, $27,882

    The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance in New York City will hire a digital content and programs coordinator to help the museum continue responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic by expanding its online impact. This individual will film and post livestreamed and pre-recorded programs, publish museum and exhibit digital guides, post upcoming events on local media event calendars, and create content about the active museum initiatives Growing Uptown (which helps community members grow food in their apartments) and Talking About Race Matters lecture series. Through this new hire’s work, the museum intends to increase program attendance by 30 percent, increase its in-person and virtual programs by 20 percent, and increase its community partnerships by 20 percent. The museum will track progress through participant surveys and other measures.

    Everson Museum of Art, $50,000

    The Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York, will upgrade its digital infrastructure to provide patrons with enhanced access to its collections and programs. The pandemic underscored the need for expanded technology to reach the growing number of virtual visitors and reduce barriers to participation. The upgraded systems will improve the museum’s efficiency, sharing capabilities, and data security. Upgrades will include two new servers, cloud-based technology, video production equipment, and collections database software. These combined technological upgrades will provide patrons with digital access to more than 10,000 objects in the museum’s permanent collection. They also will support patrons’ access to a wide range of programs and events via improved video streaming capabilities.

    Historic Hudson Valley, $49,750

    Historic Hudson Valley in Tarrytown, New York, will strengthen its institutional capacity and respond to teachers’ needs for online resources during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The project team will hire interpretive staff with the digital storytelling skills needed to lead virtual programs and train them in the organization’s content about slavery in the colonial North. The nonprofit also will train existing interpretive staff in the differences between historic, site-based, and hands-on learning, as well as fostering engagement in a remote classroom setting. This work will help the organization continue to develop virtual field trips that deliver accurate, empathetic, and engaging information about the history that shaped the nation. This program will serve students unable to visit historic sites because of geographic or economic constraints, and will measure success through teacher surveys, focus group recommendations, and staff evaluation.

    Historic Saranac Lake, $50,000

    Historic Saranac Lake in New York will carry out several initiatives to catalog its collections, respond to research requests, and prepare for expansion of the museum. The museum preserves and interprets the region’s history as the birthplace of the sanatorium treatment for tuberculosis in the United States and is a center for scientific research. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in the number of research and genealogical requests increased dramatically, ad did donations to the collection. The museum will replace—and expand—a staff position lost due to reductions during the Covid-19 pandemic to manage the initiatives. This new collections assistant will respond to research/genealogical requests, process donations to the collection, and manage volunteer-completed collections projects. The additional staff support will increase the museum’s ability to properly care for its collections and make them available to the public.

    International Center of Photography, $49,500

    The International Center of Photography in New York City will reinstate its library-based public programs at the William Randolph Hearst Library and create hybrid virtual and in-person programs for individuals who are not yet ready or able to attend in person. Virtual programs were highly popular during the pandemic and will continue alongside in-person programming that gets filmed. Programs will include book events, film screenings, a community day, and exhibition-based activities. The center will hire a part-time videographer/audiovisual producer and a public programs coordinator to support this expanded programming. Through its new programs, the center will continue delivering accessible resources and content to meet the community’s needs.

    Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, $50,000

    The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, based in New York City, will broaden outreach for its long-standing leadership and science program for girls to provide families and communities with an essential support network. In particular, the museum will encourage youth from low-income neighborhoods, which have been especially hard-hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, to pursue education and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The museum’s free yearlong program integrates STEM disciplines into real-world experiences and applications, introduces girls to female role models active in STEM fields, and provides girls with social and professional support, including near-peer mentors from the program’s alumnae network. The museum will conduct community outreach at New York City Housing Authority housing sites and develop informational resources that are welcoming, inclusive, and culturally responsive to enable parents and caregivers to encourage youth participation.

    Irish American Heritage Museum, $34,800

    The Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany, New York, will expand its programming, reinvest in its collection, and strengthen its staff to preserve and tell the story of the contributions of the Irish people and their culture in America. Shortly after relocating in early 2020, the museum closed due to the pandemic, but it built a significant online following during that time and will continue to prioritize additional digital offerings. The museum will build new connections in the community through diverse public programming. The museum will hire a full-time content and engagement manager, who will develop new exhibitions and programs. Storage of and care for the museum’s permanent collection will be improved, which will allow the museum to increase the rotation of objects on display and create diverse temporary exhibitions.

    Katonah Museum of Art, $24,669

    The Katonah Museum of Art will expand and enhance its in-school artist residency program for students grades 2–6 at Thomas Cornell Academy, a Title I elementary school in Yonkers. Through this 10-session sequential program, students will be guided by teaching artists and a school-based arts instructor to create poetry, visual artwork, and choreographed movement pieces in response to the museum’s exhibitions, culminating in an event for families featuring student presentations of their work. This program seeks to fill the gap in access to arts enrichment activities, an issue exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, $50,000

    The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art will adopt a more flexible and robust web-based cataloguing software to provide greater public and scholarly access to research on LGBTQ+ art and the artists who create it. Requests from researchers and virtual audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic informed the museum’s plan to accelerate cataloguing, develop a more rigorous online database for the permanent collection, and recover collection staff to make research accessible. As part of the project, the museum will invite independent scholars to review the collection and inform the database management process, data, and user experience. The museum will develop image digitization and database migration plans to ensure that the collection is widely accessible to scholars of all disciplines.

    Long Island Children's Museum, $49,974

    Long Island Children’s Museum in New York will expand its Westbury STEM Partnership, a school-museum teaching collaboration with Westbury School District that serves first and second grade students, to include third grade students, their teachers, and their families in STEM learning. This expansion will mitigate the significant learning loss that these students experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program addresses the ongoing need for high-quality STEM education in a school district that is largely low-income and non-white, with significant numbers of immigrant students. Among other activities, the program will build students’ STEM-related skills and knowledge by providing multiple opportunities to engage in inquiry-based activities using problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

    Memorial Art Gallery, $50,000

    The Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester will expand its free arts education programming in partnership with five under-resourced elementary schools in the Rochester City School District. Students will visit the museum once a week over a 4-week period to engage in a series of curriculum-based, hands-on, in-gallery experiences that reinforce classroom learning. A museum educator will lead discussions and activities, and the students will create their own artwork under the guidance of a teaching artist. These programs aim to help participants heal from the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic while developing the language, skills, and tools they need to understand, interpret, and discuss art.

    Museum at Bethel Woods, $31,900

    Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in New York state will maintain its preservation fellowship—its most ambitious program to date and a necessary addition as the museum overcomes pandemic-related interruptions—through October 2022. Continuing the fellowship will enhance and expand existing programming that has increased the museum’s institutional capacity to respond to community needs, strengthen public programming, and partner with other community-based organizations. The fellowship encompasses oral histories, public engagement projects, and the opening of new areas of the 800-acre historic site to exploration and public use. The previous fellowship project involved helping the museum plan, document, and preserve the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock Music & Art Fair. The museum will design fellowship activities to enhance the visitor experience and add authentic new material and understanding to the historical record.

