Inside SEMC Summer 2021

Page 1

INSIDE S E MC The Newsletter of the Southeastern Museums Conference

summer 2021 |

ON THE FRONT COVER Market South Wings, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

20 Executive Director’s Notes Zinnia Willits 7 A “Peachy” Message from the Membership Team Carla Phillips 13 SEMC 2021 Annual Meeting Chair’s Address Matt Davis 17 CHATTANOOGA: COME EXPERIENCE OUR SCENIC CITY! SEMC ANNUAL MEETING 2021  20 Introducing Conserv: Your New Partner in Environmental Monitoring  38 Hindsight 2020: Student-Curated Exhibit Reflects on the Year We Will Never Forget Kristy Kay Griffin 41

ON THE BACK COVER Chattanooga Marriott and Convention Center

98 The Day I Was Offered My Dream Job! Amanda Ward 47 Did We Make the Right Decision? Katy Menne 53 Post-Pandemic Fundraising: Eight Recommendations to Jumpstart Your Restart Linda Wise McNay and David M. Paule 60 A Special Thanks: Endowment and Membership Contributions  67 State News  94 SEMC Job Forum

Important Dates 102  102 Get Social 102

Membership Form  103

semc Alabama Arkansas Florida Georgia Kentucky Louisiana Mississippi

North Carolina South Carolina Tennessee Virginia West Virginia U.S. Virgin Islands Puerto Rico

staff Zinnia Willits  Executive Director Carla Phillips  Manager of Communications  and Member Services

semc officers Heather Marie Wells President Digital Media Project Manager, Crystal Bridges  Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR

Matthew S. Davis Vice President Director of Historic Museums,  Georgia College, Milledgeville, GA

contact semc SEMC | P.O. Box 550746 Atlanta, GA 30355-3246 T: 404.814.2048 or 404.814.2047 F: 404.814.2031 W: E:

Deitrah J. Taylor Secretary Public Historian,  Milledgeville, GA

Robin Reed Treasurer

Inside SEMC is published three times a year by SEMC. Annual subscription is included in membership dues. Design: Nathan Moehlmann, Goosepen Studio & Press Museum Administrator (retired),  Fort Monroe, VA

Darcie MacMahon Past President Director of Exhibits & Public Programs, Florida  Museum of Natural History, Gainesville, FL

The deadline for the Summer 2021 newsletter is October 30, 2021. To submit information for the newsletter, please contact the Council Director in your state or Smemberservices@

semc directors Scott Alvey

Calinda Lee

Director, Kentucky Historical Society,

Head of Programs and Exhibitions,

Frankfurt, KY

National Center for Civil and Human Rights,  Atlanta, GA

Glenna Barlow

Deborah Mack

Curator of Education,

Assoc. Dir. Office of Strategic Partnerships

Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC

Smithsonian’s National Museum of African  American History and Culture, Wash., D.C.

Alexander Benitez

Rosalind Martin

Director, Moundville Archaeological Park,

Director of Education, Knoxville Museum

The University of Alabama,

of Art, Knoxville, TN

Moundville, AL Nancy Fields

Michael Scott

Director and Curator, The Museum of

Director of Historic Resources, Jekyll Island

the Southeast American Indian,

Authority, Mosaic/Jekyll Island Museum,

Pembroke, NC

Jekyll Island, GA

Pody Gay

Brenda Tindal

Director, Discovery Network

Executive Director, Harvard Museums

Museum of Discovery, Little Rock, AR

of Science and Culture,  Cambridge, MA

Elise LeCompte

Lance Wheeler

Registrar & Asst. Dept. Chair,

Director of Exhibitions,

Florida Museum of Natural History,

National Center for Civil and Human Rights,

Gainesville, FL

Atlanta, GA


semc executive director’s notes Greetings SEMC! We are excited to share the summer edition of Inside SEMC and pleased at how it has come together. While the last few months have been a roller coaster as the pandemic continues, I hope you will find inspiration, connection, and a healthy dose of positivity in these pages! I am so proud of the way SEMC museums and museum professionals have navigated the peaks and valleys of the last 15 months and found success throughout uncertain times. I will continue to work hard to ensure that SEMC provides the networking, connection and support that is vital to our fieldwide unity. A few thoughts on the content of this edition which includes the upcoming conference, professional practices, and industry partners — three things that bind us together and create our SEMC community. SEMC2021: CHATTANOOGA! As you’ll see from highlights provided by our local arrangements team, Chattanooga, Tennessee has something for everyone! Framed by scenic mountains and dotted with rushing rivers, Chattanooga is a nature lover’s paradise – not to mention a downtown district brimming with museums, galleries, shops and more. There are plenty of things to do in Chattanooga and unique areas to explore. Whether you’re looking to spend time on the river, learn about the area’s rich and diverse history, or dine at an eclectic new restaurant, Chattanooga is a place for adventure seekers. A place ripe with opportunity. A place that’s ready Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

to welcome SEMC with (socially distanced) open arms. As you can imagine, all of us at SEMC and our local teams in Chattanooga have been monitoring the pandemic situation and how it might impact the in-person experience at the October 2021 Annual Meeting. Our planning teams are working to create a safe, more personalized experience for those who will join us in Chattanooga. The smaller projected size of this Annual Meeting is consistent with our need to rely on social distancing measures. SEMC is excited to move forward with the 2021 Annual Meeting at the Chattanooga Convention Center and ask for your support and cooperation. Please take a moment to read the full COVID-19 statement. If you plan to attend SEMC 2021 in-person, please note that we will require all attendees to wear a face mask throughout the conference. All in-person conference attendees should be fully vaccinated for COVID19. Alternately, individuals can protect themselves and reduce the risk to others by attending SEMC2021 virtually. The 2021 Annual Meeting is being offered as a hybrid with both on-site and virtual sessions! It’s a “choose your own adventure” kind of year! We have a terrific Annual Meeting planned with sessions, events, and networking opportunities to inspire 7

and engage. I can’t wait to “see” our members in October — in Chattanooga or online. CONTINUED FOCUS ON THE BUSINESS OF MUSEUMS While we have all been focused on navigating the rocky pandemic terrain, it is satisfying and hopeful to see that the business of museums continues to adjust, evolve, and even thrive. Our community of museum professionals are creative, brave, nimble, empathetic, and forward-thinking. As you will read in the feature articles, thoughtful, ground-breaking, inclusive exhibits continue to be conceptualized and executed — even during dark days and in the face of opposing views. Museums and corporate partners continue to work together to understand the current realities of fundraising and philanthropic support during a pandemic, and emerging museum professionals continue to diligently seek degrees, learn through internships, connect with supportive mentors, be flexible in their career paths and find their way IN to this dynamic field. CORPORATE COMMUNITY Finally, a special shout to our SEMC industry partners, many of which you will see featured through creative advertising on the pages of Inside SEMC, highlighting the essential services they provide museums and confirming their generous support of the Southeastern

Rock City Sunrise, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Museums Conference. Corporate support enables SEMC to continue to provide quality programming, events, and professional development to our membership. We are excited to feature and introduce SEMC’s newest Corporate Partner and Platinum Sponsor of SEMC2021, Conserv! Conserv is a growing company out of Birmingham, Alabama, that offers environmental monitoring software solutions for museums and libraries. Get to know the Conserv team and how the company developed on the following pages…and then meet them in-person or in a virtual booth at SEMC2021. We have thoroughly enjoyed developing a relationship with Conserv’s creative, congenial staff and hope you will too. Their very generous support of SEMC2021 has been foundational to our ability to provide a quality conference during a tricky year! So, there you have it … conference, continuity, and community. That is SEMC. Thank you ALL for your support and active engagement. It is an absolute pleasure to lead this organization of diverse, dynamic southeastern museum professionals. Respectfully, — Zinnia Willits, SEMC Executive Director



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a message from the membership team

Happy Summer, Members! It’s been an unusual summer here in Atlanta, not quite as hot as in past years, but man, when we did get some heat she brought her cousin HUMIDITY! I hope you have been having a great summer and had the opportunity to take a little time to relax and rewind before we begin a very busy Fall season. We are so appreciative of your membership support and hope you are taking advantage of all the benefits that come with membership. We know many of our friends are still experiencing challenges with regards to budgets, staffing and re-opening processes. Please know that we stand with you and are here to support your efforts. We hope you were able to take advantage of our end-of-summer PEACHY membership discount that was available for Individual, Institutional and Academic members. As a thanks to all our members, please enjoy this peachy salsa recipe, it’s a favorite of ours! Remember that throughout the year we provide membership discounts, so let us know if you’re not receiving our emails and we’ll be happy to update your contact information. Also be sure to follow us on social media so you don’t miss out on all the fun! Instagram semcdirect Facebook southeasternmuseums Twitter semc2 Looking forward to meeting many of you in Chattanooga in October!

