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10-10:50am Morning Session

France Hall: Developing an Oral History Project – Betsy WORKSHOP

Merrick (front): Museum Membership Co-ops – Allison

Counting (back): Connecting International Students to Local History – Ryan

3rd floor classroom: Collections Management – Adam


11am-12pm Late Morning Session

France Hall: Introduction to HOPE Crew – Engaging a New Generation of Preservationists – Monica WORKSHOP

Merrick (front): Making Friends with Brutalism – Fred

Counting (back): Contemporary Collecting – Cassie

3rd floor classroom: Exploring Strategies for Inclusivity and Relevance – Auni

MHC: Wikipedia and Cultural Institutions – Jenny




1:50-2:40pm Afternoon I Sessions

France Hall: Getting Started in Genealogy: Tracing Freedom’s First Generation to 1870 – Lisa WORKSHOP

Merrick (front): When the Past Meets Current Tensions and Concerns – Jennifer

Counting (back): Continuity Between Annual Meetings – Harriet

PLAY (meet in lobby): Sharing Shards of Sites – Graham


2:50-3:40pm Afternoon II Sessions

France Hall: Digital Storytelling with Omeka and Curatescape – Eli WORKSHOP

Merrick (front): The Social Responsibility of Museums – Robert

3rd floor classroom: Preserving Urban Renewal – Nell

PLAY (meet in lobby): Tag and Tweet – Dean


3:50-4:40pm FINAL BREAKDOWN back in France Hall


TOUR (MdHS) & HAPPY HOUR @ Owl Bar 1 E. Chase St. Baltimore

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There has been discussion, in news media as well as social media, about the loss of collections from times past, but what about the failure to collect “things” that we wish someone would have saved?  How many of you have ever said “I wish I would have asked …. before _______ died”?  Perhaps some brainstorming now about collecting physical as well as born-digital things and stories and memories will save us from that lament.

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Many older pieces of Baltimore’s built environment are well recognized across the country, like the Cathedral, the Bromo Seltzer Tower, and the historic rowhouse fabric. The value of these structures is relatively uncontroversial. The icons of the city’s recent architectural past are less well known. Buildings like the Mies van der Rohe projects at One Charles Center and Highfield House, as well as the work of prolific local modernists like Charles Brickbauer and Alexander Cochran, have been studied by scholars, and are well liked by their owners and users. Another class of historic Baltimore structures, dating from Modernism’s late period, is more famous for being hated. The Brutalist architecture of Baltimore (from the French béton brut, or ‘raw concrete’), is actively disliked. Of the two most well known exemplars of Brutalism in Baltimore, the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, and the McKeldin Fountain, one is currently undergoing demolition, and the other is under threat. How can preservationists of the recent past engage the public with the value of structures like this, which seem to actively challenge and confront our assumptions about aesthetics, difference, and difficulty? How can architects and historians act as mediators between these buildings and the cities they now find themselves in, to help each make friends with the other.


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Talk Proposal:

Like many colleagues I believe that cultural institutions have a social responsibility to the communities in which they are situated. But what exactly does this mean to each of us? Can there be consensus on how museums should serve the public? Should there be? Does this role change from history museums to fine art organizations, time period to time period, or in different regions of the Country?


American museums have a long history of public engagement. Founded as an educational venue for promoting democratic values, Charles Wilson Peale’s museum was politically progressive from its inception. From George Hein to John Cotton Dana, professionals have called for more active and direct ways that institutions can serve the general public. Often concerns about financial sustainability or straying too far from one’s mission have held back initiatives that could directly impact the lives of community members. Some programs, such as The Lower Eastside Tenement Museum’s Kitchen Conversations have bravely tackled politically and socially charged issues such as assimilation. Others may seem to quickly jump on recent trends without the appropriate reflection. What is the right balance?


During this discussion we will explore the various ways that museums can benefit society and discuss the potential roles that they might play in community engagement. Opinions about the level of commitment organizations should exercise in the name of social responsibility as well as the relationship to mission is sure to reflect the diversity of session’s participants. We will explore examples of projects that have been successful and others that have been less so; debate the idea that museums should remain “neutral;” explore ways of addressing issues such as climate change, economic inequality, political charged issues; and have conversations about how to best connect to communities to serve new audiences.

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Who’s up for a game of tag & tweet? The plan, still developing, is to roam the halls (and grounds?) of the Maryland Historical Society in search of cool and compelling objects. As defined by whatever stop-us-in-our-tracks. We’ll then gather round to investigate, take some pics, ask each other questions, throw out possible interpretive angles, and, finally, come up with some hashtags to use in tweeting about our find.

