Thursday, February 21, 2013

Taking Care of the Caretaker


     Though I am the “guardian” of the artifacts at my museum, there are times I have to take care of myself as well, in order to stay in top guardian form!  Earlier this week, I was able to do that by attending the Small Museum Association conference in Ocean City, Maryland. 

 
My colleague from the Pry House, Tom Frezza, attended the conference as well. This was our view crossing the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. We saw bald eagles on the way too, but I wasn’t quick enough to get photos of them!

 

After a three hour drive, Tom was happy to be at the conference! 
 

     We were able to attend several workshops and roundtables on museum-related topics, to talk with vendors (and get some freebies!), and to network with other museum professionals.  There were more workshops scheduled than we could each attend, so we employed the divide and conquer method and went to different sessions.  I chose the ones which related to museum collections.  I was able to learn more about different ways to inventory a museum collection, options for displaying museum collection information online, assessing the museum building and collection area for a variety of risks, and ways for museums to become more green.  Some of the information was new to me, and some was more of a reminder of things which sometimes are forgotten in the day to day bustle.

 
The theme of the conference was “Superheroes: the extraordinary power of small museums.” You can see here that some of the workshop leaders had fun incorporating the theme into their titles! This one was actually on inventorying museum collections.

 
     The roundtable on “Building Your Museum Career” was very interesting as well.  We were divided into three groups according to our years of experience (I was in the middle group), and told to come up with advice and questions for the other two groups.  I was not surprised to learn that the younger group appreciated being listened to and mentored, but it was a good reminder for me.  I was eager to hear the main piece of advice from the more experienced group.  I was expecting something museum-based and was a little surprised when it was “Plan for your retirement!”  Though it sounds like good advice for everyone, I have to say that it was another good reminder for me.      

     We had time for a little fun too!  For the banquet on the last night, we were encouraged to come dressed in a costume which related to the theme of the conference.  There were some really creative costumes there!  One person wore a very large visor and was a “Super-visor”, another came as a magician because people at work expected her to produce items as if by magic, someone else came as “Red Tape”, and I think my favorite was the lady who dressed as a Tootsie Pop, because “You have to be a sucker to work at a museum!”  Tom & I had fun coming up with our costumes too.  He came as “Captain American History”, and I decided that I might as well dress the part of the “Guardian of the Artifacts!”

 
I tried to include many of the items I use to care for the artifacts in my costume. I made my skirt out of ethafoam (artifact padding), I wore artifact tag earrings, white gloves, and a feather duster headpiece. I carried an “acid-free shield” and of course, a light bulb changer!

 
     It was definitely worth the trip.  I learned some new things, I was able to see some museum issues in a new light, I made some new friends/contacts, and I had some good museum-related discussions.  I hope to be able to attend the next conference – perhaps even as a presenter?

 
 I have to admit that it’s easier to recharge when you have a view like this from your room!

 

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