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How are museums growing institutional resources? How are museums working with their communities? How are museums using their exhibitions and collections in new ways? Explore original articles by MANY staff about NYS museums. 

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  • September 26, 2023 10:27 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Photo ID:Trojan Greens Officer's Coatee, Troy, New York, wool, brass, silver, 1809-1815, Collection of Fort Ticonderoga

    Dear Members, Colleagues, and Friends, 

    The strength of our combined voices is our superpower. When we come together to speak out on an issue, we can be loud and we can be heard. Sometimes advocating for New York’s history, art, and cultural organizations is the most gratifying part of my job. Other times, it is the most challenging work I do. Sue Storm bends light to become invisible, Superman steels himself with his cape, and Wonder Woman’s bracelets deflect projectiles. On days when I feel like there are huge obstacles separating our state’s history, art, and cultural organizations from those who can help, I close my eyes, and in my imagination, I put on the coat pictured above, tuck all of you in my pockets, take a deep breath, and start again. One of the biggest challenges I have faced in the past year is raising awareness of the critical need for a Semiquincentennial Commission in New York. I am asking you to add your voice now before New York’s contributions to our nation’s history are left behind in the 2026 commemorations. 

    Some of us have gathered resources to move ahead without a NY250 commission. 

    In MANY’s September newsletter, you can read about Fort Ticonderoga’s 250th Northern Department which will promote and market regional historic sites during the commemorative period from 2024-2027. The Office of New York State History created a Field Guide that aligns with themes established by the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) in their Making History at 250: The Field Guide for the Semiquincentennial. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is investing in the preservation of historic sites with the help of the National Park Service’s Semiquincentennial Grant Program. In partnership with Humanities NY and the Smithsonian Institution, and the support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, MANY will launch Voices and Votes: A New Agora for New York in March of 2024. But without a NY250 Commission, most of New York’s history will remain untold. 

    I know that advocacy work does not come easily to some people. But with this letter, I am asking you to gather whatever you need -- a coat, a cape, or bracelets -- to find a few minutes and the place within you to speak up for New York’s history. Please write to Governor Hochul and ask her to complete the appointments to seat the NY250 commission. Tell those representing you in the New York State Assembly and Senate why the Semiquincentennial is important to you and your community. New York needs to support our history, art, and cultural organizations to produce commemorative activities that can tell an inclusive story of our state’s essential role in the Revolutionary War and all of the struggles for civil rights and justice that followed. 

    With thanks in advance for sharing your superpower,

    Erika Sanger, Executive Director

  • August 29, 2023 11:07 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    The Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. In 2022, the IMLS awarded $44.7 million in 280 grants to museums; $7.1 million was awarded to 37 museums in New York State. We spoke to three New York State museums who were awarded an Inspire! Grants for Small Museums or a Museums for America grant in FY2022 about their project goals and advice for museums interested in applying. 

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums are a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program and are designed to reduce the application burden on small museums and help them address priorities identified in their strategic plans. Recipients focus on lifelong learning experiences, institutional capacity building, and collections stewardship and access.

    New for FY2024, the IMLS will fund two different project types, small projects: $5,000 - $25,000 with no cost share required and large projects: $25,001 - $75,000 with a 1:1 cost share required.

    The Edward Hopper House Museum (EHH) was awarded $49,500 to work with professional conservators to complete conservation treatments on fragile objects in its collection. The museum took a two-phase approach to this project. The first phase was funded by a 2020 National Endowment for the Humanities CARES Act Grant. This grant provided the museum with funds for a digitization plan and the digitization of 135 collection items. “It created a detailed conservation survey that provided some of the treatment plans for Phase 2 that was funded by the IMLS Inspire! Grants for Small Museums,” said Kathleen Bennewitz, Executive Director of the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center. 

    In Phase 2 the museum worked with book, paper, and photographer conservators at the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts in Philadelphia to complete treatment on 27 items that were identified as extremely fragile, rendering them currently inaccessible for use in exhibitions, programming, and research. “As an IMLS “Collections Stewardship and Access” request, this project is strengthening EHH’s ability to serve its public by advancing the management, care, access, and uses of their collections through conservation treatment,” said Bennewitz. 

