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KMHA Annual Conference

The Kentucky Museum & Heritage Alliance (KMHA) annual conference will be held in Louisville this year from Sunday, June 10 to Tuesday, June 12. To register, visit the conference EventBrite page. To reserve a room from the KMHA block at the Galt House, visit their website. With the conference rate, rooms at the Galt House are $139/night, and $159 for a suite. (Locations, etc., subject to change.)

SUNDAY, June 10, 2018

12:00PM Registration at the Galt House

2:00PM-5:00PM Preconference Tours

  1. Kentucky Derby Museum & Speed Art Museum
  2. Walking Tour of Downtown Louisville
  3. Walking Tour of Cave Hill Cemetery

6:00PM-8:00PM Reception at Solid Light

8:00PM Drinking About Museums at Against the Grain Brewery

MONDAY, June 11, 2018

8:00-9:00AM Registration at the SAR

9:00-10:30AM Sessions

  • Innovations in Museums (at SAR)
    • Led by Jill Malusky. This session will use its name literally and figuratively. “Museums” come in all shapes and sizes – from volunteer run to behemoth corporate institutions, in historic buildings or glossy ultra-modern galleries. What can we learn from and share with each other, and what can we beg, borrow, and steal from other fields? What can you get “off the shelf” to enhance what you have– or how can you re-think what is already on your shelves? This session will share a snapshot of today’s best projects in the field, with practical takeaways on how you can try it at home.
  • Future of a Curator (at KMAC)
    • Led by Scott Erbes (Speed Art Museum), Chris Goodlett (Kentucky Derby Museum) and Julie Kemper (Kentucky Historical Society). At a time when the word “curator” is more commonly used in daily conversation, its meaning within the museum field is changing. Traditionally filling the role of content expert and interpreter of collections, curators are now asked to serve as facilitators and take a more active role in the visitor experience. Three long-tenured members of the field will lead a discussion of the issues facing curators and what it means for the future of the profession. Session attendees will be asked to share their experiences in an attempt to identify challenges and explore solutions.
  • Preservation and Exhibits (at the Frazier History Museum)
    • Led by Danielle Spalenka (Preservation Specialist, NEDCC). Cultural heritage organizations look to their collections when creating public exhibitions, but putting the spotlight on rare books and documents can be at odds with best practices for preservation. Preparing collections for safe exhibition ensures that these materials will remain accessible into the future. This presentation will focus on planning an exhibit while keeping preservation in mind. The presentation will introduce the risks of exhibition and will cover safe handling and display methods to mitigate those risks. A brief discussion about policies and selection for exhibition will also be covered.


  • Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance: Preserving and Promoting Hemp History
    • Led by Alyssa Erickson (Founder of the Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance). This session will discuss the role our state's rich hemp heritage is playing in the resurgence of the hemp industry nationwide. Particularly, how the Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance is preserving and promoting hemp history to educate state residents and visitors about the significance of hemp to Kentucky prior to World War II, and what that means for the future of the industry today. The Kentucky Hemp Heritage Alliance currently has 25+ affiliates across the bluegrass region of the state who we work with on site/county-specific initiatives, from exhibits and displays to historic hemp plots at house museums, all of which are featured on The Heritage Hemp Trail.
  • Volunteer Management/Recruitment
    • Led by Leslie McWhorter. This session will walk you through the three R’s of volunteer engagement- recruitment, retention and recognition. We'll discuss the most popular program components such as interviews, orientations, training and professional development, volunteer handbooks, and more.   All attendees will also receive a sample packet with examples of position descriptions, volunteer handbooks, and additional program documents.
  • Advocacy Primer
    • Led by Stuart Sanders (KHS), Greg Hardison (KHS) and Eric Brooks (Ashland). Greg Hardison and Stuart Sanders from the Kentucky Historical Society have been working to showcase the relevance and value of history. Join them to discuss what they have learned and how it can help you build partnerships, advocate for your organization, and promote the good work of history organizations across the commonwealth.

Lunch and Regional Networking


  • The Art and Mystery of Collecting in a Small Museum
    • Led by Tommy Hines (Executive Director, South Union Shaker Village). The act of collecting objects for a small museum requires a combination of aggressive pursuit and extraordinary patience. Formulating a clear policy for acquisition and employing basic methods of organization are possible in a museum of any size, but the art of diplomacy with regard to potential donors can be more of a challenge. The mystery of how remarkable objects often appear "out of nowhere" belies strategy and skill but is the stuff that endears the discipline to curators. Learn how to balance the amazing wins and dismal losses involved with both the art and mystery of collecting.
  • Interpretation 101
    • Led by Wren Smith. In this interactive session we will examine what  heritage interpretation is, as well as the guiding principles and components of an interpretive approach. We will also explore why interpretation may provide an effective way for helping our visitors and other audiences care about and for the resources we hope to protect.
  • Archival Preservation
    • Led by Mary Girard (Boyle County Public Library). What to do with all the scary things in your collections. Hands on, with practice assessing materials, encapsulation, and making inexpensive book covers.


