Inside SEMC Winter/Spring 2024

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INSIDE SEMC The Newsletter of the Southeastern Museums Conference winter–spring 2024 |

Executive Director’s Notes Zinnia Willits 7

President’s Address Matt Davis 11

Membership Corner: Membership is All About You! Carla Phillips 15

Programs Corner:

Meeting, March 2024 Heather Nowak 19 Save the Date for SEMC 2024 Baton Rouge: October 21–23 26

SEMC Officers & Directors 4
Internship Fund
35 A Special Thanks: Endowment and Membership Contributions 37 29 ON
covering multiple genres of music.
SEMC Spotlight: 2024 Handumy Jean Tahan
THE FRONT COVER The Michael Foster Project is a Baton Rouge
brass band,
Photo courtesy of Sarah Barton, Baton Rouge,
The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, the 2024 SEMC annual meeting host hotel.

Museums Benefit from Publishing Brandie Harrell 65

About Art Bridges Foundation 69

Journeying Through Historic Mitchelville: Educational Tourism  and the Art of Cultural Preservation Evelyne Del 73

Museums as the Next Frontier for NFTs S. O. Jeffcoat 79

Working with Museums: A Creative Approach John Slemp 83

Important Dates 90 SEMC Job Forum 90 Get Social 90

Membership Form 91

ON THE BACK COVER Baton Rouge street mural. Photo courtesy of Jordan Hefler, Baton Rouge, LA. 83
WWII Veteran photographed by John Slemp. Rae Preston flew 95 combat missions in the early days of WWII as a P-47 fighter pilot. He later became the first licensed helicopter pilot in Georgia. He passed away on 16 September, 2019.


Alabama North Carolina

Arkansas South Carolina

Florida Tennessee

Georgia Virginia

Kentucky West Virginia

Louisiana U.S. Virgin Islands

Mississippi Puerto Rico


Zinnia Willits

Executive Director

Carla Phillips

Manager of Communications

and Member Services

Heather Nowak

Program Administrator

contact semc

SEMC | P.O. Box 550746

Atlanta, GA 30355-3246

T: 404.814.2048 or 404.814.2047

F: 404.814.2031



Inside SEMC is published three times a year by SEMC. Annual subscription is included in membership dues.

Design: Nathan Moehlmann, Goosepen Studio & Press

The deadline for the Summer 2024 newsletter is July 31, 2024. To submit information for the newsletter, please contact Zinnia Willits ( or Carla Phillips (cphillips@

semc officers

Matthew S. Davis  President

Director of Historic Museums,  Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA

Dr. Calinda Lee  Vice President

Principal, Sources Cultural Resources  Management, LLC, Atlanta, GA

Deitrah J. Taylor  Secretary

Public Historian,  Milledgeville, GA

Scott Alvey  Treasurer

Director, Kentucky Historical Society,  Frankfort, KY

Heather Marie Wells  Past President

Digital Media Project Manager, Crystal Bridges

Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR

semc directors

Tafeni English

Director, Alabama State Office,  Southern Poverty Law Center/Civil  Rights Memorial, Montgomery, AL

Katie Ericson

Director of Education,  Michael C. Carlos Museum,  Atlanta, GA

Alicia Franck

Vice President and Chief Development  Officer, The National World War II  Museum, New Orleans, LA

Deborah Rose Van Horn

Senior Curator,  Walt Disney Imagineering,  Lake Buena Vista, FL

Brigette Janea Jones

Assistant Executive Director,  Arabia Mountain National Heritage Area,  Stonecrest, GA

Pamela D. C. Junior

Former Director, Two Mississippi Museums,  Mississippi Department of  Archives & History, Jackson, MS

Rosalind Martin Director of Education,  Knoxville Museum of Art,  Knoxville, TN

Michelle Schulte

Chief Curator, LSU Museum of Art,  Baton Rouge, LA

Ahmad Ward

Executive Director, Historic Mitchelville  Freedom Park, Hilton Head Island, SC

Scott Warren Director,

President James K. Polk Historic Site,  Pineville, NC

Lance Wheeler Director of Exhibitions, National Center  for Civil and Human Rights,  Atlanta, GA


semc executive director’s notes

Dear SEMC:

As I begin my fourth year as Executive Director of the Southeastern Museums Conference, I am grateful for the opportunity to lead this wonderful professional organization. While the road has been bumpy at times with a global pandemic and rapid change to SEMC operations, I am honored to be part of a period of dynamic growth and transformation. I am truly thankful for the support and guidance of SEMC staff, leadership, and members — a collective beacon of light as we navigate the storms together. In early April, SEMC successfully facilitated the third Leadership Institute, titled Leading for Today’s Challenges. Over the course of five days, seventeen museum professionals gathered in Louisville, Kentucky, to concentrate on the skills and internal qualities needed in 2024 to become effective leaders for their communities, staff, and boards. Guided on this journey by the amazing Institute Faculty, Marsha

Semmel, Laura Morgan Roberts, and Rob Bull, these individuals accomplished so much and — as a cohort — built a strong foundation to continue the work at each of their institutions and beyond. SEMC is grateful to all the individuals and organizations that have provided support for this important program, including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture – Office of Strategic Partnerships, Association of African American Museums, and the Smithsonian’s Our Shared Future: Reckoning with our Racial Past initiative. Huge congratulations to the 2024 Leadership Institute graduates!

SEMC staff and committees have also been working hard on plans for SEMC2024. We are excited to convene the membership at The Hilton Capitol Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana for the 2024 Annual Meeting (October 21–23) this fall. An opening plenary session (set for Monday, October 21) will engage panelists in a moderated discussion related to the 2024 conference theme, Museums: Innovate/Inspire and

Zinnia Willits with Georgia advocates at the 2024 Museum Advocacy Day.

center attendees within the spaces, culture, and communities of Baton Rouge. Purposefully developed by the Baton Rouge local arrangements team, the theme focuses on innovation and inspiration. How should museums move forward in a rapidly changing world? How can staff continue to inspire visitors, donors, and a changing workforce? We are excited for attendees to continue to engage in direct dialogue, networking, and professional growth and development next fall in Baton Rouge. Registration will open in May 2024.

Also, make sure to watch SEMC communications as we open applications for instructors and cohort members of the 2025 Jekyll Island Institute this spring/ summer. 2024 competitions and the call for member institutions to submit applications for internship support from the Handumy Jean Tahan Internship Fund are already open!

The coming years may bring new challenges to SEMC; however, through purposeful strategic planning and member engagement we will continue to navigate the obstacles and remain nimble and ready to meet the moment to assist the southeast museum community in finding opportunities for positive change and forward movement. I am proud of our SEMC community and its collective resilience as we continue to recover from pandemic challenges and grateful for all our members and partners.


The 2024 Leadership Institute Cohort.
semc president’s address

Greetings, SEMC Members!

I hope your 2024 is off to an amazing start and this message finds you well! Spring is always a busy time of the year around my museums as field trips, events, and programs move into high gear. Your SEMC Council, Professional Staff, and Committees have been hard at work over the past few weeks preparing programs, virtual engagements, and for SEMC 2024.

On March 7-8, the SEMC Program Committee and Council met in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to review session proposals, finalize details for the conference program, and explore the town. Additionally, your SEMC Council discussed strategies to increase our organizational philanthropy and finalized details for our next strategic plan. More information will be forthcoming on these initiatives, and I am personally excited about the positive direction of our organization.

I hope you will enjoy reading about all the good work that is happening within our field across the Southeast. Our region is strong and making many positive contributions to our profession. Let me also encourage you to please mark your calendars now for the SEMC 2024. I look forward to seeing you in Louisiana on October 21-23!