— Carla Phillips, SEMC Membership/Communications Manager 13




a note from the 2021 annual meeting chair Greetings, SEMC Members! I hope you all remain safe and well. It is hard to believe that summer is almost over and we are gearing up for the Fall. For many of us, the past few months have seen a return to in-person work, continued adjustments to existing programming to accommodate in-person, hybrid, or virtual programming, and refining ways in which our museums can be positive forces in the ongoing change discussions taking place across our nation. SEMC has also been hard at work preparing for our annual meeting and conference scheduled from October 25–27 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and through selected virtual sessions. This year’s theme is “Amplify. Connect. Transform.” — certainly words that have been used by us all to strategize and engage with our stakeholders over the last year. Additionally, this year’s conference provides a wealth of session topics dealing with the realities of the last year, navigating the post-covid world, how museums can be instruments of positive change, and various strategies for professional development. Please visit SEMC’s website to view the preliminary program and find information on registration. I look forward to seeing each of you either in-person or online this fall and wish you all well as we all continue to navigate through this extraordinary period. Sincerely, — Matt Davis, SEMC Vice President 17



Come Experience our Scenic City! We are excited to welcome the Southeastern Museums Conference to Chattanooga, October 25–27, 2021 Chattanooga is all about adventure, arts and culture — and when you’re here, we absolutely refuse to let you feel like a tourist. Whether it’s bouldering on the side of a mountain, marveling at art in the Hunter Museum or one of the city’s many local galleries, or dancing the night away to live music, Chattanooga has something for every type of adventurous spirit. Food is an adventure, too, right? Chattanooga’s rising culinary scene offers chef-prepared delicious bites without the fuss of a big city, and plenty of local surprises around every corner. While you’re in town, be sure to visit our legacy attractions and museums, but don’t be afraid to steer offthe-beaten-path and ask a local for advice. Ruby Falls, Rock City, the National Medal of Honor Museum, the Hunter Museum of American Art, and the Tennessee Aquarium are only a few of the must-sees. But maybe you want to go on a Chatt Taste Food Tour or ride the ChattBrew tour bus? The best way to explore the city is on foot. From the Riverfront to the North Shore, from the Bluff View Arts District to St. Elmo, from the

West Village to the Southside, you’ll have a hard time choosing your favorite! Look around and be amazed. Chattanooga is designed to entice the eye wherever you gaze. Our rich public arts program offers hundreds of whimsical and thought-provoking installations throughout the city. Like to dance? Learn the Cha-Cha and Fox Trot on Frazier Ave. Lounge in a re-imagined alleyway called Cooper’s Alley in the City Center or “Scramble” up (literally) a new interactive installation on First Street as you head from Aquarium Plaza to the Bluff View Arts District. Chattanooga is special for myriad reasons, but it’s the people — and their “aggressively welcoming” attitude — that keep visitors coming back again and again. We’re excited to have you here. And we’re more than happy to share our pride in Chattanooga with whomever will listen. Just ask. 20



West Village Umbrella Alley, Chattanooga.

Tennessee Aquarium, Chattanooga.


Cooper’s Alley, Chattanooga.

International Towing Museum, Chattanooga.




Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga.


Insiders’ Guide to Chattanooga’s Northshore

Riverfront and Walnut Street Bridge, Chattanooga.

At this year’s conference, you’ll have lots of opportunities to explore different areas of Chattanooga: the historic Southside district bordering the Chattanooga Convention Center; the Bluff View Arts District, anchored by the Hunter Museum of American Art; and the Riverfront District surrounding the Tennessee Aquarium, to name a few. But just across the Tennessee

River is another unique neighborhood with a flavor all its own: the Northshore, an on-trend mix of local favorites, outdoor entertainment and historic sites, all accessible on foot or bicycle from downtown Chattanooga. Many pedestrians explore the Northshore by way of the pedestrian-only Walnut Street Bridge. Erected in 28

1891, the bridge historically connected the predominantly white city on the south side of the river with the large black workforce on the north side and has the shameful notoriety as the site of two lynchings (see the newly-installed Ed Johnson Memorial on the south side of the bridge). Today, a linear park that links the Bluff View Arts District to the Northshore, the Walnut Street Bridge is one of the longest pedestrian-only bridges in the country, offering incredible views of the river and mountains surrounding the city. As you make your way across the Walnut Street Bridge, be sure to take in the view of the Hunter Museum atop the limestone bluffs, the nearby nature sanctuary of MacIellan Island, and the city’s iconic bridges. Locals often refer to Chattanooga as the city of four bridges, and from the Walnut Street Bridge you get a clear view of the Market Street Bridge and the Veterans’ Memorial Bridge lined with U.S. flags. Seen in the distance beyond the Market Street Bridge is the Olgiati Bridge, which connects the city with towns to the north. If you’re lucky, you might catch a boat race along the river or hear the musical talents of local buskers. At the end of your walk across the bridge, you’ll be on Frazier Avenue, the Northshore’s main thoroughfare, lined with shops, eateries, cafés, and art galleries. Turning left from the walking bridge, you’ll discover footprints embedded in the sidewalk offering a series of dance tutorials. From the waltz to the hokey pokey, try them out for yourself! Chattanooga’s Northshore has two waterfront parks, each with distinctive features to discover. Popular with families, Coolidge Park boasts an interactive play fountain — who doesn’t love stone elephants that spout water? — lots of open areas to play, and a small stage where you might catch some local musical talent. Coolidge Park is also home to a restored 1894 wooden carousel featuring whimsical animals and a traditional calliope organ, an ideal spot for a colorful selfie. Adjoining Coolidge Park is Renaissance Park, a 23-acre wetlands area, featuring winding paths, native grasses, plants, and swampland. Renaissance Park also pays tribute to our city’s industrial history and is the site of a former “contraband camp.” Chattanooga’s Camp Contraband, a U.S. Civil War encampment site, was a haven for many who were liberated or escaped enslavement and represented their first steps towards freedom. Explore the site and learn more on the National Park Service plaques. While visiting Renaissance Park, you

Julie Darling Donuts, in the Northshore of Chattanooga.

can also see two outdoor sculptures from the Hunter Museum’s collection — Place in the Woods (2010) by Carol Mickett and Robert Stackhouse, and Terry Allen’s Tennessee Leaf (2010). If you happen by on a sunny weekend, you might see children and adults alike sliding down the park’s giant grassy hill on cardboard. If you’re feeling adventurous, try it! Along Frazier Avenue and up North Market Street, you can also explore great local shops, art galleries, and restaurants. Check out AVA (Association for Visual Arts Gallery) or In-Town Gallery to view or purchase artworks by local and regional artists. Also, be sure to stop by Blue Skies, Plum Nelly, or Sophie’s Shoppe for more great finds, unique gifts, and assorted mementos from your visit to Chattanooga. After all that exploring and shopping, you’ll sure to be hungry! The Northshore offers many great local restaurants, including Cashew (great for vegan food), Taconooga, River Street Deli (a Chattanooga classic), Fiamma Pizza Company, Julie Darling Donuts, and Clumpies Ice Cream. We hope you enjoy your visit to Chattanooga’s Northshore! 29


AVA, in the Northshore of Chattanooga.

