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Museum News

How are museums growing institutional resources? How are museums working with their communities? How are museums using their exhibitions and collections in new ways? Explore original articles by MANY staff about NYS museums. 

What's happening at your museum? Submit your museum news and we might feature you in our next This Month in NYS Museums newsletter!

Email meves@nysmuseums.org 

  • October 26, 2023 8:58 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    In 2021, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) was awarded a $178,668 Museums for America grant from Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in the Lifelong Learning category to expand its Interpretive Master Plan with the goal to become a more inclusive, living museum. The expansion project titled, Inclusive Master Plan, helped the Garden include a broader cross-section of perspectives and achieve its goals to become a more welcoming, urban museum. The project formalizes inclusive practices such as providing staff professional development, amplifying community voices, and expanding storytelling about the Garden’s history and collections through its staff and volunteers while strengthening the Garden’s ability to serve the public. 

    The first interpretive plan created in 2006 (also funded by the IMLS) focused on interactive interpretation and was heavily visitor-driven. “It was the first interpretive plan that the Garden had and it coincided with the Garden’s strategic planning process,” said Kate Fermoile, BBG’s Director of Interpretation and Exhibitions. “It was from this strategic planning process that the Garden established an interpretation department and hired its first Director of Interpretation, Sonal Bhatt.” Bhatt, now Vice President of Education and Interpretation, leads this new project with Fermoile. “[Bhatt] oversaw the first interpretive plan and its subsequent update in 2008. We updated the plan internally when I joined BBG to reflect more of the educational practices we were interested in, including more informal learning, more educational pop-ups, and conversations with visitors.” The first interpretive plan coincided with the Garden’s “Campaign for the Next Century” which added four new acres of garden space, new amenities, and permanent exhibitions. This Campaign invested more than $3 million in new interpretive signage and rotating exhibitions that focused on the intersection of art, science, and plants. The plan also created dialogue-based interpretation to support the Garden’s new “living classrooms.” 

    “I felt like we achieved almost all of the goals in the original interpretive plan,” said Fermoile. “And now, with this next interpretation or expansion, the Garden is looking from the perspective of where the world is in the 2020’s and BBG wants to be a community garden, not just a place for the community - but of the community. We need an interpretive plan to reflect that and to tell the stories that we know haven't been told.” 

    A visitor demographic survey conducted by BBG in 2015 found that 34% of its visitors are People of Color compared to an American Community Survey’s 2019 census data, cited by BBG in its IMLS grant application, 77% of Brooklyn Community District 9, 65% of Brooklyn, and 57% of New York City are People of Color. BBG wants this new interpretive plan to expand its representation of diverse experiences, to increase the opportunity for visitors to find relevance and connection to the Garden and its mission, and “to connect people to the world of plants, promote environmental stewardship, and engagement in science.” BBG also cited a 2017 Culture Track report by La Placa Cohen which suggests that one of the main reasons people choose not to visit a cultural institution is that they feel it is “not for them.” The same sentiment has been echoed in BBG surveys. 

    Fermoile hopes that this work will strengthen BBG’s ability to serve the public by using a co-creation model starting with BBG staff and volunteers. “We submitted this IMLS grant two years ago, in the midst of the pandemic, so what we were thinking about doing at the time ended up not being feasible in 2021 when we embarked on the project.” BBG originally planned on bringing in groups of community members and organizations for roundtable discussions and conversations. “But it was really hard to do in 2021 when so many people were still working remotely.” Instead, after a few internal conversations, BBG decided that it could start with the staff. “The Garden staff are also the community. They live and work in Brooklyn. We have 150 full-time and part-time staff and volunteers. We decided to turn our attention inward to start with the BBG community, thinking about a co-creation model where we would work with not just the heads of the Interpretation Department, or just a few people deciding on what stories we were telling, but to develop a model where we’re all co-creating together, telling stories that are important to all of us.” This co-creation model utilizes community feedback and shared perspectives from across the BBG staff and volunteers to create new public offerings from new viewpoints while still remaining focused on the Garden’s mission and shared goals. 

    The Garden hired Makalé Cullen, an ethnobotanist consultant with a background in folklore to work with people to gather and tell stories together. “Makalé put together a number of listening sessions with the staff and volunteers who are involved with our children’s programs, “Community Greening” (urban greening through education, conservation, and creative partnerships), and with teenagers who visit the Garden on a regular basis. In these sessions, she talked with the teenagers about the stories that interested them and asked if they would like to tell these stories themselves or if they would like to tell other stories that aren’t being told at BBG.” 

    The Inclusive Master Plan includes creating and developing an “Inclusive Community Engagement Guide” for staff and community constituents that will include a listening tool kit that includes recommended facilitation techniques, survey methods, conversation prompts, and additional criteria to ensure that inclusion and equity are prioritized in the process of co-creating multi-dimensional stories that will impact BBG’s approach to program development and exhibitions in the future. “We’re currently in the process of editing down a draft of this co-creation guide into something that the entire staff at BBG could use as part of the work they’re doing,” said Fermoile. 

    BBG is already piloting a number of stories that came from the staff listening sessions. “Something that we heard repeatedly in these sessions was that people wanted to see their culture reflected in the stories that we’re telling in the Garden. Brooklyn is a super diverse place and the Garden is 52 acres in the middle of this borough and borders Caribbean neighborhoods. BBG has Caribbean trees and plants and people would like to see themselves and their plants and stories told, not from a colonial perspective, but from their own perspective.” 


    Shelley Worrell of I Am CaribBEING and Meera Jagroop and Chelsea Forgenie of Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo by Michael Stewart. Brooklyn Botanic Garden

    Fermoile brought in Chelsea Forgenie, BBG’s School Workshops Coordinator and Meera Jagroop, Director of Youth Programs (who are Caribbean Americans) to co-curate “Trees of Little Caribbean,” an exhibition that celebrates trees and treelike plants cherished by the Caribbean people that spark stories of rebellion, resilience, spirituality, and joy. The exhibition, located in the Steinhardt Conservatory, teaches people about native Caribbean trees like papaya, guava, soursop, and allspice as well as non-native plants, like the banana, that were brought from across the globe under colonization. “BBG partnered with Shelley Worrell, Co-founder of I AM CaribBEING, a cultural venue in Brooklyn that illuminates the Caribbean experience and communities throughout New York City that use our permanent collection to tell these stories,” said Fermoile. “It’s been a huge success for the creation of these partnerships, both with BBG staff and different cultural organizations in our community, and we’ve also seen a shift in visitorship since this exhibition opened in February. It’s hard to tell with quantiative statistics, but anecdotally through programming, we know this has increased the visitorship of people from the neighborhood. We’ve heard from our education staff that students are delighted to hear about plants and stories from their culture. It was a huge success to work with internal curators who do not typically do that kind in their day-to-day work. The exhibition is a whole different perspective and different voice.”


    Signage for the Trees of Little Caribbean exhibit. Photo by Michael Stewart.

    In addition to creating a broader cross-section of perspectives through exhibitions and programming, BBG received additional funding from a private donor to hire a researcher to investigate the history of the land and organization. “I came to this position after being the Vice President for Exhibits and Education at the Brooklyn Historical Society and Tenement Museum as the Education Director, so I’m a history person and now I’m a history person who loves to talk about plants,” said Fermoile. “When I first started working here, I was amazed that when we would give tours and discuss how the garden, the 52 acres, was part of the terminal moraine Wisconsin glacier that created this space, and then we would jump to the early 19th century when people were using this space as an ash dump, and then it became a garden. They skipped a lot of important history about the people who first worked this land. There was so much we didn't know and we’re able to tell now. This additional funding allowed us to hire a historian to research primary sources and helped us uncover this history so we can include it in the stories that we’re telling and collecting.”

