Friday, October 1, 2010

A very busy month....

So October is gearing up to be one of those months at the LHS that is ridiculously busy. But it's in a good way.

We have a lot of the normal stuff going on---planning for a new exhibit, hopefully beginning the steps to get some new lighting, planning a holiday open house, and more. You know, the normal stuff.

But we also have a bunch of really exciting programs that will take place this month.

We'll start off the month's programming this Saturday with a collaboration with Venus Theatre. Venus Theatre is a small theatre in Laurel that is dedicated to setting flight to the voices of women and children. They have professional playwrights submit plays to them and all of their actors are professionals. A really cool gem in Laurel. What, you may ask, are we doing with them?

Well, we have collaborated with them to put together "Laurel: A Haunted History". It's a candlelight walking tour around Laurel. You see, one of the people at Venus has a background in giving Haunted Walking Tours in places like Gettysburg and NY City. So we worked with him using material from the Laurel Museum's collection to develop a haunted walking tour for Laurel. As far as we know, it's the first time this has ever been done. And we're really excited about it!

So if you're interested in a night of fun in Laurel, sign up.
Here's the link:

But if you can't come Oct 2, don't worry. Venus Theatre is running the tour every Saturday in October. So come another day to be scared!

We quickly follow up our Oct 2 ghost walk tour with something quite different. On October 4, Mike Boivin will be giving a lecture for the LHS titled "Researching Immigrants Through the Port of Baltimore". Mike is the leader of our Genealogy Group, a group that meets monthly to discuss topics related to genealogy and help one another in their research. This group has been quite active and began about a year ago following a lot of interest in the genealogy programs we offered then.

Mike's talk is not only done as part of the LHS's regular programming, but it is done in collaboration with "Between Fences". "Between Fences" is a traveling exhibit put together by the Smithsonian for small museums throughout the country to show and build upon. This fall it is being shown at Montpelier Mansion along with "Barriers and Gateways: The Immigrant Experience" a companion exhibit that the people at Montpelier put together in collaboration with BF.

When Between Fences is brought to locations throughout the country, the hope is that the locations will work collaboratively on programming to accompany it. We've done just that with Montpelier and many of our programs this fall relate to that exhibit. Mike's program on immigrants coming through the port of Baltimore is just one iteration of that collaboration.

Not too long after Mike's talk, we have another exciting collaborative program. (Who would have guessed??). On October 9 we are partnering with Laurel Mill Playhouse. Laurel Mill Playhouse is a community theater non-profit located on Laurel's Main Street. They run plays continuously throughout the year and involve people in the community in a number of exciting and refreshing ways. Like Venus Theatre, we've partnered with them before and it has always been a pleasure.

On October 9 we are working with them again to offer another of our "Have You M.E.T." Events. Museum, Eats, and Theater in Historic Laurel has been a popular evening out every time we have done it. This time we'll begin with an all-american dinner at the Laurel Museum and continue our evening at LMP to see "The American Way." An epic take of the American immigrant experience in the early 1900s, this play is done in collaboration with Montpelier's "Between Fences" as well. So in fact, we're partnering with both Laurel Mill Playhouse and Montpelier on this program!

On October 20th we'll have our normal Book Club meeting. Last month we discussed "Outcasts United" a book that was part of the One Maryland One Book initiative. This book tied directly into "Between Fences" at Montpelier too, so it was also a part of the collaborative programming as well. This month we'll be discussing a crowd favorite, "Love in the Time of Cholera." I haven't read it yet, so please, don't post any spoilers in the comments!

We complete the month with one of our quarterly children's programs. This month is "Harvest Some Fun at the Laurel Museum: Harvest Time Traditions from Around the World." October is always a harvest themed children's program and since we have the opportunity to tie it into "Between Fences" and the idea of immigration, we thought we'd do so.

At this event children will explore Vietnamese, English, Indian, Salvadorian, and Mexican harvest traditions. Members of Montpelier's staff will be helping us as well--making it a very collaborative event.

We hope we'll have the usual kids running around having fun and eating lots of yummy food while learning a little something too.

So, as you can tell, it's going to be a really busy month. We hope to see you around the Museum, or at the playhouse, or walking along Main Street being spooked!

Happy October!

Friday, September 3, 2010

And They're Off....Researching!