    Museum of the City of New York, $50,000

    The Museum of the City of New York will hire a full-time Education & Community Coordinator to facilitate online and onsite programming for students, teachers, families, and intergenerational audiences with a focus on building, sustaining, and advancing community-based initiatives throughout the museum’s neighborhood of East Harlem and across the five boroughs of New York City. The coordinator also will lead trainings for museum staff to support inclusive, trauma-informed education programs and help build partnerships with schools, city agencies, and community organizations. This project will help the museum reconnect with its community following disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and responds to the community’s need for free, arts-based programming identified during the pandemic.

    Museum of the Earth, $49,915

    The Museum of the Earth will develop the Here on Earth component of Earth@Home online, an open educational resource platform that will provide high school teachers with regionally contextualized geoscience content and career path guidance that they can integrate into their lessons and classrooms. Here on Earth will increase awareness of Earth science among high school students, increase awareness of geoscience careers, and help diversify the geosciences workforce. The museum will partner with high school science programs, natural history museums, and national public parks around the country to connect existing PRI Earth science learning resources with a wider national community of high school teachers and their students. This online learning resource for teachers seeks to address the weakness and limitations in available online learning resources exposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Museum of the Moving Image, $48,556

    The Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, New York, will increase its capacity to serve local communities and national audiences by upgrading its digital infrastructure and equipment and providing training for staff on hybrid programming. The infrastructure upgrade will support digital media education programs that fuse online and on-site programs. Enhanced technology will allow the museum to increase the amount of livestream programming and improve its quality. A new digital media makerspace located in the museum’s core exhibition area will increase technology-based education opportunities for youth. These strategies are intended to address the widening digital divide highlighted during the pandemic. By implementing a hybrid system of programming, the museum will increase its ability to connect with audiences by enabling participants to access programmatic and media resources remotely as well as on-site.

    National Women's Hall of Fame, $49,748

    The National Women’s Hall of Fame (NWHF) in Seneca Falls, New York, will expand its virtual forums to engage the community in dialogue about past, present, and future leaders in women’s history. NWHF will host six forums (one every other month) highlighting women’s equality, women in business, and medical researchers working to advance women’s health. The forums will place special focus on providing a platform for women of color to showcase their expertise. Panel discussions targeted toward Generation Z and millennials will focus on conducting job searches in the post-pandemic era. Lessons learned during the pandemic about digital programming will enhance the NWHF’s ability to expand its reach far beyond its physical walls and support its long-term growth and sustainability.

    Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History, $50,000

    The Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History in Kingston, New York, will expand its multicultural and educational programs to serve immigrant, school-age, and older adult populations and to counteract the learning difficulties, isolation, and trauma Kingston residents are experiencing as a result of the pandemic. The center will hire a multicultural programs and education director to oversee new initiatives and engage with target communities. The center’s Worry Dolls Project (Proyecto Muñecas Quitapenas) will expand to include five additional elementary schools. High school students and older adults will have access to five in-person, virtual, or hybrid programs relating to the Sewing in Kingston exhibition. The center will organize a multicultural festival with free activities for children and families.

    Rochester Museum and Science Center, $49,632

    The Rochester Museum and Science Center and community partners will provide a full-day field trip experience to the museum for third grade students as well as three public program days. The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Black community, combined with local events, created a new consensus around the need for systemic change to address racism. In collaboration with the Take It Down Planning Committee of community activists and the Rochester City School District, the program will utilize the "Take It Down" exhibit, which tells the story of a community led effort to remove racist artwork from a historic carousel, as a tool for anti-racism education. Designed and taught by museum educators and Black community activists, the program engages participants in activities and dialogue to inspire and empower audiences to work for change.

    Sciencenter, $41,386

    Sciencenter in Ithaca, New York, will conduct a capacity-building project to improve the museum’s digital infrastructure and expand community access to programming. COVID-19 exacerbated typical patterns of learning loss, and the Sciencenter worked with teachers, libraries, and community organizations to support online learning throughout the pandemic. To continue this momentum, they plan to upgrade the museum’s Wi-Fi connectivity, increasing access and reliability for visitors and supporting the development of digital programs for target audiences. Working with community partners, Sciencenter will create interactive STEM programs that complement classroom learning for students in grades pre-K through 6. By relating content to students’ personal experiences and surroundings, they will foster higher engagement in activities and help to address the pandemic’s impact on STEM learning.

    South Street Seaport Museum, $31,130

    The South Street Seaport Museum in New York City will revitalize and expand its educational programming and restore activities that were cancelled during the pandemic. The museum’s core programming, which will safely reopen indoors in stages, will include school-age education programs, letterpress printing workshops, and public exhibitions. All programs, including virtual offerings piloted during the pandemic, will engage participants to make connections between their own lives and the historical development of the seaport. To increase access for broader audiences, the museum will make its collections and archives available online. The museum also will continue to maintain and preserve its fleet of historical ships in accordance with historical vessel preservation standards.

    The History Center in Tompkins County, $36,721

    The History Center in Tompkins County, New York, will collaborate with the Southside Community Center, Latino Civic Association, and Ithaca Asian American Association to make its collection more representative and diverse. Currently, the community archive predominantly reflects the white communities that have called Tompkins County home, which became apparent as a result of increased inquiries about the history of different minority groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. The center will sponsor a collaborative effort to assess the representation of Black, Latinx, and Asian communities within its archives and 3-D object collection; create public outreach strategies to address significant gaps in its historical record; and develop institutional programs and partnerships to document and archive both the COVID-19 pandemic and the future of Tompkins County. This project is critical for The History Center to build the partnerships and trust necessary to continue its progress toward becoming a true community archive.

    The Studio Museum in Harlem, $50,000

    The Studio Museum in Harlem will develop the Thomas J. Price Exhibition, Witness, and the 2021-22 season of inHarlem community-based collaborative programming. The museum will deepen its roots in the community through inHarlem by providing arts-based programming for families, teens, and adults through both digital and in-person initiatives that operate with the help of local NYC libraries, parks, community centers and public schools. The inHarlem exhibition Thomas J. Price: Witness involves erecting a nine-foot bronze figure sited within Harlem’s Marcus Garvey Park that addresses Black masculinity, stereotypes and shared diasporic experiences and will be the U.K. artist's first-ever U.S. museum solo exhibition. The museum will engage its resilient communities via inHarlem programming and aid in recovery as they overcome the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic together.