    The Garden is also working with the Lenape Center, an organization founded in 2009 led by Lenape elders with a mission of continuing Lenapehoking, the Lenape homeland through community, culture, and art. “We’ve been working with them to develop a living land acknowledgment and to help weave their stories into the stories we’re telling here.”

    BBG plans on introducing a draft of their Inclusive Community Engagement Guide at an all-staff retreat next February. They will continue to work with the interpretive committee that changes year to year based on different themes, and will hire an evaluator to assess the impact of the past two exhibitions developed using this co-creation model.

    “I always learn so much from working with a team of people who are smart and creative and have great stories to tell,” said Fermoile. “Working with my colleagues this past year has been a joy and I've learned a lot. Our programs are richer and I think we’re headed in the right direction.”


    Learn more about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden here: https://www.bbg.org/about 

  • October 25, 2023 8:11 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Dear Members, Friends, and Supporters, 

    I was reminded last week that in the Capital Region’s hardiness zones, tulip bulbs are planted in October and November – about eight weeks before a hard frost. They then need another 120 days of freezing temperatures before blooming in April. I can’t grow tulips. The deer that share our yard think they are fall snack offerings, so I forget that at this time of year so many friends have their hands in the soil and their minds on spring blossoms. 

    The MANY staff will soon shift our work from travel around the state to planning our 2024 annual conference. This year our timeline mimics the tulips gathering energy below ground, with about 160 days before the 2024 conference in Albany. Although it may look quiet behind the door to our office, we are busy gathering everyone’s ideas to shape the conference. The Call for Proposals went out last week and the Nominations for Awards of Distinction was sent on Monday. In about a month, we will challenge our Capital Region planning team to create workshops, tours, and special events that will help Albany shine amongst the tulips that will bloom around us in April.

    MANY’s annual conference helps museum professionals build a network to share perspectives, tools, and skills that develop excellence across the field. Our goal is to nurture a community of practice, advance institutional change, and create an inclusive and expansive New York team of collaborators that learn together. We welcome proposals that share new perspectives on issues we all face, encourage open and thoughtful conversations, model collaboration, and illuminate the complex conditions under which we sustain, thrive, and support the history, art, and culture of New York State.

    If you have questions about the theme or how to submit a proposal, please send an email to conference@nysmuseums.org.

    With hope that you will join us in Albany to share your ideas about how we can build a better future for New York’s museums,

    Erika Sanger

    Executive Director


    P.S. We know there is a small global event happening on Monday, April 8 called a total solar eclipse. The city of Albany is in the 96.6% “totality” zone. The conference schedule will include time - and glasses - to view the eclipse. 

  • October 04, 2023 3:31 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Data fielded August 1 - 18, 2023

    116 New York State museums responded to the Museum Association of New York's survey from all ten REDC regions, with representation from museums of multiple disciplines and budget sizes.

    MANY compared this data to the American Alliance of Museum's 2023 National Snapshot of United States Museums, fielded in March and April 2023 by Wilkening Consulting with 340 museum responses.

    While NYS museums are trending at the same rate as nationally reported data in some areas, in other areas they are lagging behind.

    • 43% of responding NYS museums have yet to recover to pre-pandemic attendance numbers, averaging a 66% attendance rate compared to pre-pandemic.
    • 28% reported a decrease in staff size, an additional 16% loss in staff since 2019
    • 36% of NYS museums are actively recruiting for positions
    • 17% reported a decrease in their museum's operating budget, while 33% reported an increase. 50% reported that their museum's operating budget remained relatively the same as it was pre-pandemic which is 13% higher than the national data. 
    • More than half of responding museums received some type of federal pandemic relief funding.


    Click here to read and download the full report.

  • September 28, 2023 9:04 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Fort Ticonderoga, New York. Photo by Roy Johnson/Alamy

    More than fifty organizations, museums, and historic sites from across New York. Vermont, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Canada have joined together to create the 250th Northern Department, an initiative led by Fort Ticonderoga as part of its plans for the national 250th commemoration of the American War for Independence. This initiative will promote and market regional historic sites during the commemorative period from 2024 to 2027 through print and digital content. “Fort Ticonderoga was in a great position to take the lead, as a private nonprofit, a major destination, and historically the hub of the Northern Department[1] ” said Beth Hill, Fort Ticonderoga President and CEO. The Fort will build, fund, develop, and serve as the lead organizer for this multi-state and US-Canada partnership. 

    Built by the French between 1755 and 1757 Fort Ticonderoga, played strategic roles in the Seven Years’ War and other conflicts between Great Britain and France during 18th century, and again during the American War for Independence. To interpret this history, Fort Ticonderoga takes a year-by-year approach. “One of our biggest challenges is being strategic with our interpretation because there is so much history and so many stories to share,” said Hill. The concept was created by Stuart Lilie, Fort Ticonderoga’s Vice President of Public History. “The whole concept of a year-by-year interpretation has allowed us to do what many museums do with rotating exhibitions.” This strategy allows the Fort to tell different stories year to year and attract repeat audiences. 

    Planning for the year that is selected begins 1 to 3 years in advance.  It starts with the collections management team to make sure collection objects are ready and accessible for the Fort’s Graduate Fellows to research and prepare for visitors. “The fellows research, develop tours, develop what historic trades will be happening at the fort and the material culture which is a large part of our front facing programs. It includes our teacher institute and other education-related work as well as our preservation work. This approach really does touch every aspect of what we do and because Fort Ticonderoga has such a complicated and rich history, there really is no other way to approach it in our opinion. This has been masterful for both our staff to be focused and strategic as well as proving this content to our visitors.”

    Map of Fort Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

    To maximize the 250th, Fort Ticonderoga is applying this same method of interpretation and calling it “Real Time Revolution.” In 2024, historical interpretation will center on 1774 and the British guard from the 26th Regiment of Foot under Captain William Delaplace who was stationed there. They will focus on peacetime garrison life for soldiers and families contrasted with growing political dissent. “We’re going to dive into this time period and understand the context of who was here, the women and the children, and carry that story forward in time.”

    “Real Time Revolution” will end in 2027, interpreting the year 1777, portraying soldiers from different regions and nations from around the Atlantic as Ticonderoga historically changed hands between armies. 

    Ahead of 2024, Fort Ticonderoga decided to partner with organizations from throughout the Northern Department including NYS Parks, Vermont State Parks, Saratoga National Park, and Parks Canada. “We’re excited about the opportunity to raise awareness for the 250th,, but also for cultural tourism that will increase in economic impact,” said Hill. “Taking the initiative is a wonderful position for us to be in because, in a way, it empowers us to determine our own fate and get our own resources to develop programs.”

    Hill said that they are in the early stages of acquiring additional funding, both private and public. For now, funding for the 250th Northern Department is being built into Fort Ticonderoga’s operational budget. “We’ve been communicating with leadership and building support by looking at the American Battlefield Protection Program from the National Park Service and  other avenues to build support and receive funding. We’re looking at all sources of potential support to be able to make the 250th Northern Department possible and to amplify not only what we do, but create a lasting legacy,” said Hill.

    In 2022, Fort Ticonderoga was awarded a $237,630 Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) Museums for America grant to focus on interpretive components, exhibition design, and digital resources. “This grant will help us highlight the interpretive themes that we’ve developed around the 250th.” Those five key themes are Power of Place; Subjects, Citizens, Service; Revolutionary Possibilities; Manufacturing Independence; and Shaping Nations, Forging Identities. 