Clumpies Ice Cream, in the Northshore of Chattanooga.



Bessie Smith Cultural Center, Chattanooga

Pickle Barrel, Chattanooga.


Flying Squirrel, Chattanooga.

National Medal of Honor Heritage Center, Chattanooga.





INTRODUCING CONSERV: YOUR NEW PARTNER IN ENVIRONMENTAL MONITORING Conserv will be the headlining sponsor for the upcoming Southeastern Museum Conference in October in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Conserv is a company based in Birmingham, Alabama, that’s totally focused on building the environmental monitoring and preservation tools that you deserve. If you’re hearing about Conserv for the first time, great! We look forward to meeting you in person or virtually over the next few months. Here’s our story, and to learn more visit our website at Quality Collection Environments As collections professionals, we know that the environment around our art and artifacts is important. Objects are irreversibly damaged when they experience too much light, large fluctuations in relative humidity, or hungry pests. That’s why we monitor our collection environments. And while monitoring is really important for preservation, historically it’s also been a big hassle. Conserv was founded in 2019 in Birmingham, Alabama to help turn environmental monitoring hassles into delights. The Conserv Backstory Austin Senseman and Nathan McMinn found themselves in the Birmingham Museum of Art in early 2019 looking at HOBO data loggers. The person showing them the loggers was Nathan’s mother - Margaret Burnham, the former conservator at the BMA. This museum walkthrough was the initial “aha” moment when the two Conserv founders recognized that many museums had monitoring that they didn’t love. Nathan and Austin got a few introductions and traveled to New

York to see how large, well-funded museums were monitoring their environments. It was a real surprise to see that large museums were doing the same exact thing as small and mid-sized museums around the country. Ana Martins, a conservation scientist at MoMA, summed up the problem well, “It’s not just that collections don’t have the budget to buy better stuff. The challenge is that there’s not better stuff to buy.” There simply weren’t high quality, reasonably priced monitoring solutions built for preservation work, so it was time to get to work. Early Successes in the Southeast By early 2020, 12 months later, Conserv had developed a wireless monitoring tool with software that produced the right kinds of analysis for cultural heritage preservation. Early customers in the southeast included the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Atlanta Art Conservation Center, the Albany Museum of Art, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the McWane Science Center, and the Alabama Department of Archives and History — in addition to a dozen other collections around the United States. Austin Senseman, Conserv’s CEO, attributes much of the company’s early and ongoing success to being good listeners. “We built a monitoring product that preservation professionals want to use. We know that because we actively listen to people doing the work.” In 2019 Conserv quietly had over 200+ conversations with preservation professionals. The question asked, and still asked today is, “If you had a magic wand, how would environmental monitoring work for your collection?” So what does better monitoring look like? The Three Big Hassles Based on feedback from the field, there are three big hassles with environmental monitoring — manual data 38

collection, hard to understand charts, and unhelpful customer support. The Conserv team has transformed those three big hassles into three core delights. 1. Turn on your accurate, wireless Conserv sensors and they just work — no more manual data collection. 2. Log in to your Conserv software and get environment and pest insights to support your team’s decision-making, from anywhere. 3. Experience the incredible customer support delivered by our team of conservators. Nathan McMinn, Conserv’s CTO, has a strong belief that the metric for success is, “Are we helping organizations create better collection environments?” And by making data collection easy, analysis straightforward, and customer support supportive, Conserv is making a difference for museums. One customer described Conserv monitoring as “a personal assistant that handles all of your environmental monitoring — data collection and analysis — so you can focus on the rest of your to-do list.” And just as things were speeding up in 2020, COVID happened. Monitoring During a Pandemic On a Monday in early March, Conserv got an email from the Alabama Department of Archives and History (ADAH). The collection was going on lockdown the next Tuesday. With only a handful of paper-based hygrothermographs, they were concerned about the collection environment while everyone was away. On the Monday before lockdown, to the great relief of the preservation staff, Conserv set up a wireless monitoring solution in an afternoon across the whole collection. Over the next few months, the ADAH team was able to monitor their environment while working at home. Austin remarked, “Turns out that COVID has really highlighted the value of remote monitoring tools that are easy to set up and low effort to maintain.” Between

March 2020 and summer 2021, Conserv grew rapidly as more and more collections rose to the challenge of caring for their collections at a distance. In explaining this growth, Austin says that “While no collection wants to spend money on new monitoring equipment, many collections want to make investments that will save staff time and extend the life of collection objects — and that’s what Conserv provides.” The Conserv Product The core Conserv product is the Smart Collections Sensor — a wireless data logger that can be set up in a few minutes and provides real-time data and alerts for temperature, relative humidity, light, and UV radiation. The sensor is complemented by Conserv Cloud — a web-based analysis tool that transforms noisy sensor readings into meaningful information for preservation. The vision for Conserv Cloud is bigger than just monitoring. With the addition of Integrated Pest Management tools, the software is evolving into a platform for preservation work. Best of all, Conserv Cloud is completely free for collections; you can even import data from your own data loggers and use our software tools. As of summer 2021, the Conserv team has grown to five full-time staff including two conservators, Melissa King and Claire Winfield, who work directly with customers. Learn More About Conserv Conserv is a company with a mission to increase access to quality preservation tools and to help collections make progress every day regardless of budget, geography, or capacity. We are very excited to sponsor and attend the upcoming Southeastern Museums Conference in Chattanooga. If you want to learn more about Conserv you can reach out directly to our Conservation Liaison, Claire Winfield at We also strongly encourage you to take our environmental monitoring survey and start your journey toward better preservation with Conserv.



Hindsight 2020: Student-Curated Exhibit Reflects on the Year We Will Never Forget Kristy Kay Griffin, Assistant Director, Art Museum of the University of Memphis

The Art Museum of the University of Memphis presents the exhibition Hindsight 2020 from June 20 to September 30, 2021. Hindsight 2020 started as an ambitious concept aimed at teaching four university students from different disciplines and with no museum experience how to curate an exhibition. The only stipulation — the exhibit had to predominately feature artists who self-identified as being outside of the traditional mainstream art world. The project had three main goals: 1) support a diverse and inclusive exhibition approach to promote empathy, dialogue, and the engagement of multiple perspectives,

Hindsight 2020 team members and artist Carl E. Moore stand before a billboard advertising the exhibition. Moore’s work “Protest and Fire” features on the billboard. From left to right: Whitney Hardy (mentor), Carl E. Moore (artist), Leslie Lubbers (AMUM Director), Lexie Coleman (graphic designer), Erica Vanhaute (curator), Hannah Ewing (graphic designer), Preet Shah (curator), Precious Jones (curator), Avery Vanderbilt (curator). Photo by Casey Hilder, University of Memphis.

2) disrupt the traditional narrative of the museum curator as cultural gatekeeper by endowing students with the authority to curate narratives reflective of their knowledge and experiences, and 3) provide enough direction to support the student team without getting in their way! To guide the students, AMUM enlisted three mentors, each with a unique set of skills and experiences within the art world. Yancy Villa-Calvo, an interdisciplinary artist and 2020–2021 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, lent her perspective on developing exhibition themes that question current systems in ways that foster civic engagement, discussion, and action. Whitney Hardy, a Black entrepreneur and founder of 3RDSPACE, an organization striving to integrate the arts into all aspects of Memphis city life, instructed students on the brass tacks business of exhibitions and the importance of storytelling. Kim Crowell, Access & Inclusive Programs Manager at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, provided the students with an opportunity to travel to Bentonville, Arkansas for a tour of 41

Dean Anne Hogan congratulates the students and artists during the opening reception. Photo by Lexie Coleman.

the programs and techniques employed by Crystal Bridges to enhance the accessibility of the museum for all visitors. The project started the second week of April 2021 with a series of virtual workshops and progressed to on-site learning experiences as CDC guidelines eased. The student curators assumed responsibility for the exhibition thematic concept, title, art selection, and didactic materials. Two student graphic designers joined the team to craft marketing materials, social media campaigns, and a virtual exhibition (a wise addition to any project in the time of COVID-19). AMUM staff acted as project facilitators, offering their expertise in

all manners of exhibition development, from interpretation writing to lighting design and art preparation. For the exhibition theme, the student curators elected to commemorate the impact of 2020 on individuals, society, and the arts. Understanding the interconnectivity of the events and emotions forever linked to 2020 and the lasting impact that year will have on society, the students put out a call for submissions from artists that self-identified as outside of the mainstream art world who had created works that addressed any aspect of their experience during 2020. The final selection of art works for the exhibition reflected a remarkably diverse group of artists ranging from California to 42

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Protest and Fire by Carl E. Moore. Acrylic on canvas, 2021.

