Thought I would post a quick update before heading off to a busy day of sessions and workshops. I arrived around 2pm. The campus center and hotel was easy to find but there was no elevator in the parking garage — huh? How does UMass get around ADA on that one?!
Fortunately, things went splendidly after that. Got checked into the hotel and conference very quickly (it helps to arrive early!) Then I attended the session, “Using the Past to Shape the Future: Interpretation at Historic Sites and Museums.” The major theme of this session was community engagement — i.e. how to be more in touch with the local community and expand civic role by encouraging people in the surrounding area through programming that uses the collections to illuminate contemporary issues. For example, Lisa Junkin from the Jane Addams Hull House Museum said that the site is both a traditional house museum and a place that looks at the “unfinished business” of the settlement movement, such as “what happened to the Progressive era origins and intentions of the juvenile justice system.” Junkin also cracked that it was easier than expected to start a Sex positive film series at the museum because her director acknowledged that Hull House was “one of the queerest sites in Chicago!” (e.g. the partnership between Jane Addams and her life-long companion Ellen Starr Jordan). Rosa Cabrera talked about the Field Museum’s work on collecting stories from immigrant communities in Chicago and how these personal accounts reflect these individual’s environmental values. For the stories, see their blog. Vivien Rose from the Women’s Rights National Historical Park also emphasized that women’s history sites, as they have become part of the “establishment” are in danger of becoming too static and need to be more creative about finding ways to connect to their communities (at least I think this was her point — I’m not an expect in museum studies!)
I had to meet some knitting friends for an outing to WEBS (for those who are not fiber freaks this is the famous yarn store in Northampton) so I left towards the end of Dawn Adiletta’s presentation on the Salons at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center— so by way of apology, I’ll give a big plug for these programs and make an effort to finally attend one myself!
After the trip to WEBS where I used the gift card I received for Christmas, we went to downtown Northampton for dinner where we discovered it’s restaurant week. We had a huge three course meal at Spoleto for only $21.95. Now I’ve got to decide which one to go to tonight.
Today I’m planning to go to the Digital History Lab at the library so I can find out what the folks here at UMass are doing, and then copy it for my courses this fall!