    Organizations participating in the 250th Northern Department anticipate hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region during the commemorative period. “The next step is engaging people and inspiring them to learn more about local history because our local history is of an international scope. We wanted to take action and make it happen so that we’re ready for this commemoration.” Hill hopes that with the creation of the Northern Department and Fort Ticonderoga creating content centered around the new interpretive themes, these sites will broaden their audiences and make a lasting impact on people’s memories through connections to our nation’s stories. “It’s the diverse stories of our nation that we’re really excited about,” said Hill. “This is a landmark initiative that will help define Fort Ticonderoga for generations.”

    Learn more about the 250th Northern Department:https://www.fortticonderoga.org/news/fort-ticonderoga-announces-the-creation-of-the-northern-department/

     

    [1] The Northern Department (also known as the New York Department) was one of six regional departments of the Continental Army of the American Revolution organized for command and administrative purposes. The Northern Department was those parts of New York north of New York City. It was first called the New York Department, but after the Highlands Department was created on November 12, 1776, it was always referred to as the Northern Department. This department was the only one to remain after the war. The last elements of the Continental Army were kept to guard the western frontier outposts.https://revolutionarywar.us/continental-army/military-departments/

  • September 26, 2023 10:27 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Photo ID:Trojan Greens Officer's Coatee, Troy, New York, wool, brass, silver, 1809-1815, Collection of Fort Ticonderoga

    Dear Members, Colleagues, and Friends, 

    The strength of our combined voices is our superpower. When we come together to speak out on an issue, we can be loud and we can be heard. Sometimes advocating for New York’s history, art, and cultural organizations is the most gratifying part of my job. Other times, it is the most challenging work I do. Sue Storm bends light to become invisible, Superman steels himself with his cape, and Wonder Woman’s bracelets deflect projectiles. On days when I feel like there are huge obstacles separating our state’s history, art, and cultural organizations from those who can help, I close my eyes, and in my imagination, I put on the coat pictured above, tuck all of you in my pockets, take a deep breath, and start again. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in the past year is raising awareness of the critical need for a Semiquincentennial Commission in New York. I am asking you to add your voice now before New York’s contributions to our nation’s history are left behind in the 2026 commemorations. 

    Some of us have gathered resources to move ahead without a NY250 commission. 

    In MANY’s September newsletter, you can read about Fort Ticonderoga’s 250th Northern Department which will promote and market regional historic sites during the commemorative period from 2024-2027. The Office of New York State History created a Field Guide that aligns with themes established by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in their Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is investing in the preservation of historic sites with the help of the National Park Service’s Semiquincentennial Grant Program. In partnership with Humanities NY and the Smithsonian Institution, and the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, MANY will launch Voices and Votes: A New Agora for New York in March of 2024. But without a NY250 Commission, most of New York’s history will remain untold. 

    I know that advocacy work does not come easily to some people. But with this letter, I am asking you to gather whatever you need -- a coat, a cape, or bracelets -- to find a few minutes and the place within you to speak up for New York’s history. Please write to Governor Hochul and ask her to complete the appointments to seat the NY250 commission. Tell those representing you in the New York State Assembly and Senate why the Semiquincentennial is important to you and your community. New York needs to support our history, art, and cultural organizations to produce commemorative activities that can tell an inclusive story of our state’s essential role in the Revolutionary War and all of the struggles for civil rights and justice that followed. 

    With thanks in advance for sharing your superpower,


    Erika Sanger, Executive Director

  • August 29, 2023 11:07 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. In 2022, the IMLS awarded $44.7 million in 280 grants to museums; $7.1 million was awarded to 37 museums in New York State. We spoke to three New York State museums who were awarded an Inspire! Grants for Small Museums or a Museums for America grant in FY2022 about their project goals and advice for museums interested in applying. 

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums are a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program and are designed to reduce the application burden on small museums and help them address priorities identified in their strategic plans. Recipients focus on lifelong learning experiences, institutional capacity building, and collections stewardship and access.

    New for FY2024, the IMLS will fund two different project types, small projects: $5,000 - $25,000 with no cost share required and large projects: $25,001 - $75,000 with a 1:1 cost share required.

    The Edward Hopper House Museum (EHH) was awarded $49,500 to work with professional conservators to complete conservation treatments on fragile objects in its collection. The museum took a two-phase approach to this project. The first phase was funded by a 2020 National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act Grant. This grant provided the museum with funds for a digitization plan and the digitization of 135 collection items. “It created a detailed conservation survey that provided some of the treatment plans for Phase 2 that was funded by the IMLS Inspire! Grants for Small Museums,” said Kathleen Bennewitz, Executive Director of the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center. 

    In Phase 2 the museum worked with book, paper, and photographer conservators at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia to complete treatment on 27 items that were identified as extremely fragile, rendering them currently inaccessible for use in exhibitions, programming, and research. “As an IMLS “Collections Stewardship and Access” request, this project is strengthening EHH’s ability to serve its public by advancing the management, care, access, and uses of their collections through conservation treatment,” said Bennewitz. 

    Images from Edward Hopper's Nyack High School Zoology notebook, c. 1896-1899 ; The Sanborn-Hopper Family Archive, Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center, Nyack, NY

    Conservators will document the treatment in photographic and written reports. The project will result in access to stabilized objects that can be used by researchers, scholars, curators, and students studying Edward Hopper’s career and art. “This stewardship project will benefit our visitors to the Edward Hopper House Museum, as well as provide previously unavailable access to this material for researchers, scholars, curators, and students studying Edward Hopper’s career and art, the history of the Nyack community, and life and industry along the Hudson River circa 1880-1910.”

    Preservation Long Island (PLI) was awarded $45,137 for an assessment of its inventory practices to improve access and the long-term care and maintenance of the collections displayed and stored at its historic sites and facilities—the PLI Headquarters building in Cold Spring Harbor, Joseph Lloyd Manor and Collections Storage in Lloyd Harbor, Sherwood-Jayne Farm in Setauket, and the Custom House in Sag Harbor. “The goals of the project were to work with a professional collections consultant to test and establish standardized procedures for doing regular collections inventories and then to hire a project collections assistant to accomplish a baseline inventory of PLI’s entire objects collection,” said Lauren Brincat, PLI Curator. . 

    Located in the present-day Town of Huntington, Joseph Lloyd Manor was completed in 1767 for Joseph Lloyd (1716–1780). The house was the center of the Manor of Queens Village, a 3,000-acre provisioning plantation established in the late 17th century on the ancestral lands of the Matinecock Nation. Jupiter Hammon (1711–before 1806), one of the first published African American writers, was one of the many people of African descent enslaved at the site. The British occupied Joseph Lloyd Manor during the Revolutionary War, and it is where Hammon authored his most significant works about the moral conflicts of slavery and freedom in the early United States.

    The collections inventory project will help bring to light new stories that can be told with the existing collections at PLI’s historic sites. In addition, with the information gathered through this project, PLI will be able to seek new acquisitions that help make PLI’s collection—and the public programs, exhibitions, interpretations, and digital content the collection supports—more relevant to more people while also enhancing public knowledge of unrepresented stories. “Another goal of this work is to share our experience and methodologies with local organizations to assist them in their own collections inventory work,” said Brincat. PLI will use Joseph Lloyd Manor and its collection as a pilot site. They will contract with a museum services firm to conduct a workflow assessment, develop inventory and staffing plans, and support staff in testing new procedures. 

