Catching up on my local history reading, I found that in the May-June issue of the Minnesota History Interpreter, I’m quoted talking about the value of architectural remnants in the collections of my old museum.  And that quote in turn is from a blog comment from last August.  I’m certainly glad that they could use the information, and I sound pretty eloquent, but what a surprise!

The Daily Planet is reporting that the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program is facing hassles and hurdles from a newly reorganized Minneapolis Institute of Arts.  The details from the vociferous public meeting at the Daily Planet; here’s a primer on the MAEP.

The MAEP is a democratic, self-governing exhibition program that is horizontal rather than hierarchical in its structure. A panel of artists elected by the program’s membership of artists curates five shows per year. Since 1977, the program has been administered by Stewart Turnquist, a museum staff coordinator who has reported directly to the museum director—putting him on an equal footing with the museum’s other curators. Two galleries in the museum’s new Target Wing are dedicated to MAEP exhibitions. The autonomous, artist-run program is unique to museums in this country, and it has operated smoothly since its inception as a pilot program in 1975.

Turnquist has recently resigned.

Also in the Daily Planet, Pipestone’s Hiawatha festival is celebrating its 60th and last year.  This was a re-enactment of Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” in this small SW Minnesota town.  The festival is ending as a result of Pipestone’s declining population and growing disinclination to mount a 125-person pageant every year.   Pipestone may be familiar to readers of this blog as the subject of Sally Southwick’s Building on a Borrowed Past:  Place and Identity in Pipestone, MN, which analyzed and indicted the town’s appropriation of native culture for touristic purposes.  Though the “Song of Hiawatha” (which you can’t help thinking of while riding around south Minneapolis; we have the Longfellow neighborhood, Lake Nokomis, Lake Hiawatha, Minnehaha Creek) is less virulently awful than some other portrayals of First Minnesotans, it has no place as the center of a public festival.   60 years was too long a run.

Lastly, did you know that Liberia recently convened Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings?  They were in St. Paul.

The Charles Babbage Institute at the U of M has a great exhibit up now, Gendered Bits: Identities, Artifacts and Practices in Computing, put up in conjunction with their recent conference on gender, history and computing.  (See some pictures) The exhibit is superawesome and will be up till July 23rd at Andersen Hall on the West Bank of the U in Minneapolis.  Run, don’t walk! You only have a few days left to check it out!

Also in news from CBI, they’ve posted full scans of the full run of the early internet journal Connexions: The interoperability report. They are definitely worth a visit to see internet pioneers debating IP, learning about internetworking around the world, and groaning at poems by Vint Cerf about ARPANET. (I personally scanned the whole thing last summer, so please drop over and read some of this great stuff.)   And on the CBI blog, Steph has been writing a series about a day in the life of an archivist.  There are many reasons to use and support this vital resource for the history of computing.

The scifi author Thomas Disch died of suicide on July 4.  His work was brilliant, difficult, and formally groundbreaking, especially his 334 and Camp Concentration. Born in Iowa, he spent his teens in Minnesota, and often returned here in his fiction.  His first novel, The Genocides, which I highly recommend, features an earth invaded by giant plants, and a group of Minnesotans, farmers and others, striving to live in the changed and depopulated world.  It’s particularly compelling to read if you’re from the North Shore, which is never featured in disaster tales.  In The Genocides, Lake Superior is sucked up by the plants for irrigation, and Duluth is lovingly and thoroughly destroyed.  The farmers do not survive.  And now we’ve lost Disch himself.

A few fun things to celebrate my four-day weekend:

An interview with Kate Beaton, who writes brilliant history comics, and from whose comics I learned all my Canadian history (sorry, Adam!).


Great Moments in History, drawn on the Etch-a-sketch.

That’s all! I’m spending the weekend with Shakespeare in lovely Winona, Minnesota. I’ll be less scarce in July, I promise. History doesn’t stop just because it’s summer

Update:  Wow, I had to update with this:  Ben Franklin and Betsy Ross get married in Philly! (thanks, Mary)  Happy 4th!

The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, Cedar Rapids, Friday

Since I moved down to a floodplain, here in Rochester, Minn., I’ve been worried about local museums in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa.  Cedar Rapids, of course, was totally under water, though the flood is receding.  But the museum there are been severely damaged.  The National Trust is reporting that the historic house museum Brucemore is okay, and possibly the collections of the art museum and Grant Wood museum, but the art museum, the library, the science center, the Czech and Slovak Museum (above, on Friday) and the African-American Museum were under water.  Here in Minnesota, in Austin the Spam Museum was closed for the flood last week, but it’s not clear if there was damage.  A state of emergency was declared for Mower (Austin) and Freeborn (Albert Lea) counties in southern Minnesota, but no word on other local museums.

I’ll keep you posted on places to send money and for any possibilities for collections professionals to go down and help out with the recovery.

The Minnesota Association of Museums annual meeting is on Monday, at the continuing ed center on the St. Paul campus of the U of M.  The theme is “Minnesota Museums Collaborate,” and there are lots of interesting sessions.  Later in the evening there’s a mixer at the Gibbs Farm, a living history museum that does some neat environmental interpretation, like an heirloom apple orchard.  Here’s the program and info.