The Walker Art Gallery. Image by Pete Carr.
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Membership is All About You!

Are you taking full advantage of your SEMC membership? Here are some benefits you don’t want to miss out on!

Free Virtual Programming. Monthly virtual programs are free.

Conference Registration. Enjoy a registration rate up to $100 less than the non-member rate.

Conference Scholarships. Apply for several scholarships to help off-set the cost of attending the conference.

Conference Competitions. Submissions are open to active members.

Job Listings. Post jobs on the website for free.

Southeastern Reciprocal Membership Program (SERM). This program is for museums to offer their members an opportunity to visit participating museums in our Southeastern region.

Leadership Programs. Apply to attend the Leadership Institute and the Jekyll Island Management Institute.

Ethical Interpretation Workshop. As a proud partner with the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture – Office of Strategic Partnerships, SEMC offers two scholarships to members.

The Handumy Jean Tahan Internship Fund. Institutional members (category 1,2, and 3) are eligible to apply for funds to hire an intern.

Advertisements and Sponsorships. Corporate members are eligible to place ads in SEMC publications and support programs and events through sponsorship.

Social Media Support. Send SEMC your news and events and get promotion on our social media platforms.

For more information about any of these SEMC benefits, check out our website ( or email me (

— Carla Phillips , SEMC Membership & Communications Manager

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Mid-Year Meeting, March 2024

The SEMC Program Committee and Council members gathered in person and virtually from March 7-8, 2024, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for the annual SEMC midyear meeting.

Wondering what the “mid-year meeting” is exactly? Each year in March, the SEMC Program Committee gathers in the Annual Meeting host city to spend a day reviewing, debating, and ultimately selecting the annual meeting program sessions. This Committee always has its work cut out, and this year proved no different with nearly 100 session proposals to choose from and only 48 available spots for SEMC2024.

This year’s Program Committee was comprised of 30 individuals from around the region, each bringing unique perspectives from various museum backgrounds, career stages, and demographic profiles. You may be wondering, “How can 30 people possibly narrow almost 100 proposals down to only 48 selections in ONE day?” The short answer is preplanning! Before the meeting in March, the committee was divided into six teams and tasked with reviewing a portion of the proposals and then meeting to discuss their top selections. Once we arrived in Baton Rouge, each team was ready to present their selections and why they, as a team, chose them. By utilizing preplanning, the program

comes together quickly. However, the work isn’t finished. The Committee then must decide if the existing selections have produced a well-rounded, inclusive, and diverse program. It’s at this point more difficult decisions are made and some of the selections are reconsidered. At the end of the day, after much discussion, the Committee remained united and focused on creating the best possible program for all. The review day is long, and the debate is spirited, but this year’s Co-Chair Crista McCay did an amazing job of helping keep the discussion neutral and with inclusivity at the center.

Involvement in the SEMC Program Committee is a wonderful and FUN way to get involved in our organization and add your input to the Annual Meeting Program. Consider joining the committee for SEMC2025 in Montgomery, Alabama! Applications will open shortly after SEMC2024 concludes.

The SEMC Council also meets at the mid-year meeting to conduct Council business, discuss the budget, and strategize for the future. For those on both Program Committee and Council, it can be a couple of jampacked days. It’s not ALL work though. We build in time for fun as well! Representatives from the Baton Rouge Convention and Visitor’s Bureau visited the


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Program Committee meeting to give us a brief welcome and some cool Baton Rouge swag. Michelle Schulte, Chief Curator of the LSU Museum of Art (and Local Arrangements Committee Chair and SEMC Council member), hosted the Program Committee’s lunch and gave the group a behind-the-scenes tour of the museum. Additionally, these hard-working SEMC volunteers get a preview of what the annual meeting host city has to offer. Each year is different, but this year, we had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Louisiana Art and Science Museum for a special viewing of the LeVar Burton narrated, In Saturn’s Rings in their Irene W. Pennington Planetarium.

Baton Rouge’s mesmerizing star attraction — The Irene W. Pennington Planetarium — houses a 60-foot domed theater that is one of the most sophisticated multimedia presentation venues in the country. The theater presents digital movies and sky shows using the most advanced visual and sound technology available. A 4K full-dome digital video projection system puts you in the center of the action, enveloped by a 5.1, 15,000-watt digital surround sound system. At Pennington Planetarium, learn about the seasonal night sky and current celestial events, explore our

solar system, and travel through the Milky Way and beyond to see the universe as never before. SEMC offers thanks to Frances Mykoff, Development Director, at the Louisiana Art and Science Museum (and Program Committee member) for arranging our memorable visit. Attendees of SEMC2024 will have the opportunity to visit the Louisiana Art and Science Museum on Sunday, October 20, during the post-conference kickoff evening event.

In addition to having a strong showing of museums and cultural institutions, Baton Rouge offers a robust collection of restaurants and a vibrant nightlife. The city has so much to offer us this fall and we can’t wait to share it with you. SEMC expresses a heartfelt THANK YOU to the Baton Rouge Local Arrangements Committee for their hard work and dedication to ensuring SEMC2024 will be memorable. We are especially grateful to the 2024 Local Arrangements Committee Chair, Michelle Schulte. ONWARD to SEMC2024 where we will meet and showcase how our museums innovate and inspire!

The Irene W. Pennington Planetarium at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum, Baton Rouge.
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Southern University Marching Band. Dubbed the “Human Jukebox” years ago, the SU band has achieved legendary status as one of the nation’s top collegiate bands.

The 2024 SEMC Conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, focuses on innovation and inspiration. How should museums move forward in a rapidly changing world. Over the last four years, we have experienced substantial shifts in governance, economy, community, societal beliefs, and technology. Despite these challenges, how can we continue to inspire our visitors? Our donors? Our workforce? Let’s explore innovative ideas for change across our field, to ensure museums remain relevant and impactful now and in the future.

Heidelberg Hotel (now the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center), 201211 Lafayette Street, Baton Rouge. Gift of Ed Reed. Photograph by Ewing, ca.

Courtesy of East Baton Rouge Parish Library.



Mark your calendars for the 2024 SEMC Annual Meeting which will be held at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, a property that blends both history and elegance and once again stands proud as it did when it was originally constructed in 1927. The historic hotel has been fully restored to its former state of grandeur with over $70 million in renovations and 31,000 square feet of meeting and event space to meet SEMCs conference needs. Overlooking the beautiful Mississippi River and located in picturesque downtown Baton Rouge, the hotel is adjacent to the Shaw Center and the River

Center Convention Center. It is also less than five minutes from the Louisiana State Capitol and three miles from Louisiana State University.

The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center

The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center was constructed during the “Roaring Twenties,” in which flappers, the radio, and the Art Deco movement defined the age. The idea for the Heidelberg Hotel (the property’s original name) began in 1927, when architect Edward

The Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, formerly the Heidelberg Hotel.

Nield casually sketched a luxury hotel on a napkin, with no formal plans to construct in Louisiana’s capital city. In 1928, Huey P. Long was elected governor, establishing himself as one of the state’s most colorful characters. In the 1930s, Long oversaw construction of a new state capitol building, four blocks from the Heidelberg Hotel. Among its hallmarks was its rank as the tallest capitol building in the country. In 1931, the Heidelberg itself served as the Louisiana Capitol during a dispute between Long and Lieutenant Governor Paul Cyr. Long, newly elected as senator, refused to relinquish his duties as governor and Cyr set up operations in the hotel. Long met an untimely and suspicious death in 1935 when he was assassinated in the hall of the Capitol building. Many events surrounding his death have never been explained, and rumors persist to this day, especially about the whereabouts of Long’s reputed “deduct box,” a cache of political paybacks.