    After testing is completed, PLI will hire a temporary collections assistant to employ the new protocols in inventorying collections at other Preservation Long Island sites. The project will result in an inventory manual, increased organizational knowledge of requisite staff capacity for routine collection inventories, and greater public access to objects related to the regional material culture of New York.

    Brincat’s advice to other museums thinking of applying for an IMLS Inspire! Grant is to “create projects that have demonstrable sustainability and will continue to have an impact on the organization beyond the project’s duration. We plan to share the goals, process, and outcomes of the project through our website and public talks/workshops,” said Brincat. “To build upon this work, Preservation Long Island will address redundancies and gaps in its collection and will pursue further funding to assess its current collections management software and procedures and potentially adopt a new system that makes the organization’s entire collection more accessible to Preservation Long Island educators and the greater public.”


    Museums for America

    Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care.

    Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS) was awarded $87,100 to survey historical records created by individuals and organizations in the African American community of Schenectady County. “The primary goals of this grant project are to promote community stewardship of the historical records created by African Americans in Schenectady County, develop relationships between SCHS and community partners, support community custody of the archival collections, and increase access to primary sources for students and researchers, particularly Black students in the Schenectady City School District,” said Marietta Carr, SCHS Librarian. 

    A consulting project archivist will work with an advisory committee, museum staff, and student assistants to conduct site visits, review record collections, document those of enduring historic value, and log responses to survey questions from creators, collectors, and custodians of historical records. 

    “SCHS wants to serve as a resource for the preservation of African American historical records, but we must first understand what records exist and what the community needs from us in this shared goal,” said Carr. Public programs will promote the project and provide information to the community on topics such as preservation and family history. “We worked with a community advisory committee to develop our project priorities which included administering a community survey, creating a catalog of community-stewarded collections and preservation efforts, developing a youth engagement component, and hosting community-based events. Overall, a year after we were awarded the grant, we still have the same priorities. The youth engagement component has become more of a focal point of the project. We've developed the Sankofa Youth Collective to employ at-risk youth in the community in delivering the community survey and events and established an "each one teach one" model of engagement. While the catalog component is still a priority, we're reconsidering the parameters and format.”

    The project team will analyze the survey data and develop a searchable online catalog that identifies the location of records, their condition, and whether they are accessible to the public. This project will encourage community stewardship of historical records, engage the community to foster archival preservation, and strengthen relationships between the museum and community partners.

    “Give yourself plenty of time to work on the application materials,” said Carr. “Once you have a concrete idea and plan and have reviewed the application documentation, schedule a meeting with the program officer to discuss your project idea and methodology. Talking with the program officer was extremely helpful in wrapping my head around the application materials and process.” 


    Applications for these and other IMLS grants are due November 15, 2023. Learn more about the IMLS and how to apply: https://imls.gov/ 

    Learn more about NYS museums awarded in FY2023: https://nysmuseums.org/MANYnews/13237616


  • August 29, 2023 10:33 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Instead of a traditional Letter from Erika, this month Erika shares the text she wrote for the Museum Association of New York’s priority request to the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus’ 2024 People’s Budget. 

    Priority Item #1: NY250: Tell the Whole Story

    In 2026, our nation will mark the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ten of the original thirteen states along with 25 others have fully seated, active commissions, New York remains without. New York needs a commission and legislative action that will promote this opportunity as a priority and will allocate funding so that museums, historical societies, historic sites, and historic battlefields can begin to share their cultural resources with their communities and beyond. We must take this opportunity to welcome and incorporate equally the stories of Indigenous Nations, BIPOC, and new Americans.

    Chapter 732 (signed by the Governor on 12/2021) acknowledges that “American Revolution itself was imperfect and many, including women, African Americans, and Native Americans, did not benefit from its ideals of liberty and freedom. However, the struggle to fully realize the ideals of the Revolution has continued over the past 250 years as is evident in New York's leading role in such revolutionary civil rights movements as the women's rights and abolitionist movements, the underground railroad, and the LGBTQ movement.”

    The legislation requires a special commission to develop and deliver a strategic plan to the governor about New York's celebrations within one year of member appointments. Until the commission is fully seated and funded, the preliminary work of a strategic plan cannot begin. This delay may cause New York to lose national recognition of our prominent place in the American Revolution and a chance to tell the full story of New York’s role in the development of American democracy. 

    Speaker Heastie appointed the Vice-President of MANY’s Board of Directors, Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, Eastville Community Historical Society, Executive Director and Curator, to serve on New York State’s 250th Commemoration Commission. She is eager to work with the commission to help ensure that as many voices and stories as possible are represented in the commemorative activities.

    The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities. With 755 members representing museums of every discipline and budget size, from every county, we know that New York’s museums, historic sites, and historical societies are already working with their communities to expand our notions of whose history is worth honoring and remembering. They are ready to make history relevant to all of our communities and acknowledge the accomplishments and sacrifices of those who have fought for civil rights and our democracy, whether 250, 25, or 5 years ago. They recognize the structural deficits and inequities of the more traditional origin stories of our nation and with dedicated funding, are ready to shape an identity for New York that reflects those diverse stories in time for the America250 commemoration. 

    The support of the Caucus in this effort will be essential to its success. 

  • August 29, 2023 10:22 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Earlier this month, MANY Executive Director Erika Sanger spoke with Deryn Pomeroy, Trustee and Director of Strategic Initiatives at the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history, and working to improve the probability of finding appropriate donor matches or other life-saving treatments for blood cancer patients. Deryn does a lot of public facing work on the Foundation’s behalf, speaks to audiences about the Foundation’s grant work and attends programs and conferences. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation partnered with MANY to establish the Pomeroy Fund for NY History which distributed $297,808.72 to 103 museums in relief assistance during the pandemic. The Pomeroy Foundation recently awarded MANY a grant of $120,000 for its “Voices and Votes: A New Agora for NY" project that is helping twelve museums and their communities commemorate America250 and tell the story of their community’s role in the development of American Democracy. 

    Deryn Pomeroy, Trustee and Director of Strategic Initiative at the William G. Pomeroy Foundation speaks at the 2023 conference in Syracuse NY. Photo by Daylight Blue Media.

    What types of programs do the Pomeroy Foundation typically fund in a given year?

    The Historical Markers grant program is a big passion of the trustees and my father and I’m excited to say that we will be diving deeper in with more markers in the future. In addition to markers, we offer Special Interest grants that cover both the “For History” and “For Life” sides of our mission. On the “For Life” side, we primarily fund bone marrow registries or those organizations that set up bone marrow registry drives. Diversifying the bone marrow registry has been important to the Foundation since my dad received his stem cell transplant. For instance, if you are African American, you have a 25% chance of finding a match vs. an 80% chance for caucasians. 

    On the “For History” side of the foundation, we have been evolving the special interest grants. We are especially interested in smaller organizations with a history focus, those with a smaller budget or a smaller staff that may need a little extra assistance. More recently we have been focusing on digitization projects especially where digitization allows records to be publicly accessible without charge. 

    I’ve noticed that the Foundation’s grant-making has become more responsive and flexible in recent years, can you talk about that?

    Flexibility is part of the Trustees’ overall thinking and the evolution of funding has been responsive and about public access. We are looking closely at smaller, more rural communities without a traditional funding base, or those communities with interest in preserving their collections and telling their stories who don’t have the expertise or the funding available. We learned during the pandemic that we had to adapt and respond quickly to needs in a way we have never seen before. 

    Is there a program that you funded in the past year that stands out in your mind where the foundation made a real difference?