    The Wild Center, $49,962

    The Wild Center, a natural history center in New York state, will create a fellowship program to support recovery from the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 and attract young people to Adirondack Park, a rural, underserved region of the state. The fellowship program will diversify the center’s workforce to better reflect changing demographics, especially as it expands its online educational offerings beyond the region. The Wild Center will recruit, hire, and mentor a diverse cohort of fellows to prepare them to work in a science center or museum and teach them to facilitate online programming at the center during their fellowship year. This program will help rebuild the center’s institutional capacity to serve digital pre-K through 12th-grade audiences and families, in addition to its approximately 100,000 annual on-site visitors.

    Weeksville Heritage Center, $50,000

    The Weeksville Heritage Center will hire and train a new staff member to build the curriculum for an online and in-person educational program for K-12 schoolchildren. Located in Brooklyn, the Weeksville Heritage Center tells the story of Weeksville, one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America. In response to the need for virtual educational programming prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum will plan and coordinate professional development training for K-12 teachers. Additionally, the museum will host school groups for virtual tours, workshops, and events. A Fall 2022 Open House event will invite local teachers to learn about the institution and make available resources and tools for teaching about the impact of Weeksville on Brooklyn’s history.

    Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor, $32,089

    The Whaling Museum in Cold Spring Harbor, New York, will research, design, install, and evaluate a 2-year exhibition exploring and expounding on the role of Black mariners in whaling history. The exhibit will highlight and bring into perspective the significant but marginalized experiences of whaling in American history. The exhibition will correspond to present-day issues, promote democratic values, highlight new research about the experiences and impact of local Black whalers, and strengthen the visibility of Black perspectives on Long Island. Geared towards underserved populations on Long Island, particularly those of color, who have faced disproportionate impacts of the pandemic, the project will encourage audiences to foster new connections and gain an understanding of how Black seaman played a role in the evolution of Black communities through the American landscape.

    About the Institute of Museum and Library Services

    The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

  • October 27, 2021 9:12 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Building Capacity Workshop at the Museum of Arts and Design, October 26, 2021

    Dear Friends, Members, and Supporters,

    I write from the Museum of Art and Design in New York City. The twenty-five museum professionals with us are bouncing energy around the room. My heart is filled with joy to be here among such passionate, and dedicated people. In this fall’s Forums, we are learning how partnerships help museums reach new audiences, grow resources, and interpret collections. Today, the New York City Building Capacity program participants are sharing their successes, challenges, and hopes for the future.

    I am beyond grateful for those of you who have let me know that our virtual programs helped you remain connected and informed. I apologize for my frequent tears in response to your thanks, but when we closed the Zoom on Friday afternoons, it sometimes felt like all the air had been let out of the room and I could do nothing but nap. Other times the momentum kept me going for a week. But if the pandemic raised doubts in my mind about the importance of being with colleagues in creative, actual spaces discussing our work, today silenced every doubt.

    While we finish our fall workshops and prepare for the grant opportunities announced last week, we have begun planning for our 2022 annual conference “Envisioning Our Museums for the Seventh Generation.” The Seventh Generation is a core value among the Indigenous nations of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca, and Tuscarora peoples. The principle, which is rooted in the preservation of Indigenous culture, underscores the importance of the human continuum. It advocates for informed, long-term decision-making that recognizes and draws from the past while laying the groundwork for the future.

    We invite you to connect with colleagues and consider this concept from April 10th through the 12th in Corning, NY, on the ancestral lands of the Seneca. Conference plans include visits to unique museum spaces, Saturday Workshops, Conference Capstones, special events, and more than a dozen sessions that will advance your professional practice.

    Our call for proposals to New York’s museum professionals are for sessions that address the theme, that are engaging and interactive, and offer multiple perspectives.

    Watch for an email and MANY social media channels in the coming weeks for the Call for Proposals and the schedule for submitting Awards of Merit nominations.

    With tears of gratitude and joyful hopes for the spring of 2022, e


  • October 27, 2021 9:08 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Located about an hour north of New York City, the Katonah Museum of Art is a non-collecting institution producing three to four exhibitions each year that cover a range of art and humanities topics. The Katonah Museum of Art’s bilingual family literacy program, ArteJuntos/ArtTogether promotes school readiness for preschool children. It fosters social inclusion through parent engagement and access to informal learning experiences. Supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), ArteJuntos/ArtTogether empowers parents to become resourceful facilitators of their children’s learning while encouraging families to enjoy museums together. Since its inception almost 15 years ago, ArteJuntos/ArtTogether has strengthened and grown with its partner organizations for Westchester County’s growing Latino community.

    The exterior of the Katonah Museum of Art in Katonah, NY

    ArteJuntos/ArtTogether

    ArteJuntos/ArtTogether started as a response to the museum wanting to be better connected to the changing demographics of our area and to our communities in general,” said Margaret Adasko, Katonah Museum of Art’s Curator of Education. “Over the years, this program has taken many different forms. We’ve worked with school and community organizations, but the main goals of the program are to work directly with parents and their young children so that we are sharing all the ways you can use museums and art to learn together.” ArteJuntos/ArtTogether uses artwork from the museum’s exhibitions as source material for inquiry-based discussions and collaborative art-making activities. 

    “It was the museum’s former director of education who had a relationship with a family literacy program based in Tarrytown funded by Even Start, which no longer exists.  The museum was seeking ways to support the parent community and started offering some programming in partnership with this group,” said Helena Vidal, Program Manager. Even Start was funded by the US Department of Education and offered grants to support local family literacy projects that integrated early childhood education. “This collaboration between the KMA and Even Start was so successful that word got out in Tarrytown and then in Ossining. Eventually, there was a desire and interest when the Even Start program ended for the Museum to continue working with a family literacy program in Ossining. This led to the original IMLS grant application that laid the groundwork for the curriculum, the community partnerships, and refining the program’s objectives and outcomes,” said Vidal. The museum was awarded an IMLS Museums for America Grant in 2010 for just over $115,000 for the development of ArteJuntos/ArtTogether.

    “In every iteration of the ArteJuntos/ArtTogether we’ve tried to stay connected with our partners to be flexible and  to support their needs,” said Vidal. “We see it as part of our primary objective of the program– to support what our partners are trying to do and what they offer their constituencies.”

    How the program works

    Each ArteJuntos/ArtTogether program includes ten sessions that take place at partner site classrooms and at the museum. It begins with a parents-only session with a discussion about cultural institutions as informal learning resources. The goal of this first session is to support New Americans who don’t yet feel that museums are a space created for them. 

