Wednesday, October 8, 2014

2014 Museums Alaska / Alaska Historical Society Joint Annual Conference

by Derik Price
© Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum

Last week I attended the 2014 Museums Alaska / Alaska Historical Society Joint Annual Conference, held this year in Seward, Alaska.  I can’t believe it’s been four years since I attended the 2010 Conference when it was last held in Fairbanks.  There were about 3 dozen presentations (some concurrent) over the four day event, spread out around the historic downtown Seward area.  All the speakers and events I attended were first rate, and I really can’t say enough about the quality of the presenters both Associations lined up for the event.  We were all treated to some really great speakers and, surprisingly, really great weather as well.

The events were held in at least four separate buildings in downtown Seward.  All close together and an easy walk.  It turned out to be nice to visit numerous places.  Some, any visitor might have on their list, like the Alaska Sea Life Center  -  A seriously great experience right here in Alaska.  To the Qutekcak Native Tribe office for some background and information about the traditions of numerous regional Alaska Native Peoples and tribes.  The Seward Community Library and Museum hosted a number of seminars as well, and when you catch their building in the sun it’s nothing short of ‘illuminating’.  It’s covered in iridescent shingles which change color in the sun - reminiscent of Beetle Elytra. 

The very first presentation I attended was a pre-conference Workshop entitled Gallery Exhibits for Community Spaces – co-hosted by Jeanne Brako, Curator, Center of Southwest Studies, Fort Lewis College, Durango, CO, and Jack Townes, Exhibition Designer, Skycraft Designs, Estacada, OR.   The duo showed numerous low cost and high quality techniques for designing exhibits, as well as construction techniques for more elaborate, yet still affordable, displays.  As part of a hands on demonstration the attendees separated into teams to fabricate differing kinds of displays.  Our little team built a Mannequin out of Either Foam, batting, a pillow case and some 'Flexible Form' to display a Haori.  

I also attended a number of sessions on incorporating Social Media into your Museum or exhibit.  Typically you think of doing a blog or having a Facebook page principally to promote your business and get people interested in visiting your location.  But Social Media can also be used as an important research tool.   In the session ‘Social Media 3.0’ the two presenters Maite Agopian and Theresa Bakker, both from the UA Museum of the North detailed the development of the Blog used to in association with their Exhibit - Denali Legacy: 100 Years On The Mountain.  Without spoiling your reading of the story, you come to find out is that the Blog itself helped develop a significant portion of the history (and locate artifacts) behind the historic event.

The Joint Conference was well attended, with a wonderful variety of subjects and venues, all supported by well organized speakers and study materials.  I can't say enough about the terrific effort these two organizations, along with countless volunteers and local businesses, put into the activities.  And last, but certainly not least, the Resurrection Bay Historical Society as the Host.  I'd like to thank them all for putting together such a great event!  

Denali Legacy: 100 Years on the Mountain - used with permission of the University of Alaska Museum of the North. 

Coming to Fairbanks to see the Fountainhead Antique Auto Museum and other area attractions? Support the museum by staying right here at Wedgewood Resort. All guests receive half-price admission to the museum!

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