Museums in the Moment, PA Museums’ 2022 Annual Statewide Museum Conference
April 25-29, 2022

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.

Museums are at a critical moment in time as our communities search for new ways to serve audiences with mindfulness and intention. Museums are crucial to this moment as our nation heals and moves ahead. 

PA Museums is offering 4 tiers of registration. We are doing this to ensure access to conference content to the largest number of people as possible. 

Register here.

$10–Covers your registration for the conference

$25–Covers registration for the conference and supports PA Museums program development

$50–Covers registration for the conference and greatly supports PA Museums program development 

$100 – Covers registration, supports PA Museums program development, and provides sponsorships to student attendees.

Speakers, sponsors, and students may register at no charge. Please email Rusty Baker, Executive Director, to receive your registration code.

Sessions will be conducted via Zoom. Links to events will be shared with a confirmation email to the address associated with your registration.

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.

Monday, April 25th, 9:00 – 10:00 A.M.

Museums and the Pandemic: Statewide Impact and Opportunities for Growth

How have museums weathered the COVID-19 pandemic? What opportunities for sustainable recovery lay ahead? For the last two years, PA Humanities has gathered data from a diversity of sources, including its own grantees, to track the health of Pennsylvania’s cultural sector and explore opportunities for growth. This session shares insights from this on-going analysis, which has been presented to civic and political leaders across the state. It includes data on: budgets, earned income, volunteerism, in-person and virtual events, employment, donations, and much more.

Diving even deeper into where we are at this moment, PA Humanities will survey all conference registrants, followed by an interactive live audience survey, to put a finger on the pulse of the sector and responses to the pandemic. How do museum staff feel about the coming year? How will they re-engage in-person with the public and donors? What are the implications for fundraising?

The session will conclude with a tabulation and interpretation of the live survey results, followed by audience questions and discussion.

●Laurie Zierer (she/her), Executive Director at the Pennsylvania Humanities Council

●Nicholas Crosson (he/him), Data-based Development Manager at the Pennsylvania Humanities Council

Monday, April 25th, 11:00 A.M. – 12:00 P.M.

Museums in the Digital Age – Continuing Online Content and Digital Programming One Year Later

2020 was a life changing year.  Many museums were forced to join the digital age and think outside the box when it came to programming.

This case study will be about how one mid-sized museum approached digital content from scratch, started new online content while adapting their current programs into a digital format, and how they continued to do so after reopening, along with a focus on the lessons learned, and the struggles faced after a year plus of content creation.  This case study will also show why they stayed with digital programming after opening back up to the public and how they managed to keep atop both online and in person programs simultaneously.

Creating online content can enhance what museums are already doing while providing more accessibility for more people, but it does not need to be an all-consuming or expensive task.  One of the lessons learned by the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania after a year of creating digital content is that online content does not need to be something new, but an adaptation of an existing project, which can be done on tight budgets with basic tools.

Christopher O’Brien, Visitor Services – Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania

Monday, April 25th, 1:00 – 2:00 P.M.

Monthly Giving: Your Museum Sustainability Plan

Join fundraising master trainer, Chad Barger, CFRE, for a session on launching, marketing and growing a monthly giving program at your nonprofit organization.  Chad will highlight the data behind why monthly giving is the key to nonprofit sustainability and then provide specific, actionable steps that you can take to launch or expand a monthly giving program.  Templates and resources will be provided to help attendees implement the recommendations

Session attendees will:
1) Understand the importance of monthly giving;
2) Learn how to create a monthly giving program; and
3) Discover the best way to market monthly giving at their museum

Tuesday, April 26th

9:30 – 10:30 AM

PA Museums Annual Meeting

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 2020 and plans for the coming year.

Welcome and Call to Order – Ben Neely, President
Recognition of Quorum – Ben Neely, In Lieu of Secretary
President’s Report
Executive Director’s Report – Rusty Baker, Executive Director
Treasurer’s Report – Jason Illari, Treasurer
Nominating Report – Bonnie Shockey, Nominating Chair
Presentation of the slate of nominations to the Board
Adjournment – Ben Neely

Tuesday, April 26th , 11:00 A.M.- 12 P.M.