    A parents-only session is designed to support immigrants who may not yet feel that museums are a space created for them. This session includes a discussion of cultural institutions as informal learning resources, the role of parent support at home, and the use of dialogue to develop observation, critical thinking, and emergent literacy skills in preschool children. The Katonah Museum of Art educator models inquiry-based teaching, giving parents tools to engage children in discussions about works of art, books, and the world around them. The parents also participate in an art activity that will later be introduced to their children. In the activity pictured here, connections between line and emotion are explored.

    “An important component of the program is parent-only sessions.” said Vidal. “During these workshops we talk about the value of museum learning and ask the caregivers to share their own experiences in museums.”

    The program also includes a discussion about the role of parental support at home, the importance of play, and the use of dialogue to develop observation, critical thinking, and literacy skills. Museum educators model an inquiry-based teaching methodology, giving parents tools to engage children in discussions about works of art, books, and the world around them. “We’re modeling conversations with works of art and demonstrating not only how to engage a child with a work of art but with the art-making,” said Vidal. To support parents at home, the museum models collaborative, open-ended art activities and provides bilingual “Art at Home” activities and art supplies.

    Father and daughter display their series of portraits made with a variety of art materials in connection with the exhibition Matisse Drawings: Curated by Ellsworth Kelly From the Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation Collection.

    “It’s all part of sharing strategies for how we look at art, how we talk about art, and how you can engage your children in a discussion about art and art-making that is also supporting their school readiness,” said Vidal. “We support the idea that a parent is their child’s most important teacher, which is an objective of effective early childhood programs. ArteJuntos is aligned with our partners goals of supporting parents’ development of this role.” 

    Through this program, the museum wants to create multiple entry points by eliminating barriers such as language and transportation, and by giving parents the tools to support a positive museum experience. “I like to talk to them not just about the Katonah Museum of Art as an entity that we want them to visit but we really want them to feel comfortable visiting any museum,” said Vidal.

    Reaching Community

    Student artwork is displayed in an annual exhibition at the Ossining Public Library, where families, friends, and members of the community can view it. A combination of students’ individual artworks, families’ written descriptions of the artworks, collaborative class projects, and photos of the program are included in the exhibition.  

    In order to reach the Latino community, the museum started with an internal committee that was tasked with reaching out to different organizations. “We talked with teachers, and we talked to community organizers,” said Adasko. “Recently, Helena [Vidal] and I went on several listening sessions and identified many organizations that were responding to these immigrant communities. We had meetings with all of them.” Through these community-based organizations, Adasko and Vidal were able to speak directly with organizational leaders and asked what they needed most, what they wanted, and to better understand what were the opportunities for collaboration. “From these listening sessions, we were able to develop a few target partners that we’ve continued working with to today.” 

    Through the Pandemic

    The ArteJuntos/ArtTogether program continued through the pandemic virtually utilizing Zoom and drop-off art kits that partner organizations delivered directly to families. “Early on in the pandemic, spring 2020, we started making take-home packets that included art materials, books, and online and written materials for parents to continue the program on their own,” said Adasko. The museum distributed 350 packets in the first year and slightly more in the second. “It didn’t make up for not being able to work with families in person in the museum but we were happy to provide resources that supported parent and child engagement at home.”

    The take-home packets were given to families even if they were not directly involved in the program. “We were able to expand our reach significantly through the distribution of these resources to families that were not engaged specifically in the ArteJuntos program and hopefully provide some support during those difficult months.

    The museum also used funding from existing grants to purchase larger screens and update technology for classrooms so that the program could be presented virtually.

    At the conclusion of the 2020-2021 program, after an almost entirely virtual year, parents and children visit the Katonah Museum of Art together to view the art they had learned about virtually and practice their new art-looking skills. Photo courtesy of Margaret Fox Photography.


    Measuring Success

    Since the program began, nearly 1500 families have participated. The Katonah Museum of Art grew its partnerships with organizations including First Steps Early Literacy, Neighbors Link, Mount Kisco Child Care Center, Head Start of Mount Kisco, and the Community Center of Northern Westchester. The  museum further engaged with these community partners in correlation with the current exhibition, ARRIVALS, which explores American origin stories through five centuries of art. “Neighbors Link in Mount Kisco is an important anchor organization that we’ve worked with over the years with ArteJuntos ,” said Vidal. “As a result, we were able to engage the organization and participation of their constituencies in aspects of this exhibition.”

    The museum measures success in other ways too. “Sometimes we will be in the Learning Center and  will see a family that has previously participated in the  program and it’s rewarding to see that they have come back,” said Vidal. “A lot of the families that we work with have multiple children that go through the program When these families return, the parents often talk about things that their older children remember from the program and it’s exciting to hear the impact.”

    Photo courtesy of Margaret Fox Photography.

    What’s Next

    The Katonah Museum of Art just completed a two-year $50,000 IMLS Inspire! Grant for Small Museums that increased the total number of sessions and increased the number of partner organizations. In 2021, the museum was awarded $25,000 from the NEA, its second NEA grant for ArteJuntos/ArtTogether.

    “We’ve experienced how drastically things can change in the past two years,” said Vidal. “As a result, we have learned that  listening and being responsive to what the community needs is essential to the success and impact of this program”


    Learn more about the Katonah Museum of Art: http://www.katonahmuseum.org/

  • October 26, 2021 9:05 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)


    The Museum Association of New York (MANY) is honored to receive a $20,000 SHARP grant from Humanities New York (HNY) to support New York’s museums.

    HNY awarded a total of $1.2 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to 120 NYS cultural nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These SHARP (Sustaining the Humanities Through the American Rescue Plan) Operating Grants focus on organizations with a core humanities mission and ranged from $1,000 to $20,000. Grants will be used to cover day-to-day activities or ongoing expenses such as staff salaries, utilities, and rent, as well as for humanities programming and professional development. 

    "HNY is delighted to support MANY's work advancing the museum field. We are excited that the SHARP grant will help MANY provide tools and resources to cultural organizations seeking to promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility,” said Sara Ogger Humanities New York Executive Director.

    HNY reviewed nearly 200 applications from cultural organizations requesting over $3 million in funding. Just over 60% of applications were funded. HNY prioritized equitable grantmaking by considering geographic location, mission, and the importance of reaching underrepresented communities in its funding decisions.

    “Humanities New York has been an incredible partner to us and our museum colleagues helping us deliver in-person and virtual programming including our fall Partnership Forums,” said MANY Executive Director Erika Sanger. “We thank HNY for their continued support of the Museum Association of New York and their dedication to cultural nonprofits.”

    "MANY's virtual and in-person workshops, as well as their annual conference, are valuable opportunities to learn and connect with museums from around the state,” said Scarlett Rebman, Humanities New York Director of Grants. 


