Reflections on SHA by Marc Blackburn
Reflections by Marc Blackburn: As we start the last week of SHA I have had the weekend to reflect on where we have been and where we are going in this final week. I am one of four National Park employees who were sent to SHA this year. Unlike my peers in the museum world, we don’t have to constantly think about when the next donor will walk into the door or deal with an obstreperous board, but we have our own challenges of a daunting bureaucracy and declining funding from Congress. Putting those differences aside, what has really captured my attention over the past two weeks is that we are all bounded by a passion for our jobs, and a deep, deep love of history.
While it is always fun to swap war stories over a beer after dinner, what has intrigued me is that what can make our profession stronger is reaching across our institutional lines and helping each other out. In one of the in-class exercises, I had the pleasure of working with the director of the Chemical Heritage Foundation Museum Director, Jennifer Landry. While discussing the merits of an exhibit project her institution is hosting in the coming year, I shared my excitement for the topic, Chemistry Sets in America, and I came up with some ideas that had not been considered in the scoping process of her exhibit project. It’s been a great opportunity to share and make new friends.
The subject matter of SHA has been engaging and though provoking. It has given me permission to go back to my park and make a positive change. Moreover, this experience has opened my eyes to the potential that we have as a group of professionals in the realm of museums and interpretation to continue to not only move our institutions forward, but to create a network of professionals who want to continue to make history relevant to our institutions, ourselves, our audience, and to our country.