So things have been pretty quiet here on the blog. I decided that a summer hiatus was in order, but don't worry, we are back!And don't let the quiet fool you, we've been pretty busy here at the LHS. Watch out for the month of October where we have a lot of programs planned!

What I personally have been working on a lot lately is planning for our upcoming exhibit. When I arrived at the LHS in June of 2008, I was told in no uncertain terms that the February 2011 exhibit would be on the 100 year anniversary of the Laurel Park Racetrack.

So back in March we began planning for the new exhibit. Right now we're deep in the planning and researching phase.
One of the most exciting parts of the planning and researching is meeting people who work or worked at the Race Track. We've been conducting interviews to learn more about the personal experiences of people involved at the track and it's been a lot of fun.

I've spent so much time at the Race Track I'm beginning to think I should have an office there as well. Learning about what goes on "behind the scenes" has been a lot of fun!

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to visit the jockey's room at the racetrack. This is the place where all of the jockeys get ready before the race. It is here that they weigh in, get dressed, and get ready to ride.
Here are some of the pictures I had the opportunity to snap!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy Fourth of July: 1910 Style!

Images provided by Charles Hessler, Laurel Museum Registrar and 2006 LHS Volunteer of the Year.

Friday, June 25, 2010

World Cup Fever and the LHS

For those of you who know me well, you might know that this Executive Director (speaking in the 3rd person here) likes to spend her weekends and weeknights playing the best sport on earth, soccer. (yes, I am biased).

So, for those of you who don't know, we're in the middle of World Cup fever. The tournament takes place once every four years (yep, just like the Olympics) and this year it's taking place in South Africa.

Because soccer is on my mind, I thought writing a blog post about some lessons learned from the world cup might be a good idea. For those of you who hate sports analogies--stop reading now!

For those of you who can stomach the analogies, here are 2 decent ones:

Things are not always as they seem.
This World Cup, we're learning that just because you see something doesn't make it true. Whether it's a 3rd goal against Slovenia or a 1st goal against Algeria, the US has proven to us that we can't always believe our eyes (and ears, hearts, and minds). Sometimes there are things going on that we're not aware of (like a ref that can't see or think or hear me screaming at him from Laurel, Md).
On a more positive note---here's your first sports analogy. This summer, you won't be receiving many flyers from us announcing fun and exciting programs. As usual, we're slowing down our public events in the summer. You might even begin to think we're dozing around here (or watching too much soccer). But don't worry, we have lots of things going on behind the scenes.
Every Wednesday we'll spend time with our Junior Docents working on a new project. We have Laurel Parks and Rec summer camp coming once a week. We have a high school volunteer coming to work on a project that should increase the accessibility of our collections online. We are creating some traveling trunks that will be able to travel to classrooms in the area so students can learn all about Laurel without coming to the Museum. We'll be meeting once a month for out monthly volunteer luncheon (next up--July 6, 12:30 at Lenny's). We'll be going to restaurants to talk about our upcoming Taste of Laurel. Working with Montpelier Mansion on the Between Fences project. And of course working on our upcoming exhibit on the Laurel race track. And you know, between that all, watching some soccer.

Sometimes, it's the little guys who pull through in the end.
This world cup has seen some huge, huge upsets. For those of you not watching, let me summarize it in the simplest way possible. Italy. the champions from 2006, are going home after the first round. (I'm personally loving that fact!)
Some of the most amazing upsets have taken place-- South Africa beat France, Serbia beat Germany, Slovakia beat Italy, and Switzerland beat Spain. Again, for those of you who aren't big soccer fans, these are all huge upsets.
So why do I bring this up in the context of the LHS? Because we are a little guy. Any organization that employs only 1 full time and 1 half time person is a little guy.

But we're pulling through in a big way. Our current exhibit incorporates community input in a way that many larger museums struggle with. All of our collection is inventoried and in Past Perfect, a feat larger museums sometimes can not complete. We have annually changing, interesting, engaging, and informative exhibits. Our public programming is regular, interesting, and worthwhile. And of course--we have a great membership and volunteer base.

So pat yourselves on the back for all that you've done to support the LHS lately. We appreciate you cheering for the little guy.

And this World Cup, if you catch a game, root for the underdog! (Or Spain, because I personally love them!)