8:30 to 9 a.m.


9 to 10:15 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions A

  • The Transforming Power of Collaboration
    Melinda Ludwiczak, MLIS, Partnerships Coordinator, Minneapolis Central Library, Hennepin County Library
    Camille Gage, Library Exhibition Review Committee Chair, Artist, Event Manager, Mondale Lectures on Public Service, Hubert, H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
    Carol Daly, Library Exhibition Review Committee Member, FORECAST Public Artworks Board Member, and Former State Director, Elderhostel
    The new Minneapolis Central Library, designed by Cesar Pelli, was set to open in May 2006 with a stunning exhibition gallery. A staff position was created and charged with building an exhibition program utilizing a collaboration model and a very modest budget. Find out how a multi-discipline committee was recruited to create an exhibition infrastructure and implement an exhibition schedule. This case study will describe how the exhibition committee was formed, techniques used to facilitate the committee’s work, and how partners are engaged through a collaborative exhibition program that reinforces and expands the mission of a 21st century public library.
  • Environmentalism Meets Local History
    Erin Anderson, Education Coordinator, Carver County Historical Society
    Larry Hutchings, Curator, Carver County Historical Society
    In July 2007, the Carver County Historical Society was awarded a grant by Community POWER (Partners on Waste Education and Reduction) to create and implement three day camps, two teacher workshops, and five school programs centered on eco-historical themes. By definition, eco-history is a collaboration, created by pairing historical topics with aspects of environmentalism (i.e. activism and education; land stewardship and historic preservation). This session will focus on teaching eco-history through collaborative efforts by the Solid Waste Management Coordinating Board, Carver County Environmental Services, and the Carver County Historical Society, and will include an overview of the museum’s proposed project.
  • Mixing It Up: Ideas and Action to Connect and Inspire
    Wendy Freshman, Public Programs Associate, Minnesota Historical Society
    Tim Barrett, Program Director, The Collaboration for the Advancement of College Teaching and Learning
    Performers from SteppingStone Theatre
    You literally will not sit still during this active session meant to connect participants and get you ready for the day.

10:30 to 11:45 a.m.

Concurrent Sessions B

  • The TRIO Institute: A Three Museum Collaboration for Teacher Professional Development
    Judi Petkau, Youth/Tour Coordinator, Weisman Art Museum
    Susan Rotilie, Program Manager for School Programs, Walker Art Center
    Cori Quinn, Manager of Teacher Resources, Minneapolis Institute of Arts
    This panel discussion will focus on a three-museum collaboration to address the needs of K-12 teachers and provide a forum to address related issues that museums share. The TRIO program grew out of a desire by the participating museum educators to create a sustainable professional development opportunity that could draw on the strengths of each institution and link into their shared audiences. Questions for discussion include: How do we engage teachers in an ongoing relationship of professional development across communities? What is the value of such collaboration? How might technology assist in our efforts? How can museums collaborate with higher education towards this end? What might be potential roles for museums in teacher professional development? Reflections on the pilot year of the TRIO Institute involving the Weisman, Walker and MIA will serve as a starting point for discussion.
  • The Northfield History Collaborative: Libraries, Archives, Museums and Businesses Working Together
    Hayes Scriven, Executive Director, Northfield Historical Society
    Sam Demas, Gould Library, Carleton College
    Debbie Nitz, Northfield Public Library
    Sue Garwood, Rice County Historical Society
    Attendees will learn how six cultural heritage institutions are collaborating to identify, catalog, and make accessible the records and artifacts relating to the history of Northfield, MN. They will hear how a group of librarians, archivists, museum professionals and business owners are bridging their professional differences and combining their expertise to provide seamless access across institutions. Attendees will participate in a conversation about the options under consideration to enable Northfielders to simultaneously search the local history holdings of the Carleton and St. Olaf College libraries and archives, the Northfield Public Library, the Northfield News, and the Rice County Historical Society and Northfield Historical Society.
  • The Minnesota Disappeared Collaborative Project
    Kerry Morgan, Director of Galleries and Exhibitions, Augsburg College
    Laurel Reuter, Director, North Dakota Museum of Art
    Colleen Sheehy, Director of Education, Weisman Art Museum
    Holly Ziemer, Director of Communications, Center for Victims of Torture
    Panel participants will discuss a unique collaboration that will culminate in fall of 2009 when the nationally-acclaimed contemporary art exhibition “The Disappeared” (curated by Laurel Reuter at the North Dakota Museum of Art) opens at the Weisman Art Museum along with eight coordinating art exhibitions at area colleges and universities. These academic institutions are working with non-profit organizations such as the Center for Victims of Torture to bring the issue of human rights to the fore and to engage as many diverse communities as possible in a variety of art exhibitions (including one at the Mall of America), readings, lectures and a film series.

11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.