    Images from Edward Hopper's Nyack High School Zoology notebook, c. 1896-1899 ; The Sanborn-Hopper Family Archive, Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center, Nyack, NY

    Conservators will document the treatment in photographic and written reports. The project will result in access to stabilized objects that can be used by researchers, scholars, curators, and students studying Edward Hopper’s career and art. “This stewardship project will benefit our visitors to the Edward Hopper House Museum, as well as provide previously unavailable access to this material for researchers, scholars, curators, and students studying Edward Hopper’s career and art, the history of the Nyack community, and life and industry along the Hudson River circa 1880-1910.”

    Preservation Long Island (PLI) was awarded $45,137 for an assessment of its inventory practices to improve access and the long-term care and maintenance of the collections displayed and stored at its historic sites and facilities—the PLI Headquarters building in Cold Spring Harbor, Joseph Lloyd Manor and Collections Storage in Lloyd Harbor, Sherwood-Jayne Farm in Setauket, and the Custom House in Sag Harbor. “The goals of the project were to work with a professional collections consultant to test and establish standardized procedures for doing regular collections inventories and then to hire a project collections assistant to accomplish a baseline inventory of PLI’s entire objects collection,” said Lauren Brincat, PLI Curator. . 

    Located in the present-day Town of Huntington, Joseph Lloyd Manor was completed in 1767 for Joseph Lloyd (1716–1780). The house was the center of the Manor of Queens Village, a 3,000-acre provisioning plantation established in the late 17th century on the ancestral lands of the Matinecock Nation. Jupiter Hammon (1711–before 1806), one of the first published African American writers, was one of the many people of African descent enslaved at the site. The British occupied Joseph Lloyd Manor during the Revolutionary War, and it is where Hammon authored his most significant works about the moral conflicts of slavery and freedom in the early United States.

    The collections inventory project will help bring to light new stories that can be told with the existing collections at PLI’s historic sites. In addition, with the information gathered through this project, PLI will be able to seek new acquisitions that help make PLI’s collection—and the public programs, exhibitions, interpretations, and digital content the collection supports—more relevant to more people while also enhancing public knowledge of unrepresented stories. “Another goal of this work is to share our experience and methodologies with local organizations to assist them in their own collections inventory work,” said Brincat. PLI will use Joseph Lloyd Manor and its collection as a pilot site. They will contract with a museum services firm to conduct a workflow assessment, develop inventory and staffing plans, and support staff in testing new procedures. 

    After testing is completed, PLI will hire a temporary collections assistant to employ the new protocols in inventorying collections at other Preservation Long Island sites. The project will result in an inventory manual, increased organizational knowledge of requisite staff capacity for routine collection inventories, and greater public access to objects related to the regional material culture of New York.

    Brincat’s advice to other museums thinking of applying for an IMLS Inspire! Grant is to “create projects that have demonstrable sustainability and will continue to have an impact on the organization beyond the project’s duration. We plan to share the goals, process, and outcomes of the project through our website and public talks/workshops,” said Brincat. “To build upon this work, Preservation Long Island will address redundancies and gaps in its collection and will pursue further funding to assess its current collections management software and procedures and potentially adopt a new system that makes the organization’s entire collection more accessible to Preservation Long Island educators and the greater public.”

    Museums for America

    Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care.

    Schenectady County Historical Society (SCHS) was awarded $87,100 to survey historical records created by individuals and organizations in the African American community of Schenectady County. “The primary goals of this grant project are to promote community stewardship of the historical records created by African Americans in Schenectady County, develop relationships between SCHS and community partners, support community custody of the archival collections, and increase access to primary sources for students and researchers, particularly Black students in the Schenectady City School District,” said Marietta Carr, SCHS Librarian. 

    A consulting project archivist will work with an advisory committee, museum staff, and student assistants to conduct site visits, review record collections, document those of enduring historic value, and log responses to survey questions from creators, collectors, and custodians of historical records. 

    “SCHS wants to serve as a resource for the preservation of African American historical records, but we must first understand what records exist and what the community needs from us in this shared goal,” said Carr. Public programs will promote the project and provide information to the community on topics such as preservation and family history. “We worked with a community advisory committee to develop our project priorities which included administering a community survey, creating a catalog of community-stewarded collections and preservation efforts, developing a youth engagement component, and hosting community-based events. Overall, a year after we were awarded the grant, we still have the same priorities. The youth engagement component has become more of a focal point of the project. We've developed the Sankofa Youth Collective to employ at-risk youth in the community in delivering the community survey and events and established an "each one teach one" model of engagement. While the catalog component is still a priority, we're reconsidering the parameters and format.”