North Carolina, early-career to seasoned professionals. Their works examined myriad topics including, but not limited to, the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustices, and the psychological impact of social isolation. While some of the students had concerns about presenting such a raw, poignant exhibition at a time when many worldwide are looking towards a more optimistic future, the public reaction to the exhibit has proven the importance and timeliness of this retrospective. During the exhibit opening on June 20, 2021, a guest approached me and explained that, as society emerges from the monumental experience that was 2020, they found themselves asking, “Did that really just happen?”

Attending the opening assured them that, not only did it happen, but they were not alone in their experiences and struggles. For all our visitors, we hope that this exhibit provides validation, an opportunity for commemoration, and the space to reflect and heal. Find out more about the Art Museum of the University of Memphis and this exhibition at Those unable to visit Memphis, may enjoy the virtual exhibition at https://amum. — Kristy Kay Griffin


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The Day I Was Offered My Dream Job! Amanda Ward, Education and Engagement Coordinator, Palmetto Historical Park

I am so excited to be writing to you all as an SEMC EMP but also as a newly employed member of the museum community! With so many job listings popping up on the SEMC Job Board over the past few months, I was so excited when I was offered one of those coveted full-time museum jobs. I have never been more excited to talk about my job or even just share my job title, Education & Engagement Coordinator at the Palmetto Historical Park (in case you were wondering!). I also know I am not alone in this excitement over these new opportunities. The Palmetto Historical Park is one of five locations in the Historical Resources Department under the Manatee County Clerk of the Circuit Court and Comptroller and since the shut down in March of 2020, the historical resources department has recently filled 6 of the open positions with eager museum professionals. The COVID-19 pandemic was especially hard on the job searching museum community and many organizations had hiring freezes, layoffs and shut downs. When COVID-19 hit and the world shut down, I was in the last semester of my master’s program and working part-time as a visitor services associate at a local museum. In fact, the day before the world shut down, I submitted my final draft of my master’s thesis for Amanda Ward, Coquina Beach, Manatee County, Florida.

publication and was headed for my last college spring break. Graduating during the pandemic was less than ideal (oh who am I kidding, I was devastated), but what was even more frustrating was trying to find a job while museums were closed. Application, after application; ZOOM interview, after ZOOM interview; hiring freeze automatic response email, after hiring freeze automatic response email — I was exhausted! I was frustrated, I was bitter, and I was even mad at myself. So I did what every other resourceful, millennial job hunter does during a pandemic.… I took the first full-time job I was offered. Pizza delivery shift leader was not exactly the job I envisioned upon graduating with a master’s degree in applied anthropology, but it was a full-time job with benefits and I was feeling pretty desperate. The next day I was offered another full-time job, still not in my degree field, but a little closer and anything had to be better than food service. I accepted a position working at a nonprofit feline-only animal shelter. I was feeling pretty good about this. I was doing some things that I wanted to do in a museum but using cats as my subject instead of history and artifacts — educational programming, social media marketing, donor engagement, community outreach — and I got to make a lot of cat videos 47

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Amanda Ward on the porch of Palmetto’s first kindergarten schoolhouse featuring the “Frankie A Howze School” sign memorializing the first teacher of Palmetto located at the Palmetto Historical Park.

for YouTube! It was not the worst alternative to my dream job. After 8 months of gaining experience with a nonprofit, honing my skills and attending every webinar and virtual conference I could get my mouse on, I was ready to reopen the wound that was the museum job search. I had every job board list and professional organization favorited on my browser, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn alerts turned on for SEMC, FAM, AAM, and any other museum group with the potential for job listings, and daily email job alerts from Google and Indeed. And one day … there it was! The job posting for the perfect job. It checked all the boxes and then some! There was no way I was getting this job because it was

too good to be true. It was a museum job, close to my home, full-time, with benefits, and salary comparable to what I was making at the animal shelter. I was sure I wasn’t even going to get an interview but I applied anyway. I got the interview! But I didn’t get my hopes up, I couldn’t. I had been through dozens of interviews and no job offers. I showed up to the interview with my new mask that matched my blouse because that matters in a pandemic-era interview. I also mistakenly had on new heels - since it had been so long since I had an in-person interview and silly me, I had not been in a museum in a while, somehow I forgot about historic buildings and their brick walkways and slick wooden floors. I stumbled my way through the interview. A few weeks later, I found out that I got the job! 49

Amanda Ward, Education & Engagement Coordinator at Palmetto Historical Park — It has a nice ring to it! I started work in April 2021 along-side the new Registrar & Collections Specialist. We’re basically BFFs now with the rest of the Historical Resources Department. The Palmetto Historical Park is a hidden gem in Florida. Before my interview I had never been there, and really never heard of it before I applied — it’s a good thing those job boards exist! If you should ever find yourself south of Tampa, take a trip to visit the Palmetto Historical Park and “step back in time with a guided tour of our historic buildings. Stroll along brick pathways lined with old-fashioned street lamps and beautiful gardens. Relax on park benches and enjoy the tranquility of the past. Children will enjoy discovering the tiny doors throughout the park and finding the tiny keys left behind by our magical residents.” Our

property features 6 historic buildings, 1880’s Heritage Station Post Office, 1914 Palmetto Carnegie Library, 1900’s Cottage, 1936 Kindergarten Building staged as a one-room schoolhouse, 1930s Cyprus House opened as a military museum in 2004, and our Replica Heritage Chapel. I wanted to write this article for all the EMPs and recent grads, or even those soon to graduate, to say that yes, we have our work cut out for us on the job hunt but it’s not impossible. Every day I see multiple job listings in the museum field pop up on my newsfeed. And yes, there are hundreds of people applying for these jobs along with you. But, when the right job comes long — it will all work out. Be flexible, be patient, and most importantly — be active! Jobs are out there, you just need to go find them!




Did We Make the Right Decision? Katy Menne, Curator of Education, North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport

Note: Before we begin, let me acknowledge a few things. I am a young, straight white female with a master’s degree. I recognize I have been afforded many privileges in my life. Every day we are faced with a series of choices. Some are small and made with no second thought, while others could impact your livelihood, community, and beyond. As a fairly new museum professional, many choices can feel quite daunting. We recognize imposter syndrome as feeling very real, but it is important to feel challenged, live by your convictions, and push the envelope.

Inspiration Have you ever watched a webinar and felt jazzed? While Zoom fatigue was quite common over the last year and a half, a few webinars truly sparked something within us to push for change. One of those came out of New England Museum Association (NEMA) and the National Park Service property of Longfellow House Washington’s Headquarters. The webinar was titled “Reopening The Archives: Telling Queer Stories,” and

Robin Boats: Driftwood Sailboats by Robin Douglass (She/Her).

it was awe-inspiring. Reading through historical documents, Nicole Mello had a common thought, “I wonder if this person is gay?” They were bold enough to ask the question, do the research to support this theory, and now the park presents an accurate telling of Longfellow and his life.

Buy-in How could the North Carolina Maritime Museum at Southport tell a more complete story, including the LGBTQIA+ stories, while also meeting our mission? Pondering aloud to Museum Manager, Lori Sanderlin, she challenged me to find a maritime story connecting the nautical with LGBTQIA+.

