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Western Regional Newsletter S U M M E R

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“You Picked A Fine Time…” SPECIAL POINTS OF INTEREST: 

Western Regional Convention in Bend Oregon

Holograms and Bungee Jumping in the Land of the Long White Cloud

Focus on Membership

Issues and Deadlines

Making Collections Available

Call for Papers

Western Regional Representative: Mick Woodcock Newsletter Design: Zaira Valdovinos Newsletter Editor: Eileen Hook

Mick Woodcock For those at the conference in Dallas, the title of this article will be immediately recognizable. For the rest of you, probably not. For those of us there in Dallas, it is a memory link to the Presidential Banquet held at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. For you who were at home, it might be the start of the title of a Kenny Rogers song, “You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me Lucille.” All of you would be correct. Ron Kley, a POOP, (Presidents of Our Past) was asked to sing a parody song he had written years ago regarding the fact that ALHFAM seemed to schedule its annual meeting at a most inappropriate time for an agriculture based organization. The title was “You Picked a Fine Time for a Meeting ALHFAM” and sung to the Kenny Rogers tune.

The audience joined in on the chorus and we all had a great time learning a bit of ALHFAM history, or is it culture? The opening reception at the Farmers Branch Museum was a good time

to relax, renew old acquaintances and meet new folks. No one new from the region this year which is a shame since the region had funding for three fellowships and no takers. Those in attendance were: Mike Smola from Hawaii, Jessica Maria AliceaCovarrubias, Barry and Marie Herlihy, Eileen Hook (all from California), Kay Demlow from Oregon, Terri and Kevin Towner from Washington State and yours truly from Arizona.


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The Confederacy collection that counts over sixty flags at the Civil War Museum.

One of the high lights of the trip for me was a visit to the Texas Civil War Museum. For a curator who likes

Frontiers of Flight Museum, Dallas, TX

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pretty amazing collection in their own right with the Ray Richey collection being over 3000 objects, the Judy Richey collection over 300 garments and the Daughters of the Confederacy collection that counts over sixty flags and other home front material that was collected starting about 1900.

The weather was pretty good except for Monday, which was the day we spent outdoors. It was in the upper 90s and who knows how much humidity. Of course we were indoors part of that “stuff”, it was a visual time which included lunch cornucopia of mid nineteenth century militaria and a tour of the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame and civilian material Museum which has a large culture. The museum is an case devoted to the War amalgamation of three collections Under the United with Mexico and featured Daughters of the one of Santa Confederation: Texas Ana’s Confederate Collection, the uniforms Ray Richey Civil War along with Collection and the Judy the uniform Richey Victorian Dress of one of the Collection. All three are

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United States officers involved in Santa Ana’s capture. The Museum

also has an impressive collection of trades related horse drawn vehicles. I was most impressed with the butcher’s wagon and petroleum delivery wagon. The hearse was pretty nice as well. All in all a great conference. Thanks to Derrick Birdsall, also known as “Cuz” because we think we are distantly related and to Jamie Rigsby who put the conference together and got us from place to place with seemingly little effort.


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Western Regional Conference Bend Oregon was incorporated in 1905, and the town has a rich history in the logging industry. Today the town is a tourist destination, with skiing, kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, fishing, and golfing. The conference goal is to look into how our sites offer engaging experiences and connections with visitors. How do local demographics affect your visitor experiences? What are best practices for training your interpreters?

Getting Them Through the Gates: What Your Site Can Offer That No One Else Can September 27th-29th, 2012, Bend, Oregon In 2012 members of ALHFAM’s Western Region are encouraged to travel to Bend Oregon and the High Desert Museum for the region’s annual conference. The High Desert Museum explores 8 states of cultural and natural history throughout the Great Basin. The museum has been open to the public for 30 years and presently has 150,000 visitors per year. Over 100 animals are either on display or used in educational programs at the museum. Our Living History program is an interactive 1904 ranch, as well as the “Spirit of the West Hall of Exploration” that offers interpreters to share the stories of the fur trade, Oregon trail, mining, boom town and buckaroos.