One of the unique features of the hotel is the secret underground passageway to the King Hotel across the street, which allegedly gave Huey Long direct access to his flamboyant mistress. Today, guests can dine in the

infamous secret tunnel. The Heidelberg was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It has received a Bricks and Mortar award from the Foundation of Historical Louisiana. In 2006, after more than $70 million in renovations, the former Heidelberg Hotel was reborn as the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center hotel. Modern upgrades, tasteful amenities, a beautiful restaurant and lounge, and exercise facility give new life to this historic hotel.

Explore the History of Baton Rouge

Nicknamed the “Red Stick,” Baton Rouge houses over 300 years of history, much of which can be tasted in the delectable food, seen in the distinct architecture, and learned through the city’s unique culture.

In Louisiana’s Capital City, you will experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of an authentic Louisiana experience at every turn. With hundreds of years of history, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the heart and soul of the state’s culture with a colorful story told by the historical landmarks, culinary offerings and the arts and culture

The Louisiana Capitol.

scene. Take advantage of the walkable downtown area while exploring venues and attractions such as the Old State Capitol and Capitol Park Museum. Immerse your taste buds in the local cuisine at the selection of culinary experiences. Baton Rouge’s eclectic culture is best tasted, and the ever-growing restaurant scene is filled with everything from longtime local classics to newer restaurant concepts. After your meal, dance the night away to the sounds of Baton Rouge — jazz, zydeco, swamp blues and country — with live performances almost every night. For more information, head to

Once you are ready to map out your trip to the Capital City you can download a flat map of the Downtown Baton Rouge and Greater Baton Rouge areas to help pinpoint all of your destinations, or select a neighborhood for interactive maps filled with  restaurants, things to do, shopping and nightlife!

Maps of Baton Rouge, LA | Interactive & Downloadable Maps (

Direct Flights to Baton Rouge

With yearly festivals and events, professional and leisure conventions, sporting events, delicious food and drinks and so much to  do and see, there are plenty of reasons to come on down to Baton Rouge! The  Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport (BTR) serves over 830,000 people and its frequent flights provided by American, Delta and United to some of their largest hub airports provide a quick connection to destinations all over the world.

The following airlines offer direct flights to Baton Rouge: American Airlines, Delta, and United.

The following cities have nonstop flights to Baton Rouge: Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Dallas/Fort Worth, TX; Houston, TX (Intercontinental); and Washington, DC (National).

Both Uber and Lyft service the BTR Airport and the Hilton offers a complimentary airport shuttle! Arrive early — stay late — experience a unique part of the SEMC region in 2024. Conference registration opens in May 2024.

A Capitol Park Museum event.
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SEMC Spotlight: 2024 Handumy Jean Tahan Internship Fund Recipient

We are pleased to feature  Arsenio Andrus, an intern at the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center in Opelousas, Louisiana. Arsenio and the Museum are direct beneficiaries of support from the SEMC Handumy Jean Tahan Internship Fund that provides support (annually) for a museum or historic side to offer a paid internship to help foster the talents of future generations of museum professionals in the Southeastern Museums Conference.

Arsenio is a native of Opelousas with a deep passion for education and empowerment. He is committed to preserving the culture in St. Landry Parish because it is a place of rich cultural heritage and history. He is a proud University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate and holds a Master’s Degree in Justice Administration from Excelsior University in Albany, New York. Arsenio is pursuing an MBA from Excelsior University, emphasizing his dedication to continuing education and professional growth.

Arsenio’s internship has focused on the creation of an orientation booklet for Opelousas Museum volunteers and employees. The booklet provides information to share with the public during museum tours. The content includes information about the history and culture of Opelousas, provides details about exhibits, and serves as an important tool for volunteers and future employees.

Support provided by the Handumy Jean Tahan Internship Fund and the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center ensured that Arsenio was paid for his internship efforts.

Applications for 2024/2025 Internship Funding are open through May 31, 2024.

Learn more and apply today!

Arsenio Andrus at the Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center.


SEMC Endowment Contributions

Many thanks to our endowment contributors this year (January to April, 2024) for investing in the future of SEMC! When you are thinking of honoring or remembering someone, please consider a contribution to the SEMC endowment. For more information, contact Executive Director

Zinnia Willits at 404.814.2048 or


in honor of Graig Shaak

George Bassi

Charles (Tom) Butler

David Butler

Mary Hauser

Michael Hudson

Elise LeCompte

Darcie MacMahon

Nathan Moehlmann

Rosalind Martin

Doug Noble

Willam Paul, Jr.

Graig Shaak

Robert and Nancy Sullivan

Kristen Miller Zohn

Zinnia Willits


Members of the Past Presidents Circle contribute $150 annually for at least two years to the endowment fund:

George Bassi

Sharon Bennett

David Butler

Charles “Tom” Butler

Tamra Sindler Carboni

Micheal A. Hudson

Darcie MacMahon

Douglas Noble

Robert Rathburn

Graig D. Shaak

Robert Sullivan

Zinnia Willits

Kristen Miller Zohn


Thirty members of SEMC have made commitments of distinction as Alderson Fellows. Their investment of at least $1,000 each is a significant leadership gift, reflective of a personal commitment to the professional association that has meant so much to each of them.

Platinum Alderson Fellows

(minimum $5,000)

Sylvia F. Alderson

Bob Rathburn

Graig D. Shaak

Nancy & Robert Sullivan

Medallion Alderson Fellows

(minimum $2,500)

George Bassi

Sharon Bennett

David Butler

Tamra Sindler Carboni

William U. Eiland

Martha Battle Jackson

Pamela Meister

Richard Waterhouse

Alderson Fellows

(minimum $1,000)

Alexander Benitez

T. Patrick Brennan

Michael Brothers

W. James Burns

Matthew Davis

Horace Harmon

Brian Hicks

Pamela Hisey

Micheal Hudson

Kathleen Hutton

Rick Jackson

Andrew Ladis

John Lancaster

Elise LeCompte

Allyn Lord

Zinnia Willits with Louisiana advocates at the 2024 Museum Advocacy Day.

Michael Anne Lynn

R. Andrew Maass

Darcie MacMahon

Rosalind Martin

Susan Perry

Robin Seage Person

Robin Reed ( continued)

Allison Reid

Steve Rucker

Michelle Schulte

Ahmad Ward

Michael Scott Warren

Heather Marie Wells

Kristen Miller Zohn

Other SEMC Contributions (January–April, 2024)


Matthew Davis

Danielle Hatch

Heather Nowak

Ashleigh Oatts

Michael (Scott) Warren


Scott Alvey

Anonymous Donation in Memory of Mr. Eddie Davis in honor of his son, Matthew Davis.

Rebecca Bush

Matthew Davis

Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation

Hutchinson Design Group

Kentucky Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)


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Kyle Hutchinson and John Parker

Christa McCay

Heather Nowak

Lauren Pacheco

Catherine Pears

Susan Perry

Michelle Schulte

Michael Scott

Deborah Rose Van Horn

Ahmad Ward

Heather Marie Wells

Lance Wheeler

Crystal Wimer


Association of African American Museums

Tafeni English

National Museum of African American History and Culture – Office of Strategic Partnerships

Smithsonian, Our Shared Future: Reckoning with our Racial Past

Lance Wheeler


Rebecca Bush

Elise LeCompte

Joy Tahan Ruddell

Joshua Whitfield


Elise LeCompte


Angie Albright

Anonymous donation in memory of Emma Delean Taylor in honor of her daughter Deitrah Taylor


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SEMC Active Memberships

SEMC thanks all our active members, including those who have recently joined (in bold). Without your support and participation, we could not provide region-wide services such as our awards and scholarship programs, as well as our outstanding Annual Meetings and nationally acclaimed Jekyll Island Management Institute. If you are an individual member and your museum is not an institutional member, please encourage them to join. For information on memberships and benefits visit, email, or call 404.814.2047. For your convenience, the last page of this newsletter is a membership application.