Building Bridges and Fostering Sense of Place: Community Outreach & Education in Cumberland County

Since 2017, the Cumberland County Historical Society (CCHS) has placed greater emphasis on community outreach, citizen engagement, and new partnerships in the community for CCHS, including:

• The Lincoln Cemetery Project which seeks to tell the story of a destroyed space and the community members buried there
• The Mt Holly History Collaborative, a coalition of administrators, teachers, and community activists working with a Title I school to create a sense of community and pride for students through their local history
• Cross-county collaborations seeking to bridge the histories of Cumberland County and surrounding areas and to support additional programming for the larger community

Cara Curtis (she/her), Archives & Library Director, Cumberland County Historical Society,
Cara Curtis has been the Archives & Library Director of the Cumberland County Historical Society since 2008. She is working to tell a fuller county history and making the collections more accessible to the public.

Matthew March (he/him), Education Curator, Cumberland County Historical Society,
Matthew March is a Pennsylvania native, growing up near Mount Holly Springs. After graduating from Boiling Springs High School, he attended the University of Pittsburgh. He received his BA in History with a minor in English Literature. While at Pitt, Matthew was a Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission intern in the State Museum of Pennsylvania’s education department. After graduation, Matthew became the Assistant Education Curator at the Cumberland County Historical Society. Since 2009, he has been the Education Curator, annually augmenting the education of over 10,000 county students and citizens with local history programs.

Rachel Knapp is the Museum Curator at CCHS. Graduating from Middle Tennessee State University with her master’s in Public History, Rachel has worked at the US Olympic Committee Archives and Pro Football Hall of Fame before joining the team at Cumberland County Historical Society in 2019. Her position emphasizes a focus on exhibit and collections management, but CCHS allows her the unique opportunity to connect with the local community by leading collaborative efforts in exhibitions, programs, and fundraising events.

Tuesday, April 26, 1 P.M.-2 P.M.

How do you solve a problem like Columbus?

As the director of the History Center’s Italian American Program, I’ve had numerous conversations about and around Christopher Columbus, especially after Pittsburgh’s monument in Schenley Park became the subject of protest and media scrutiny after the death of George Floyd in 2020. While the public has varying opinions, the Italian Americans that reached out to the History Center seem to agree on one thing – education is the answer to solving the problem of Columbus. On both ends of the spectrum (and I hope in between) people believe the events of October 12, 1492 is a moment in history we must teach; this catalyst began the Columbian Exchange and the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, two complicated, intersecting histories that shape modern American society. This session will present the programming efforts by the Italian American Program to educate around the current Columbus debates in a non-bias and equitable manner.

Attendees will learn about past programming, current research, and outreach efforts by the Italian American Program related to the Columbus debate, gaining insight into tactics and educational resources. Focusing on 2020 and 2021, this session will cover the most recent activities and publications that can support institutions also engaging the public in this discussion.

Melissa E. Marinaro, Director, Italian American Program, Senator John Heinz History Center

Wednesday, April 27th, 9:30-10:30 A.M.

Taking the mystery out of AASLH’s award program

Have you always wondered what the AASLH awards program is? Do you feel that your organization is too small to win a national award? AASLH knows that organizations across the country do amazing work in the field of state and local history and wants to recognize your efforts. Join this workshop to learn about the program and why you should apply, no matter what your budget size. Also get tips for how to put together an award-winning nomination.

Leslie A. Przybylek (She/Her)
Senior Curator, Heinz History Center
Pittsburgh, PA
Pennsylvania State Captain, AASLH Leadership in History Awards Team

Melinda Meyer (She/Her)
Region 3 Representative, AASHL Leadership in History Awards Team

Wednesday, April 27th, 11 A.M.-12 P.M.

Pollywogs & Pollinators -Creating an ADA Accessible Garden Landscape and Education Area

This session will present how, during the 2020 pandemic, JCHS envisioned, funded and developed an unutilized, uninviting retention pond at our Heritage Park into an attractive Pollinator Pond Habitat and developed an adjacent ADA accessible area providing for multiple inclusive educational opportunities.

1. This project was developed through research and planning, obtaining funding sources, and phases of construction including the ADA accessible area & plantings of native perennials.

