USF's Museum Blog

Activating in Atlanta

The Boston Tea Party, an early example of American activism.

Interior shot, Civil and Human Rights Museum, Atlanta.

The College Football Hall of Fame. The CNN tower. The Civil & Human Rights Museum. The Georgia World Congress Center, venue for the 2015 American Alliance of Museums annual conference, is surrounded by these three institutions, all symbolic of various facets of America.

From April 26 – 29, University of San Francisco museum studies students, alumni and faculty joined with 5,000 other museum professionals in Atlanta at the Congress Center to explore this year’s conference theme: the Social Value of Museums: Inspiring Change. USF’s contingent contributed to this theme in many ways.

Victor, Merrill, Leah, Marjorie, Shabnam and Stephanie took time to connect for lunch during the conference. (missing from photo:  Mandy Smith).

Victor, Merrill, Leah, Marjorie, Shabnam and Stephanie took time to connect for lunch during the conference.

Victor Crosetti, recipient of a Getty MUI Fellowship, was invited to participate in a three-part leadership workshop, sponsored by the Getty Foundation, entitled Perspectives on Museum Leadership at all Levels.  Other workshop attendees included International fellows as well as other scholarship recipients from AAM. Through this series, Victor engaged with colleagues from across the globe and learned valuable strategies on how to efficiently navigate the museum field as an emerging professional. He left Atlanta truly inspired after learning more about the exciting ways museum professionals are driving social change through their institutions.

Victor Crosetti works with other Getty fellows in an AAM leadership workshop in Atlanta

Victor Crosetti works with other Getty fellows in an AAM leadership workshop in Atlanta

Wall of Wisdom, where conference attendees shared bits of advice and wisdom.

Wall of Wisdom, where conference attendees shared bits of advice and wisdom.

Victor was joined in many sessions by University of San Francisco alumni Merrill Amos and Leah Belcher.  Leah has recently accepted a full time position in the education division of the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum in Boston’s Fort Point area. “I do a bit of everything,” said Leah, “And it is very interesting to be working in a for-profit museum environment that also focuses on education and emphasizes historical authenticity about a key moment of American activism.” A native of the southern U.S., Leah who also delighted to report that she survived her first Boston winter.

The Boston Tea Party, an early example of American activism.  Leah Belcher interprets this historic moment to the public.

The Boston Tea Party, an early example of American activism. Leah Belcher interprets this historic moment to the public.

Leah, Merrill, Marjorie and editor Juilee Decker.  Decker's forthcoming volume on Innovations in Museum Practice will feature a project from USF.

Leah, Merrill, Marjorie and editor Juilee Decker. Decker’s forthcoming volume on Innovations in Museum Practice will feature USF’s Dobles Vidas exhibition, a project that Leah and Merrill co-curated while they were USF graduate museum studies students.

Merrill is also thriving post-graduation in her new role as curator and educator (and a bit of everything else) at the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. After leaving the conference, Merrill and Leah were on their way to meet one of America’s living treasures, Lilly Ledbetter who successfully fought for wage equity in the US.  Merrill will be conducting oral histories with Ms. Ledbetter, as well as former first lady Roslyn Carter, for the Hall of Fame’s growing collection of first-person stories from inspiring women.

Lily Ledbetter and Merrill Amos.

Lily Ledbetter and Merrill Amos.

USF Museum Studies faculty members Stephanie Brown, Mandy Smith and Marjorie Schwarzer were also active at the Atlanta conference.

Merrill, Stephanie and Leah at the High Museum in Atlanta.

Merrill, Stephanie and Leah at the High Museum in Atlanta.

Stephanie Brown serves as secretary for the AAM’s Committee on Museum Professional Training (COMPT).  AAM professional networks (COMPT, EdCom,  & Media & Technology to name a few) serve to connect people across the field around common interests. COMPT links those of us who teach and research in Museum Studies. Each year, it sponsors sessions at AAM that explore issues around graduate (and sometimes undergraduate) education and professional development. COMPT also hosts two events at the annual conference:  a Marketplace of Ideas at which representatives of Museum Studies programs are available to speak with potential applicants, and the Emerging Innovators Forum, in which current students and recent graduates present their work.  If you’re interested in getting involved or learning more, contact Stephanie!

Mandy Smith with the Reverend Jesse Jackson in Atlanta in April 2015.

Mandy Smith with the Reverend Jesse Jackson in Atlanta in April 2015.

Mandy Smith presented in the session “Creating Tours with Google Glass,” (for more information click here).  Marjorie Schwarzer was a speaker in the closing session titled “Museums and Social Issues: A reflective conversation.” In that session, participants shared their thoughts — at times emotional — about what they can do to inspire social justice in their museums. Marjorie shared USF museum studies students’ and faculty’s recent work to call attention to destruction of cultural heritage around the globe, while author Lois Silverman offered wise counsel on how museums can be sites of meaning-making and connection.

Marjorie (right) with Lois Silverman, author of Museums & Social Work, at their closing panel.

Marjorie (right) with Lois Silverman, author of Museums & Social Work, discuss activism and museum work in the closing panel of the conference.

In spite of the significant challenges museum professionals face at both the micro and macro levels, we all left Atlanta optimistic about the future, especially in regard to museums being part of the global conversation about the need to continue to advance human civil rights.BejTGJqrQlls5kX7NA9vZByM9JenUFSytqR-2Rxn38Y,F9qg8lKL7s9uwccvMz8A5TusDe6V6c8yudyVwFXhXF8,BJuJJnewikPgaBiKbQaJZDHxjUDZsQjfehMcm1lQgVs-1For more information on USF’s Museum Studies program, click here.
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