Does this sound “fun,” or at least like playing with purpose? If it does, you’re someone who loves helping objects “speak” — and the museum world needs you. For me, this feels like a form of Interpretation Improv, a way to hone our skills and stretch our imagination. I’m game, if anyone else is, ready to see what we can learn from one another.

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Can museum membership programs be managed like a co-op?  While we don’t have profits to share, I’m interested in discussing whether a co-op format would make members feel like they have more invested in the success of the museum.  I’m also hoping to do away with the complicated tiered memberships that are based entirely on what members receive and replace it with something else – like if you volunteer “X” number of hours, you receive a free membership.

I have no experience implementing a museum membership co-op but am interested in developing a prototype to test.  If you have ideas to share, please attend this discussion session.

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Bmore Historic shards proposal

Join us for an improvised, collectively led New Public Sites walking tour of the invisible sites and overlooked features around the Maryland Historical Society. The 45 minute long excursion be a truly collaborative drift during which together we will explore nearby alleys while sharing with each other place-based histories and creative, pedestrian interpretations. Along the way, we will collect Shards of Site; which are shredded pavement souvenirs serving as mementos of place. You are invited to poetically name your shards in an attempt to convey something about the place and/or its spirit. Upon returning to the conference center we will share our Shards of Site with each other and take group photo. Through our combined knowledge, playful actions and intriguing finds, we will create a de-authorized tour of walkable downtown heritage.






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Many of us have been working on oral history in the city, and there are probably some more people out there who have intriguing ideas for projects but just don’t know where to begin.

We could use this opportunity to talk about the challenges of getting an oral history project off the ground, the choices you need to make about equipment, methods, ethics and eventual use, and the satisfactions of preserving a bit of our community’s history.

Join me whether you are an established veteran in the field or someone who is just thinking about getting started.

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With the Mechanic Theater, McKeldin Fountain, the Red Line and State Center, Baltimore is facing changes that may, over time, substantially alter or remove the built legacy of urban renewal. Participants in this session will discuss the desirability and feasibility of preserving buildings, transportation elements and other features associated with urban renewal. Questions may include: Was urban renewal a planning “mistake” or does its legacy have a place in a modern city? Do we have a social responsibility to preserve that history, which is often associated with the destruction of neighborhoods and displacement of minorities? What, if any, elements should be saved and why? If we do preserve elements, how can they be incorporated into the urban fabric and reused, given modern trends toward sustainability?

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As we have all heard (and/or experienced), the current audience for many history museums is not particularly diverse. A 2010 study by Reach Advisors of 15,790 visitors at 40 U.S. history museums found that 78% of adult respondents held college degrees (vs. 28% of total U.S. population), their median household income was $80,000 (compared to the U.S. average of $52,000), and perhaps most significantly, they were 95% white (compared to 66% of the total population). While Americans age 60-69 made up about 12% of the population in 2010, 26% of survey participants represented this age range. 18 to 29-year-olds made up only 4% of museum visitors, but formed 22% of the population in 2010. In the coming years, this group of “history core visitors” (as described by Reach Advisors) will veer even further from the average demographic makeup of the United States. For preservation agencies, nonprofit groups, and museums alike, it can be a struggle to attract and engage with more diverse audiences.

So, how do we create programs, exhibitions, and tours that are more inclusive and accessible to new visitors—while still maintaining our loyal current audience? How has this noteworthy disparity between history core visitors and the general population influenced your organization’s mission, vision, or operations? What strategies have you embraced, adopted, or created (or just heard about) to address this concern? What nuggets of wisdom can you share with others who seek to reach a broader range of individuals? What museums/organizations can we turn to as examples? This is certainly not an original topic for discussion—I believe sessions have touched upon this issue at all of the previous Bmore Historic unconferences—but this remains a pressing question for many history organizations.

On a related note, and perhaps something we could discuss at this session (or perhaps it’s worth exploring elsewhere): the History Relevance Campaign (HRC) is a grassroots movement of public historians who seek to demonstrate the value of history in the 21st century. Rather than minimizing the importance of STEM, members of HRC seek to show how the study of history is just an important. Effective branding is certainly one element of this campaign, but there are no doubt other ways that we can build awareness and understanding of the value of history. How does the work of HRC overlap with the demographic issues mentioned above? How can we work in partnership to enhance each other’s work, and not duplicate efforts? Where do you fit into this movement?