    The project team will analyze the survey data and develop a searchable online catalog that identifies the location of records, their condition, and whether they are accessible to the public. This project will encourage community stewardship of historical records, engage the community to foster archival preservation, and strengthen relationships between the museum and community partners.

    “Give yourself plenty of time to work on the application materials,” said Carr. “Once you have a concrete idea and plan and have reviewed the application documentation, schedule a meeting with the program officer to discuss your project idea and methodology. Talking with the program officer was extremely helpful in wrapping my head around the application materials and process.” 

    Applications for these and other IMLS grants are due November 15, 2023. Learn more about the IMLS and how to apply: 

    Learn more about NYS museums awarded in FY2023:

  • August 29, 2023 10:33 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Instead of a traditional Letter from Erika, this month Erika shares the text she wrote for the Museum Association of New York’s priority request to the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic, and Asian Legislative Caucus’ 2024 People’s Budget. 

    Priority Item #1: NY250: Tell the Whole Story

    In 2026, our nation will mark the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Ten of the original thirteen states along with 25 others have fully seated, active commissions, New York remains without. New York needs a commission and legislative action that will promote this opportunity as a priority and will allocate funding so that museums, historical societies, historic sites, and historic battlefields can begin to share their cultural resources with their communities and beyond. We must take this opportunity to welcome and incorporate equally the stories of Indigenous Nations, BIPOC, and new Americans.

    Chapter 732 (signed by the Governor on 12/2021) acknowledges that “American Revolution itself was imperfect and many, including women, African Americans, and Native Americans, did not benefit from its ideals of liberty and freedom. However, the struggle to fully realize the ideals of the Revolution has continued over the past 250 years as is evident in New York's leading role in such revolutionary civil rights movements as the women's rights and abolitionist movements, the underground railroad, and the LGBTQ movement.”

    The legislation requires a special commission to develop and deliver a strategic plan to the governor about New York's celebrations within one year of member appointments. Until the commission is fully seated and funded, the preliminary work of a strategic plan cannot begin. This delay may cause New York to lose national recognition of our prominent place in the American Revolution and a chance to tell the full story of New York’s role in the development of American democracy. 

    Speaker Heastie appointed the Vice-President of MANY’s Board of Directors, Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, Eastville Community Historical Society, Executive Director and Curator, to serve on New York State’s 250th Commemoration Commission. She is eager to work with the commission to help ensure that as many voices and stories as possible are represented in the commemorative activities.

    The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities. With 755 members representing museums of every discipline and budget size, from every county, we know that New York’s museums, historic sites, and historical societies are already working with their communities to expand our notions of whose history is worth honoring and remembering. They are ready to make history relevant to all of our communities and acknowledge the accomplishments and sacrifices of those who have fought for civil rights and our democracy, whether 250, 25, or 5 years ago. They recognize the structural deficits and inequities of the more traditional origin stories of our nation and with dedicated funding, are ready to shape an identity for New York that reflects those diverse stories in time for the America250 commemoration. 

    The support of the Caucus in this effort will be essential to its success. 

  • August 29, 2023 10:22 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Earlier this month, MANY Executive Director Erika Sanger spoke with Deryn Pomeroy, Trustee and Director of Strategic Initiatives at the William G. Pomeroy Foundation. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation is committed to supporting the celebration and preservation of community history, and working to improve the probability of finding appropriate donor matches or other life-saving treatments for blood cancer patients. Deryn does a lot of public facing work on the Foundation’s behalf, speaks to audiences about the Foundation’s grant work and attends programs and conferences. The William G. Pomeroy Foundation partnered with MANY to establish the Pomeroy Fund for NY History which distributed $297,808.72 to 103 museums in relief assistance during the pandemic. The Pomeroy Foundation recently awarded MANY a grant of $120,000 for its “Voices and Votes: A New Agora for NY" project that is helping twelve museums and their communities commemorate America250 and tell the story of their community’s role in the development of American Democracy. 

    Deryn Pomeroy, Trustee and Director of Strategic Initiative at the William G. Pomeroy Foundation speaks at the 2023 conference in Syracuse NY. Photo by Daylight Blue Media.

    What types of programs do the Pomeroy Foundation typically fund in a given year?

