SHA 2017 Underway in Indianapolis
This year’s Seminar for Historical Administration (SHA) is meeting in Indianapolis and all of our hard work in selecting participants and presenters over the past months is coming to fruition. For three weeks in Indianapolis, a dozen people in the history field will be discussing the leading issues facing leaders and debating their solutions. I’ve assembled the schedule and directing the program, so I’m particularly excited to see how it unfolds each day. A big thanks to the dozens of people who are helping to make this extraordinary experience possible.
SHA opened on Sunday with Erin Carlson Mast, the President and CEO of President Lincoln’s Cottage, laying out the trends in the field. She noted how much has changed in the last ten years and that our work is more important than ever. I was particularly intrigued by her insistence that the mission and vision of the organization need to be manifested not only in the public programs and activities but also in the budget and operations. For example, their interpretation of slavery during Lincoln’s era motivated them to examine modern-day slavery (human trafficking) through their award-winning SOS program for teens AND make choices about the restoration materials used in the Cottage. Afterwards, we visited the library and archives at the Indiana Historical Society and had dinner together at a local restaurant.
Yesterday, David Young, Executive Director at Cliveden and Tim Grove of the National Air and Space Museum discussed the opportunities and challenges for making history relevant. It seems that everyone is struggling to make this happen, either through their programming or evaluation, and perhaps the most important discovery is that we need to learn more about our audience’s interests, motivations, and needs.
Today, Pamela Napier and Terri Wada at Collabo Creative and the Herron School of Art and Design led us through a short workshop on the process of “design thinking,” which included a challenging competition to build the tallest tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows (I failed miserably). In the afternoon, our focus shifted to collections with a visit to fine art, paleontology, and textile storage at the Indiana State Museum with Susannah Koerber and Traci Cromwell and the conservation lab at the Indiana Historical Society with Ramona Duncan-Huse, which concluded with a fun workshop on mending paper. In between, we met with Cathy Ferree, President and CEO of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites to learn about their organizational transition and the importance of the executive team.
We’re just three days into our three weeks and it’s already inspiring lots of new ideas. Consider joining us in 2018!