Deborah Aronin, Durham, North Carolina

Phyllis Asztalos, Tallahassee, Florida

Sean Burke, Knoxville, Tennessee

Jacob Coburn, Cullowhee, North Carolina

Caroline Cole, Buford, Georgia

Kasey Daugherty, Enterprise, MIssissippi

Michael Davenport, Charleston, South Carolina

Anita Funston, Asheville, North Carolina

Claudia Hawkins, Milledgeville, Georgia

Anna Henderson, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Parker Hilley, Decatur, Georgia

Olivia Hoagland, Boone, North Carolina

Lilly Honea, New Hope Alabama

Zoe Hume, Tallahassee, Florida

Melody Hunter-Pillion, Cary, North Carolina

S.O. Jeffcoat, Columbia, South Carolina

Katelin Lacivita, Garden City, Georgia

Trinity Lowe, Syracuse, New York

Rebecca Marine, Oak Grove, Kentucky

Rachel Mohr, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Grace Moorman, Athens, Georgia

Andrea Nero, Buffalo, New York

Samantha Oleschuk, New Hill, North Carolina

Suzanna Parker, Sparta, Georgia

Corinne Roth, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Deanna Sorrells, Milledgeville, Georgia

Megan Tewell, Johnson City, Tennessee

Eileen Tomczuk, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Shelby Walker, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Diana Wilder, Jeffersonville, Indiana

Ashley Williams, Tallahassee, Florida

Dakota Wilson, Boone, North Carolina

Leila Withers, Atlanta, Georgia


Krishna Adams, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

Jess Alden, Atlanta, Georgia

Nancy Allred, Cary, North Carolina

Arsenio Andrus, Opelousas, Louisiana

Susan Asbury, Madison, Georgia

Dawn Aschberger, Avondale Estates, Georgia

Amber Barnhardt, Athens, Georgia

Vincent Barraza, New Orleans, Louisiana

Blake Batten, Spartanburg, South Carolina

Austin Bell, Marco Island, Florida

Eboni Belton, Columbia, South Carolina

Rex Bennett, Cookeville, Tennessee

Steven Blashfield, Richmond, Virginia

Matthew Blong, Marco Island, Florida

Maggie Bond, Lexington, Kentucky

Lori Boyer, New Orleans, Louisiana

Tish Boyer, Louisville, Kentucky

Kathleen Boyle, Brentwood, Tennessee

Marcie Breffle, Atlanta Georgia

Amanda Briede, Louisville, Kentucky

Casey Brown, Asheville, North Carolina

Margaret Brown, Durham, North Carolina

Emilie Bryant, Lynchburg, Virginia

Bridget Bryson, St Petersburg, Florida

Jenny Burney, St. Louis, Missouri

Andrea Burns, Boone, North Carolina

Rebecca Bush, Columbus, Georgia

Colleen Callahan, Richmond, Virginia

Sharon Campbell, Travelers Rest, South Carolina

Jordan Cao, Holly Springs, North Carolina

Staci Catron, Atlanta, Georgia

Maggie Claytor, Charleston, South Carolina

Kathy Clem, Pittsford, New York

Stephanie Cohen, Union, South Carolina

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Sharon Corey, Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Katrinka Corry, Savannah, Georgia

Schelly Corry, Pineville, Missouri

Megan Cotter, North Richland Hills, Texas

Leah Craig, Bowling Green, Kentucky

Patrick Daily, Hickory, North Carolina

Matthew Davis, Gray, Georgia

Dean DeBolt, Pensacola, Florida

Patty Dees, Cartersville, Georgia

Kathryn Dixson, Atlanta, Georgia

Nyree Dowdy, Richmond, Virginia

Didi Dunphy, Athens, Georgia

Christian Edwards, Pittsboro, North Carolina

Linda Endersby, Lincoln, Nebraska

Siera Erazo, Charlotte, North Carolina

Scott Erbes, Louisville, Kentucky

J. R. Fennell, Lexington, South Carolina

Nisa Floyd, Atlanta, Georgia

V. Taylor Foster, Louisville, Kentucky

Robin Gabriel, Georgetown, South Carolina

Kelly Galvarino, Windsor, South Carolina

Brian Garrett, New York, New York

Glen Gentele, Orlando, Florida

Meghan Gerig, Sautee Nacoochee, Georgia

Mandy Gibson, Hendersonville, North Carolina

Rachel Gibson, Charlotte, Tennessee

David Goist, Asheville, North Carolina

Claudio Gomez, Knoxville, Tennessee

Kelly Goodner, Metairie, Louisiana

Sabra Gossett, Anniston, Alabama

Cindy Green, Franklin, Tennessee

James Gregory, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Kristi Grieve, Cartersville, Georgia

Carolyn Grosch, Asheville, North Carolina

Dawn Hammatt, Abilene, Kansas

Lily Hampton, Indianapolis, Indiana

Keith Hardison, Antioch, Tennessee

Jill Harris, Martinsville, Virginia

Katherine Hertelendy, Burlington, North Carolina

Tiffany Hoffman, Columbus, Georgia

Audrey Hong

Tiffany Hughes, Cartersville, Georgia

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Allison Kilberg, New Albany, Indiana

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Karol Lawson, Lynchburg, Virginia

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Marissa Petrou, Lafayette, Louisiana

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Maggie Poudel, Danville, Kentucky

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Mary Ann Redding, Boone, North Carolina

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Carolyn Rice, Clarkesville, Georgia

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Tony Schnadelbach, Jackson, Mississippi

Mary Schwanz, Boone, North Carolina

Michael Scott, Louisville, Kentucky

Marsha Semmel, Arlington, Virginia

Patricia Shandor, Lexington, Kentucky

Catherine Shteynberg, Knoxville, Tennessee

Alan Shuptrine, Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

Christy Sinksen, Athens, Georgia

John Slemp, Tucker, Georgia

Addie Smith, Charleston, South Carolina

Anna Smith, Camp Shelby, MIssissippi

Laura Smith, Huntsville, Alabama

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Karen Sutton, Charlotte, North Carolina

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Patrick Daily, Hickory, North Carolina

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Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, Florida

Art Center Sarasota, Sarasota, Florida

Bandy Heritage Center for Northwest Georgia, Dalton, Georgia

Berkeley County Museum, Moncks Corner, South Carolina

C.Williams Rush Museum of African-American Arts & Culture, Kingstree, South Carolina

Caldwell Heritage Museum, Lenoir, North Carolina

Calico Rock Community Foundation, Calico Rock, Arkansas

Cameron Art Museum, Wilmington, North Carolina

Carnegie Center for Art and History, New Albany, Indiana

Carter-Coile Country Doctors Museum, Winterville, Georgia

Clemson University’s Bob Campbell Geology Museum, Clemson, South Carolina

Creative Liberties Artist Studios & Galleries, Sarasota, Florida

Doral Contemporary Art Museum, Doral, Florida

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Drayton Hall, Charleston, South Carolina