    The Historical Markers grant program is a big passion of the trustees and my father and I’m excited to say that we will be diving deeper in with more markers in the future. In addition to markers, we offer Special Interest grants that cover both the “For History” and “For Life” sides of our mission. On the “For Life” side, we primarily fund bone marrow registries or those organizations that set up bone marrow registry drives. Diversifying the bone marrow registry has been important to the Foundation since my dad received his stem cell transplant. For instance, if you are African American, you have a 25% chance of finding a match vs. an 80% chance for caucasians. 

    On the “For History” side of the foundation, we have been evolving the special interest grants. We are especially interested in smaller organizations with a history focus, those with a smaller budget or a smaller staff that may need a little extra assistance. More recently we have been focusing on digitization projects especially where digitization allows records to be publicly accessible without charge. 

    I’ve noticed that the Foundation’s grant-making has become more responsive and flexible in recent years, can you talk about that?

    Flexibility is part of the Trustees’ overall thinking and the evolution of funding has been responsive and about public access. We are looking closely at smaller, more rural communities without a traditional funding base, or those communities with interest in preserving their collections and telling their stories who don’t have the expertise or the funding available. We learned during the pandemic that we had to adapt and respond quickly to needs in a way we have never seen before. 

    Is there a program that you funded in the past year that stands out in your mind where the foundation made a real difference?

    On the “For Life” side, we have been funding “Be The Match” to recruit potential bone marrow donors on HBCU campuses. We are really proud that those programs have increased the number of diverse donors on the registry program. As a result of efforts like these, Pomeroy funded drives have produced at least 149 donor/patient matches. On the “For History” side, we recently funded a roof restoration project, which is not something we usually do, at a national historic register property in Western NY. The nonprofit Cracker Box Palace operating at Alasa Farms is now a sanctuary for neglected farm animals and other small animals. But they have a historic 600+ acre property and farm, an excellent application, and they have made a lot of progress keeping the farm true to its roots while bringing a new focus on animal care and bringing attention to animal abuse.

    How has your historical marker program developed and grown nationally over the past three years?

    The Historical Marker Program started in 2006 in Onondaga County. The program was well received because there was nothing like it in New York State, and my dad saw it as an excellent opportunity growing out of his entrepreneurial nature. It started in the town of Pompey, NY restoring some of their original 1930s NYS markers and it grew from there. We added the National Register program to provide public properties and historic districts on the Registry with markers and then added the “Legends & Lore” program. “Legends & Lore” was born out of the foundation receiving applications for the NYS marker program based on stories that were important to the communities, but didn’t fit the guidelines. We partnered with New York Folklore Society to create that program which is now in 13 states and we are trying to take it to all 50. “Hungry for History” markers are food history related and in 2023 we launched “Hometown Heritage,” a national marker program for historic people, places, things and events for places outside of NY state. “Hometown Heritage” is similar to the New York State Marker program, with a different look and template for the 49 other states. 

    Photo above Dr. Georgette Grier-Key, Executive Director and Chief Curator at the Eastville Community Historical Society with Amistad Commemoration sign at Culloden Point in Montauk, NY

    Patriot Burial Marker

    Why has the foundation invested in programs that support the America250 commemoration?

    Our enthusiasm for the 250th has been of interest for a very long time. 

    It was always something we were looking forward to jumping into because of our direct and indirect ties to that history. It is the birthday of our nation and there are Pomeroy family ancestors who fought in the Revolution. George Washington tried to appoint Seth Pomeroy to Brigadier General, but he was an older man at that time and turned down the commission. He participated in a smaller role and passed away while bringing troops down to Washington, DC.  Another relative, Daniel Pomeroy was killed at the Bloody Morning Scout, prior to the Battle of Lake George, my father could tell you much more about them! 

    What are the foundation’s goals for funding America250 programs? Are there specific outcomes that you would like to see?

    Helping people celebrate and commemorate their history is part of our mission and this major milestone in our nation’s history falls in line with what we like to fund. We knew that we wanted to be involved and we have been surprised and disappointed with the disorganization and lack of support that we have seen at the federal level, and even at the state level. We had planned to jump on board with whatever that state and federal planning was going to be. We didn’t initially think we had to take such a proactive role in seeking out opportunities for funding. 

    We initiated our support for the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) after seeing their “Making History at 250” booklet. They were structuring a plan to help organizations, so we reached out to them to provide them with a grant to republish that booklet and make it available to organizations across the country.  After that grant, they reached out to us to discuss the issues they were facing and the concerns of their members about the lack of direction coming from local, state, and federal governments. We were excited by their proposal, to bring another staff person onboard to build their capacity to better serve the museums and history organizations who needed that support. We were delighted to fund that proposal and they hired Madeline Rosenberg whose official title is Pomeroy Foundation Semiquincentennial  Manager.  She is going to have four years in that position to provide support to the field through 2026. 