    On the “For Life” side, we have been funding “Be The Match” to recruit potential bone marrow donors on HBCU campuses. We are really proud that those programs have increased the number of diverse donors on the registry program. As a result of efforts like these, Pomeroy funded drives have produced at least 149 donor/patient matches. On the “For History” side, we recently funded a roof restoration project, which is not something we usually do, at a national historic register property in Western NY. The nonprofit Cracker Box Palace operating at Alasa Farms is now a sanctuary for neglected farm animals and other small animals. But they have a historic 600+ acre property and farm, an excellent application, and they have made a lot of progress keeping the farm true to its roots while bringing a new focus on animal care and bringing attention to animal abuse.

    How has your historical marker program developed and grown nationally over the past three years?

    The Historical Marker Program started in 2006 in Onondaga County. The program was well received because there was nothing like it in New York State, and my dad saw it as an excellent opportunity growing out of his entrepreneurial nature. It started in the town of Pompey, NY restoring some of their original 1930s NYS markers and it grew from there. We added the National Register program to provide public properties and historic districts on the Registry with markers and then added the “Legends & Lore” program. “Legends & Lore” was born out of the foundation receiving applications for the NYS marker program based on stories that were important to the communities, but didn’t fit the guidelines. We partnered with New York Folklore Society to create that program which is now in 13 states and we are trying to take it to all 50. “Hungry for History” markers are food history related and in 2023 we launched “Hometown Heritage,” a national marker program for historic people, places, things and events for places outside of NY state. “Hometown Heritage” is similar to the New York State Marker program, with a different look and template for the 49 other states. 

    Photo above Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, Executive Director and Chief Curator at the Eastville Community Historical Society with Amistad Commemoration sign at Culloden Point in Montauk, NY

    Patriot Burial Marker

    Why has the foundation invested in programs that support the America250 commemoration?

    Our enthusiasm for the 250th has been of interest for a very long time. 

    It was always something we were looking forward to jumping into because of our direct and indirect ties to that history. It is the birthday of our nation and there are Pomeroy family ancestors who fought in the Revolution. George Washington tried to appoint Seth Pomeroy to Brigadier General, but he was an older man at that time and turned down the commission. He participated in a smaller role and passed away while bringing troops down to Washington, DC.  Another relative, Daniel Pomeroy was killed at the Bloody Morning Scout, prior to the Battle of Lake George, my father could tell you much more about them! 

    What are the foundation’s goals for funding America250 programs? Are there specific outcomes that you would like to see?

    Helping people celebrate and commemorate their history is part of our mission and this major milestone in our nation’s history falls in line with what we like to fund. We knew that we wanted to be involved and we have been surprised and disappointed with the disorganization and lack of support that we have seen at the federal level, and even at the state level. We had planned to jump on board with whatever that state and federal planning was going to be. We didn’t initially think we had to take such a proactive role in seeking out opportunities for funding. 

    We initiated our support for the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) after seeing their “Making History at 250” booklet. They were structuring a plan to help organizations, so we reached out to them to provide them with a grant to republish that booklet and make it available to organizations across the country.  After that grant, they reached out to us to discuss the issues they were facing and the concerns of their members about the lack of direction coming from local, state, and federal governments. We were excited by their proposal, to bring another staff person onboard to build their capacity to better serve the museums and history organizations who needed that support. We were delighted to fund that proposal and they hired Madeline Rosenberg whose official title is Pomeroy Foundation Semiquincentennial  Manager.  She is going to have four years in that position to provide support to the field through 2026. 

    We are still trying to find ways that we can help both at the NYS level and the national level, and MANYs “Voices and Votes” was another great program that we saw could help organizations bring in people to connect with the idea of the 250th and talk about how they will be able to participate. We like the way “Voices and Votes” will help foster those conversations. We are still looking for other ways we can make a difference, there are pockets of people doing different things and we are looking where we can fit in.  

    How will the partnership with AASLH help museums and historic sites?  

    Madeline provides outreach and direction in a number of ways, with webinars and other types of assistance both in the office and out of the office. We are pleased and are excited to be going to the AASLH conference in Boise, Idaho this fall. It is great to see the dialog stimulated during the AASLH webinars, people from all over the country can come together virtually, people who have a real passion to commemorate the Semiquincentennial. The AASLH is showing how organizations can work together to reduce roadblocks, they offer peer support, have resources available, and help organizations to learn that they are not alone in trying to do this. I know there are a lot of organizations across the country who feel they have been left to their own devices and they may feel overwhelmed, especially those small organizations who might not be able to do anything. There is a lot to discuss and thoughtfully plan.  

    What comes after America250? How does the foundation sustain engagement and support to the field as we approach other critically important anniversaries? 

    Celebrating milestones is important to us. We put a lot into the “National Votes for Women'' trail that got shifted a bit during the pandemic, and we will be looking at future national and state priorities. Our next strategic plan will help us identify what might be important and we want to hear from the community about what is important to them. They should bring their ideas to the foundation so we can continue the responsive nature of the foundation. We want to see more ideas around the 250th. 

    Is there anything else you would like to share with us and our readers?

    We are working on two other historical marker partnerships related to the Semiquincentennial. 

    One partnership is with the Sons of the American Revolution commemorating patriot burial sites. It was initially just in NY but it is now in 7 states and growing nationally. The second partnership is with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Called “Revolutionary America” it is a marker series designed to highlight stories of underrepresented populations, new Americans, women and Indigenous peoples, whose stories are part of the Revolution but have not been told. 

    We hope that our involvement with MANY and AASLH will spearhead more ideas and community conversations and hopefully, we will see participation from other private funders as well. That is something that we haven’t seen thus far. We have been told that the Pomeroy Foundation is the largest private funder for America250 and it would be great if we could help inspire other foundations similar to ours to step up, it is a big deal for our nation!

    Learn more about the William G. Pomeroy Foundation: https://www.wgpfoundation.org/ 

  • August 07, 2023 1:49 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    36 NYS museums were awarded a total of $6,108,821 in the latest round of grant funding to museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, Museums for America, and Museums Empowered. A total of $31,509,007 was awarded to 218 projects across the nation by the IMLS from 568 applications requesting $73,685,100.

    The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York was awarded $50,000 from the IMLS Inspire! Grants for Small Museums to increase staff capacity.

    The FY 2024 Notices of Funding Opportunity for these three programs will be posted later this month. The anticipated application deadline is November 15, 2023. For more information, please visit https://www.imls.gov/.

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums are a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program and are designed to reduce the application burden on small museums and help them address priorities identified in their strategic plans. Recipients focus on lifelong learning experiences, institutional capacity building, and collections stewardship and access.

    Antique Boat Museum, North Country

    $50,000

    The Antique Boat Museum will increase staff capacity to digitize two of its collections about the history of the Matthews Boat Owners Association and the Richardson Boat Owners Association. The Matthews Boat Owners Association collection contains approximately 30,000 documents and the Richardson Boat Owners Association contains approximately 5,000 documents, photographs, and works on paper. Project staff will catalog materials from these collections and make the collections digitally accessible online with a searchable collections database for the benefit of maritime historians and the public.

    Castellani Art Museum (Niagara University), Western NY

    $48,201

    The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University will develop a traveling exhibition, “Old/New Threads” about the intersections of traditional art, economy, and community-building. The exhibition will explore this topic through the case study of Stitch Buffalo, a textile arts-based organization serving primarily refugee women within the local community. This project will support a Project Manager and a paid intern, who, in consultation with humanities experts, will conduct new ethnographic fieldwork, develop interpretive panels and an exhibit catalog, create short-form videos, and design accompanying public programs such as artist-led workshops, demonstrations, and community celebrations. As a result, this project will recognize the efforts of diverse individuals and organizations that implement these opportunities for disadvantaged members of the community in the region, and contribute to improved refugee prosperity through increased visibility and awareness.

