Webinar: Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota: Sharing Authority and Building Relationships with Your Communities

How can history museums become more equitable concerning the people and stories they interpret and collect? Join the creators of Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota (We Are Hmong Minnesota) for a conversation about the process they used to develop their nationally award winning exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.  The entire project from palette to text was decided outside institutional control by the Hmong community – an idea still radical for many large and small history museums. The creators will share their perspectives on community curated exhibits and how museums can overcome the lack of diversity and diverse viewpoints within historical interpretation.

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Details:

Format: Webinar

Date: February 14, 2017

Time: 3pm EST/2pm Central/1pm Mountain/12pm Pacific/10am Hawaii

Cost: Free to Everyone

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Full Description of the Webinar:

How can history museums become more equitable concerning the people and stories they interpret and collect? Join the creators of Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota (We Are Hmong Minnesota) for a conversation about the process they used to develop their nationally award winning exhibit at the Minnesota History Center.  The entire project from palette to text was decided outside institutional control by the Hmong community – an idea still radical for many large and small history museums. The creators will share their perspectives on community curated exhibits and how museums can overcome the lack of diversity and diverse viewpoints within historical interpretation.

In 2013, the Minnesota Historical Society was approached by a committee from their local Hmong community with a proposal for an exhibit about Hmong history and culture, anchored on the 40th anniversary of the first Hmong refugees’ arrival in Minnesota. Concerned about having their impact on the state lessened in the eyes of MNHS’ visitors, the committee asked the institution to fully collaborate on the project by sharing curatorial control with Hmong community representatives. Instead of dismissing the proposal, the MNHC welcomed the opportunity to mark this important anniversary and build on their institutional objective to improve internal and external diversity and inclusion. From March 2015 to January 2016, Peb Yog Hmoob Minnesota (We Are Hmong Minnesota) drew near record-breaking attendance, with over 4,000 visitors, including 62% who self-identified as from Asian Pacific heritage.

Peb Yog Hmoob—We are Hmong Minnesota won an AASLH Leadership in History award in 2016.

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About the Speakers: 

Dan Spock is the Director of the History Center Museum and Exhibitions & Diversity Initiatives at the Minnesota Historical Society.

wameng passing papers

 

Wameng Moua is the publisher of “Hmong Today,” a community newspaper entering its second decade of publication. He is also the voice behind HMONG-FM, a radio variety show focused on the Hmong community, spoken entirely in English and broadcast weekly on KFAI 90.3FM. He resides in St. Paul, MN with his wife and three sons.

 

 

sieng-lee

 

 

Sieng Lee is the exhibit designer for the Peb Yog Hmoob/We Are Hmong Minnesota exhibit. He is also a visual artist who creates work about his Hmong American experience.

 

 

Nicholas Hoffman4

 

Nicholas J. Hoffman is the Managing Director of Education and Visitor Experience at the Missouri History Museum in Saint Louis, Missouri. He has served on the Awards Committee since 2012 and will become the committee chair in 2017.

 

 


Believing in Community Outreach: A Lesson in Shared Authority

Second Saturday Program Audience at the York County History Center
Second Saturday Program Audience at the York County History Center

My organization recently drafted a new strategic plan that stressed the institution’s need for continued focus on building community audiences and developing sustainable outreach efforts. This need, of course, is not a new trend within the field of local history, and our strategic plan aimed to place the importance of our mission to connect with the community front and center. Holding a managerial role over many of our public programs and educational activities, I am tasked with developing events that reach new audiences and broadening our programs to appeal to under-served portions of our community. This is an ongoing process, but is also provides the opportunity to experiment with new program formats, marketing efforts, and target audiences. Often, our program staff“experiments” with new events, some with great success others not so much, but each provides a learning experience to grow from and further improves the organization’s exposure.

Our most recent community outreach success did not come from a new program, rather one of our longest running and perhaps most “traditional” museum offerings, a monthly adult lecture series called Second Saturdays. The series is near and dear to me; I had the opportunity to create the monthly lecture offering when I first started with the organization, new to the field nearly nine years ago. Since that time, the series has featured diverse topics related to local and national history and culture, including presentations and performances—from sword play to Irish dancing—as well as the expected book talks and signings held onsite at our Historical Society Museum. Over the years, a core audience gradually formed bringing a sustainable presence each month.