12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Minnesota Association of Museums Annual Business Meeting

Keynote Address – Cathy Wurzer, Host of Morning Edition, Minnesota Public Radio

1:30 to 2:45 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions C

  • Pooling Resources = Big Results
    Tilly Laskey, Curator of Ethnology, Science Museum of Minnesota
    Joanne Jones-Rizzi, Director of People and Cultures Program, Science Museum of Minnesota
    Roxanne Gould, Independent Scholar and Professor, Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
    The Twin Cities have some of the best cultural resources in the world, including museums, collections, visual artists, musicians, theaters, researchers, universities and colleges, and vibrant communities. At The Science Museum of Minnesota, we strive to collaborate and involve multiple audiences. But what if Minnesota’s cultural institutions pooled our resources? What if we worked together in a small town/university model of communication to have a national or even international impact? This session will discuss ideas and big dreams for playing well with others, as well as document successful collaborations, specifically an international partnership traveling programs, an exhibit and performances to Basque Country, Spain.
  • Scouts All About
    Claudia Nicholson, Executive Director, North Star Museum for Boy Scouting and Girl Scouting
    Shana Crosson, Web Content Manager,Minnesota Historical Society, and Girl Scout Troop Leader
    Representatives from area Girl Scout and Boy Scout Councils
    Minnesota museums are increasingly teaming with Scouting organizations to develop programs that meet and exceed the expectations of both groups. This session will demonstrate some successful partnerships, and introduce museum staff and Scouting staff who have developed programs. Hear directly from successful partners just what’s involved to make Scouting programs a highly successful element of your programming.
  • “Goldie’s Treasures”- a Cultural Walking Tour on the U of M St. Paul Campus
    Staff of the Goldstein Gallery, Bell Museum of Natural History, and University of Minnesota Raptor Center
    From 1:45-2:45 pm and from 3 -4 pm, visit one of three sites nearby to enjoy staff presenting about gems in their collections. Sign up at morning registration; first come, first served.

2:45 to 3:00 p.m.


3:00 to 4:15 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions D

  • Playful Partnerships: Children, Artists and Sharing Knowledge
    Michelle Blodgett, Program Developer, Minnesota Children’s Museum
    Amie Pence, VSA Arts of Minnesota
    Minnesota Children’s Museum’s patrons met, created and were inspired with the guest artist from VSA Arts of Minnesota Arts Ambassadors. This partnership brought in artists with disabilities for interactive activities with children focused on music, movement and visual arts to the Museum’s Rooftop Artpark. The Museum is continuing the partnership with VSA Arts of Minnesota to design a training workshop for staff and advising on the creation of a First Friday program to reach children and families with disabilities. Come join us as we discuss children, artists and playful partnerships.
  • The Neighborhood Forum: Building a More Literate Twin Cities
    David Stevens, Public Programs Coordinator, Mill City Museum, Minnesota Historical Society
    Lynne Burke, Children’s Literacy Liason/Reach Out and Read MN Coordinator, Hennepin County Medical Center
    Lisa Bugman, Community Relations Consultant, Thrivent Financial
    Learn about a unique group of nonprofit, corporate and public institutions in Minneapolis named the Neighborhood Forum: how it organized, why it adopted literacy as a common goal, and what disparate organizations bring to a collaborative event, the Go Read Day family reading festival. This event has boosted Mill City Museum attendance during an otherwise slow time of year and the museum has developed historical programming that supports the event’s literacy theme. The panel will discuss the challenges of creating a program that supports the mission and goals of all of the participating organizations.
  • “Goldie’s Treasures”- a Cultural Walking Tour on the U of M St. Paul Campus
    Staff of the Goldstein Gallery, Bell Museum of Natural History, and University of Minnesota Raptor Center
    From 1:45-2:45 pm and from 3 -4 pm, visit one of three sites nearby to enjoy staff presenting about gems in their collections. Sign up at morning registration; first come, first served.

4:15 to 4:30 p.m.

Raffle Prizes announced (must be present to win)


After-Conference Mixer

Monday May 19 at 4:45 – 7PM
Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life
2097 West Larpenteur Avenue, Falcon Heights

The Gibbs Museum and Minnesota Association of Museums (MAM) invite you to an informal get-together open to all. Enjoy wine, beer, light hors d’oeuvres and homemade ice cream along with the company of your colleagues, all while taking in the history and beauty of the Gibbs Museum. If weather permits, grab a glass of wine and head outside on a guided stroll through the unique Gibbs Heritage Orchard in bloom and other historic Dakotah and pioneer sites. This is a great opportunity to continue the collaborative discussions started during the day at the 2008 MAM Meeting. (The Mixer is also open to museum professionals and volunteers not attending the meeting)

The Gibbs Museum is less than 1 mile from the conference site. From the CECC parking lot (Lot S-104), go west on Buford Avenue. Take a right on Cleveland Avenue (travel north). After crossing Larpenteur Avenue, take the first left into the Gibbs Museum parking lot. Directions

Free parking! Go to the Red Barn to check-in.

Admission: $10 for MAM members; $15 for non-members.

Please sign up in advance by calling Peter Olson at 651-225-6037, or e-mail polson@mcm.org. Cash and checks will be accepted at the event.

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