Dunedin Fine Art Center, Dunedin, Florida

Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, Roanoke, Virginia

Florida CraftArt, St. Petersburg, Florida

Gainesboro Modern, Gainesboro, Tennessee

Gaston County Museum of Art & History, Dallas, North Carolina

Georgia Writers Museum, Eatonton, Georgia

Historic Augusta, Inc., Augusta, Georgia

Historic Cane Hill, Inc., Cane Hill, Arkansas

Historic Dumfries Virginia & The Weems-Botts Museum, Dumfries, Virginia

HistoryMiami, Miami, Florida

International Arts Center, Troy, Alabama

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Marine Corps Museum Parris Island, Parris Island, South Carolina

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Northeast Document Conservation Center, Andover, Massachusetts

Oglethorpe University Museum of Art (OUMA), Atlanta, Georgia

Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art, Biloxi, Mississippi

Parris Island Heritage Foundation, Parris Island, South Carolina

Patrick Henry Memorial Foundation, Brookneal, Virginia

Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina

Paul R. Jones Museum- University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Posada Art Foundation, San Francisco, California

Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum, Savannah, Georgia

South Carolina Confederate Relic Room & Museum, Columbia, South Carolina

Southern University at New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana

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University of South Alabama Archaeology Museum, Mobile, Alabama

Yeiser Art Center, Paducah, Kentucky

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Aiken County Historical Museum, Aiken, South Carolina

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Andrew Low House Museum, Savannah, Georgia

Appalachian State University Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, Boone, North Carolina

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Bartow History Museum, Cartersville, Georgia

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Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum, Orangeburg, South Carolina

Charlotte Museum of History, Charlotte, North Carolina

Civil Rights Memorial Center/Southern Poverty Law Center, Montgomery, Alabama

Clemson Area African American Museum, Clemson, South Carolina

Computer Museum of America, Roswell, Georgia

Dade Heritage Trust, Miami, Florida

East Tennessee Historical Society, Knoxville, Tennessee

Hampton University Museum, Hampton, Virginia

Hilliard Art Museum University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, Louisiana

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Historical Society of Western Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia

Horry County Museum, Conway, South Carolina

International Museum of the Horse, Lexington, Kentucky

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Louisiana Prison Museum and Cultural Center, Angola, Louisiana

Louisville Water Tower / Louisville Water, Louisville, Kentucky

Marietta Museum of History, Marietta, Georgia

Matheson History Museum, Gainesville, Florida

Mennello Museum of American Art, Orlando, Florida

Morris Center for Lowcountry Heritage, Ridgeland, South Carolina

Mosaic Templars Cultural, Little Rock, Arkansas

Museum of the American Printing House for the Blind, Louisville, Kentucky

Museum of the Mississippi Delta, Greenwood, Mississippi

Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, Virginia

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Riverside, The Farnsley-Moremen Landing, Louisville, Kentucky

Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, Atlanta, Georgia

South Carolina Military Museum, Columbia, South Carolina

South Union Shaker Village, Auburn, Kentucky

Spalding County Our Legacy Museum, Griffin, Georgia

Swope Art Museum, Terre Haute, Indiana

Tampa Baseball Museum at the Al Lopez House, Tampa, Florida

The Mitford Museum, Hudson, North Carolina

Thomas County Historical Society, Thomasville, Georgia

Thronateeska Heritage Foundation, Inc., Albany, Georgia

University of Mary Washington Museums, Falmouth, Virginia

University of Mississippi Museum & Historic Houses, Oxford, MIssissippi

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Abraham Lincoln Library & Museum, Harrogate, Kentucky

Albany Museum of Art, Albany, Georgia

Augusta University, Augusta, Georgia

Children’s Museum of Oak Ridge, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

City of Raleigh - Historic Resources & Museum Program, Raleigh, North Carolina

DeKalb History Center, Decatur, Georgia

Department of Historic Museums, Georgia College, Milledgeville, Georgia

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Edisto Island Open Land Trust, Edisto Island, South Carolina

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Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, North Carolina

Gregg Museum of Art & Design, Raleigh, North Carolina

Henry B. Plant Museum, Tampa, Florida

Historical Association of Catawba Co., Newton, North Carolina

Inland Waterways Museum, Paducah, Kentucky

Knox Heritage & Historic Westwood, Knoxville, Tennessee


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Magnolia Mound Plantation, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta, Georgia

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North Carolina American Indian Heritage Commission, Raleigh, North Carolina

Old State House Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas

Spelman College, Atlanta, Georgia

Sumter County Museum, Sumter, South Carolina

Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site (National Park Service), Tuskegee Institute, Alabama

University of West Georgia, Carrollton, Georgia

Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach, Virginia

Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum, Wilson, North Carolina

Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs, Mississippi

Waterworks Visual Arts Center, Salisbury, North Carolina

Weatherspoon Art Museum University ofNorth Carolina –Greensboro, Greensboro, North Carolina

West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana

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Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, South Carolina

Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Norfolk, Virginia

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas

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Huntsville Museum of Art, Huntsville, Alabama

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Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, Jackson, Mississippi

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Muscarelle Museum of Art, Williamsburg, Virginia Museum of Arts & Sciences, Daytona Beach, Florida

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National Museum of the Marine Corps, Triangle, Virginia

National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Pooler, Georgia

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Polk Museum of Art, Lakeland, Florida

Reynolda House Museum of American Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Sarasota Art Museum, Sarasota, Florida

Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Springdale, Arkansas

South Carolina State Museum, Columbia, South Carolina

Tampa Bay History Center, Tampa, Florida

Tampa Museum of Art, Inc., Tampa, Florida

Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Virginia

Tellus Science Museum, Cartersville, Georgia

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The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Jacksonville, Florida

The Dixon Gallery & Gardens, Memphis, Tennessee

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Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Little Rock, Arkansas

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Atlanta History Center, Atlanta Georgia

Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama

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Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Nashville, Tennessee

Florida Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, Florida

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National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis, Tennessee

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New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana

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Schiele Museum, Gastonia, North Carolina

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Tennessee State Museum, Nashville, Tennessee

The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia

The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art, St Petersburg, Florida

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Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Virginia

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Museums Benefit from Publishing

As a book printer at Friesens, I have had the privilege of working with dozens of museums across the Southeast US, and I have seen firsthand how publishing can enhance their work and impact. In my mind, it is an easy collaboration. I see books and printing as a form of art themselves. They seem to me only a natural extension of the art, history, and knowledge that your valuable SEMC museums contain. Publishing is not only a way to share the stories and insights of museums with the world, but also a way to support their missions and goals in numerous ways. Let me elaborate.

First, but not most importantly, publishing your own books and magazines creates a revenue stream. Museums can generate income from selling their publications online, in their gift shops, or through other outlets. This financial influx can help you cover various expenses, invest in new initiatives, or support causes that align with your own mission. Publishing can also create opportunities for sponsorship, advertising, or crowdsourcing, which can provide additional funding or exposure for your museums.

Also, print holds a tried-and-true legitimacy in our culture and publications help build credibility. Museums can establish themselves as experts and authorities in their fields by publishing their research, collections, and achievements. This can attract more visitors, donors, partners, and media attention. Simply put, magazines and books increase your influence and reputation with the readers and demographics they reach. Publishing can also help museums demonstrate their impact and

value to stakeholders, policymakers, or philanthropists, and ultimately secure more support and recognition for the organization.

Never discount how immensely your own self-published pieces can connect with your audience, either. Museums can communicate with their visitors, members, and supporters through their publications. Providing them with this engaging and informative content will only enrich their museum experience. You can create a stronger bond and loyalty between the

Brandie Harrell of Friesens.

museum and your readers. It is a chance to be seen as the experts you are within your respective fields, announce accomplishments, or celebrate the museum. Or maybe you just want to encourage your audience to come back and spread the word. Regardless, publishing can help museums reach new and diverse audiences, while expanding their reach and impact.