    Cayuga Museum of History and Art, Central NY

    $50,000

    The Cayuga Museum of History and Art will complete the research phase of the museum’s planned permanent exhibit exploring the comprehensive history of Cayuga County. This project will support hiring a new curator and a paid intern who will create a new interpretive plan which will be used as the framework to inform the exhibit plan and final implementation of the new exhibit. Through this project, the museum will actively explore the narrative of historically excluded communities with the goal to create an inviting space for consistent engagement with regional history.

    Children’s Museum of the East End, Long Island

    $50,000

    The Children’s Museum of the East End will expand Estrellas de Lectura/Reading Stars, a reading mentorship program that improves social-emotional learning skills, and restores and supports reading fluency in bilingual children that were disproportionately affected by learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Project activities will include gathering information through community meetings, recruiting and training reading mentors, updating the curriculum, and promoting the program through community partners. Students entering grades Kindergarten through fourth will meet with their reading mentors twice a week in the fall, winter, and spring at the museum’s Bridgehampton and Riverside locations. As a result, students will see improvements in their English reading fluency and general vocabulary, increased self-confidence, and improvements in social-emotional learning skills.

    Historic Cherry Hill, Capital Region

    $50,000

    Historic Cherry Hill will design and fabricate a multi-site exhibit and related series of programs centered on William James Knapp, who worked in nineteenth-century Albany as a musician, piano tuner, music store clerk, porter, and nurse. In collaboration with the Underground Railroad Education Center, the African American Cultural Center, and Albany Barn, the project team will identify pop-up sites throughout Albany, conduct content research, and work with local artists to create site-specific interpretations of James Knapp’s life. As a result, visitors to any of the pop-up sites will experience relevant and accessible installations that foreground Black life in 19th-century Albany and recognize our diverse, shared past and its legacies.

    Historic Saranac Lake, North Country

    $50,000

    Historic Saranac Lake will create catalog records for approximately 2,500 objects and archival materials to gain intellectual and physical control over its collection. Informed by a previous IMLS-funded pilot project to catalog records for approximately 2,000 photographs and postcards from the museum's collections, this project will also include photo documentation of objects and the creation of a plan for moving the collection to a new storage space. Project staff will work with a consultant to complete and evaluate the project. As a result of the project, the institution will produce a comprehensive moving plan for the collection, publish catalog records and images, and increase accessibility to the collection. The project will benefit students, researchers, and staff preparing for exhibits and programs.

    Iroquois Museum, Mohawk Valley

    $38,769

    The Iroquois Museum will develop an exhibit of contemporary Iroquois art and offer related programming targeted at youth, young adults, and adults. The exhibit will showcase artworks that include suspended installation and projection, welded steel sculptures, comic-drama and Claymation, glass works, clay monoprints, graphic novel and video-game inspired illustrations, electronic music, and documentary photography. Related programs will include The Mush Hole, an offsite theatrical dance interpretation of the experience of Indian residential schools; an onsite pop-up welding workshop; the Iroquois Indian Marching Band; and artist talks. Through this project, the museum will dismantle conventional assumptions about what constitutes Native art by introducing visitors to the wide variety of expressions and ways in which Iroquois/Haudenosaunee culture is represented today. Haudenosaunee creatives will benefit by presenting their work in a dignified and receptive setting and by expanding their network of opportunities. Visitors will benefit by participating in an environment of mutual respect and open dialogue, and accessing an alternate lens through which to reconsider our shared past.

    Livingston County Historical Museum, Finger Lakes

    $49,945

    The Livingston County Historical Museum will use funds to purchase and install archival storage equipment. The project builds upon planning documents created by a team of museum professionals, architects, and engineers, and will address issues of overcrowding and inaccessibility of objects in the current storage space. Informed by a previous Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) report, museum staff will consult with a conservator to implement best practices for collection storage. Improved collections care will benefit visitors and researchers, including the residents of Livingston County and the Western New York region.

    Museums for America

    Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care.

    American Folk Art Museum, NYC

    $152,205

    The American Folk Art Museum will work with neurodiverse artists whose artwork is part of the museum’s collection and create an online resource with information about neurodiverse artists. A collections associate hired for the project will receive training on the collections management system and assist with digitization and collections photography. The project will also include a convening of industry experts to develop a white paper that will serve as a guide for museums collecting and exhibiting works of art by neurodiverse artists.

    American Museum of Natural History, NYC

    $249,841

    The American Museum of Natural History will broaden access to its vertebrate paleontology archive by creating detailed findings aids for eight of its collections. The archive consists of 820 linear feet of materials in 43 collections, including photographs, correspondence, and field notes. Building on work funded by previous IMLS grants, the museum will hire a project archivist and two paid student interns to process, rehouse, and digitize collections materials. As a result of the project, researchers from a variety of disciplines will be able to directly access catalog records describing the contents of the vertebrate paleontology archive collections. Project staff will share the results of the project online and at professional conferences.

    American Museum of the Moving Image, NYC

    $250,000

    The American Museum of the Moving Image will undertake the next phase of developing a replacement for its 30-year old core exhibition comprising 13,000 square feet of gallery space. The new long-term exhibition will trace the history of the moving image from its origins in magic lantern shows and nickelodeons through media convergence and contemporary digital culture. Museum staff will work with scholars, educators, community liaisons, and an external exhibition design team to finalize the content and create a spatial layout, produce an artifact list, create a draft of exhibition text, conceptualize interactive experiences, and develop a full set of conceptual design drawings and floor plan. This project builds on an IMLS-funded planning project and will result in an accessible and innovative exhibition that promotes cultural and digital literacy to visitors from Queens, the Northeast region, and international audiences.

    Brooklyn Children’s Museum, NYC

    $249,980

    Brooklyn Children’s Museum will partner with elementary school educators to create school programs for Nature’s Engineers, a new STEM maker space for children ages 5-10 that explores biomimicry (how nature influences human design) through hands-on projects and engagement with the 14,000 objects in the museum’s natural science collection. Project activities include creating an educator advisory council, developing five new STEM maker field trip programs, delivering those programs to Central Brooklyn public elementary schools at no charge, providing teacher professional development programs, and evaluating the programs for their effectiveness on learning outcomes and behaviors. The project will result in Central Brooklyn students making connections between engineering and nature that contribute to their constructed narratives about science, human design, and the importance of our natural world.

    Brooklyn Museum, NYC

    $250,000

    The Brooklyn Museum will support 55 paid internships for students and early career professionals interested in careers in the arts and cultural institutions. The program will provide training opportunities, that put the lived experiences of these young people, whose identities are often underrepresented in the arts and museum sector, at the center of their work. Project activities include facilitating departmental placements, where interns will develop hands-on experience through real-world projects with the guidance of museum staff; conducting professional development seminars; and developing an intern mentor program to help interns achieve their career goals. Program participants will develop the skills and knowledge necessary for future employment and leave with new professional relationships and a structure to foster them.

    Buffalo Museum of Science, Western NY

    $242,925

    The Buffalo Museum of Science will gain intellectual and physical control over its fluid-preserved ichthyological collection that documents the population of freshwater fishes in regional waterways. The museum will hire a collections assistant to work with student interns and volunteers to create a cohesive catalog as well as rehouse, photograph, and digitize the collection. Staff will also create and install panels at freshwater conservation areas in Western New York to promote education about freshwater fish at local waterways. As a result of the project, staff will make the newly completed catalog of the collection publicly available through open-access collection portals for research and educational purposes.

    Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, NYC

    $239,560

    The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum will transform its winter kitchen into an immersive space that invites guests to more fully understand the history of enslavement in the Northern United States. Building on an IMLS-funded interpretive planning project, the museum will engage with a consultant to create an immersive projection on one or more walls of the winter kitchen. Images will include original footage of historic characters, contemporary community members, archival images, and illustrations. Graduate student interns will assist museum staff with research, implementation, and outreach. As a result, the museum will advance its mission to support the preservation of the historic site, to be a catalyst for engaging, adventuresome programming and to be a good neighbor and a dynamic resource for the community by providing new and fresh inclusive narratives in an engaging and accessible manner.

    Fort Ticonderoga, North Country

    $237,630

    Fort Ticonderoga will implement a multi-year project that will provide visitors with new methods to understand the people and events of the American Revolution as the nation commemorates the 250th anniversary of the War for Independence. The project team will work with accessibility consultants to finalize the exhibition design, interpretive components, and digital resources. Four seasonal exhibit interpreters will be hired and trained to deliver new tour content. As a result, never-before-seen artifacts, tactile experiences, public tours, and a robust online presence with audio and video content will ensure universal accessibility and an enhanced understanding of the Revolution’s significance for all guests.

    George Eastman Museum, Finger Lakes

    $250,000

    The George Eastman Museum will conserve and digitize fragile films from the Anwar Sheikh Pakistani collection created from 1950-1979. The Pakistani films in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu languages were made after the partition of India. Building upon collection activities supported by a 2020 Museums for America award, staff will conserve the films to address deterioration. The museum will hire two full-time film specialists to work with staff to repair, clean, document, and stabilize the films. Once fully processed, information will be published in the museum's online catalog of film records for the benefit of researchers, scholars, and archivists.

    Historic Hudson Valley, Mid-Hudson

    $238,810

    Historic Hudson Valley will undertake a project to digitize and fully catalog their collection of 3,500 manuscripts, transcribe selections from the collection, and create an online portal that will make the collection publicly accessible. As a result of this project, staff will be able to better understand, care for, and utilize the manuscript collection while reducing the risks of physical damage associated with regularly handling sensitive archival materials. Additionally, the collections portal will benefit researchers, students, educators, and curators who will now have the ability to search and discover digitized and transcribed manuscripts.

    Hudson River Museum, Mid-Hudson

    $124,930

    The Hudson River Museum will digitize approximately 8,000 objects largely consisting of historical photographs representative of their local and regional communities, including photographs from the archives of the John Bond Trevor family, the Alexander Smith Carpet Factory, African American artist Alvin C. Hollingsworth, and photographer Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. The museum will use funds to hire and train a full-time digitization technician, a part-time digitization cataloging assistant, and two part-time digitization interns. With a more fully digitized archive, the museum will be able to inform scholarship, share their collection with a wider audience, and identify materials for use at the museum and by community partners in future exhibits, publications, and interpretation.

    Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, NYC

    $151,546

    The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will pilot Inspiration Academy, a new teacher training and resources program designed to help K—12 educators teach inclusive STEM, history, and social studies, built on the museum’s decade-long experience developing teacher professional development and providing of continuing education credits to teachers in New York State. Project activities include recruiting early-career teachers from Title 1 schools; implementing professional development opportunities, including in-person and virtual seminars and institutes; and conducting a program evaluation. The project will address early-career teacher attrition rates by fostering a sense of belonging in the profession and rekindling the joy and inspiration which brought individuals to teach.

    Long Island Children’s Museum, Long Island

    $250,000

    The Long Island Children’s Museum will launch the third phase of the development of “Saltwater Stories: The Sea and Me,” a new permanent exhibition that will engage family and school audiences in an exploration of the local maritime traditions that have shaped the historical, cultural, and economic development of Long Island. Building on previous grants, the project team will incorporate findings from the second phase to fabricate exhibition components with an outside contractor, develop seasonally informed programs and materials for families, develop website content, finalize and implement the exhibition marketing plan, and utilize a remedial evaluation of the installed exhibition to make adjustments. Exhibition content will correlate to several New York State Next Generation Learning Standards, and will extend the reach of humanities programming to key audiences, including underserved or recently immigrated populations from coastal communities in Mexico, Central America, and Asia. As a result, visitors to the museum will increase their understanding of Long Island’s maritime history and culture through participating in educational and intergenerational experiences.

    Memorial Art Gallery (University of Rochester), Finger Lakes

    $76,564

    The University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery will continue its robust arts-based partnership with the Rochester City School District to bring students in grades 2-4 from five city schools to the museum for four weekly sessions of interactive, guided gallery activities followed by art-making experiences. Project activities include developing curriculum and activities, recruiting teaching artists and teaching assistants, training staff, and ordering supplies, holding sessions for five city schools; and project evaluation. The resulting program will provide participants with access to arts and cultural resources, complement and enhance classroom learning, encourage positive behaviors, supports social-emotional development, and empower students with a sense of purpose and belonging within the museum and their community.

    Museum of Arts and Design, NYC

    $205,050

    The Museum of Arts and Design will use funds to upgrade its primary content management system (CMS) and photograph, review, and update its collection records to support greater access to its collection. This project will convert their current system to a cloud-based CMS, photograph new acquisitions, and support a full inventory of their collections toward complete record consolidation. At the end of the project, the museum will have a functional and user-friendly, publicly accessible database of its collection with artifact-based programming for K-12 audiences and lifelong learners of all ages.

    Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC

    $231,000

    The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will develop public programming for families and children ages 8-12 relating to the new exhibition “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark” the museum’s first exhibition for children. Project activities include organizing 19 public programs for children and families including guided tours, children’s book events, holiday celebrations, concerts, and theatrical performances. Project funds wills support building the museum’s internal capacity to serve children and families by onboarding a full-time family programs manager who will organize the events and lead the audience development strategy with marketing and outreach efforts. The project will build internal capacity and create a strategy for engaging children and family audiences. It will also empower program participants to become active bystanders in their community who counter hate and stand up for what is right.

    New York Transit Museum, NYC

    $148,200

    The New York Transit Museum will develop a community-informed model for creating adult public programs and sustaining audience engagement. Museum staff will work with consultants to conduct an audience assessment as well as develop plans for improved digital communications. A full-time outreach coordinator will be hired to supervise the project and identify external stakeholders to serve as advisors for program development. This stakeholder advisory committee and partnering downtown Brooklyn cultural organizations will inform the resulting program planning framework, helping the museum better-understand and engage with its existing adult audiences, identify potential audiences that are not yet engaged, and collaboratively design programs that include community voices and input.

    New-York Historical Society, NYC

    $243,964

    The New York Historical Society will create the Tang Academy for American Democracy Digital Curriculum, a free digital curriculum that blends the study of civics and history for middle school students. Building on the successful in-person version of the program for New York City 6th graders, the new digital curriculum will transform lesson plans and museum content into a free resource that teachers across the country can use in their classrooms. Project activities include digital curriculum creation, testing and evaluation, and program marketing and dissemination. The project will increase student understanding of democracy, how it works, and how to make a change in a democracy, and it will build a network of teachers across the country committed to teaching about democracy.