Friday, June 11, 2010

A Busy Week

I arrived back to the warm, slightly suffocating heat of sunny Maryland last Thursday.

Since then, I've been playing a bit of catch up. I was on email for the 2 weeks I was away, but I was also spending plenty of time in program sessions at AAM, visiting Museums, and to be honest, paddling around the Oceanside Harbor with the Sea Lions. (which I thought were seals until I visited the Aquarium of the Pacific and learned the difference...yay museums!!!!)

So I've been playing a bit of catch up for the last week. And I didn't necessarily have the easiest week to settle back in.

This week we were pretty busy.

Wednesday night we had several local businesses come to the Museum so we could share the great work we do with them. Thursday was our friends and family picnic--THANK YOU to all who came! And Sunday we're having another one of our kids day, this time around the theme of Picturing Yourself in History. I also had to report on a grant that wraps up this month, visit with volunteers at our monthly luncheon, and do all the other normal fun stuff we do around here!

But I had 2 great things happen this week to remind me of why I'm here.

1) Another local non-profit that serves the community approached me with some collaboration ideas. It's exciting to think that we've built the foundation of a relationship that they felt comfortable coming here and just pitching it. And guess what? One of the ideas is something I'm REALLY excited about and one I've tried to do since I arrived. So hopefully we can make it happen. (the mystery here is on purpose--I can't ruin the surprise!)

2) The Laurel High School I.B. Program dropped off some artwork they did in collaboration with the exhibit. I began talking to the IB Program people several months ago and brainstorming ways we could collaborate. I wasn't sure anything was going to happen this academic year, but I was hopeful and so were they. Tuesday, the Laurel IB Art Teacher dropped off several collages that the students made based on our exhibit. I immediately put them into the exhibit for all to see.

So the conference with it's engaging sessions, the paddle boat with it's friendly sea lions, and all of that sunny California has to offer was great.

But I'm happy to be back and working with my small museum to engage the community!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Good Day (or week) in Sunny, CA

So tomorrow AM, I leave for sunny southern California.

Why, you might ask?

For the American Association of Museums Annual Conference.

The Annual AAM meeting is a place where thousands (I've heard somewhere between 6-8,000) come together to discuss "museum stuff".

What sort of stuff?

Well, here's a sample of some sessions I'd like to attend:
Museums: Catalysts for Civic Renewal
How to Demonstrate the Public Value of Museums
Engaging Audiences and Community: Lessons from Libraries, Performing Arts, Parks and Communities of Faith
Passing it Forward: Using History to Inspire Civic Engagement
Remembering the Recnet Past
Engaging Diverse Donors
Successful Strategies for Sustainability in Uncertain Times
Creating a High Impact Volunteer and/or Docent Program
...and more...

For me, it's sort of like a kid in a candy store. It's a time when I get to sit with Museum people and talk totally museum stuff for 4-5 days. It's GREAT!

Although some of the sessions (most actually) are usually run by large museums with tons of $ to build huge, wonderful, life changing exhibits, or spectacular kid's programs, I've found that with a little bit of creativity, those programs/exhibits can be scaled down and used for our wonderful little community museum.

Plus, for the second year in a row, I will be chairing a session. This year is on Strategic Planning, but from a Small Museums perspective. We were actually also asked to present online--in a webinar format. (Which is ironic, since I've yet to be able to sit through a webinar without actually checking my email, answering the phone, or just getting up and leaving on accident---oops). But since we're presenting twice hopefully we'll be polished by the time the online session takes place.

And last, but not least, I'm going to be visiting some museums!!! Big surprise, huh?

Here are some of the museums on my list to visit:
Aquarium of the Pacific, Museum of Tolerance, Japanese American Museum, Museum of Jurassic Technology, The Getty Center, La Brea Tar Pits, Sand Diego Zoo, The Autry National Center, Homestead Museum, The Huntington, Rancho Los Alamitos, San Luis Rey, and more...

So, I'm quite excited. I will try to keep the blog up while I'm away, but if you don't hear from me, look forward to some great AAM/Sunny CA pictures!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Looking At What Isn't There

In honor of last night's lecture, I am going to post a few pictures and ask you all to think about what"isn't in them."

Let me know what you think in the comments section!