Got an early start this morning with the Educators and Interpreters Breakfast. I was really looking forward to this because the speaker was to be Carol Kammen, whose column "On Doing Local History" I read in every edition of History News. Alas, Dr. Kammen was not able to make it due to an illness in the family. AASLH's own Bob Beatty read Dr. Kammen's remarks, gave everyone a handout of the same, and discussion followed. It was a very worthwhile session, but still a bit disappointing due to Dr. Kammen's absence. By the way, the session was about moving museums into the 21st century (what we've already accomplished as a field, and what we have ahead of us).
My first panel session of the day dealt with changing demographics and was very informative. Chris Graham will be delighted to hear that the leadoff speaker in this panel leaned very heavily on recent research done by Reach Advisors, particularly the post referenced (and linked) here. The rest of the presenters were giving case studies of how their institutions have used or are using demographic research the think about their programming and exhibits.
My second panel session of the day was about how academic programs in Museum Studies and Public History are preparing students to enter the workforce. There were two academic program administrators, a recent MA graduate, and an HR Director at a very large museum on the panel. They all gave their perspectives and it was then opened to roundtable discussion. This session was very good, and simply confirmed a lot of the things I've been thinking about in regards to this topic. I could probably go on and write a whole post about this one session, but I'll spare you here (maybe I'll follow up later).
Finally, it was time for the session I chaired, called the Basics of Planning Living History Programs. I did this session at the behest of the AASLH Military History Committee and my co-panelist was Myers Brown of the Tennessee State Museum and a long-time living historian himself (he admittedly despises the term "reenactor").Me and Myers Brown
I gave a brief overview of the various academic arguments for or against living history and reenactment, then Myers took over with the nuts and bolts of planning a program (i.e. how to find good living historians, what pitfalls to avoid, etc.). It all led to some really interesting discussion and good questions from the participants. I think everyone pretty much enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to seeing the feedback we got on the evaluation forms. The bain of my existence raised its ugly head however....PIRATES! A museum professional from a small maritime museum in Maryland has pirate reenactors wanting to come to her museum and she doesn't want them (I don't blame her one bit). Damn wankers! But, all in all, it was a great discussion and afterwards I gave my business card to the woman from Maryland and said if she needed any advice on fending off pirates to give me a call (Gentlemen, prepare to repel boarders!).
Anyway, that was my day. I've eaten at some pretty good restaurants here too, which I'll have to highlight in a later post. More tomorrow!