2. The project was interpreted and presented through development of informational panels and educational materials on creating a pond-pollinator habitat and resultant species attracted.

3. The mission was accomplished via self-guided learning opportunities and educational programs for school groups and other organizations and providing an area of the park with educational opportunities for the disabled and individuals with ambulatory difficulties.

Kenneth Burkett, JCHC Executive Director, will first present a brief overview of the development of the park.

Kat Lyons, JCHC Operations Director, will cover development and funding of the ADA accessible area and developing our Plant-Pollinator educational materials and interpretive signs.

Dr. Chuck Williams, Owner, Williams Ecological, LLC, (prior JCHS Board Member and collaborator on Pollinator Pond Habitat) will talk about pond inhabitants and native plant pollinator ecology.

Wednesday, April 27, 1 P.M.-2 P.M.

Artifacts of Intention: Planning Impactful Training Programs

The new normal of 2021 requires museums to engage with a reenergized justice movement and with seismic shifts in the world of work. On the one hand, individuals are increasingly interested in careers that are both meaningful and sustainable. At the same time
cultural institutions have a growing obligation to ensure that their constituencies reflect the full diversity of their communities while also building their own economic resiliency. Workforce development programs can meet both of these obligations by creatively cultivating new talent. But can such programs also reflect institutional mission? And can they contribute to an organization’s bottom line?

This session will feature case studies from two Philadelphia-area museums to illustrate strategies for integrating workforce development into mission-serving work. Panelists from Eastern State Penitentiary will discuss the Preservation Trades Center, a hands-on training program that connects people of color and women to careers in the construction trades, and the LEAD Fellowship, a reentry initiative that recruits and trains formerly incarcerated people for a career in the arts and culture sector.

Sharon Thompsonowak will discuss the Fellows Program at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, a 13-month immersive career development program that focuses on preparing mid-career professionals for high-impact leadership roles. The Fellows Program reflects Longwood’s deep investment in the next generation of professionals, building a pipeline of talent that not only enhances Longwood’s business but also contributes to the vitality of the sector at large

Thursday, April 28th, 11:00 A.M.-12 P.M.

Click Click Done: Developing Your Google Analytics Skills

Users of all skill levels can join in as we focus on the nuts and bolts of metrics to understand Google Analytics (GA). All attendees will receive step-by-step guides on how to setup and use GA, optimize data quality, and create custom reports. Organizations: walk away understanding how to convert data into action. Individuals: discover how to leverage metrics to become even more attractive to presenters. A generous Q&A rounds-out the skills based session.

Ceci Dadisman, Communications Director, The Temple-Tifereth Israel (home of The Temple Museum of Jewish Art, Religion, and Culture)

Drew McManus (he/him), Principal, Venture Industries Online

Thursday, April 28, 1 P.M.-2 P.M.

Reimagining Relevance: How small museums can build engaging, thoughtful programming

This session describes the experiences of three small Philadelphia area cultural institutions and how they adapted to the adversity presented by the COVID19 pandemic to adapt and build stronger programming. The lessons learned by these three organizations present strong case studies through which similar institutions can learn to leverage their missions and partner with their peers to build mutually on-mission, topical and relevant programming.

At Carpenters’ Hall, COVID19, while challenging, presented an opportunity that its staff hadn’t had before. The pandemic forced Carpenters’ Hall to forgo in-person programming, as such its staff took the opportunity in the ensuing pivot to virtual programming to re-imagine the organization’s entire programmatic platform. While staying mission-focused, Carpenters’ Hall rebuilt its programming thrust and focus from the ground up. Recognizing its relatively limited resources and small staff, the staff at Carpenters’ Hall built a strong set of online programming by leveraging its relationships with peer organizations to build topical and mutually beneficial programming.
Christ Church Preservation Trust partnered with local artists to hold socially distanced, outdoor film screenings and paint and sip nights in the Christ Church Garden in 2021.  They similarly partnered with Art in the Age to host “historically-themed” small cocktail mixing classes in the Christ Church Burial Ground. A performance series, “On Buried Ground”, that featured two artistic meditations on grief, the history of our city and the pandemic which were presented outdoors in the Christ Church Burial Ground during the Fringe Festival in September 2021. While many other historic sites and stages in our city remained shuttered; Christ Church provided in-person educational programming safely when able as well as a full line-up of virtual programs celebrating 325 years of Christ Church history.