    We are still trying to find ways that we can help both at the NYS level and the national level, and MANYs “Voices and Votes” was another great program that we saw could help organizations bring in people to connect with the idea of the 250th and talk about how they will be able to participate. We like the way “Voices and Votes” will help foster those conversations. We are still looking for other ways we can make a difference, there are pockets of people doing different things and we are looking where we can fit in.  

    How will the partnership with AASLH help museums and historic sites?  

    Madeline provides outreach and direction in a number of ways, with webinars and other types of assistance both in the office and out of the office. We are pleased and are excited to be going to the AASLH conference in Boise, Idaho this fall. It is great to see the dialog stimulated during the AASLH webinars, people from all over the country can come together virtually, people who have a real passion to commemorate the Semiquincentennial. The AASLH is showing how organizations can work together to reduce roadblocks, they offer peer support, have resources available, and help organizations to learn that they are not alone in trying to do this. I know there are a lot of organizations across the country who feel they have been left to their own devices and they may feel overwhelmed, especially those small organizations who might not be able to do anything. There is a lot to discuss and thoughtfully plan.  

    What comes after America250? How does the foundation sustain engagement and support to the field as we approach other critically important anniversaries? 

    Celebrating milestones is important to us. We put a lot into the “National Votes for Women'' trail that got shifted a bit during the pandemic, and we will be looking at future national and state priorities. Our next strategic plan will help us identify what might be important and we want to hear from the community about what is important to them. They should bring their ideas to the foundation so we can continue the responsive nature of the foundation. We want to see more ideas around the 250th. 

    Is there anything else you would like to share with us and our readers?

    We are working on two other historical marker partnerships related to the Semiquincentennial. 

    One partnership is with the Sons of the American Revolution commemorating patriot burial sites. It was initially just in NY but it is now in 7 states and growing nationally. The second partnership is with the Daughters of the American Revolution. Called “Revolutionary America” it is a marker series designed to highlight stories of underrepresented populations, new Americans, women and Indigenous peoples, whose stories are part of the Revolution but have not been told. 

    We hope that our involvement with MANY and AASLH will spearhead more ideas and community conversations and hopefully, we will see participation from other private funders as well. That is something that we haven’t seen thus far. We have been told that the Pomeroy Foundation is the largest private funder for America250 and it would be great if we could help inspire other foundations similar to ours to step up, it is a big deal for our nation!

    Learn more about the William G. Pomeroy Foundation: 

  • August 07, 2023 1:49 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    36 NYS museums were awarded a total of $6,108,821 in the latest round of grant funding to museums from the Institute of Museum and Library Services’ Inspire! Grants for Small Museums, Museums for America, and Museums Empowered. A total of $31,509,007 was awarded to 218 projects across the nation by the IMLS from 568 applications requesting $73,685,100.

    The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, New York was awarded $50,000 from the IMLS Inspire! Grants for Small Museums to increase staff capacity.

    The FY 2024 Notices of Funding Opportunity for these three programs will be posted later this month. The anticipated application deadline is November 15, 2023. For more information, please visit

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums

    Inspire! Grants for Small Museums are a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program and are designed to reduce the application burden on small museums and help them address priorities identified in their strategic plans. Recipients focus on lifelong learning experiences, institutional capacity building, and collections stewardship and access.

    Antique Boat Museum, North Country


    The Antique Boat Museum will increase staff capacity to digitize two of its collections about the history of the Matthews Boat Owners Association and the Richardson Boat Owners Association. The Matthews Boat Owners Association collection contains approximately 30,000 documents and the Richardson Boat Owners Association contains approximately 5,000 documents, photographs, and works on paper. Project staff will catalog materials from these collections and make the collections digitally accessible online with a searchable collections database for the benefit of maritime historians and the public.

    Castellani Art Museum (Niagara University), Western NY


    The Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University will develop a traveling exhibition, “Old/New Threads” about the intersections of traditional art, economy, and community-building. The exhibition will explore this topic through the case study of Stitch Buffalo, a textile arts-based organization serving primarily refugee women within the local community. This project will support a Project Manager and a paid intern, who, in consultation with humanities experts, will conduct new ethnographic fieldwork, develop interpretive panels and an exhibit catalog, create short-form videos, and design accompanying public programs such as artist-led workshops, demonstrations, and community celebrations. As a result, this project will recognize the efforts of diverse individuals and organizations that implement these opportunities for disadvantaged members of the community in the region, and contribute to improved refugee prosperity through increased visibility and awareness.