 

18th century distilling at a Second Saturday event at the York County History Center
18th Century distilling at a Second Saturday event at the York County History Center

Recently, an unlikely outreach opportunity developed when a devoted volunteer proposed a topic idea for the lecture series. This volunteer has served as a tour guide for countless tours for school groups and public visitors, served on a variety of internal committees, participated with specials projects and events, and essentially done whatever I have asked of him. His proposal came from a local church’s program committee on which he served. The plan was to hold an offsite event to highlight the history of one of the oldest—if not the oldest, depending on who you ask—churches and congregations in the community  with a historic talk and a building tour. My initial reservations concerned our ability to generate a sizable offsite crowd, the potential for concerns over holding a public event at a church, and limited oversight in the program’s implementation.

 

Christ Lutheran Church
Postcard of Christ Lutheran Church, York, Pennsylvania, circa 1945. Image courtesy of the York County History Center.

However, when I realized my trusted volunteer was going to be managing the event for the church alongside a pastor who had attended nearly every Second Saturday program since the series’ inception, I felt confident that the program was setup for success. The 18th century church is an iconic building, and their archives have always had a connection to our organization, and we have in our collection an original organ built for the church in 1804. I put my “faith,” combined with a marketing deadline, in what could now be considered an offsite outreach program.

On the dreary winter morning of the event, with the threat of snow and ice in the forecast, I was pleasantly surprised to find a bustling church lobby with a large crowd and limited seating in the room where the talk was to take place. As I scanned the crowd during my usual introduction for the program, I noticed a number of familiar faces as well new ones. I later learned that much of the crowd was not otherwise connected to the church, and simply interested in the event. The program itself ran smoothly and throughout the talk and then later during the building tour, the guides related personally to the audience by skillfully placing the context of the history of the church within the narrative of the community’s early settlement.

 

The David Tannenberg Organ now in the collection of the York County History Center was originally built in 1804 for Christ Lutheran Church.
The David Tannenberg Organ now in the collection of the York County History Center was originally built in 1804 for Christ Lutheran Church.

At the end of the event I knew we had achieved success: many new attendees to the program mentioned that the location offsite made them eager to attend, while longtime attendees expressed their appreciation for holding the talk at the church rather than disconnecting it “offsite” at the museum. One audience member even suggested that this model could be a separate program series that could visit and feature different churches each month.

This was a successful outreach event because we merged organic outside program development with an established program that had already garnered community support. The event increased our organizational reach, fostered collaboration, and served a new audience, which will hopefully translate into additional future engagement.

Want to write for the AASLH blog? Learn more and submit an article here.

 


#AASLHchat: Serving Communities During Difficult Times

On December 13 at 7:30pm Central/ 8:30 Eastern, AASLH will hold a #AASLHchat on Twitter. The topic will be “Serving Communities During Difficult Times."

To participate in the open chat, just watch the AASLH Twitter account (@AASLH) and/or the hashtag #AASLHchat at the chat time. Specific prompts will be given at that time. Anyone is welcome to participate in the conversation.

What's a Twitter chat?

A Twitter chat is a public conversation held at a specific time around a designated hashtag. This open-access platform allows interested people and organizations to discuss a set of prompts given by the chat host.


Webinar: Civil Rights and A Civil Society: Strategies for Community Outreach and Engagement

Details:

Date: November 14

Time: 3pm-4:15pm EST

Cost: Free for AASLH Members/ $40 Nonmembers

In today’s world, more and more institutions have to go beyond their traditional boundaries to better serve their communities. In the wake of increased media attention on interactions between law enforcement and African-American citizens, the Nashville Public Library partnered with the Metro Nashville Police Department to develop a diversity education curriculum rooted in the Nashville Civil Rights Movement. The program encourages new recruits, seasoned officers, and organization leaders to examine the ways that their city’s past influences the current social climate. By recognizing a significant need, NPL was able to use their position to provide a much needed service to the communities that call Nashville home. In this webinar, Andrea Blackman from the Nashville Public Library will discuss how their Civil Rights and A Civil Society program has been beneficial to public relations in the Nashville community and how others can create outreach opportunities out of what is happening in their backyards and in society broadly.

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