by Rachael Bogema
I recently represented Chucalissa at the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Tennessee Association of Museums. This year’s conference was held in Franklin- a growing area in Middle Tennessee that boasts being one of America’s top twelve “Distinctive Destinations,” and has a rich local history. The meeting’s theme was “Against All Odds: Stories of Determination and Resilience,” and all of the conference events centered on how organizations can not only survive, but thrive in times of relative instability, regardless of size or budget. Although I found all of the sessions to be informative and useful, two sessions were particularly inspiring and relative to issues Chucalissa is currently facing.
Bob Beatty, Vice President for Programs, American Association for State and Local History (AASLH), presented an energizing session entitled “Onward! Engaging Volunteers to Beat the Odds.” Bob compared advisory groups and affinity groups, and discussed how museums could better utilize their volunteers through the establishment of these affinity groups, something that AASLH has greatly succeeded at in recent years. Chucalissa has been working for years to develop and maintain an engaged and meaningful volunteer program, and these tips will surely help to utilize our volunteers in a way that furthers our mission.
“Against All Odds: Social Media Strategy and Planning on a Shoestring Budget” was presented by Catherine Shteynberg, Assistant Curator/Social Media Coordinator at the Frank H. McClung Museum. I was looking forward to this session the whole week, and Catherine did not disappoint! She presented ways that organizations can listen to their social media audiences and develop strategies that better serve these voices. Catherine also provided several different tools and strategies for measuring your organization’s social media successes. Our staff at Chucalissa is constantly brainstorming ways to improve our social media strategy and reach a larger audience through our web presence, and this session gave me several new ideas to implement.
Can you sense the running theme here? Rebecca Duke, Katie Stringer (a former Chucalissa GA) and I presented “Rookie Roundtable: Discussions and Tips for Emerging Young Professionals.” Katie, Rebecca, and I took this meeting’s theme and made it personal, encouraging our session attendees to share strategies of determination and resilience for fellow emerging museum professionals. One strategy that I cannot encourage enough is to attend conferences such as TAM at every available opportunity. Professional development is key to gaining knowledge regarding current issues in your field, as well as developing relationships with colleagues and potential mentors for current and future career growth. Attending conferences like TAM is productive, energizing, and fun!
Thanks again to all at TAM for a wonderful meeting, I’m looking forward to seeing everyone at the 2014 meeting in Greeneville!