Proposals for papers, presentations and workshops are being solicited for this meeting of the best and the brightest in the living history, museum and interpretation communities. Proposals may address any facet of living history or museum work, but those with a special emphasis on reaching visitors with a living history program will be given a preference.

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Holograms and Bungee Jumping in the Land of The Long White Cloud During the 2011 ALHFAM Western Regional meeting in Prescott, Deb Reid led an interesting discussion about holographics and other advanced technologies as an adjunct to (or instead of) first person and other interpretive techniques in museums. Being an ALHFAM meeting, the conversation focused on the use of such techniques in living history museums and on replacing live interpreters with new media. Listening to the exchange of ideas and opinions during the session made me realize that outside of Disneyland I had never personally seen holograms used as an interpretive tool. Not, that is, unless you count the “4-D” program at the National Museum of World War II in New Orleans, or similar walk-through experiential exhibits at the National Museum of the Civil War Soldier, in Petersburg, Virginia. So to discover holographic exhibitry in use at two of three major museums I visited on a recent trip to New Zealand, was both a first for me and a timely follow-on to Deb’s presentation.

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By Barry Herlihy

I spent the better part of a month in New Zealand at the end of 2011. My first museum experience there was a windy, rainy morning spent at the Auckland War Memorial Museum, the “AM”. The AM has extensive collections of material culture, historic photographs, and information about the island people of the Southern Ocean (we call it the South Pacific). Part of the museum is dedicated to these island cultures; another to the history, settlement and culture of New Zealand; and yet another to New Zealand’s military history. Other than walk-in diaoramas in the military history section, interpretation is straightforward, with an animated film about the legend of the Maori migration from Hawaii to Aotearoa (the Land of the Long White Cloud), some excellent videos in the military history section, and interactive computer stations in various parts of the museum. Pretty standard stuff, this.

rewa, the National Museum of New Zealand. This and my visit the following day to the Wellington Museum of City and Sea gave me my first look at the use of holographic exhibits to tell stories one might expect to hear “live” from a living history interpreter—condensing such stories to suit time and space constraints of a conventional museum.

A week later I was in Wellington, fighting a strong urge to go outside and play in the sun, immersing myself instead in the vastness of Te Papa Tonga-

Two of the three programs provided an interesting mix of tangible objects and electronic imagery. Image quality (as I had expected from

All three exhibits dealt in one way or another with Maori legends—folk tales, really— explaining the arrival of Maori in New Zealand and the origins (from a Maori perspective) of various New Zealand geographical features. Both museums are well-funded and exhibits are engaging and very much current state of the art. I’m not certain how recently the holographic exhibits were installed or how current the technology is that is used in those exhibits.