Another key point to consider is how publications can help you to celebrate diversity. Museums can highlight the wide variety of their collections, staff, and communities through their publications. Magazines and books can be your tools to address issues of inclusion, equity, and accessibility in the museum sector. Publications can help you reach and serve a broader, more varied audience, and reflect the values and needs of the society they operate in. Publishing can also assist museums in promoting cultural awareness and appreciation. We can be the catalyst to fostering dialogue and collaboration among diverse groups and perspectives.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to illustrate to SEMC members how publishing can help you preserve history. Museums can document and archive their history,

All Things Beautiful: Wonders from the Collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History, printed and bound by Friesens. Best in Show and Gold award winners at SEMC’s 2023 publication contest. Emma Amos: Color Odyssey, printed and bound by Friesens for the Georgia Museum of Art.

culture, and heritage through their publications. These pieces can help to ensure that their organization’s legacy and contributions are not forgotten or lost in time. Printing has always been a way to help preserve and honor the past, as well as a tool to inspire and educate the future generations. Publishing can help museums safeguard their collections and records or solidify the accomplishments and history of the organization throughout the years.

Producing your own books and magazines can be a rewarding and beneficial endeavor for museums of all sizes and types. You just need to have a sharp vision, a strategic plan, and professional partners. As a book printer and a member of the Southeastern Museum Conference, I am thrilled when I see an institution sharing their experience, expertise, and passion through the production of high-quality publications. Whether you think your museum can benefit from a visitor’s guide, history book, exhibition catalog, local magazine, or title showcasing a particular collection, I highly encourage you to turn your ideas into reality. The world and its supporters always need more art, history, and education.

I hope you learned something new about how museums can benefit from publishing and your creative juices are flowing. I am proud to stand alongside museum

professionals sharing stories with the world through your respective organizations every day, across our Southern communities. It is an honor!

Brandie Herrell Southeast Sales Executive at Friesens Corporation Brandie Harrell (right) at the Friesens booth in the 2023 SEMC Expo Hall, Louisville, KY. The Museum Lives in Me, printed and bound by Friesens for the North Carolina Museum of Art. KMAC 40: Crafting the Contemporary, printed and bound by Friesens for the KMAC Museum..

About Art Bridges Foundation

Headquartered in Bentonville, Arkansas, Art Bridges Foundation is the vision of arts patron Alice Walton. Since 2017, the foundation has expanded access to American art in all regions across the nation. We work closely with our partners to create and support collection-sharing projects as well as learning and engagement programs, audience evaluation, and professional development. Art Bridges partners with a growing network of over 220 museums of all sizes and locations to provide financial and strategic support for exhibition development, loans from the Art Bridges Permanent Collection, and programs designed to educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local audiences. The Art Bridges Permanent Collection represents an expanding vision of American art from the 19th century to present day and encompasses multiple media and voices. Below is a programmatic overview. Please visit our website for more detailed information and resources.

Art Bridges Permanent Collection

Art Bridges collects works of American art to share with museums and communities across the country. To date, the Art Bridges Permanent Collection comprises over 100 objects that are available for loan for periods of up to two years. Borrowing partners make loans publicly accessible in a manner that sparks new conversations or ways of thinking. Art Bridges provides logistical support and covers direct costs involved with getting loans to partners and on display.

Partner Loan Network

The Partner Loan Network, formerly known as Collection Loan Partnership, brings American art out of museum storage to share with communities across the United States. Lending partners are institutions with deep holdings that identify artworks from their collections for loan in consultation with Art Bridges.


Those artworks are prepared for borrowing partners in curated groups of 5 to 7 objects and for loan periods of 12 to 24 months. Art Bridges provides logistical support and covers direct costs involved with both artwork preparation and presentation.

Traveling Exhibitions

Art Bridges supports the creation and presentation of traveling exhibitions. Lending partners are generally museums with large or focused collections that work with Art Bridges to organize touring exhibitions from their collections. Borrowing partners are museums that are eager to engage their community with great American art and are committed to innovation, experimentation, and multidisciplinary approaches. Art Bridges provides logistical support and covers direct costs involved with both artwork preparation and presentation.

Cohort Program

The Cohort Program supports multi-institutional, multi-year exhibition partnership projects nationwide.

For each project, an organizing museum and its regional partners form a cohort to collaboratively create a series of American art exhibitions that deepen engagement with local communities. Sharing collections and resources, cohort partners work together to generate exhibitions that are content rich, include in-depth educational and interpretive materials, and are designed to meet a wide range of audience interests.

Learning & Engagement

Program funding is available to institutions presenting an Art Bridges-supported exhibition of American art. The Art Bridges Learning & Engagement team works directly with presenting partners to design innovative programming that builds relationships with new audiences, engages current audiences in new ways, or emphasizes interdisciplinary elements.

Art Bridges Evaluation

Art Bridges partners are eligible to participate in a robust evaluation program. Collaboration for Ongoing Visitor Experience Studies (COVES) is an audience


survey that helps partners collect valuable data from visitors to better understand audiences, track changes over time, measure program impact, and make responsive, visitor-centered decisions. Art Bridges can provide funding through its COVES — Art Bridges Evaluation Program for at least three years.

Fellows Program

Art Bridges works with its partners to identify opportunities for Art Bridges Fellows, who join an institution for a three-year appointment. Each position is connected to substantial multi-year Art Bridges projects at partner institutions, providing robust opportunities for professional development and exchange. Additionally, fellows gather in Bentonville for a month-long residency and regular convenings to share and create resources for peers and museums nationwide.

Summer Internship Program

Art Bridges provides paid work experience for the next generation of museum professionals through its Summer Internship Program. Interns receive hands-on

experience with guidance and mentorship from Art Bridges staff across all departments, from Curatorial and Traveling Exhibitions to Marketing & Communications and Learning & Engagement.

Access for All

This $40 million funding initiative aims to increase access to museums across the country and foster engagement with local communities. The three-year pilot program supports 64 current Art Bridges museum partners by covering the costs of admission, outreach, and other efforts that reduce barriers to access.

Additional Resources

We are here to support your efforts to share American art with communities nationwide. Please contact us to learn more about our programs or discuss your innovative ideas for expanding access to American art.


Journeying Through Historic Mitchelville: Educational Tourism and the Art of Cultural Preservation

Strategic Storytelling in Educational Tourism delves into the profound impact of sharing narratives that promote cultural understanding and appreciation in tourism. Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park serves as a prime illustration of this concept, where strategic storytelling is utilized to highlight the rich heritage of the Gullah culture. Through immersive experiences and guided tours, visitors are invited to explore the history and traditions of the Gullah Geechee people who inhabited Mitchelville, the first self-governed town of formerly enslaved people. Curated experiences also share a deeper connection to showcasing the intricate way of living in an isolated community in the Lowcountry.

