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Pennsylvania's Statewide Museum Association

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Stronger Museums for a Stronger Pennsylvania, PA Museums 2023 Conference

  • 23 Apr 2023
  • 2:30 PM (EDT)
  • 25 Apr 2023
  • 3:00 PM (EDT)
  • Hershey, PA


  • Includes Annual Meeting and sessions
  • Includes Annual Meeting and sessions
  • Includes tours
  • Registration includes tours, conference session, and awards event
  • Includes tours, sessions, and awards event
  • Includes sessions and awards event
  • Includes sessions and awards

Registration is closed

The PA Museums Annual Conference offers museum professionals an interactive forum for the exchange of ideas, professional networking and discussion of trends in the museum field. The event is an excellent opportunity for professionals to reconnect and recharge as well as learn from colleagues.

PA Museums will present “Strong Museums for a Strong Pennsylvania”, our 2023 annual statewide museum conference in Hershey. For all of the daily and strategic challenges museum face, our institutions remain strong and contribute to the strength of Pennsylvania’s economy, education, and strong sense of place.

PA Museums’ annual meeting will be held in Hershey, and our attendees will enjoy the sweet offerings of Chocolatetown. Our conference attendees will connect and learn as we join together for special events showcasing our member museums, educational sessions, tours, and speakers. We will also celebrate the winners of our annual Special Achievement Awards and have many opportunities to meet colleagues. We look forward to seeing you there!

Speakers' registration fees are waived for the day of their presentation. Sponsors and students may register at no charge. Please email Rusty Baker, Executive Director, to receive your registration code.

Thanks to our sponsors, a limited number of scholarships are available to cover registration costs for the PA Museums conference. Please email Rusty Baker, Executive Director, to learn more. Scholarships will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Thanks to our host sites The Hershey Story Museum and Hershey Gardens, conference attendees can enjoy free admission for self-guided tours during regular business hours, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily, April 23-25. 

PA Museums is committed to providing a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment that is free of bias and intimidation. In keeping with federal laws, state laws, and non-profit best practices, PA Museums expressly prohibits any form of discrimination or harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, genetic information, body size, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, parenthood, status as a Vietnam-era or disabled veteran, or any other protected classification. By registering for our program, you are acknowledging PA Museums' Code of Conduct.

Lodging for attendees is on your own. 

PRELIMINARY PROGRAM (subject to minor changes)

Sunday, April 23rd

Tour the PA State Police Museum, 3 PM
187 E. Hersheypark Drive, Hershey, PA  17033
Free onsite parking

Tour the Hershey History Center, 4 PM
40 Northeast Drive, Hershey PA  17033
Free onsite parking

Monday, April 24th

Monday morning sessions will take place at the Hershey Story Museum, 63 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA  17033. Free onsite parking.

Monday, April 24 at 9 AM

Canceling Columbus: Navigating History & Program Development  Amid "Cancel Culture"

Anna Rupprecht, Executive Director, Columbus Chapel & Boal Mansion Museum

As the world's largest repository of Columbus family artifacts, the Columbus Chapel and Boal Mansion Museum is no stranger to the pressures and valid questions raised by contemporary cancel culture. The Columbus Chapel & Boal Mansion museum houses many different collections or artifacts that may raise concerns over the political correctness or social sensitivities that they evoke.  However, we are ever-evolving in our search and quest to uphold our tour script, public presentation, and historical preservation efforts to a high standard of ethics and historical truth. 

Other museums and historical sites in 2023 may face the same challenges: Do we choose to display or showcase sensitive, offensive material that is overtly contrary to some modern-day social mores? 

If so, what interpretation is needed to place a disclaimer on these types of programs or displays? Should the visitor or guest be left to interpret these items, presentations, and programs with little context or influence by the museum interpreters? What obligation does a historical site or museum have to respond to public opinion or the standards of cancel culture? What are the major lightening rods of controversy in historical interpretation now, and what solutions can we provide to navigate those circumstances?

Attendees will be able to investigate and learn how the Columbus Chapel & Boal Mansion Museum is able to present and educate on history of Memorial Day, Civil War history, Columbus expeditions, Native encounter, and other issues relating to race, class, and gender with respect to divergent points of view and a focus on historical truth and comprehensive representation. 

