Members of Museums In Partnership and the Mountain Aarea Cultural Resources Emergency Network (MACREN) met with Friends of Mountain History recently to discuss ways to strengthen the partnerships among the three groups to better serve the museum community of Western North Carolina.
It was agreed that Friends of Mountain History, Inc., a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, would remain the umbrella organization for Museums In Partnership and continue to support the region’s museums through:
- organizing a continued themed exhibit schedule,
- providing themed exhibit banners to participating museums,
- continuing to publish the Western North Carolina Museum Guide,
- sponsoring bi-annual educational resource programs,
- raising funds to implement these initiatives,
- other support as needed and appropriate.
A volunteer Steering Committee will oversee programming and communications to all museums. This committee comprises Kaye Myers (FOMH), Jeff Futch (NC Dept. of Cultural Resources), and Jill Jones (Blue Ridge National Heritage Area). The Communications Committee includes Tammy Walsh (Vance Birthplace) and Ashley Tate (Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.)
Museums in Partnership would be organized on a sub-regional “District” basis:
- Western counties: Haywood, Jackson, Macon, Cherokee, Clay, Swain, Graham and Transylvania.
- Central: Madison, Yancey, Mitchell, Buncombe, McDowell, Hendersonville, Polk and Rutherford.
- High Country: Avery, Watauga, Burke, Caldwell, Ashe, Allegany, Wilkes, Yadkin and Surry.
This would allow for easier travel to meetings and better opportunities for networking and collaboration among museums in fairly close proximity.
Each District has a Coordinator(s) who will be responsible for helping museums organize meetings they will host and create open communication among the museums in their District. Volunteer coordinators include:
- Far west: Scott Philyaw, Mountain Heritage Museum, Cullowee.
- Central: Ron Vinson, Presbyterian Heritage Center, Montreat.
- High Country: Sunny , Blowing Rock Arts and History Museum.
The group agreed there is merit in gathering at different museums throughout the year, but asked that those meetings be held less frequently than monthly. An annual meeting schedule was set up as follows:
- March: District meetings. (Each District will hold a separate meeting at a host museum.)
- April: FOMH resource program. (All Districts together for an educational program or workshop.)
- May: District meetings.
- June: No meetings.
- July: District meetings.
- August: No meetings.
- September: FOMH resource program (all Districts together.)
- October: No meetings.
- November: District meetings.
- December, January & February: No meetings.
It was also decided that each District would meet on a specific day each meeting month as follows:
- Western will meet the first Thursday of the meeting months.
- Central will meet on the first Tuesday of the meeting months.
- High Country will meet on the first Wednesday of the meeting months.
Of course, museums may freely visit District meetings other than their own, and this schedule will allow members of the FOMH board and the Steering Committee to visit more than one meeting if possible.
The group was in consensus that meetings should have tangible, helpful content and not be just a social or networking gathering, although that component will also remain. It will be the responsibility of the hosting museum to determine the program for its meeting, and to create an agenda. They can call on FOMH, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, NC Dept. of Cultural Resources, and other museums and universities for ideas and help in arranging for programs or presenters.
The structure of the meetings will include a continuation of the MIP tradition of a brown bag lunch starting at 11:30, with the host museum providing drinks and dessert. This will be followed by a program, and in turn by a tour of the hosting museum. It was recommended that the meetings not last longer than 2 hours.
The Mountain Area Cultural Resources Emergency Network (MACREN) is a network of museum professionals who joined together to offer disaster preparedness training and actual hands-on support to museums in Buncombe, Transylvania and Henderson counties after the fire at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.
It is proposed that MACREN teams be formed in each MIP subregion, with MACREN disbanding as an organization unto itself. Some of the FOMH resource programs will be about disaster preparedness, and it is possible that the existing MACREN team could work closely with teams from other parts of the region to share their knowledge and experience. The purpose of this would be to create teams of trained individuals whose institutions are in close enough proximity they can respond quickly to any disaster that happens.
Host museums will work with their District Coordinators who will communicate with their museums about programs and agendas. In addition, the District Coordinators will share their information with Tammy Walsh, who will put it on the MIP social media outlets, and Ashley Tate who will include all District information in our monthly MIP e-newsletter. Ashley may also send out other e-newsletters when there is news that would be helpful to the museums throughout the region. The FOMH website is currently under reconstruction, but when it is again operational, information will also be posted there.