    Learn more about other NYS museums awarded HNY SHARP grants here: https://nysmuseums.org/MANYnews/11130581 

    Read the full press release from Humanities NY: https://humanitiesny.org/humanities-new-york-awards-1-2-million-in-arp-act-funding/ 


    # # #

    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 www.nysmuseums.org and follow MANY on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @nysmuseums 

    About Humanities New York

    Using dialogue, reflection, and critical thinking, Humanities New York applies the humanities to strengthen democratic society. Established in 1975 as the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Humanities New York is a private 501(c)(3) organization that may receive federal, state, and private funding.

    About SHARP: HNY SHARP (Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan) is made possible with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities via the federal American Rescue Plan Act. 

    Visit Humanities New York online:

    https://humanitiesny.org 

    https://twitter.com/humanitiesny

    https://www.youtube.com/humanitiesny 

  • October 19, 2021 9:13 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Museum Association of New York (MANY) is excited to announce a new regrant partnership with the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) to distribute 100 grants of $5,000 to assist New York museums with capacity building. 

    Grants will be awarded for museums to respond to pandemic-related challenges, help build financial stability, strengthen board and community engagement, update technology, support leadership, and change systems to address diversity, equity, access, inclusion, and justice. 

    "The economic struggles resulting from the pandemic have impacted arts institutions especially hard, threatening many of the organizations and partnerships that play such an important role in our state's vibrant, healthy communities," Governor Hochul said. "These grants will provide the critical funding arts partnerships can use to access public support and bolster creativity in local communities."

    “Museums and art institutions are some of our best tools for preserving New York’s rich history and folk traditions, and for highlighting communities whose narratives have been marginalized or erased,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Over the last year this industry has suffered tremendously in the wake of the pandemic, which is why I fight every year in the Senate for Institute of Museum and Library Services funding. NYSCA’s $575,000 investment in the Museum Association of New York will ensure our communities can continue learning from New York’s many wonderful museums and storied history of art, music, dance, language, and literature. I will always fight to support these essential community institutions and to make educational and cultural opportunities more accessible for all.”

    “We are excited to partner with NYSCA to distribute this state funding,” said MANY Executive Director Erika Sanger. “This is an incredible opportunity to help support New York’s museums and increase access to NYSCA funding.”

    “NYSCA supports local artists and non-profits by administering vital funding to regrant partners across all regions of our great state,” NYSCA Executive Director Mara Manus said. "Our Fiscal Year 2022 strategic goals prioritize expanding eligibility and increasing access for the full and richly diverse ecosystem of artists and arts organizations of New York. Museum Association of New York regrants are critical to NYSCA's mission to develop and support the diverse spectrum of artists living and creating in New York State."

    "We are grateful to Governor Hochul and the Legislature for their recognition of the critical role the arts play in the health and vitality of New Yorkers and our economy. This historic Fiscal Year 2022 investment in the arts is essential to New York's multi-year recovery, our collective spirit, and the revival of local economies," NYSCA Chairwoman Katherine Nicholls said. "Since NYSCA announced their opportunities for Fiscal Year 2022, they have deployed critical funding and hosted numerous virtual convenings on an expedited timeline to reach the outstanding arts organizations and artists of New York State. On behalf of the Council, I am proud of their dedication to reach new applicants - including new partnership grants - which in turn will inspire artists and the communities in which they create."

    “This is an amazing accomplishment for the Museum Association of New York,” said MANY Board President Suzanne LeBlanc. “What we are about to do for a hundred museums across the state with the support from NYSCA, is far-reaching and will make a huge impact on museums and museum professionals in New York State.”

    This grant program partnership with NYSCA was developed in direct response to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and Partners for Public Good (PPG) study “Market Analysis and Opportunity Assessment of Museum Capacity Building Programs” report published in March 2021.

    “Advancing and supporting America’s museums through our research efforts is core to IMLS’s mission,” said IMLS Deputy Director of Museum Services Laura Huerta Migus. “That this report inspired direct action and success on this scale is inspirational and an important model for the field.”

    Guidelines will be available on the MANY website in January 2022 and the application portal will open in February with applications accepted through April and announcements made and funds distributed in May. 

    For more information email info@nysmuseums.org or call 518-273-3400.


    # # #

    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 www.nysmuseums.org and follow MANY on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn @nysmuseums 

    About the New York State Council on the Arts 

    The Council on the Arts preserves and advances the arts and culture that make New York State an exceptional place to live, work and visit. The council upholds the right of all New Yorkers to experience the vital contributions the arts make to our communities, education, economic development, and quality of life. Through its core grantmaking activity, the Council on the Arts awarded more than $40 million in FY 2021. Through the statewide grants and regrants program, the council supports the visual, literary, media and performing arts and includes dedicated support for arts education and underserved communities.

    The Council on the Arts further advances New York's creative culture by convening leaders in the field and providing organizational and professional development opportunities and informational resources. Created by Governor Nelson Rockefeller in 1960 and continued with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, the council is an agency that is part of the Executive Branch. For more information on NYSCA, please visit www.arts.ny.gov, and follow NYSCA's Facebook page, Twitter @NYSCArts and Instagram @NYSCouncilontheArts

  • October 12, 2021 10:30 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Partners with Museum Hue to Produce “Museums Support Democracy” series

    The Museum Association of New York (MANY) is pleased to announce Museums Support Democracy, a series of six virtual programs created in partnership with Museum Hue and funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan (ARP). 

    Programs will explore Museums and Civil Rights, Visual and Performative Protest, Environmental Justice, Healing Historical Legacies, Ethical Collections, and Multiplying Interpretive Lenses. Each topic will be presented and discussed by museum professionals from a broad range of locations and disciplines featuring the work of culturally responsive museums. 

    “Museums serve vital roles as educational, cultural and historical resources for our communities,” Congressman Paul Tonko said. “This pandemic shuttered museums across the nation and—without strong federal support—threatens to close many facilities permanently, endangering tens of thousands of jobs and risking the loss of treasured heritage. Since the beginning of this crisis, I have pushed for critically-needed relief for these cultural sites. I am ecstatic to see funding delivered through our American Rescue Plan and congratulate the Museum Association of New York on this deserved award that will give voice to diverse perspectives and enable museums to continue to educate and inspire those in our Capital Region and beyond.”

    “With NEH ARP funding, the Museums Support Democracy virtual program series will allow us to partner with Museum Hue and combine expertise to inspire museum professionals across the nation as we approach the US Semiquincentennial,” said MANY Executive Director Erika Sanger. “We are honored to be able to share the exceptional work being done in museums  who work with communities, audiences, and stakeholders to promote democracy."

    “Many of our museums' approaches and pedagogy places people and community care at the center of their practice and makes meaningful connections between their constituencies' experiences and their offerings (exhibitions, programs, and social services). They provide the framework and thought-leadership needed today more than ever to push forward racial, cultural, and economic equity,” said Stephanie Johnson-Cunningham, Executive Director of Museum Hue.