If you close your eyes and listen to some of the native islanders, you can see yourself transported back in time where ancestors cultivated the land growing Carolina Gold Rice and making sweetgrass baskets by hand. For many native islanders in the Lowcountry, Historic Mitchelville is a place that has remained a part of their

upbringing and a cultural pillar of pride in understanding their native Gullah Geechee heritage. But for many people, the town of Mitchelville is an awe-inspiring discovery that reminds them of the unknown stories of everyday people who led thriving communities in isolation in what is known as the Sea Islands. Located on the island of Hilton Head, Historic Mitchelville was created as an “experiment” for freedom under the military leadership of General Ormsby Mitchel after many of the formerly enslaved people on the island were left behind after the first start of the Civil War. With a unique subculture of their own and a resilient way of navigating the land, they became the first community in the United States to be governed by the formerly enslaved. Thus, Mitchelville’s establishment became known as the “birthplace of freedom.” But what happens when the birthplace of freedom is so far removed from mainstream history that people don’t even know it exists? The revival of Historic Mitchelville as a cultural landmark is an essential part of the Gullah Geechee


heritage and its impact on the South. It is a soul stirring experience that creates a new outlook on tourism as we have known it in the past.

Who Are the Gullah Geechee People?

The Gullah Geechee community is a subgroup of descendants of the formerly enslaved who lived and worked in the Lowcountry region of the United States. True to their West African roots, the Gullah Geechee community thrives in its use of storytelling. Members of their community who share these stories of history, culture, and heritage are considered ‘Griots,’ a term that was traditionally reserved for members of the community who conducted the oral histories of their people through stories, music, and artistry. Historic Mitchelville

is turning the age-old custom of storytelling into a modern-day tool in educational tourism. The development of Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park has become an inviting and interactive way to share the history of a distinct culture that has often been swept under the rug. The focus on understanding the cultural heritage of the Gullah Geechee community has become a bridge for connectivity amongst different cultures. For tourists flocking to Hilton Head Island for vacations that include days at the beach, golf outings, and dining on fresh seafood, the presence of this remote section on the island with a somewhat “hidden” culture is often a shocking discovery. Most people think of Hilton Head Island as a haven for upper middle-class families to vacation and indulge in the luxuries of beach life. But very few know about the stories of resilience of the

Historic Mitchelville Juneteenth celebration 2023, courtesy Evelyne Del.

Gullah Geechee people who lived on this remote island and managed to preserve a large part of their West African cultural norms.

The Beauty of Mitchelville

Located on the National Registry of Historic Places, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is a physical representation of storytelling in action. Since its formal establishment in 2010, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park has held to their mission of educating the public on the compelling story of its residents and their quest for education, self-reliance, and sustainability

as members of a free society. Unlike most nonprofit museums, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park is unique in that it shows the history from the perspective of being outside in nature, immersed in the physical locale of the ancestors who lived and worked on the remote island. This immersive experience is one that allows visitors to visualize what life was like for residents of Mitchelville, as the Park is laid out in accordance to where the Praise House, homestead, tool shed and storage of the bateau would have been in historic Mitchelville. Standing in front of the Praise House is akin to stepping into a time capsule of memories where visitors can imagine a community of people gathered together, united by their longing for their native land, their gratitude for survival, and their creativity in making the most of what they were given. Several feet away, visitors can find themselves standing over areas where hearth has been unearthed through recent archaeological explorations. And with just a short stroll down a bridge over a marsh, visitors can stand in the very same place as Mitchelville residents did as they looked out for Confederate ships during the war. It is a feeling of living history that connects its visitors to the reality of the human experience.

Visiting Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park offers a variety of unique experiences ranging from the Griot’s Corner, where children can gather and listen to stories that relate to the Gullah culture and the Lowcountry

Creating engaging and innovative media experiences for visitors to explore, reflect, and learn. WOW Interactive Wall Audubon Insectarium, New Orleans, LA Get a subscription and post RFP’s at no charge to use MuseumINSIDER as a valuable resource for your organization’s next project and to find experienced vendors. SEMC Institutional Members Get 10% off subscription prices and access to our database of thousands of RFPs and museum capital projects worldwide. SEMC Corporate Members MUSEUM INSIDER . CO.UK LEARN MORE NEED TO POST A RFP? - OR - FIND ONE?
Bateau located in Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park, courtesy Gustavo Rattia.

heritage, to the lively Juneteenth celebrations that bring together visitors from all over the country who immerse themselves in the music, food, and culture of an island with its own unique way of living. Even the language in the Lowcountry is distinctly different from what people may be used to hearing. If you close your eyes and listen to some of the native islanders, you can see yourself transported back in time where ancestors cultivated the land growing Carolina Gold Rice and making sweetgrass baskets by hand. This innovative and immersive form of Educational Tourism serves as a platform for raising awareness about the Gullah Geechee culture, as well as challenges such as gentrification, environmental sustainability, and cultural preservation. Visitors leave the

island with a deeper understanding of the importance of preserving and celebrating Gullah Geechee culture in a way that leaves a lasting impact on their everyday lives. In the long run, this serves as a catalyst for cultural understanding that contributes to local economies. It also serves as a way to get future generations excited about having ownership in such a rich history. In recent years, Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park has developed programs that focus on educating the youth on the understanding of Gullah culture, teaching them facts about the region, and including them in historic cultural practices. It is a part of a long-term mission to show the world the importance of getting to know ‘The Birthplace of Freedom.’

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Museums as the Next Frontier for NFTs

Museums provide a number of services, ones we’re familiar with such as community events and programming, meeting spaces and art exhibitions and then there are NFTs!

Museums have the responsibility of stepping in where other institutions fail and there’s no better example than the creation and craze of the NFT.

Museums can not only use NFTs as another outlet for artists, but they can also be used as a funding source (utilizing the images in marketing and fundraising efforts) for these museums and the artists that create them. In turn, museums would sustainably back the NFTs created and ensure that buyers retain their investment and artists retain ownership of their work.

“If museums want to take advantage of the hype around NFTs to court new audiences, they might focus on redirecting prospective collectors to trusted, stable, museum-certified digital collectibles,” according to a

AI generated photo of a purple dog looking towards an Art museum. Photo Credit: S. O. Jeffcoat by way of Dall- E.


blog by the Center for the Future of Museums (“NFTs,” 2022).

Some Background Information on NFTs

NFT “stands for non-fungible token. Tokens are digital items tracked and traded on a blockchain.” A blockchain is a “decentralized, distributed and public digital ledger that is used to record transactions across many computers so that the record cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consensus of the network” (What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work?, 2024).

There are many reasons why blockchain may NOT be the answer for the future of digital art: NFTs are expensive to generate and energy-intensive to store.

The control of NFTs and blockchain are centralized to a small number of privatized companies meaning fraud and permanence are not guaranteed.

For these reasons, NFTs have inevitably begun to fall in value like similar digital currencies and may simply disappear when the companies backing them fold.

However, art institutions have begun to dedicate resources towards exhibiting and selling NFTs as the conversation shifts to the sustainable maintenance of NFTs by more trusted entities like museums. The Seattle NFT Museum opened in 2021 and has taken the ebb and flow of the NFT craze in stride, utilizing it as a platform to foster discussion about the timely intersections of technology and art and to uplift artists who work in the medium of technology (About Us, 2024).

Museums can be champions of NFT because many are successful at executing big plans with menial funds. Museums may have the ability to offset the costs of storing these digital artworks in the same way that the cost to repair and preserve priceless paintings are handled. At the very least, it is imperative that museums have a footing in the preservation of this artform which has



created a widely recognizable collaboration between art, technology and decentralized virtual currency.


About Us. (n.d.). [Blog]. Seattle NFT Museum. Retrieved March 28, 2024, from about-us

NFTs: Museums Can Build Other, Better Digital Stuff. (2022, July 20). American Alliance of Museums -can-build-other-better-digital-stuff/

What Is Blockchain and How Does It Work? | Synopsys. (2024).