The Institute for Classical Architecture and Art opted virtual talks and recruiting nationally recognized and admired architects and artisans.  Normally, ICAA would never be able to afford to present programs like these in person.  Having virtual programs meant it was simple to approach a celebrated architect from Northern California to speak from the comfort of their living room.  And, as a result, ICA has been
able to attract much large audiences for the virtual talks than were possible for in-person talks.

We want to invite other institutions to think about how they can learn from our experience to augment their programmatic output.
Alex Palma – Assistant Director at Carpenters’ Hall
Barbara Hogue – Executive Director at ICAA / Christ Church Preservation Trust

Friday, April 29,  9:00 A.M.-10:00 A.M.

Advocacy Now

Advocacy Now will present the urgent need for participation in advocacy on behalf of museums and historical organizations.

Attendees will learn the difference between advocacy and lobbying, overcome fears about advocacy through learning and role playing, and learn about PA Museums’ advocacy efforts and how they can support them.

Rusty Baker, Executive Director, PA Museums and PA Museums Board Members

Friday, April 29, 11 A.M.-12:00 P.M.

Accessibility Excellence Office Hours

PA Museums’ Accessibility Excellence Project has developed a self study and resource guide for museums entering a process to increase diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility. This project was made possible with support from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) and Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Jenny Angell, PA Museums’ Accessibility Excellence Project Manager, will hold an informal discussion around experiences from the first phases of the project and where it stands at the moment.

Jenny Angell, PA Museums Accessibility Excellence Project Manager

Friday, April 29, 1 P.M.-2 P.M.

A “Priceless” Speaking Engagement

The Wall Street Journal called him “a living legend.”  The Times of London dubbed him “The most famous art detective in the world.”

Robert Wittman founded the FBI’s National Art Crime Team and served for 20 years as the FBI’s investigative expert in this field.  He is responsible for recovering more than $300 million in stolen art and cultural property around the world.  Since retiring from the FBI in 2008, he authored the New York Times Best Seller “Priceless-How I Went Undercover to Rescue The World’s Stolen Treasures.” He speaks about his FBI career leading audiences through notorious art heists and incredibly daring undercover recoveries.  Audiences will hear the true stories behind the headlines of the FBI’s Real Indiana Jones.  It’s a one of a kind “info-tainment” event that would be a perfect fund raising opportunity for your institution.  He also authored the world wide best seller, “The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich,” which is now published in 30 languages. Today, Robert Wittman is president of Robert Wittman Incorporated, the international art recovery, protection, and security firm.

Special guest speaker: Robert Wittman

Support our Conference as an Advertiser, Exhibitor, or Sponsor

PA Museums’ annual statewide museum conference will be held virtually, April 25-29, 2022.
Please consider joining us as an exhibitor or sponsor for this in-person conference as you plan your marketing efforts for 2022.
Pennsylvania’s museum community will connect and learn as we enjoy special events showcasing our member museums, educational sessions and excellent speakers, and making the most of opportunities to be with with our colleagues.
Registration will open in mid-March, and we expect around 150 attendees, many of them decision makers at their institutions. If you are interested in or planning to advertise in PA Museums’ conference program, join us as a virtual exhibitor, or be recognized for your support of events or programs, we would love to hear from you.
Our sponsors will enjoy premium exposure throughout our conference. We have developed what we think are attractive options for businesses and organizations that work with museums, and we hope you will consider partnering with us.
You can find our advertising, exhibiting, and sponsors’ information here at our website.

2021 Annual Statewide Museum Conference
Service in Uncertainty

April 19-23, 2021

Please click here to see our 2021 Program.

2020 Annual Statewide Museum Conference
The Strategic Museum: Mission in Community
August 24-28, 2020

Our virtual Conference was “Pay What You Wish.” Recordings of the proceeding have been distributed to attendees. We appreciate your support for our conference.

Please click here to see our 2020 Program.

See the Program From Our 2019 Conference

Trust, Transparency, and Transformation
PA Museums Annual Conference
April 7-9, 2019 in Chadds Ford, PA

Please click here to see our 2019 Program.