    These programs will bring together like-minded people who are separated by geography, discipline, and the size of their institutions but joined together by similar issues and passions.

    This is the second MANY virtual program series produced in partnership with Museum Hue. In 2020, “Essential Work in the Cultural Field” a five-part virtual discussion series featured museums working with their communities to address urgent needs exacerbated by the national health and economic crisis. That series reached hundreds of museum professionals in 31 states. 

    Museums Support Democracy programs will be held January - March 2022, participation free, advance registration required. 



    For more information email info@nysmuseums.org or call 518-273-3400.

    # # #

    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 https://www.nysmuseums.org 

    About Museum Hue

    Museum Hue is a nationally recognized organization that works to paint a larger portrait of the arts and culture field by providing greater support and recognition for Black, Indigenous, and people of color throughout museums and other cultural entities across the United States. Founded in 2015, Museum Hue has partnered and collaborated with arts and culture entities throughout the nation. Visit https://www.museumhue.com/ 

    About the National Endowment for the Humanities

    Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov 


  • September 30, 2021 9:38 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)


    Outside The Rockwell Art Lab on Market Street in Downtown Corning, NY


    Dear Friends, Members, and Supporters,

    I write from Great Camp Sagamore on day two of the Museum Institute. It is sunny and  cold by the lake. By the end of the week, most of the green leaves on the trees will turn red and gold. The remarkable presenters are challenging us to believe in our power to create positive change in partnership with our fellow arts, history, and cultural organizations and with our community. 

    The extraordinary historic structures, the fabulous food, and the collaborative nature of the Museum Institute makes coming here to learn together a unique experience. Twice a day we hear the shuffle of feet on the road and a Sagamore staff person talking about the Vanderbilt family, the architect Durant, and how this National Historic Site was created and maintained. The tours reminded me that Great Camp Sagamore is more than a site for learning and gathering. It is a tourist destination that helps fuel the Adirondack economy. 

    Many of our state’s museums are tourist destinations that continue to operate in the face of enormous challenges as we approach the end of the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Museums that before the pandemic created programs and spaces for interdisciplinary conversations, partnered with schools and libraries to promote civic education, and encouraged multi-generational learning through family programs were equally devastated, but are perhaps recovering a bit faster because of their deep roots in their communities.

    Grants from federal and state agencies through the American Rescue Plan funds are helping museums on the road to recovery by funding programs and operations. I believe that the future financial sustainability of our organizations will go beyond tourism and destination marketing to capacity building programs that emphasize the ways in which museums engage with their community, steward their historic structures, and tell stories that reflect everyone who calls our state and our nation home. I also believe it is time to go beyond data, charts, and graphs and use images to show the ways that museums work with people who pass through our doors and interact with digital media.

    Steve Seidel, the Director of the Arts in Education Program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education once asked me to consider taking pictures as part of a program evaluation. He challenged me to photograph what learning looked like. With this letter I extend that challenge to you who work in and with museums. What does audience engagement look like in your museum? 

    Do you have images taken before March of 2020 of galleries filled with school students? University students? Do you have pictures that show docent training? Art making? Continuing education programs? A citizenship ceremony? A behind-the-scenes photograph that shows all the people it takes to produce an exhibition? An image of your cafe where visitors are finding respite? Volunteers helping at a festival? These are only suggestions - I know you know where to find the folder with your museum’s favorite images.

    We will begin collecting these images on October 1 to share with the field, with funders, with stakeholders, and with municipal, state, and federal legislative representatives. We will share the images on MANY’s social media feeds that now reach more than 20,000 museum professionals. We want to remind everyone of the important role that museums played in our community before March of 2020 and how we can work together in the future to educate, to enrich lives, and to serve as places of healing. 

    Send your pictures to Megan Eves at meves@nysmuseums.org. Include a caption of 100 words or less with the name of your museum and text that describes the activity in the picture. We look forward to sharing the joy and the hope that these images will bring for the future of our state’s museums.


    With thanks, e





  • September 30, 2021 9:30 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Rochester Institute of Technology’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science is developing an affordable imaging system to help museums and libraries preserve and expand access to their collections. Funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities, this project aims to create low-cost spectral imaging systems and software to recover obscured and illegible text on historical documents. This past summer, RIT’s Imaging Science Department partnered with RIT’s Museum Studies department to bring this system and software to three cultural organizations: the Rochester Public Library, Rochester Museum & Science Center, and Genesee Country Village & Museum. Students scanned 50 documents and artifacts and provided feedback to the Image Science Department. 


    Working with scientist Tania Kleynhans, Ph.D. (Imaging Science) system, Courtney Barber and Katie Keegan, class of 2021 museum studies graduates, are testing a multispectral imaging system created at RIT and intended to expand access to materials by revealing content that may not be immediately visible due to damage, deterioration, or erasure. This project has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Photo by Gabrielle Plucknette-DeVito, courtesy of RIT Museum Studies Program.

     

    Spectral Imaging 

    Spectral imaging collects images of objects across the  wavelengths of light and is an effective way to reveal fading text on historic documents undetectable to the human eye. “If you take a photo with your cell phone, the camera only captures three wavelengths of light–red, blue, and green. Any normal photograph has those three colors because that’s how our eyes work. It’s what we see,” said Tania Kleynhans, Associate Scientist at the RIT Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science. “But there are a lot of colors that also have what we would call information. So if it’s a red shirt, only the red light is reflected off of it. What we do with our system is capture the in-between red and green and in-between green and blue and then also further into the shoulder of wavelengths of colors from the ultraviolet to infrared,” explained Kleynhans. “It captures the colors that our eyes can’t see.” Kleynhans and her team developed the software for this system to be able to capture 16 different colors. “Normal software programs like Photoshop are not really geared towards working with pictures that aren’t in three colors.” 



    Using spectral imaging, the process of capturing images of objects in many colors or wavelengths of light, to reveal obscured or illegible text and drawings, museum studies students are imaging historical documents to reveal content that may not be immediately visible due to damage, deterioration, or erasure. The images are acquired by lighting the object with sixteen narrow-band LED sets that are used to illuminate the object, one set at a time. Photo by Gabrielle Plucknette-DeVito, courtesy of RIT Museum Studies Program.

     

    Testing the System 

    Once the system and software were developed, RIT worked with its Museum Studies undergraduate program and travelled with the system to the Rochester Public Library, Rochester Museum & Science Center, and Genesee Country Village & Museum.