Process The first challenge was looking for places of support or organizations that served people within the LGBTQIA+ community. Having lived all over, mostly in large cities, I thought there must be a myriad of organizations to provide assistance and support in our area. Wrong. After scouring the internet, I found only a handful of organizations across the entire state of North Carolina. Within the museum’s interpretive region, I could only 53

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find two organizations. The LGBTQ Center of the Cape Fear Coast (named Frank Harr Foundation until July 2021) responded emphatically and immediately set up a time to chat. This initial meeting was incredibly eye-opening. After the conversation, we agreed to collaborate on a temporary art exhibit, and they would assist the museum in identifying and researching people who overlapped between the maritime and LGBTQIA+ communities.

So, why an art exhibit? For several months the museum’s Instagram posted maritime art by a variety of artists. They turned out to be some of the most popular posts. People went crazy over this campaign. We thought we could adapt this digital series to an on-site exhibit. We also thought that art is open to interpretation and could offer some interesting insight and conversations. Since we are a cultural museum, we reached out to Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA).

They are experts in the field and a State entity. We asked questions about how they asked for contributions, what media platforms to use, questions we needed to make sure to ask, and much more.

Here goes nothing We received five submissions, and we were floored. Lori suggested that the art labels only contain the title of the piece, artist, and medium, while the main panel posed the question, “How does the water speak to you?” On the main text panel each letter of LGBTQIA+ was explained and offered a place for people to go for more information, not only on the artist, but for the type of support Frank Harr Foundation offers. Media interviews were lined up for a full rollout of this exhibit. During the exhibit installation, we had three local news outlets in the museum. Installation mostly occurred on a Friday, with a slated official opening date on the following Wednesday. Saturday morning, we received our first complaint. 54

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Curator of Education, Menne, places final art label.

Repercussions: The ugly, the bad, the good The Ugly: Voicemails were left with a string of swear words, offensive slurs, and political rants that would make even the least accepting of people blush. There is something uniquely ugly about hearing how much hate is in this world. While the staff made assumptions we may get some backlash, none of us had mentally prepared for it. The Bad: There were comments left on social media postings, and emails were sent to the staff and through our website. We read about how people would not “step foot in that museum,” and others would lobby against the museum receiving funding. We also were told to take down “that gay exhibit.”

The Good: During installation, two young females were walking through the exhibit hall, keeping their distance from each other. When they arrived at the installation and saw what we were doing, they began to hold hands. There was not a dry eye for several minutes. Following the sharing of posts about the exhibit, the museum’s inbox was flooded with positive messages. One artist, who may be familiar to you, Alex Brooks, aptly wrote, “let’s drown the hate in a flood of love.” We credit Brooks with the turnaround in staff spirits.

Staff Impacts For me, curating an exhibit that received hate was hard. While I expected there could be some backlash and have not experienced this level of hatred because of who I am, I was grasping for the surface. Returning from

Exhibit panels at pick up.


a trip to sort through and document hate mail was nothing short of soul-crushing. My entire body was numb, and mentally I came face-to-face with the realization I could have just gotten myself fired and cost others their jobs. I questioned all the decisions that went into this exhibit and all the work with DEAI that led me to think this was a smart idea. Walking out of work on Saturday, I looked back at the building, hoping it would still be there when we returned on Tuesday. “Because of my privilege, I believed that we lived in a more loving and accepting world,” Lori Sanderlin states, “Emotionally, it broke my heart to hear people shout profanities over the phone and have so much anger inside them. I was afraid for the museum and the staff that someone could do something terrible because we wanted to share beautiful maritime artwork by incredibly talented people that do not identify as heterosexual. And then, I thought about the LGBTQIA+ community and how they have to live with this fear every day. And that made me more determined than ever that diversity, equity, and inclusion must be a priority, and we

have to live it, not just as a vision for the museum, but in our daily lives.” “Being down at the front desk most of the day, I feel the exhibit has been very well received and appreciated” Kristan Phillips, Visitor and Volunteer Services Coordinator said. “I was disheartened and disturbed at the level of hate verbally and written by a few individuals that disagreed with the exhibit installation and had never seen it firsthand. But I was also hopeful and overwhelmed with the outpouring of support by plenty of other visitors.”

So, what have we learned? Over-prepare for the backlash: Should you find yourself planning an exhibit or program potentially seen as controversial, create a standard response so the entire staff is on the same page and shows a united front. Make plans to be supportive of each other. The bottom line, we were not prepared, and our mental health suffered. It was only when we reached out to others in


the museum community asking for support that we saw just how strong a backing we had. Professionals associated with the Southeastern Museums Conference and North Carolina Museums Council, along with many thoughtful strangers, showed us incredible love that has strengthened us.

The Historic New Orleans Collection Seignouret-Brulatour House & Tricentennial Gallery

Being bold empowers others. None of this would have happened if it were not for Nicole being brave first. Thank you, Nicole, for setting an example of taking on the hard stuff. You are inspiring. Since we have had this exhibit up, other organizations have asked about the inspiration and process. Weather the storm: While offering a platform for historically marginalized people may bring out some hateful individuals, it is for the greater good. Change and acceptance come after the struggles.


— Katy Menne

MISSISSIPPI CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM JACKSON, MS 2018 AWARD OF MERIT | American Association For State and Local History

MISSISSIPPI CIVIL RIGHTS MUSEUM Fabricator: Exhibit Concepts | Designer: Hilferty & Associates | Media Producer: Monadnock Media


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Post-Pandemic Fundraising: Eight Recommendations to Jumpstart Your Restart Linda Wise McNay, Ph.D., and David M. Paule

Coming out of the pandemic is a little bit like coming out of coma: you are confused, groggy, and not sure what has changed. Even though we tried to keep busy during the pandemic, once vaccinations were flowing, we set about trying to determine what changed while we were quarantined and how our clients and colleagues could leverage that. In this article, we will give you some insights into what we’ve learned about the current state of philanthropy and some recommendations we think will help your organization jump ahead of others.

The View From Here We stayed in touch with as many of our clients, colleagues, and funders as we could during quarantine. As soon as were vaccinated we started surveying them in earnest. We’re pleased to say that the vast number of our constituent organizations survived the pandemic, although no one escaped it unscathed. The shifts in the philanthropic landscape were sizeable. Let’s start with what we learned from Giving USA’s annual report

for 2020. In 2020, giving was up by 5% over 2019. Once again, individual donors provided the highest amount of philanthropic revenue for nonprofits, accounting for more than 68% of the $471 billion given to nonprofits in that year. Not all sectors benefitted equally in 2020. Arts, Culture and Humanities declined by 7.5%. For museums that had to lock their doors during that period, the loss of corporate sponsorships, members and admissions accounted for a double-negative revenue impact. At Our Fundraising Search, we conducted a survey of all of our client organizations across the country. Museums and other arts and cultural organizations account for a significant portion of our client base, and we were pleased with the response rate to the survey. A third of our respondents came from the sector. In the survey, we really wanted to focus on how funding changed both for nonprofits as a whole, and for the 60

individual sectors we serve. We also wanted to learn how organizations adapted to those changes, both strategically and structurally. We found a number of clear trends across nonprofits in general. With regard to museums, what we found is that these trends were exaggerated, both positively and negatively, compared to other sectors. Specifically, we saw the following. Museums saw more drastic fundraising swings, both positive and negative, than the nonprofit sector as a whole. For museums overall, 50% saw their fundraising increase by more than 5% in 2020. That compares favorably with 47% of nonprofits overall. Conversely, 40% of museums saw their fundraising decrease by more than 5%, significantly worse than 29% of nonprofits overall. Museums matched the other sectors at improving

individual giving, but also saw greater declines in corporate support. Half of all museums (50%) saw an increase in individual giving in 2020, versus 47% of nonprofits overall. Trends in foundation funding and government funding were towards increases in all sectors and largely mirrored each other, most due to emergency grants and PPP loans. However, museums saw drastic swings in corporate funding, with 60% reporting funding staying flat or declining. Seventy-four percent of nonprofits reported corporate funding staying flat or declining, so museums can perhaps take solace that they outperformed nonprofits as a whole, but we believe this is a trend that will affect all organizations for the next several years. We’ll say more about this later. Most organizations surveyed were not in a campaign prior to the pandemic; museums were more 61

aggressive about carrying on with their campaigns than the other sectors. Moreover, museums are moving forward with campaigns (existing and new).

teams, with 10% reporting increased headcount versus 9% for the nonprofits as a whole. The data shows that, overall, labor churn was more prevalent for museums.