    Cayuga Museum of History and Art, Central NY


    The Cayuga Museum of History and Art will complete the research phase of the museum’s planned permanent exhibit exploring the comprehensive history of Cayuga County. This project will support hiring a new curator and a paid intern who will create a new interpretive plan which will be used as the framework to inform the exhibit plan and final implementation of the new exhibit. Through this project, the museum will actively explore the narrative of historically excluded communities with the goal to create an inviting space for consistent engagement with regional history.

    Children’s Museum of the East End, Long Island


    The Children’s Museum of the East End will expand Estrellas de Lectura/Reading Stars, a reading mentorship program that improves social-emotional learning skills, and restores and supports reading fluency in bilingual children that were disproportionately affected by learning loss as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Project activities will include gathering information through community meetings, recruiting and training reading mentors, updating the curriculum, and promoting the program through community partners. Students entering grades Kindergarten through fourth will meet with their reading mentors twice a week in the fall, winter, and spring at the museum’s Bridgehampton and Riverside locations. As a result, students will see improvements in their English reading fluency and general vocabulary, increased self-confidence, and improvements in social-emotional learning skills.

    Historic Cherry Hill, Capital Region


    Historic Cherry Hill will design and fabricate a multi-site exhibit and related series of programs centered on William James Knapp, who worked in nineteenth-century Albany as a musician, piano tuner, music store clerk, porter, and nurse. In collaboration with the Underground Railroad Education Center, the African American Cultural Center, and Albany Barn, the project team will identify pop-up sites throughout Albany, conduct content research, and work with local artists to create site-specific interpretations of James Knapp’s life. As a result, visitors to any of the pop-up sites will experience relevant and accessible installations that foreground Black life in 19th-century Albany and recognize our diverse, shared past and its legacies.

    Historic Saranac Lake, North Country


    Historic Saranac Lake will create catalog records for approximately 2,500 objects and archival materials to gain intellectual and physical control over its collection. Informed by a previous IMLS-funded pilot project to catalog records for approximately 2,000 photographs and postcards from the museum's collections, this project will also include photo documentation of objects and the creation of a plan for moving the collection to a new storage space. Project staff will work with a consultant to complete and evaluate the project. As a result of the project, the institution will produce a comprehensive moving plan for the collection, publish catalog records and images, and increase accessibility to the collection. The project will benefit students, researchers, and staff preparing for exhibits and programs.

    Iroquois Museum, Mohawk Valley


    The Iroquois Museum will develop an exhibit of contemporary Iroquois art and offer related programming targeted at youth, young adults, and adults. The exhibit will showcase artworks that include suspended installation and projection, welded steel sculptures, comic-drama and Claymation, glass works, clay monoprints, graphic novel and video-game inspired illustrations, electronic music, and documentary photography. Related programs will include The Mush Hole, an offsite theatrical dance interpretation of the experience of Indian residential schools; an onsite pop-up welding workshop; the Iroquois Indian Marching Band; and artist talks. Through this project, the museum will dismantle conventional assumptions about what constitutes Native art by introducing visitors to the wide variety of expressions and ways in which Iroquois/Haudenosaunee culture is represented today. Haudenosaunee creatives will benefit by presenting their work in a dignified and receptive setting and by expanding their network of opportunities. Visitors will benefit by participating in an environment of mutual respect and open dialogue, and accessing an alternate lens through which to reconsider our shared past.

    Livingston County Historical Museum, Finger Lakes


    The Livingston County Historical Museum will use funds to purchase and install archival storage equipment. The project builds upon planning documents created by a team of museum professionals, architects, and engineers, and will address issues of overcrowding and inaccessibility of objects in the current storage space. Informed by a previous Collections Assessment for Preservation (CAP) report, museum staff will consult with a conservator to implement best practices for collection storage. Improved collections care will benefit visitors and researchers, including the residents of Livingston County and the Western New York region.

    Museums for America

    Museums for America supports projects that strengthen the ability of individual museums to benefit the public by providing high-quality, inclusive learning experiences, maximizing resources to address community needs through partnerships and collaborations, and by preserving and providing access to the collections entrusted to their care.