Monday, April 24 at 9 AM

Chad Barger, Productive Fundraising 

Join fundraising master trainer, Chad Barger, CFRE, CNP, for a workshop focused on online donor engagement.  We will focus on the digital evolution of fundraising and review best practices to optimize your organization’s online giving and donor engagement processes. Emphasis will also be put on optimizing email newsletters and monthly giving enrollment. 

Monday, April 24 at 10:15 AM

Maximizing Research – A Case Study of Staff Collaboration at CCHC and CCA

Judy Ng, Librarian, Chester County History Center

Researchers interested in family genealogy, property history, or historical events, people, and places may often wonder where do they start?  Do they search government records or should they visit a local history center? And what’s the difference between the two? Would it even be worth their time to explore both?  In this presentation, we advocate for the third option. Each repository holds part of the answer to any research question.  In our experience, the combined publications, manuscript collections, photographic materials, and government record groups of the Chester County History Center Library and Photo Archives (CCHC) and the Chester County Archives (CCA) open up new avenues of research for those who may find themselves stuck after visiting one institution.  

This presentation provides an overview of the institutional histories of both archival units and provides a case study in how a cross-institutional partnership enables researchers to maximize their access to 300 years of historical records in special collections. Participants will learn: How is this relationship sustained at the management level?; If such a relationship doesn’t exist, key aspects of institutional collaboration will be discussed to consider.

Monday, April 24 at 10:15 AM Digital Collections and Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI): How can we make Pennsylvania’s digital collections more diverse?

Nicole Joniec, Digitization Specialist, Hosting Solutions & Library Consulting

Join us in our efforts to diversify Pennsylvania’s digital collections! If you have content related to Pennsylvania’s diverse history and culture, let’s discuss ways of sharing such content beyond your institution’s doors.  If you have existing content, we will share methods that can be used to diversify digital collections through selection, metadata and access. The tactics discussed can be applied broadly to any digital collection. 

This presentation will first give definitions for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in the context of digital collections and will review why EDI is important to consider when sharing digital collections. How to evaluate existing collections by reviewing your institution’s collections policy and by performing a collection audit will be discussed as well as ways of using search terms and metadata for the discovery of EDI content. For those who are seeking out new diverse content, we will discuss strategies for seeking out such content through advocacy and outreach via community partnerships.  Information will be provided on how to contribute to PaPD for those who do not have access to a Digital Asset Management System as well as an EDI handout containing links to resources related to EDI and digital collections. 

Lunch on your own

Monday afternoon sessions will take place at the Hershey Gardens, 170 Hotel Road, Hershey, PA 17033, free onsite parking.

Monday, April 24 at 1 PM

Outsouring vs. In House: Where to start?

Sadie Maney, CEO + Founder, MADE BUSINESS
Averie Shaughnessy-Comfort, Non-Profit Specialist, MADE BUSINESS 

When you're in a small organization, you may often think, "when do I get to to point where I need to outsource some help?" Then you may think, "how do I go about that?" Often times, small organizations wonder how to outsource, when to outsource, and when to do things in-house. MADE is a business specializing in fundraising development and business development. We are a women-owned/run business specializing in helping organizations get their projects off the ground running. 

In this session, we will present a few case studies where we have helped clients decide on how to manage their project including consultation on when to out source and when to complete projects in house. We will also discuss realistic time and capacity management as well as free resources to assist with your project. From fundraising to new builds, to small renovations, and more.

Monday, April 24 at 1 PM Students in the Galleries: Engaging Interns and Campus Collaborations

Barbara McNulty, Ph.D., Director, Suzanne H. Arnold Art Gallery, Lebanon Valley College

Two directors from academic art galleries and their student interns will present how academic galleries can provide crucial opportunities to equip students for experience in the museum world. Pennsylvania is among the top four states in terms of the total number of private and public colleges and universities in the Commonwealth. Our students are our future. Student learning and engagement within campus museums and their collections is an important part of building a strong future for all Pennsylvania museums. Collaboration will be emphasized both within the institution, particularly with students, and with various groups in the local community. 