81 Let us tell your story Visit us
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at booth #23 |
Story, Our Service: Kentucky’s Women Veterans On display at the Kentucky Historical Society

The first jacket photographed for the book project, A. B. Clement was a B-24 top turret gunner in the Mediterranean Theater, and flew 50 missions, surviving the infamous Ploesti oil field raids.

This type A-2 flight jacket belonged to Calvin E. McCart, a tail gunner attached to the 570th squadron of the 390th Bomb Group. McCart flew 35 successful missions over Europe, signified by the 35 bombs painted on the sleeves of his jacket. The name “Shuttle-Babe” is painted on the back of the jacket above the artwork. The artwork on the back of the jacket is a B-17 flying through the clouds with the 8th Air Force logo behind the plane. Throughout the course of his 35 missions McCart survived 3 emergency landings. Courtesy of the 390th Memorial Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

“Fancy Nancy” is an A-2 jacket that belonged SSG Wesley R. Sheehan. A friend hand carried the jacket from California to Oshkosh, Wisconsin, so it could be photographed for the book. The owners had it appraised and insured first, which was valued at $8,000. SSG Sheehan flew 50 combat missions, and survived two bailouts, signified by the two parachutes painted on the jacket.


Working with Museums: A Creative Approach

My journey working with museums began in 2015 in a rather unexpected manner. As a commercial photographer, we are often encouraged to create “personal projects” to show clients topics we’ve visually explored, without the constraints of commercial interests. After embarking on a project to photograph WWII “bomber jackets” the previous fall, I casually sent several images via email to Dorothy Cochrane, a curator at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, whom I had met through one of my clients. It really was just a short note to let her know about the project.

Imagine my surprise when, 58 minutes later (I checked!), I received a separate note from their curator of the Aviation Clothing collection, Dr. Alex Spencer. His message said that they had 15 jackets that would work for the project, and “when can you be here?” To say that I was dumbfounded would be an understatement, and a few months later, I arrived at the Udvar-Hazy Annex in northern Virginia to photograph the 13 jackets we had settled on.

From that moment on, the project took on a life of its own, and whenever I mentioned to other museums that the Smithsonian had opened their doors to me, it was akin to saying, “Open Sesame!” While there were several that still turned my request down, for various logical reasons, it proved to truly be a magical phrase.

Now it must be said that when the project first began, there was no grand plan on how the images might be used. My initial thinking was that it might make good fodder for a blog post on lighting techniques, or possibly a short discussion on the artwork designs on the jackets.

As the number of jackets photographed increased, I began to understand the significance of the artwork, and the stories that they represented. Essentially, they are walking billboards that depicted in a graphical manner a man’s service during the war, and it then became imperative to create contemporary portraits to accompany the jackets, and to capture as many stories as possible. It was then that the idea of creating a book began to form in my mind.

As with any professional agreement, I had one with the participating museums that said in essence in exchange for access, they would receive high resolution digital copies of the files for their archives. These were not just any digital files, but extremely high-resolution images created with a medium format camera system, purposely lit to show both texture and the color as near as possible to the original. This proved to be a good deal for the participants, as the cost to hire a photographer to do the same work would probably have been cost prohibitive, and in all instances the work was completed in one day.


Bob “Punchy” Powell was a P-51 fighter pilot on D-Day, and flew 3 missions over the course of 16 hours. At day’s end, he was so tired he had to be helped from the cockpit, as his legs wouldn’t support his weight. Shown wearing a replica jacket, his original is in the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Pooler, Georgia.

So began an eight-year journey across America to eventually photograph 162 jackets in twelve different museums and private collections. The private owners received a free print for their participation. The participants, both large and small, included the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, the 390th Memorial Museum, the March Field Museum, the 475th Fighter Group Museum, the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the Allen Airways Museum, the Indiana Military Museum, the Minnesota Historical Society, the National Naval Aviation Museum, the Lowndes County Historical Society, the Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum, and the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

So, what has resulted from all this effort? Besides the shared digital files with each museum, there have been three exhibitions, too many Zoom and personal presentations to count, a large coffee-table book, and a YouTube channel. Additionally, collaborations with a fashion historian, an Antiques Roadshow appraiser, and a professional conservator all lent their expertise to

creating a book that I’d like to read. Oh, and my graphic designer did such a great job that the book has won awards in international design competitions. A logical side benefit is that it has also resulted in a new revenue stream for my business.

The 390th Memorial Museum used the images in an “Adopt a Jacket” fund-raising campaign which allowed them to purchase new display cases for the jackets. As the jackets were being moved from the old to the new cases, a moth flew out of one of the cases, much to the dismay of the museum staff. Using the images created for the project, the curator was able to compare the jacket’s previous condition to what was found, and much to his relief, the condition hadn’t significantly changed. This was a use not previously contemplated, but the resolution of the files is so high that the comparison was easily made.

The Military Aviation Museum in Virginia Beach, Virginia is now hosting a year-long exhibition of selected


jackets, which has increased their visitor numbers. Many of the museum bookstores are now carrying the book, which they purchased at a wholesale rate, and the resulting healthy profit goes into their coffers.

While shooting jackets at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, the Collections Manager Roberta Carothers mentioned that my request to photograph jackets did them a favor. Curious, I asked “How so?” She explained that it prompted them to get their hands on jackets that were either in storage or that were in display cases. Surprisingly, she mentioned that it was only the second time since 1968 that the actor Jimmy Stewart’s jacket had been out of the display case, which means that no one else has this image.

Perhaps most importantly, the fact that the jackets have been digitally captured opens a wealth of possible uses. One of the discovery’s made during my interaction with the various museums is that they can only display 3 to 5% of what they have in their collections.

By digitizing their jacket collections, they can be preserved in perpetuity, as by definition physical objects will eventually turn to dust, and of course in the interim cost money to warehouse and archive. Exhibitions, catalogs, advertising, fund-raising campaigns, historical research, gift shop items, and YouTube videos and social media posts are just some of the things that can be done with the images.

Another thing I realized during this project is that museums are essentially “America’s closets,” which contain stuff that we can’t (or don’t want to) store in our homes, but that have significant historical or cultural value. I think that most people who are commercial photographers are curious about a great many things, and as such could conceivably be willing collaborators with museums in lending their expertise to documenting a specific collection. Of course, it would be great to be paid for such a service, but it might be worthwhile exploring a mutual agreement nonetheless, if the right balance can be arrived at the proverbial “win-win.”

Women Airforce Service Pilot (WASP) Millicent Young.

Finding photographers with the needed expertise these days is usually just a Google search away.

Now, even more than before, I’ve become an enthusiastic champion of museums and the work they do. Of course, this is mentioned every time I give a talk, and social media links increase awareness to an institution and its mission. With the proliferation of digital media, I have a feeling that many people would rather “let their fingers do the walking” instead of making a potentially distant trip to a museum. But that’s just a guess. In any event, it makes it much easier for a digital visitor to see what a museum has in their collections, and perhaps even prompt them to see the collection in person.

One thing I am sure of is that if a collection is hidden away, potentially for decades, very few will benefit from it, which is a shame for all of us. I am hopeful that someday soon it will become possible to prevent the rampant appropriation of intellectual property on the internet (photos in this instance), and to monetize their viewing in a way that makes it possible for all concerned to continue with this important work.

My hat is off to the curators and collection managers that took a chance on this project, and who believed it would come to fruition. I am forever in their debt!

For more information visit the website at https://www



The deadline for the Summer edition of Inside SEMC is July 31, 2024. To submit information for the newsletter, please contact Zinnia Willits ( or Carla Phillips (


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2024 Annual Meeting October 21–23, 2024, Baton Rouge, LA


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