Most nonprofits we surveyed were not in a campaign (70%), and, at 75%, even fewer museums were. However, those museums that were, plowed ahead with their campaigns, whilst most other nonprofits slowed or suspended their campaigns. Whether that is a function of optimism, or it says more about the complex nature of museum campaigns, we’re not sure. Regardless, museums are more bullish on campaigns than other nonprofits. While the comprehensive survey results show that 65% of nonprofits exited the pandemic with plans to start or continue a campaign, 89% of museums surveyed are now planning or continuing a campaign.

The Funders’ Perspectives

Museums experienced more volatility in staffing. The survey also revealed that museums saw more volatility in their fundraising ranks than other nonprofits. While 62% of all nonprofits surveyed reported that their development staffs remained stable, only 30% of museums saw that same stability. Museums were slightly more aggressive in growing their development

Because institutional funders, philanthropic foundations in particular, function as a bellwether for how funding will change in different economies and political environments, we also surveyed the major foundations that we have worked with in the past and with which we have close relationships. We asked the executive directors and/or heads of philanthropy for each of those organizations three questions. 1. How has the pandemic affected their giving? 2. Will they go back to their original giving patterns? 3. How do they want us to communicate with them going forward? The responses themselves were not surprising as much as the consistency of the answers across the survey set. Overwhelmingly, the foundations said they had paused their own campaigns and special projects or focus areas to shift funding to emergency grants and 62

annual support. Food scarcity, shelter and healthcare took precedent over their normal giving priorities. While they are now starting the shift back to their formal priorities, none of them would characterize that as a return to “business as usual.” Because 2020 highlighted so much civil, racial, and economic inequality in American society, all of them are placing greater emphasis on equity in their funding. Applicants can expect questions about what they are doing to further access and foster racial justice in their programming, which may represent a particular advantage for museums. Additionally, they are placing a greater emphasis on education particularly as it relates to addressing learning deficits created by quarantine. Foundations, like all other institutions, are returning to offices and in-person meetings in some form but are also embracing the advantages to virtual meetings and online systems to streamline and improve communications with nonprofits. Many foundations made the transition to online applications and electronic submissions even after years of holding on to requiring printed submissions to be mailed. Lastly, when speaking to foundation arms of a few Fortune 500 corporations, they have all adjusted their

giving pools based on the financial performance of their for-profit parents. Most are not shifting their giving priorities and none of the ones we spoke with are looking for new organizations to fund. Much of that is driven by the nature of multi-year sponsorship commitments of corporate philanthropy. Corporations contractually have to honor those commitments, and so will therefore prioritize those agreements over new applicants. Recommendations for Museums’ Post Pandemic

Fundraising Plans Often, when we present to clients or associations we go in with a list. e.g., “Three questions to ask your funder” or “Five things to improve your strategic plan.” With that in mind, here are eight recommendations for how to use the above information to improve your fundraising in the coming two-to-three years. 1. Evaluate how you compare with other institutions. Based on the previous information, you should be asking your finance and development staff to compare and contrast your organization’s own results. Did your fundraising improve compared to the standard? Did you do better than the sector? If so, brag about it to your board of directors. They need to know.


If you did the same or worse than the arts & culture sector, you need to analyze why. Determine what the key drivers were of your performance, whether it is good or bad. If you under-performed the sector, it’s critical that you take action to both understand and address the reasons. 2. Evaluate your donor mix. Beyond your overall results, you need to understand what happened to giving levels by donor segment, and sometimes by individual donor. How did each sector do and what were the key drivers in that sector? Understanding that will enable you to set realistic goals for the coming year. 3. Exercise caution in goal setting. In a forthcoming book, we spend a good bit of time discussing how an organization can inadvertently set unrealistic fundraising goals, especially at a time like this. Increasing fundraising is more complex than you might expect. Let’s assume your objective is to increase the annual fund by 10 percent in the coming year over the previous year. If you raised $250,000 last year, the increase would be 10% x $250,000 or $25,000.

The new goal would be $250,000 plus $25,000 for a total of $275,000. However, if there was a one-time gift last year of $25,000 that will not be repeated, and if you normally have 1 percent gift attrition ($2,500), your starting point would be $222,500. You would actually need $52,500 in new gifts, not $25,000 to reach your new goal of $275,000 for the year. In reality, you need a 21 percent increase in annual fund gifts to reach that 10 percent improvement goal. Is a 21 percent increase in one year attainable? 4. Don’t count on corporate support. Regardless of what your board of directors may say about “Company X has billions to give away,” the data does not support it. Corporate giving, which is usually the smallest source of philanthropic revenue declined by 6% in 2020. As we come out of the pandemic to supply chain issues and staffing shortages, we expect increased volatility in the corporate arena which will further constrain their giving. You have a limited fundraising workforce, and this is not going to be your best source of return on investment.


5. Seek foundation funding. Even if foundations have not been a key part of your funding mix in the past, now is the time to explore those options. Foundation funding was up 17% in 2020, and foundations see themselves as an important part of the recovery. 6. Focus on individual support. Individual donors are always the backbone of philanthropy, and pandemic and resulting economic fallout impacted major donors less than average donors. Many even saw their finances improve during 2020. Never underestimate the sense of obligation that these donors might feel to do more in their communities at a time like this. 7. Get back to the basics of fundraising: meet in person and be sure to make an ask. Please get vaccinated if you can. The in-person meeting is the strongest form of relationship building activity between your organization and its donors. Like you, they have been cooped up for a year or more. If you don’t get to them first, some other fundraiser will. 8. Get campaigns back on track before the masses. Our research shows that museums in particular were better about sustaining the momentum of their campaigns. Build upon that momentum now before other

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sectors can catch up. And, if you are considering a campaign, accelerate your plans.

Some parting thoughts… There are a few things that distinguish really successful organizations in general, and really successful fundraisers in particular. 1. The ability to leverage data to set and adjust strategy; 2. The ability to create healthy relationships that are characterized by mutual respect, trust, and a sense of obligation; and, 3. The ability to see opportunities where others see obstacles. There is no doubt in anyone’s minds that the pandemic created a substantial number of barriers and obstacles for all nonprofits and their fundraising programs. We believe that museums, while challenged in some ways more than other sectors, also have more opportunities right now to move faster in restoring their fundraising models and doing so ahead of other sectors. At Our Fundraising Search, we have the luxury of collaborating with clients who we believe are best positioned for success. We’re betting on museums.

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A  SPECIAL THANKS SEMC Endowment Contributions Many thanks to our endowment contributors 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 Alexander Benitez Matthew Davis Mary LaGue Elise LeCompte Darcie MacMahon R. Maass Nathan Moehlmann Graig Shaak Robert Sullivan Heather Marie Wells

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

Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the fall.

