John Ward House, c.1710. One of three historic buildings at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA.

John Ward House, c.1710. One of three historic buildings at the Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill, MA.

Can your museum afford institutional memberships with professional organizations? Or maybe you can only squeeze one into the budget? My museum’s membership with our regional museum association, NEMA, and my individual AASLH membership are our links with other museums. But every penny spent on them is worth it!

When I arrive in the morning, I start the day by checking my backlog of email and opening anything from AASLH first. As the museum educator, electronic newsletters and blog posts (especially Arrrrducation!) help me think about ways to develop our potential. I love reading about the creative and smart ideas from across the country that I can incorporate into our programs, too.

With my AASLH membership, we not only establish links with colleagues elsewhere, we also receive discounts on books, videos and other publications, like the Small Museum Toolkit. This lets us save money for program supplies, collections care resources….or even a new boiler! We can also learn new skills through online workshops and webinars without having to leave the museum. This is important because, for us, stepping out for an afternoon or even a trip to the store down the street means closing the museum.

Finally, my AASLH membership made me eligible for the Small Museum Committee scholarship so I could attend the Annual Meeting in Birmingham this year! Even without this scholarship, members receive a discount on attendance costs. I loved the opportunities to network, to listen to new and exciting ideas from the presenters, and to just let my inner history-nerd come out for four days straight!

One particularly interesting session was “Where’s the Humanity in STEM?” This session included an engaging discussion about how history museums can demonstrate their worth in an age with so many funders interested STEM-related programming. I walked away with new ideas for exhibits and programming on historic technology and inventors.

Do you also use your personal connections to benefit your museum?

Kaleigh Paré is the Program Coordinator for the Buttonwoods Museum / Haverhill Historical Society in Haverhill, MA. With a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and history from Bates College, she is now working on her master’s thesis in museum studies at the Harvard University Extension School. Standing at 4’10” she is truly a small museum professional!