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at Disneyland) left much to be desired. Audience spaces were small, perhaps in deference to technological limitations on the field of view. The third program presented a series of talking heads and figures in a display case, telling stories of Maori and European discoveries of and migrations to New Zealand. All three presentations seemed to engage audiences. To me they seemed intriguing, though less comprehensive perhaps, than the video presentations I had seen at the AM. In the week between these visits I had an opportunity to indulge my interest in living history. While I understand there are other traditional open air museums in New Zealand, some with living history programs, tourists—at least first time visitors—are likely to first be exposed to one of the commercial Maori “village” venues. One of these, the Tamaki Maori Village near Rotorua, was on my itinerary. The Tamaki Village was created by the Tamaki family more than 20 years ago to preserve Maori tradition, culture and crafts, and to explain Maori culture to the general public. These villages are different from most living history sites we are familiar with. They are commercial ventures. The interpretive programs are presented as a series of concurrent demonstrations in a recreated village for a relatively large group (5 busloads at a time). The audience moves through the village more or less as a group, then attends a performance of story-telling, song and dance (yes, including a hakka,) followed by Hangi feast, a pit-roast served buffet style, with more contemporary storytelling and song (a sing-along actually). This is informative, entertaining, folksy and corny all at the same time, but appears authentic from a content point of view and is well presented by professional, paid, Maori interpreters thoroughly versed in their craft and in the history and culture of their people. They “look” the part—no mean feat as the Maori are well-integrated into the larger New Zealand society, both culturally, economically and racially. Male roles are performed by male interpreters and female roles by female interpreters. Maori parts are all performed by Maoridescendant enactors. The period and culture interpreted is essentially pre contact, so there are no nonMaori roles. My nose, my ears, and my tummy all experienced and remember the Tamaki Village and the spirit of clan or family which is the basis of Maori culture and life that pervaded the evening. None of those were “take-aways” from either the museums in Auckland or Wellington. Living history won the day. Museums aside, it was a fantastic visit to a far away land which we in North America know relatively little about. Almost a month was spent on the trip, 25,000 km by air, 200 km of ocean travel, 4,500 km in an SUV, and another 200 or so km by coach. Hiking on Franz Josef Glacier; white water rafting on two rivers (including shooting a 21 foot waterfall); ocean kayaking and hiking in Abel Tasman National Park; jet boating on the Shotover River; trekking the Kepler Track; sailing on a 100 year old coal-fired steamship from Queenstown to Walters Peak; touring the Walters Peak sheep station; a first-person sheep shearing demonstration; steam train travel on the Kingston Flyer; a Zodiac tour of the Tasman Glacier moraine lake; exploring Milford Sound by boat; hiking and driving in Mt. Cook National Park; and a visit to Christchurch to see the devastating effects of the earthquakes (where I “enjoyed” the first-person experience of 22 earthquakes between 1 a.m. my first night in Christchurch and 7 p.m. that evening, at least two of which early in the morning were stronger than magnitude 5). were all part of the adventure. I’m ready to go back right now, quick before my I lose left-hand driving skills. It took a week to stop turning on the wipers every time I signaled for a turn when I began the trip. It took that long to reverse the process when I returned. Some months later, I catch myself occasionally turning left from parking lots and one-way streets onto the “wrong” side of the road! Summing up, a friend in the UK told me “for you Yanks, going to New Zealand is a bit like stepping back into the ‘60s—maybe the ‘50s.” He was right. The entire trip was living history time-travel; travel to a place where echoes of our own past remain, coexisting comfortably with 21st century adventure. Bungee jumping anyone?

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Focus On Membership The ALHFAM Board has asked the representatives for the regions to give greater attention to retaining and increasing membership. To that end they have suggested that the region’s if they have not already done so, appoint a membership chair for that region to help the region’s representative. This would, for the Western Region, consist of contacting members that have not renewed their memberships and see what the reason or rationale was for that. I did that last fall and was able to remind one of our members of a lapsed membership which they renewed.

The Western Region is looking for a Membership Chair!

If you would be interested in helping with membership, please drop me an email. mick@sharlot.org. Mick Woodcock Western Region Representative

Issues and Deadlines 2012 Fall – to come out in September, articles due by August 15th, topic – Historic Foodways Winter – to come out in December, articles due by November 15th, topic – regional meeting and Programs, Interpretation and Education. 2013 Spring – to come out in March, articles due by August 15th, topic – First Person Interpretation Summer – to come out in June, articles due by November 15th, topic – regional meeting and Curation Articles and photographs should be sent to our Western Region newsletter editor ZairaValdovinos: zaira.valdovinos@gmail.com