George Bassi Sharon Bennett David Butler Tom Butler Tamra Sindler Carboni Micheal A. Hudson Douglas Noble Robert Rathburn Graig D. Shaak Robert Sullivan Kristen Miller Zohn

THE WILLIAM T. AND SYLVIA F. ALDERSON ENDOWMENT FELLOWS 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 Our Current Alderson Fellows  (minimum $1,000) T. Patrick Brennan Michael Brothers W. James Burns Horace Harmon Brian Hicks Pamela Hisey Micheal Hudson Kathleen Hutton Rick Jackson Andrew Ladis John Lancaster Elise LeCompte Allyn Lord Michael Anne Lynn R. Andrew Maass Darcie MacMahon Robin Seage Person Allison Reid Steve Rucker Heather Marie Wells Kristen Miller Zohn


Other SEMC Contributions Angie Albright, Martha Battle Jackson JIMI Fund Scott Alvey, General Operating Nicolle Bowling, General Operating David Butler, General Operating Riggs Ward, 2020 SEMC Intern India Crawford, General Operating TimeLooper, SEMC Masks Julie B. Harris, Martha Battle Jackson Jimi Fund Elise LeCompte, Martha Battle Jackson Jimi Fund Elise LeCompte, Leadership Institute Jason Luker, Martha Battle Jackson Jimi Fund Darcie MacMahon, Leadership Institute Rosalind Martin, Leadership Institute Corinne Midgett, Virtual Programming

Mary Miller, Virtual Programming Catherine Pears, Leadership Institute Susan Perry, Leadership Institute Carolyn Reams, La Paglia Fund John Seibold, General Operating Robert Sullivan, General Operating Michael Warren, Annual Meeting Michael Warren, Martha Battle Jackson JIMI Fund Scott Warren, Seasoned Museum Professional Scholarship and Virtual Programming Victoria & James Weise, General Operating Heather Marie Wells, Martha Battle Jackson JIMI Fund L. Carole Wharton, Leadership Institute Donna Whitfield, General Operating Zinnia Willits, Leadership Institute Zinnia Willits, President’s Travel Scholarship John Woods, Annual Meeting Scholarships



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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 visit, email, or call 404.814.2047. For your convenience, the last page of this newsletter is a membership application.

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City of Raleigh – Historic Resources & Museum Program, Raleigh, North Carolina DeKalb History Center, Decatur, Georgia Earl Scruggs Center, Shelby, North Carolina Georgia Southern University Museum, Statesboro, Georgia Hickory Museum of Art, Hickory, North Carolina Historic Oakland Foundation, Atlanta, Georgia Knox Heritage & Historic Westwood, Knoxville, Tennessee Magnolia Mound Plantation, Baton Rouge, Louisiana Marietta/Cobb Museum of Art, Marietta, Georgia Middleton Place Foundation, Charleston, South Carolina Museum Center at 5ive Points, Cleveland, Tennessee Old State House Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas President James K Polk Home & Museum, Columbia, Tennessee Walter Anderson Museum of Art, Ocean Springs, Mississippi West Baton Rouge Museum, Port Allen, Louisiana

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Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, New Orleans, Louisiana Office of Historic Alexandria, Alexandria, Virginia Orange County Regional History Center, Orlando, Florida Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, Springdale, Arkansas Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center, Fort Myers, Florida The Charleston Museum, Charleston, South Carolina The Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Atlanta, Georgia The Whitney Institute & Whitney Plantation Museum, Wallace, Louisiana Tubman Museum, Macon, Georgia U. S. Marshals Museum, Inc., Fort Smith, Arkansas West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, Charleston, West Virginia Whalehead in Historic Corolla, Moyock, North Carolina (Category 5: $450 ) Alabama Department of Archives and History, Montgomery, Alabama

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Georgia Historical Marker for Mary Musgrove in Savannah’s Lafayette Square.

GEORGIA The Andrew Low House Museum and NSCDA-GA successfully applied for a Georgia Historical Marker through the Georgia Historical Society to bring Mary Musgrove’s narrative to the historic district of Downtown Savannah. A key player in Georgia history, Mary Musgrove along with Tomochichi helped General Oglethorpe and the English colony survive the first years in Georgia. The new historical marker telling of Mary Musgrove’s life joins the eight historical markers discussing women’s history in Chatham County and becomes the 14th historical marker on the subject of women’s history erected since 1998. Prior to the erection of this marker in Lafayette Square, Mary Musgrove’s story was 94

relegated to a marker that spoke more of the land in which her trading post was situated in Port Wentworth. Through an application for a new Mary Musgrove historical marker submitted by the National Society of Colonial Dames in the State of Georgia, the Georgia Historical Society is able to bring Mary Musgrove’s narrative to the downtown historic district of Savannah. The Columbus Museum partnered with local artist Tony Pettis and the Housing Authority of Columbus, Georgia to facilitate painting classes and a community art project for youth living at Wilson Homes. Over the course of two afternoons in July 2021, participants worked alongside Pettis to create a collaborative artwork inspired by their favorite summer activities. Pettis demonstrated his techniques for creating abstract backgrounds before asking them to work together to cover a large canvas utilizing the techniques. This canvas was then used by Pettis to create a unique artwork for the Wilson Homes’ community room that takes inspiration from the earlier group discussion.

Participants also had opportunities to create their own paintings to take home. “Working with the kids of the Wilson Homes was a lot like the collaborative work I’ve always dreamed of doing,” said Pettis. “Kids are so powerful and filled with potential, this experience was awesome. So thrilled and humbled to have been a part of this.” The collaborative piece, created by Pettis and the program participants, will be on display alongside two of his other abstract paintings in Pettis’ show at the AC Hotel in Downtown Columbus, GA.

LOUISIANA The LSU Museum of Art presents The Boneyard: The Ceramics Teaching Collection. Bisque refers to the state achieved after a wet clay demo is completed and then fired once. What remains is a porous, unglazed record of the visiting artist’s creative process that can be referenced year after year by professors and students.

LSU Museum of Art’s The Boneyard: The Ceramics Teaching Collection.


curatorial practices by working across the curatorial department and developing an exhibition. Originally from Dallas, TX, Brown is a historian and aspiring curator. She earned an MA from New York University spring of 2021 and a BA from Spelman College in 2019. Before joining LSUMOA’s team she interned in museums focusing on curating and museum education. Learn more about the LSUMOA Reilly Initiative for Underrepresented Artists here: https://www.lsumoa. org/inside-lsu-moa/reillyfundannouncement.

Clarke Brown, LSU Museum of Art’s new curatorial fellow.

Included in this exhibition are over 200 bisque works that provide a valued resource for LSU School of Art’s top-ten ranked ceramics program. The ever-growing collection will be displayed at LSU MOA to imitate the classroom use of the boneyard. The “boneyard” refers to bisque works and how they are stored in studio spaces for teaching and ceramics demonstrations. This exhibition features rotating displays, a reading space, and a ceramics demonstration space that will be activated by MFA students, local artists, and visiting artists to allow museum visitors to share in the boneyard tradition—to watch clay transform and to see artist-specific techniques shared in the openness of the craft tradition. This exhibition is a collaboration between LSU Museum of Art and LSU School of Art. Curated by LSU Ceramics Associate Professor Andy Shaw, LSU MOA Curator Courtney Taylor, and LSU MOA Educator Grant Benoit. Recent update: Now on view until February 2022 (install image below at LSU MOA). More info: the-boneyard. The LSU Museum of Art announces Clarke Brown as curatorial fellow. Brown joins LSUMOA’s staff as part of the Reilly Initiative for Underrepresented Artists. Brown’s two year fellowship focuses on African American art—researching new acquisitions and existing works—and gaining skills and knowledge of

The LSU Museum of Art presents recent acquisitions by Black artists, a permanent collection exhibition. On view for the first time at LSU MOA will be works by Radcliffe Bailey, Whitfield Lovell, Madelyn Sneed-Grays, Carrie Mae Weems, Mario Moore, and Gordon Parks, among other recently acquired works. Supported by The Winifred and Kevin P. Reilly Initiative for Underrepresented Artist. On view until September 26, 2021: collectionspotlight2021.