  • Professional Group Gatherings, divided into categories
    • Administration
    • Collections
    • Development
    • Community Engagement
    • Education and Interpretation

6:00PM-8:45PM Dinner at Louisville Zoo

TUESDAY: June 12, 2018

  • House Museums
    • Led by Kate Hesseldenz, Vicky Middleswarth and Mary Beth Williams. Do you find it challenging to attract visitors to your historic house museum?  Do changes like dropping the velvet ropes, hosting community events, incorporating technology, or completely re-inventing the museum increase visitation?   In this roundtable session, multiple historic house museum staff will discuss audience-building successes and failures.  Come with a 5-minute case study from your institution to share!
  • New Tax Bills: How It Affects Museums
    • Led by Natasha Railey. This session will address the recent tax code changes and other recent issues affecting nonprofits. It will provide information that will help institutions prepare for the effects of these changes and mitigate negative consequences. Time will be allotted for discussion of specific situations and questions
  • Kentucky Emergency Responders
    • Led by Amy Beisel, Leah Craig, Jill Roseberry and Aaron Genton (Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill). Disasters and emergencies come in all sizes, and sometimes the “smaller” disasters can seem as overwhelming as full-scale destruction, especially if you are the one being looked to by your volunteers, employees, board members, or even your supervisor for direction on what to do next.  Exercise your disaster and emergency response muscles with group table-top exercises that will help us think through our response to scenarios most likely to be experienced or already experienced at some point in our careers. This session is also the Kentucky Heritage Emergency Responders (KHER) quarterly meeting that is open to all and will give participants the opportunity to join fellow professionals volunteering to help other museums and heritage organizations in times of emergencies.


  • Grants, Trust Fund incorporated
    • Led by Amanda Higgins (Community Engagement Administrator), Deana Thomas (archivist) and Sarah Schmitt (Oral History Manager). Attend to learn about grant opportunities for local history organizations, libraries, government entities, and museums. The workshop will discuss writing and designing good project narratives, building competitive budgets, and making your grant applications more competitive. Learn about the Kentucky Local History Trust Fund, the Kentucky Oral History Commission, and KHS’s new collections assessment opportunity.
  • Digital Marketing Bootcamp
    • Led by Cici Dadisman. Join us for this hands-on, activity-driven session, which will equip you with strategies and methodology on how to best utilize digital marketing and social media for your organization. We'll delve into digital marketing for arts organizations and create a well-rounded and achievable plan for success. You'll learn what platforms have the highest return, how to use them, and how to track the results. Topics we'll cover include: email marketing, social media best practices, messaging optimization and segmentation and website optimization.
  • Community Engagement
    • Led by Rebekah Brummett (South Union Shaker Village), Virginia Siegel (Kentucky Folklife Program, Western Kentucky University) and Brent Bjorkman (Kentucky Folklife Program and Kentucky Museum, Western Kentucky University). Currently on display at the Kentucky Museum through May 2019, “A Culture Carried: Bosnians in Bowling Green” is curated by the Kentucky Folklife Program and centers on 18 months of oral history research with members of the thriving Bosnian population in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The exhibit highlights refugee experiences, shared traditions, and the dynamic cultural practices found in this community. Combining resources from the National Endowment for the Arts and various campus partners at Western Kentucky University, including WKU’s International Year of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Kentucky Folklife Program continues to present a series of public events, foodways demonstrations, and an exhibit website to accompany the physical exhibit. These opportunities expand the exhibit’s impact, while also building new relationships, collections efforts, and collaborative opportunities. Bjorkman and Siegel will discuss the process of creating and administering this collaborative community project, reflecting on how it continues, in evolving ways, as a bridge to validating and sharing the history of our Bosnian American neighbors.

12:30PM-2:00PM Lunch and Business Meeting

2:30PM Post-conference Tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum

[Note: don't forget to bring your own water bottles and travel mugs—conferences notoriously create lots of excess waste, so we're trying to do our part to diminish the amount of waste produced/left behind at our conference!]