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Making Collections Available By Mick Woodcock How much of your museum or site’s collections are on exhibit at any one time? The answers probably vary from museum to museum and historic site to historic site, but in many cases what you see as a visitor is the tip of the iceberg as far as the collections holdings are concerned. Such is the case with the Sharlot Hall Museum, site of the 2011 regional meeting. While there is much to see, particularly when there is a living history program, the artifacts on exhibit are somewhere between 10% and 15% of the total collection. Two recent requests to access collections caused the curatorial staff to give thought to digital access to specific collections within the collection. Both requests asked to see artifacts connected to local figures and were beyond the ability of the museum to grant the request based on the number of items and the lack of space to provide a secure viewing are for them. Enter the digital camera. While the staff had been taking digital photographs of artifacts for a number of years, it was limited to newly accessioned items and objects in the collection that had to be

looked at for some reason such as exhibition, loan or shelf inventory. While a somewhat haphazard approach to the problem, it never the less was better than no digital photo at all. Hence a few of the items in the requested collections had digital images, but most did not. Agreements were reached with both parties requesting access to accept digital images in place of looking at the entire collection piece by piece with the caveat that if a particular artifact needed to be examined in person this could take place with advance notice. This worked well with the first collection as it was the desire of the requesting museum to borrow parts of the collection for exhibit purposes. The second collection was clothing and the idea was that one of the pieces might be reproduced for exhibit at a historic site in another city. All of this led to a discussion of giving a focus to digital photography of the collection by identifying and targeting individual collections within the main collection. Several immediately came to mind which would launch the project, but it does not provide public access to the collection since none of this material is available on line. It only creates the images for an on line collection.

The Museum uses a software package that has, for an extra cost, software to put object collections on line. While this is worthy and might be a possibility, it does not take into account the archival holdings which are in a different department. Library and Archives already has much of its material on line. The ideal would be to have photographic images, finding aids and digital object photographs all in one place. Whether this is possible or not remains to be seen, but it is a goal worth working towards. If a museum or a historic site has, as one of its goals, making collections available to the public, then it is worth pursuing getting these collections onto the internet. It would be even better to have the objects linked with historic research materials. If this seems to be a bit of a daunting task, think about breaking it up into small parts. Goals need to be achievable and can be made that way by creating a plan of action to get the job done. For all of us this is a work in progress. The only difference is where we are on the path to reaching the desired end.


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ALHFAM Annual Meeting & Conference 2013 - Call For Papers Call for Presentations, Sessions and Papers, On June 14-18, 2013, Hale Farm & Village, an outdoor living history site and a premier collection and museum of the Western Reserve Historical Society, will host the 2013 ALHFAM Annual Meeting and Conference. Nestled in the picturesque Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Hale Farm & Village depicts mid-19th century rural life in Northeastern Ohio through dozens of historic structures, farm animals, heritage gardens and artisan demonstrations. The University of Akron will provide meeting, dining and lodging facilities for the conference and is located within 50 minutes of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and 20 minutes of the Akron-Canton Regional Airport. Guided by the theme; Bringing It All to the Table: Feed Your Body, Feed Your Mind, museum professionals everywhere are encouraged to gather with colleagues around a common table. Here conference attendees will acquaint themselves with old friends and new associates, while enjoying good company, good food, and rousing conversation. And what better place to gather than the time-honored table that is familiar to everyone and is oftentimes described as a positive and productive setting for stimulating discourse, high spirits, instruction, respite and shared aims. Appropriately the table serves as a special place that is witness to life's most important things. The 2013 conference will address issues and concerns currently facing living history and agricultural museums. Proposals for presentations, sessions, papers and workshops are now being accepted and should focus on individual, institutional and communal achievements that serve up innovative programming initiatives or organizational efforts that are creative, essential and relevant in today’s marketplace. How do museums cultivate and nurture civic engagement for greater involvement and investment in their organizations? What can we glean from new demographic shifts, technological applications and curriculum schemes? What are the current and best practices of living history interpretation and museum methodology that effect organizational richness? What are the processes for dishing-up success? How do we deliver the goods to our audiences and reap the rewards of a good yield in the face of new challenges and opportunities?

Submission deadline is December 1, 2012 See website for details and application

www.ALHFAM.org

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Summer 2012 West News  

The Summer 2012 Newsletter for the Western Region of the Association of Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums.

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