SOUTH CAROLINA The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston presents the exhibition Namsa Leuba: Crossed Looks, the first solo exhibition of SwissGuinean artist Namsa Leuba in the United States. The show will feature over 90 works from the photographer’s projects in Guinea, South Africa, Nigeria, and Benin, and it will premiere new work created in Tahiti. As a photographer working across documentary, fashion, and performance, Namsa Leuba’s images explore the fluid visual identity of the African diaspora. With a dual heritage between Guinea and Switzerland, Leuba draws inspiration from her own experience growing up between two different cultural traditions. Leuba’s images are influenced by the Animist traditions of her mother’s family in Guinea Conakry, and the visual codes of statues, masquerades, and religious ceremonies in West Africa. They are also inspired by contemporary fashion and design. The result is a unique perspective that straddles reality and fantasy. She restages and constructs narrative scenes in collaboration with her sitters, incorporating bold colors, striking


LSU Museum of Art’s recent acquisitions by Black artists.

patterns, and intricate clothing and props. Leuba often uses models that she informally meets in the street, who become active collaborators in the portraits. Leuba’s photographs pose fundamental questions about the medium of photography and its role in forming our understanding of the cultural “Other.” Leuba states: “I have always been characterized as the Other, whether I am too ‘African’ to be European or too ‘European’ to be African. In this unique positioning, I am interested in the politics of the gaze—who is looking, who is being looked at, and the medium of which this looking occurs.” Through her photographs, Leuba ultimately searches for a visual sense of belonging, of finding a vocabulary that speaks to the experiences and perspectives of not fitting in one ready-made mold. The title of this exhibition, Crossed Looks, references this diverse perspective, creating an alternative visual proposition that transcends fixed modes of representation. The exhibition is organized by guest curator

Joseph Gergel, currently based in Lagos, Nigeria. Namsa Leuba: Crossed Looks is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, and Garden & Gun magazine. This exhibition is supported in part by Belinda and Richard Gergel, Diane and Garey De Angelis, South State Bank, Kathleen and Tom Wright, Carol Perkins and David Rawle, Cindy and Shon M. Barnett, Deena and Walter McRackan, and Marissa Sams. The exhibition’s accompanying publication, Namsa Leuba: Crossed Looks, was designed by Swiss design studio Maximage and will be published by Damiani. Namsa Leuba: Crossed Looks, on view from August 27 to December 11, 2021. Find out more about the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art and this exhibition at Damien, 2015 34 × 47.2 inches Fiber pigment print on Dibond NGL series, Nigeria


Azaca, 2017 26.7 × 31.5 inches Fiber pigment print on semi-gloss paper Weke series, Benin


Untitled 1, 2015 41.34 × 31.5 inches Fiber pigment print on Dibond Tonköma series, Nigeria


evolving visual constructions of masculinity, femininity, and gender. “We continue to attract top talent as one of the South’s leading art museums, and I’m delighted to welcome Alex to Telfair’s leadership team,” said Ben Simons, the museum’s CEO/executive director. “His impressive experience at major institutions, his love of art and history, and his wide-ranging expertise in American art will make us even stronger as we shape our vision for the future. He’s an incredible talent and also a delightful person with inspiring intellectual range and a passion for public engagement with art.” Crawford Alexander Mann III, the Telfair Museums’ new chief curator.

Telfair Museums has hired a new chief curator: Crawford Alexander Mann III. Mann will oversee three sites and a 7,000-work permanent collection. An accomplished art-world veteran, Mann will join Telfair in November 2021 from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., where he has been curator of prints and drawings since 2017. At the Smithsonian, Mann has organized world-class exhibitions including the major upcoming survey Sargent, Whistler, and Venetian Glass: American Artists and the Magic of Murano. Before the Smithsonian, he served as the Joan and Macon Brock Curator of American Art at the Chrysler Museum of Art in Norfolk, Virginia, and as the Andrew W. Mellon Fellow at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence, Rhode Island. Mann holds a master’s degree in art history from Yale University and a bachelor’s degree in art history and religious studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Currently, he is a doctoral candidate at Yale, completing his dissertation titled “When in Rome: Italian Travel and the Pursuit of the Ideal Male Body in Antebellum American Art.” He has authored numerous exhibition catalogs and scholarly publications, lectured internationally, and is a fluent speaker and translator of German and Italian. His many fellowships include those from the Smithsonian Institution, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, and the Terra Foundation for American Art. His research interests include Italian-American artistic exchange on the Grand Tour, artists of the American South, African American printmakers of the 1960s and 1970s, and

As part of the museum’s senior leadership team, Mann will oversee a curatorial staff of 23 and a permanent collection of more than 7,000 works of art. Telfair’s collection includes American and European paintings, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts items dating primarily from the 19th century through the present day, with particular strengths in American portraiture, American Impressionism, the Ashcan School, and American and English silver. The museum holds major works by Rembrandt Peale, Thomas Sully, Gari Melchers, Childe Hassam, Frederick Carl Frieseke, Willard Leroy Metcalf, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Robert Henri, George Bellows, William Zorach, Sam Gilliam, and many others, as well as the largest collection of Kahlil Gibran’s visual art in the United States, seminal 20th- century photography by Walker Evans, Helen Levitt, and Bruce Davidson, and essential works by contemporary artists in the museum’s Kirk Varnedoe Collection. “I’ve long admired Telfair’s handsome buildings and the masterpieces inside,” Mann said. “It will be a privilege to lead this team of curators, educators, and interpreters in celebrating these treasures. I also look forward to hunting for unexplored stories and filling gaps in our collections and programs, so that the museum reflects the full richness of this community. Together we will ensure that Telfair is central to Savannah’s reputation as the creativity capital of the American South.” About Telfair Museums: Opened in 1886, Telfair Museums is the oldest public art museum in the South and features a world-class art collection in the heart of Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District. The museum encompasses three sites: the Jepson 100

Center for the Arts, the Owens-Thomas House & Slave Quarters, and the Telfair Academy. For more information visit

TENNESSEE Discovery Park of America welcomes Debra Craig as Director of Finance! Discovery Park of America, in Union City, TN, has announced that Debra Craig, an experienced financial professional, has joined the organization’s leadership team as director of finance. She will manage the business-and finance-related functions of Discovery Park. Craig has a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a major in finance and a Master of Science in education leadership from the University of Tennessee at Martin. She has most recently been working at UT Martin as a resource specialist with the Department of Educational Studies within the College of Education, Health and Behavioral Sciences. Before joining UT Martin, Craig worked as a municipal administrator. Prior to that, she held staff accountant positions at the Dyer County Courthouse and Honeywell Consumer Products. Craig has over 20 years of experience in public administration, including financial management and grant administration for NGOs. She is active in various non-profits including serving as vice president of the Dyersburg Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., which conducts community service projects in Obion County, and vice president of the Obion County/Union City branch of NAACP, Inc. She has also served as project manager of N73RED, Inc., mentor in the UTM mentorship collaborative, member of National Society of Leadership

Debra Craig, Discovery Park of America’s new director of finance.

and Success and advisor for Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. “Debra is an extraordinary leader with a proven track record and background developing financial strategies that enhance the work of non-profit organizations like Discovery Park,” said Scott Williams, president and CEO. “I’m thrilled she has decided to join our team, and I look forward to working with her as we implement our mission to inspire children and adults to see beyond.” Craig is a graduate of Obion County Leadership and the Certified Municipal Finance Officer program administered by the UT Institute for Public Service. She is also a volunteer for the Delta Academy Youth Initiative, Union City football, Trudy’s Kids Café and various community music ministries. For more information about Discovery Park of America, visit


IMPORTANT DATES The deadline for the Summer 2021 edition of Inside SEMC is July 30, 2021. To submit information for the newsletter, please contact the Council Director in your state or

SEMC In-person Annual Meeting Registration deadline Inside SEMC Fall 2021 submissions deadline

October 22, 2021 October 30, 2021

National American Association of State and Local History  2021 Annual Conference September 22-25, 2021, Little Rock, AR October 12–15 (Online Conference) 2021 International Conference of Indigenous  Archives, Libraries, and Museums November 29 – December 1, 2021, Washington DC American Historical Association

January 6-9, 2022, New Orleans, LA

Small Museum Association

February 20–22, 2022, College Park, MD

Art Curator’s Conference

April 30 – May 4, 2022, New York, NY & Virtual

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