Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations' Online Newsletter

March 27, 2012

Special Deal on Registration!

Our Annual Statewide Museum Conference starts next Monday!

Thursday is the deadline to register for our Annual Statewide Museum Conference and Special Achievement Awards Lunch in Carlisle. 

Register now, and we will offer your organization the opportunity to take advantage of a deal on membership.  If you are already a member, your registration will extend your membership six months.  If you are not a member, your registration covers your membership through the end of 2012.  Don't miss this chance to attend a great event and save some cash.  Contact us if you need to know your membership status, and we hope to see you in Carlisle!

The most important of all the activities our conference offers is the chance to meet and share ideas with your colleagues from around the Commonwealth.  There is still time to register, reserve a room, and join us for a day or two in Carlisle.  Here's a link to our registration form.  What are you waiting for?

Special Achievement Awards

On Monday, April 2, we will hold our annual Special Achievement Awards lunch at our Annual Statewide Museum Conference in Carlisle to recognize some of the outstanding work going on in Pennsylvania's museums.  We will recognize Vance Packard for his service to the field in many capacities over many years, and we hope you will join us for this presentation.

Congratulations to all of our winners! 

The Mercer Museum
Institutional Advancement Award

The Mercer Museum's recently completed expansion was the result of a Master Site Plan and the largest capital campaign in the organization's history.  The new wing features a changing exhibitions gallery, learning center and enhanced visitor services to showcase the museum's own collections.  "A World of Things: The Mercer Museum A to Z," the inaugural exhibit, establishes a dynamic and progressive program philosophy.   The expansion has transformed the Mercer Museum into an experience that can be ever-changing, dynamic and interactive.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art
Institutional Award of Merit

The Philadelphia Museum of Art's teaching poster set, Pennsylvania Art: From Colony to Nation, is an exemplary classroom resource designed for K-12 teachers based upon works from the museum's collection.  More than 500 sets are in circulation across the Commonwealth.  This resource benefits thousands of students by engaging them with state history, the visual arts, and interdisciplinary connections to their curriculum.  

Pennsylvania State Archives
Institutional Award of Merit

In 2008 the Pennsylvania State Archives adopted the American Association for State and Local History's course, The Basics of Archives, as a two-day comprehensive program dubbed, Archives Without Tears.  The program, providing critically needed archival training, targets organizations and regions in Pennsylvania with a focus on accessibility.  Since 2009, Archives Without Tears has reached 361 individuals from 233 of Pennsylvania's organizations.  The program has supplied resources on the proper maintenance of archives and maintaining accessible collections with the goal of providing tools to protect and preserve the invaluable historic resources entrusted with Pennsylvania's organizations.

Jefferson County Historical Society
S.K. Stevens Memorial Award

Living on the Land, a 1,600-square-foot permanent exhibit tells the stories of the people and the historic events in the region that became Jefferson County.  Living on the Land traces the use of the land from prehistoric time to the current day by taking the visitor through a series of chronological snapshots.  A walk through each of the sections allows the visitor to explore the historic buildings, learn from interpretive touch screens, and engages visitors with numerous hands-on displays.

Jefferson County History Center, a small, rural historical society with limited resources, employed the established practices of larger, better-funded museums.  Conducting numerous focus groups to determine the public's interest and mounting temporary "teaser" exhibits provided data to make a stronger case statement for the IMLS funding they ultimately received.  Relationships forged in the development stages of the project allowed them to find the matching funds in their own community.  The skills of their own volunteers and staff to build exhibit elements and to develop educational materials demonstrated best practices and spoke to state educational standards.  Their collaboration with larger institutions augmented local expertise.

Having been awarded an Institutional Award of Merit from PA Museums for this exhibit in 2010 as well as having been honored with an award from the American Association for State and Local History, the Jefferson County Historical Society is eligible to receive our S. K. Stevens Award, an award established to honor organizations who have received national and state recognition.

Thornbury Historical Society
Honorable Mention

The History of Thornbury Township Timeline was designed to connect the past to the present along a well-used walking path in Thornbury's Community Park.  The Timeline is an outdoor exhibit of easily accessed historical information from Thornbury's earliest Lenape inhabitants to the present day.  Community involvement around the project has created buy in and continued interest from a range of constituencies, and the exhibit shows how a small community can create a focal point to interpret local history.

Vance Packard
President's Award

Vance Packard began his career in museums in the mid 1960s, and in gathering the story of his career, we at PA Museums contacted several professionals to give us background information, biographical facts, and anecdotes.  Vance Packard worked for the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission from 1968 until his retirement in 1997, and he continues to work with at least one museum as a Board Member.  
Trained as an anthropologist, during his early career he worked on prehistoric American Indian sites.  In the years leading up to the American Bicentennial, Vance directed excavations at Valley Forge, Washington Crossing and Curtin Village, an iron plantation near Bellefonte, to provide information for major restorations.  The work at Curtin led to his becoming one of the founders of the Society for Industrial Archaeology.  In 1979, Vance became the Director of Drake Well Museum in Titusville.  Realizing that static industrial exhibits were incomprehensible to many visitors, he created a number of full scale operating outdoor exhibits.  In 1985, he became the Director of PHMC's Western Region, which allowed him to advocate industrial themes and exhibits in the region.  In 1989, Vance was given responsibility for all of the PHMC's industrial sites and worked on major expansions and restorations of the sites.

Yet what was accomplished or is remembered at the PHMC does not tell the entire tale of Vance Packard's work and legacy.  Some consider him a friend.  It was said he was a good cook, a fisherman, and at times even a showman.  Others consider him a mentor.  A few mentioned his effective use of the English language.  We were told stories that demonstrated his knowledge of the field and his ability to navigate around what you might call traditional management techniques.  His nomination included the language, "He's a grease and let's get dirty to fix any problem..., like no other volunteer or board member I know. He deserves a gold medal!"  We honor Vance's years of work in archaeology, historic preservation and museum/historic site management with our President's Award this year.  

We have posted specific details about our conference and awards at our website 

Lodging and Food

There is no shortage of lodging or restaurants in and around Carlisle! 

We have made arrangements with the Comfort Suites in downtown Carlisle to offer a special rate for our conference attendees who will be staying overnight.  All you need to do is tell them you are with the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations' conference.  That rate is $85 a night plus parking and room taxes.  You can get in touch with the hotel at (717) 960-1000.

We are planning on providing coffee and light breakfast fare each morning, and there is a lunch each day of the conference.  There will be appetizers served at our Monday evening reception.  All other meals are on your own, and please be advised no outside food or drink is allowed at The U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center.  An excellent cafe and vending machines are on site should you need something in between.  We will have a list of local restaurants available at registration to help you navigate Carlisle's restaurant choices. 

 Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations
234 North Third Street
Harrisburg, PA 17101