    Parrish Art Museum, Long Island

    $198,616

    The Parrish Art Museum will evaluate, improve, and expand an existing gallery experience and art-making program that serves individuals with special needs, including cognitive diverse individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, individuals on the autism spectrum, people with physical disabilities, and people who have experienced severe trauma. The museum will work with an external evaluator to develop an evaluation plan as well as a community advisory panel with members from the program’s target audiences and partnering human service agencies to guide the project. Program evaluation will support the development and expansion of future community-informed museum programming to serve a wider audience and will leverage lessons learned to improve the museum’s overall service to special audiences in all of its programs.

    Rochester Museum and Science Center, Finger Lakes

    $123,801

    Rochester Museum and Science Center will partner with Haudenosaunee stakeholders and artists to develop an exhibit that will present Haudenosaunee stories through contemporary and historic art, collections objects, multimedia presentations, and interactive, multisensory experiences. Funds will support the purchase of materials necessary to develop immersive, themed components such as a longhouse structure, as well as a professional conservator to assess and prepare collection items for display. The exhibit will be developed and curated by a Seneca artist and knowledge-keeper and will explore themes of Haudenosaunee cultural continuity and change, identity, and sovereignty. The project partnerships and resulting exhibition will make the museum’s collection more accessible, expand historical narratives, and celebrate the dynamic and active art, culture, and heritage of the Haudenosaunee people.

    Rubin Museum of Art, NYC

    $250,000

    The Rubin Museum of Art will expand knowledge and understanding of Himalayan art and cultures through the development of a flexible traveling exhibition that presents the iconography, materials, and artistic and cultural practices of the Himalayan region. Presented in three modules with a variety of thematic access points, different museum communities will have the ability to modify the exhibition according to their needs. Project activities will include working with five university museums to adapt the exhibition, transporting and installing the exhibition at the host site, and refining an open-access digital platform to accompany the exhibition. The public will learn about the fundamental art forms and important universal ideas from the Himalayan region, such as compassion, karma, the cyclical nature of existence, and the interdependence of things.

    Sciencenter, Southern Tier

    $248,429

    The Sciencenter will address its community’s need for outdoor family learning experiences and increase access to hands-on STEM education through the creation of four outdoor exhibit areas. The project team will use community input to drive the design and development of the exhibit areas, and create and test prototypes with a focus on accessible play-based activities to address learning declines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Project activities will include meeting with the community and gathering input to define the learning goals, fabricating selected components of the exhibits, consulting with advisors and accessibility experts and testing prototypes, and continuing evaluation after the exhibits open to the public. As a result, the museum’s role as a relevant and welcoming resource for science learning will be evident, and local children and families will increase their social skills and knowledge of the science process.

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC

    $244,785

    The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will increase access to its collections and online educational resources for visitors with disabilities through a two-pronged approach: creation of a new digital museum map of the Frank Lloyd Wright building, and an in-depth review and remediation of the website design, development, and content to ensure usability. The museum’s digital experience team will start the map redesign process with user research before proceeding to design and release. A part-time project manager will be hired to oversee the website remediation, and will conduct website quality assurance from an accessibility standpoint, add access content, provide cross-departmental training, and serve as the point of contact for best practices in user accessibility. As a result, visitors will have access to a variety of digital platforms, such as websites and apps that support use by screen readers or other assistive technology; and accessible content, such as verbal description audio and American Sign Language video.

    The Strong National Museum of Play, Finger Lakes

    $188,359

    The Strong National Museum of Play will use funds to improve the documentation, preservation, and accessibility of 15,000 trade catalogs from the toy, doll, puzzle, and game industries. Project staff will make collections-related information accessible and searchable online through its own website as well as through an external collection website. Enhanced documentation, preservation, and accessibility of the collection will advance the museum’s mission and benefit historians and researchers of American toy and game production.

    The Wild Center, North Country

    $175,711

    The Wild Center will conduct a two-year outreach and summer program initiative to train a cohort of teen climate educators in climate literacy, enabling them to communicate climate change science and impacts as well as climate justice and solutions to museum visitors using the museum’s Science on a Sphere and Climate Solutions exhibit. Project activities include recruiting and onboarding the educators, developing and implementing training and mentoring plans, enhancing the visitor experience through exhibit-based engagement, working with the teens to develop and implement climate action projects for their school or community, and planning and hosting the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. Project funds will also support purchasing high-quality projectors and two back-of-the-house computers to run the Science on a Sphere exhibit. The teen climate educators will lead interpretive programming, become active in community outreach and civic engagement, and support the youth-led planning and implementation of the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.

    Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC

    $250,000

    The Whitney Museum of American Art will launch a three-phase project to assess, update, and deploy interpretation strategies geared toward visitors with disabilities, particularly those who identify as D/deaf and hard of hearing, Blind and with low vision, with ambulatory disabilities, neurodivergent, and more. The project will develop new standards for accessible digital interpretation and implement them across new materials focused on approximately 50 time-based media works. A cross departmental museum team will work with an advisory committee, focus groups, and an evaluator to carry out a user-centered iterative evaluation process, including completing a needs assessment. As a result, the museum will have institutional guidelines for accessible interpretation and standards for preserving these digital materials. This project will also inform the museum’s future accessible digital interpretation for time-based media and all other forms of art.

    Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff

    Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program supporting staff capacity-building projects that use professional development to generate systemic change within a museum. Each of the 19 recipient institutions will focus their projects on one of four categories: digital technology, diversity and inclusion, evaluation, or organizational management.

    Wildlife Conservation Society, NYC

    $250,000

    The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will create a new training program for supervisors of internship programs in the five New York City wildlife parks operated by WCS — the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens Zoos, and the New York Aquarium. The professional development training program will focus on positive youth development, cultural competence, supervising young adults, and mentoring and career support to help the intern supervisors develop the necessary skills to succeed in this important role. Project activities include hosting listening sessions with current intern supervisors to understand their needs, gathering existing training resources, developing a training curriculum, delivering supervisor training, and conducting training follow-up. The new training program will ensure the internship program is effective, inclusive, and supportive, transforming the zoo into a more welcoming place resulting in a broader representation of youth participating in the internship program.


  • July 31, 2023 8:07 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Broken Millstone, Whitney Plantation

    Dear Members, Friends, and Colleagues,

    At a friend’s birthday party last week, I had a conversation with someone who works at a food co-op about what it was like to be an essential worker at the height of the pandemic. After a rambling discussion, they said “can you believe we made it through that?” and since it was a party, I smiled and replied that I felt lucky to be here. What I didn’t say is that I know that many of us have mended, but have still not “made it through.” 

    As the MANY staff traveled around the state this year, we heard first hand that attendance at most museums has not returned to 2019 levels, that many are having trouble filling staff positions, and that operational changes are essential for the future of museums. We learned that recovery remains inconsistent from city to city, region to region, and discipline to discipline. We also learned that federal relief funding, grants from the state and private foundations, and community support made a real difference. 

    The reported statistics in the American Alliance of Museums 2023 Annual National Snapshot of United States Museum Survey, echo many of the stories we hear firsthand. The national data that AAM collects each year illustrates the continuing impact of the pandemic. It has been almost three years since MANY has asked our members and colleagues to share information about how the pandemic has affected your museum. But with the occasion of AAM’s publication, we thought it was the right time to ask (just seventeen questions, eleven are multiple choice) so we can compare data from New York’s museums with some of the national data. 

    Click here to respond to the survey using your information from 2022 or from the end of your last fiscal year. It may help to have your annual report with you when you answer the survey that should take less than six minutes of your time. A pdf of the survey questions can be found here

    The survey will remain open until 5 PM on August 18 and we will share the NY data in comparison to the national data soon after. 

    With thanks advance for sharing your information and hopes that you are taking time to enjoy the summer, 


    Erika Sanger

    Executive Director

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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