    “I choose these three institutions specifically because I wanted to have three different types of institutions like an AAM accredited science museum, a library that may have massive documents, and then another collecting museum that has a lot of assorted materials,” said Dr. Juilee Decker, Professor and Director of the RIT Museum Studies program. “Part of what the students were doing was not just testing the software to help the system become more efficient and user friendly, but also tasked with instruction writing for building and breaking down the system.” 

    The imaging science team was able to build something that was relatively low cost. These systems normally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, this new system costs between $5,000 and $20,000.

    Large institutions, like the National Gallery in the UK have conservation labs with systems like this for use on-site. They are usually framed within the construct of conservation and conservation science. “For me I see this as preventative conservation because discoverability was our goal with the grant, but you can also use the system to see if there are initial stages of wear or deterioration,” said Dr. Decker.

    “A big part of what helped by having this system travel to different sites was to show the curators that it’s not something to be afraid of and that it is something easy to do,” said Kleynhans. “It is possible if you need to use it, use it.”

    Kleynhans noted that while the system has had some great success, it’s also not magic. “Sometimes the [faded or illegible text] is just not there but we can enhance certain areas of a document or can make changes to the color of the document that can make it easier to visualize which does help a lot.”

    “Our goal for this project primarily was discoverability and accessibility. I think that RIT was well-positioned with having both the image science program as well as the undergraduate museum studies program that is predicated around collections, hands-on-experiences, and the intersection of technology. I think this was the perfect match for us.”

     

    Partner Experience and Discoveries

    For Brandon Fess, Librarian at the Rochester Public Library participating in this project was a “no brainer.” “I’d known Juilee [Dr. Decker] for a number of years and she put me in touch with Tania Kleynhans and the rest of the team from the image science department,” said Fess. The library has a fairly modern collection but Fess identified a number of historical documents about which they had questions. 

    One of these historical documents is an 1816 pamphlet about a proposed canal project. “There’s seemingly a blank page and we’ve been trying to figure out if this page was intentionally left blank, missed by the printer, or since it’s iron gall ink, did that page fade?” said Fess. He hasn’t seen the final images yet, but imaging thus far did reveal text on the page but it is still to be determined if it was faded text or reverse text burn from the page underneath.

    Another document was a 1792 manuscript map that shows the modern town of Irondequoit in the northeastern part of the city of Rochester. “The map interested us because it was rediscovered in our collection three years ago. It’s a manuscript piece on valium and it's been hard for me to tell if the map had been an actual draft or if it was a manuscript copy,” said Fess. “Because of the work of the students and Tania [Kleynhans] it is now clear that it is a manuscript copy which helps us contextualize it because we know it is not the only map showing this exact area of that time period. It appears that several of these maps were drawn by the same draftsman for the partners involved with the division of land in that township.”

    The Rochester Public Library also has a large Sanborn map collection. “With Sanborn maps there’s always the issue of having paste-ins.  I have yet to see an unpasted Sanborn map. So I kind of tossed it out there to the team to see if we could read what was underneath the paste downs,” said Fess. “The team said sure we’ll give it a try–not thinking that it’ll work . But when I saw the preliminary results, the team and I were surprised because you could actually see through the paste downs and in fact you could see them quite well.” For Fess and the Rochester Public Library it was an unexpected but appreciated opportunity. “We definitely want to follow up on the 1816 canal pamphlet and would almost certainly want to do a digital reconstruction of the whole pamphlet to make it available.”

    Genesee Country Village & Museum provided a few objects, maps, and journals to the team. “There wasn’t anything that was quite shocking or revealing. I think one coolest things was we were able to see one of the diaries that had a lot of cross outs. It was difficult to read and the imaging allowed us to read what was underneath those cross outs,” said Amanda Wilck, Collections Manager at GCV&M. “We were able to find out that this woman who owned this diary had actually reconstructed her entire list about spinning and the different types of spinning so instead of having ten points there are nine because she crossed one out. It was really interesting to see that in real time and to just read out loud together with the researchers what was being said and learn new information.”

    The RIT team also experimented with scanning a 3D object at GCV&M, a medicine bottle from the mid-1800s. “It is a black medicine bottle that is maybe the size of a liquor bottle today,” said Dr. Decker. “It was really dirty and the label was barely visible but when we imaged it you could really see the imagery on the label pop out and reveal a lot of the details.” Wilck and her colleagues found a reference image online to confirm the label on the bottle. “It was also a case to say that we can actually image 3D items,” said Decker.

    “It was really amazing to see these students get out in the field and do the work,” said Wilck. “They put the whole machine together by themselves. It’s really encouraging to see RIT and its museum studies program move towards that technological route and give their students the agency to get a project like this done.”

     

    Students examine a medieval document from the Cary Graphic Arts Collection. Photo by Gabrielle Plucknette-DeVito, courtesy of RIT Museum Studies Program.


    What’s Next

    RIT hopes that in the next year and a half of the NEH grant to have as many different universities, museums, and libraries using the system and software. “We want to show people what’s available and how it works,” said Kleynhans. At the end of the grant, the documentation for the system and software will be open source and available online for other institutions to use. “A museum or library likely won’t build it themselves, but there are many universities that have engineering departments and their students are often looking for projects for their senior capstones and with information that we supply can be built in-house.”

    RIT wants more museums to come to their imaging science team with their historical documents and use the system and software. “We’re trying to find objects to see what the limitations are with the system,” said Kleynhans.

    “The capacity and the ability that we have as an education system to share this tool and to make it more accessible to institutions across the state is really important to me because part of what we do at RIT and our programs is to provide opportunities for our students who are emerging professionals to work in this space and learn how to use this technology,” said Dr. Decker. “So I feel like we have a real commitment to try to share the knowledge and the capacity that we have here. I don’t want anyone to feel that this is beyond their reach because part of what we’re trying to do is to make this accessible.”

     

    Learn more: https://www.rit.edu/science/spotlights/rit-students-discover-hidden-15th-century-text-medieval-manuscripts



  • September 30, 2021 9:20 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Humanities NY awarded a total of $1.2M in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to 120 NYS cultural nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These SHARP (Sustaining the Humanities Through the American Rescue Plan) Operating Grants focus on organizations with a core humanities mission and range from $1,000 to $20,000. Grants can be used to cover day-to-day activities or ongoing expenses such as staff salaries, utilities, and rent, as well as for humanities programming and professional development. HNY awarded $710,000 to 67 NYS museums located in every REDC region. Other organizations funded include the Greater Hudson Heritage Network who received a $10,000 grant, New York Folklore who received $20,000 and the Museum Association of New York who were also awarded $20,000. 