In this panel, attendees interested in learning tools for collaboration and ways of developing innovative programming will be provided with a forum in which to discuss these possibilities. Case studies will look at types of student involvement in museum exhibitions, including internships, student curators, class visits, gallery attendants, tour guides, and student clubs/activities. 

Monday, April 24 at 2:40 PM

Collections Swap Meet

Patti Wood Finkle, Collections Manager, Earth and Minerals Sciences Museum & Art Gallery, Penn State University

In this session, curators, collections managers, directors, or anyone who works with collections will come together for an open forum chat to swap ideas. Bring your tips and tricks for creating custom made object cradles, and bespoke boxes, to share creative storage solutions, chat about databases, IPMs, and how to mitigate the agents of deterioration, all on a shoestring budget. We'll chat about low cost alternatives to supplies, and look for ideas that we can all incorporate into our collections storage and preservation efforts to save money. 

This session will strive to create a community conversation where we can share information, answer questions, make new contacts, and show our support for one another's collections related issues and successes. Bring your questions. This will be an active discourse about collections care, and will depend upon attendee participation. That being said, this session will be instructive and educational for those who choose not to participate as well. 

PA Museums Special Achievement Awards at the Hershey Gardens, 4 PM

Dine Arounds

Tuesday, April 25

Tuesday morning sessions will take place at the Hershey Story Museum, 63 West Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA  17033. Free onsite parking.

PA Museums Annual Meeting , 9 AM

All of our registered conference attendees are welcome to join us for our Annual Meeting. There will be a brief annual business meeting of PA Museums with reports from the organization’s officers and Executive Director. Hear about PA Museums’ accomplishments in 2022 and plans for the coming year. Join in a discussion about what PA Museums can do to better serve our members.

Welcome and Call to Order – Ben Neely, President
Recognition of Quorum – Ellen Endslow, Secretary
President’s Report
Executive Director’s Report – Rusty Baker, Executive Director
Nominating Report – Bonnie Shockey, Nominating Chair
Membership Discussion
Adjournment – Ben Neely

Tuesday, April 25 at 11:15 AM 

Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Funding for Museums

Karen Arnold, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission

Patrick Clarke, Director, President James Buchanan’s Wheatland 

Robin Sarratt, Vice President, LancasterHistory 

Lynn Wenger, President, Historic Schaefferstown, Inc. 

This session’s focus is how museums and historic sites can benefit from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s Keystone Historic Preservation Grant Program.  Keystone Grants are a dedicated program for capital projects at historic buildings.  The purpose of the grant is to support projects that rehabilitate, restore, or preserve historic resources listed in or eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.  

An overview of the eligibility requirements of the grant program including an explanation of the organizations that are eligible and typical projects funded for the museum community will be presented. These grants include both planning and implementation activities that can address building envelope, mechanical systems, accessibility improvements and high-end preservation projects.

The session will feature professionals from two Central Pennsylvania historic sites that are recognized as National Historic Landmarks and recent Keystone Grant recipients.  These projects will serve as case studies on how the Keystone grant program can support key capital projects at public museums located in a historic building.  How other organizations can mirror the careful planning and execution of these capital projects at their own historic sites utilizing grant support through the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission will be discussed. 

Tuesday, April 25 at 11:15 AM

Engaging With National History Day to Enhance Visitation

Jeff Hawks, Director of Education and Veteran Outreach, Army Heritage Center Foundation

National History Day in Pennsylvania is the state component of a nationwide, year-long, classroom-based program that engages more than 12,000 students in over 300 schools in hands-on project-based learning.  Students, working individually or in groups, select a topic based on an annual theme, conduct research, and develop projects in one of five categories (exhibits, documentaries, papers, performances, and websites) to showcase their findings.  

This session will introduce museum professionals to the basics of the NHD in PA program, including:  the annual theme, the program format, project categories, and the judging process.  Participants will view examples of student work, some of which includes college level research and museum quality projects.  Ways for museums to engage with the program, connect with students and teachers, communicate with an extended audience through the NHD in PA network, and incorporate the NHD in PA program into their plans to enhance visitation and usage of their materials and collection will be discussed.

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