     

    List of NYS Museums Awarded HNY SHARP Funding

    Albany County Historical Society, Capital Region, $17,000.00

    Chapman Historical Museum, Capital Region, $15,000.00

    Children's Museum of Saratoga, Capital Region, $5,000.00

    Columbia County Historical Society, Capital Region, $10,000.00

    Historic Cherry Hill, Capital Region, $20,000.00

    Irish American Heritage Museum, Capital Region, $5,000.00

    Rensselaer County Historical Society, Capital Region, $15,000.00

    Thomas Cole National Historic Site, Capital Region, $15,000.00

    Underground Railroad Education Center, Capital Region, $10,000.00

    Cayuga Museum of History and Art, Central NY, $15,000.00

    Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, Central NY, $5,000.00

    Erie Canal Museum, Central NY, $10,000.00

    Matilda Joslyn Gage Foundation, Central NY, $8,500.00

    Oneida Community Mansion House, Central NY, $5,000.00

    Onondaga Historical Association, Central NY, $10,000.00

    Seward House Museum, Central NY, $20,000.00

    Friends of Ganondagan, Finger Lakes, $20,000.00

    Genesee Country Village and Museum, Finger Lakes, $20,000.00

    Geneva Historical Society, Finger Lakes, $10,000.00

    National Women's Hall of Fame, Finger Lakes, $15,000.00

    Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion, Finger Lakes, $5,000.00

    Preservation Long Island, Long Island, $20,000.00

    Three Village Historical Society, Long Island, $5,000.00

    Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, Long Island, $10,000.00

    The Whaling Museum and Education Center, Long Island, $20,000.00

    Committee to Save the Bird Homestead, Mid-Hudson, $5,000.00

    D&H Canal Historical Society, Mid-Hudson, $5,000.00

    FASNY Museum of Firefighting, Mid-Hudson, $10,000.00

    Gomez Mill House, Mid-Hudson, $5,000.00

    Historical Society of the New York Courts, Mid-Hudson, $15,000.00

    Hudson River Maritime Museum, Mid-Hudson, $15,000.00

    Huguenot Historical Society, Mid-Hudson, $15,000.00

    Mid-Hudson Heritage Center, Mid-Hudson, $5,000.00

    Mount Gulian Society, Mid-Hudson, $10,000.00

    Putnam History Museum, Mid-Hudson, $15,000.00

    Reher Center for Immigrant Culture and History, Mid-Hudson, $15,000.00

    Sing Sing Prison Museum, Mid-Hudson, $15,000.00

    Historical Society of Woodstock, Mid-Hudson, $3,000.00

    Iroquois Indian Museum, Mohawk Valley, $10,000.00

    Bartow-Pell Mansion Museum, NYC, $5,000.00

    Coney Island History Project, NYC, $5,000.00

    Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, NYC, $11,000.00

    Alice Austen House Museum, NYC, $10,000.00

    Historic House Trust of NYC, NYC, $5,000.00

    King Manor Museum, NYC, $5,000.00

    Morris-Jumel Mansion, NYC, $15,000.00

    Mount Vernon Hotel Museum and Garden, NYC, $15,000.00

    Museum at Eldridge Street, NYC, $20,000.00

    Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, NYC, $5,000.00

    Museum of Music & Entertainment in NYC, NYC, $2,000.00

    Old Merchant's House of NY, NYC, $5,000.00

    Queens Historical Society, NYC, $13,500.00

    Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden, NYC, $10,000.00

    Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford Stuyvesant History, NYC, $10,000.00

    Waterfront Museum, NYC, $5,000.00

    Fulton County Historical Society, North Country, $5,000.00

    Historic Saranac Lake, North Country, $20,000.00

    Fort Ticonderoga Association, North Country, $15,000.00

    Chemung County Historical Society, Southern Tier, $5,000.00

    Chenango County Historical Society, Southern Tier, $5,000.00

    Corning Painted Post Historical Society, Southern Tier, $10,000.00

    The History Center in Tompkins County, Southern Tier, $20,000.00

    The Buffalo History Museum, Western NY, $10,000.00

    Fenton Historical Society of Jamestown, Western NY, $5,000.00

    Niagara County Historical Society, Western NY, $5,000.00

    Old Fort Niagara Association, Western NY, $5,000.00

    Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, Western NY, $10,000.00


    HNY reviewed nearly 200 applications from cultural organizations requesting over $3 million in funding. Just over 60% of applications were funded. HNY prioritized equitable grantmaking by considering geographic location, mission, and the importance of reaching underrepresented communities in its funding decisions.

    “To ensure that recovery funding reaches diverse institutions, HNY provides its resources to smaller organizations,” stated Sara Ogger, HNY Executive Director. “These partners are creative, nimble, and responsive to the needs of their audiences because their leadership reflects the demographics they serve. SHARP funds will help sustain them as they chart a way forward.”

    “Historic Cherry Hill has launched so many game-changing projects over the past couple of years, from the interpretive planning to digital initiatives to a new teen guide program and collaborative educational initiatives,” said Deborah Emmons-Andarawis, Executive Director of History Cherry Hill. “Our HNY SHARP grant will provide general support as we continue this important mission work. We are so honored to have received the highest level of funding.”

    “This HNY SHARP award will support our organization’s ability to present humanities programs, which are in response to our community’s evolving needs and interests,” said Jamie Smith, Executive Director at FASNY Museum of Firefighting. “As the only Museum in Hudson and the only humanities entity open year round, this community and beyond rely on us to bring them programming such as this, and to be a safe space for the community discourse.”

    “This grant is a tremendous help as we build back our organizational capacity during this time of ongoing pandemic-related disruptions,” said Amy Catania, Director of Historic Saranac Lake. “The grant also supports stipends for Humanities Scholars to host public programs in the coming year associated with our next exhibit, ‘Pandemic Perspectives.’”

    “Thanks to the financial support we received, the future of our organization looks to be very promising,” said Jessica Moquin, Executive Director at Chenango County Historical Society & Museum. “As the premier cultural organization in Chenango County whose primary purpose is to offer inclusive and relevant humanities programs, receiving this grant has ensured sustainability for our museum, while allowing us to respond to the needs of our communities.”

    “The HNY SHARP grant will provide “bridge funding” to help us weather the uncertainty of this post-pandemic transition. It will help us maintain staff; this staff will enable us to build upon our hard-earned virtual program success and resume on-site humanities programs when COVID is behind us,” said Eva Brune, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the Museum at Eldridge Street.

    The objective of the 120 awards is to help organizations mitigate the negative impacts of the pandemic by providing budgetary relief while visitation and school trip numbers remain below normal. Operating Grants also aided partners seeking to implement “hybrid” programming that is simultaneously offered in-person and virtually.

     

    See the full list of grants awarded here: https://humanitiesny.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/HNY-SHARP-Operating-Grant-Awards-List.pdf

     

    Learn more about HNY: https://humanitiesny.org/

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

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

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