    American Folk Art Museum, NYC


    The American Folk Art Museum will work with neurodiverse artists whose artwork is part of the museum’s collection and create an online resource with information about neurodiverse artists. A collections associate hired for the project will receive training on the collections management system and assist with digitization and collections photography. The project will also include a convening of industry experts to develop a white paper that will serve as a guide for museums collecting and exhibiting works of art by neurodiverse artists.

    American Museum of Natural History, NYC


    The American Museum of Natural History will broaden access to its vertebrate paleontology archive by creating detailed findings aids for eight of its collections. The archive consists of 820 linear feet of materials in 43 collections, including photographs, correspondence, and field notes. Building on work funded by previous IMLS grants, the museum will hire a project archivist and two paid student interns to process, rehouse, and digitize collections materials. As a result of the project, researchers from a variety of disciplines will be able to directly access catalog records describing the contents of the vertebrate paleontology archive collections. Project staff will share the results of the project online and at professional conferences.

    American Museum of the Moving Image, NYC


    The American Museum of the Moving Image will undertake the next phase of developing a replacement for its 30-year old core exhibition comprising 13,000 square feet of gallery space. The new long-term exhibition will trace the history of the moving image from its origins in magic lantern shows and nickelodeons through media convergence and contemporary digital culture. Museum staff will work with scholars, educators, community liaisons, and an external exhibition design team to finalize the content and create a spatial layout, produce an artifact list, create a draft of exhibition text, conceptualize interactive experiences, and develop a full set of conceptual design drawings and floor plan. This project builds on an IMLS-funded planning project and will result in an accessible and innovative exhibition that promotes cultural and digital literacy to visitors from Queens, the Northeast region, and international audiences.

    Brooklyn Children’s Museum, NYC


    Brooklyn Children’s Museum will partner with elementary school educators to create school programs for Nature’s Engineers, a new STEM maker space for children ages 5-10 that explores biomimicry (how nature influences human design) through hands-on projects and engagement with the 14,000 objects in the museum’s natural science collection. Project activities include creating an educator advisory council, developing five new STEM maker field trip programs, delivering those programs to Central Brooklyn public elementary schools at no charge, providing teacher professional development programs, and evaluating the programs for their effectiveness on learning outcomes and behaviors. The project will result in Central Brooklyn students making connections between engineering and nature that contribute to their constructed narratives about science, human design, and the importance of our natural world.

    Brooklyn Museum, NYC


    The Brooklyn Museum will support 55 paid internships for students and early career professionals interested in careers in the arts and cultural institutions. The program will provide training opportunities, that put the lived experiences of these young people, whose identities are often underrepresented in the arts and museum sector, at the center of their work. Project activities include facilitating departmental placements, where interns will develop hands-on experience through real-world projects with the guidance of museum staff; conducting professional development seminars; and developing an intern mentor program to help interns achieve their career goals. Program participants will develop the skills and knowledge necessary for future employment and leave with new professional relationships and a structure to foster them.

    Buffalo Museum of Science, Western NY


    The Buffalo Museum of Science will gain intellectual and physical control over its fluid-preserved ichthyological collection that documents the population of freshwater fishes in regional waterways. The museum will hire a collections assistant to work with student interns and volunteers to create a cohesive catalog as well as rehouse, photograph, and digitize the collection. Staff will also create and install panels at freshwater conservation areas in Western New York to promote education about freshwater fish at local waterways. As a result of the project, staff will make the newly completed catalog of the collection publicly available through open-access collection portals for research and educational purposes.

    Dyckman Farmhouse Museum, NYC


    The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum will transform its winter kitchen into an immersive space that invites guests to more fully understand the history of enslavement in the Northern United States. Building on an IMLS-funded interpretive planning project, the museum will engage with a consultant to create an immersive projection on one or more walls of the winter kitchen. Images will include original footage of historic characters, contemporary community members, archival images, and illustrations. Graduate student interns will assist museum staff with research, implementation, and outreach. As a result, the museum will advance its mission to support the preservation of the historic site, to be a catalyst for engaging, adventuresome programming and to be a good neighbor and a dynamic resource for the community by providing new and fresh inclusive narratives in an engaging and accessible manner.

    Fort Ticonderoga, North Country


    Fort Ticonderoga will implement a multi-year project that will provide visitors with new methods to understand the people and events of the American Revolution as the nation commemorates the 250th anniversary of the War for Independence. The project team will work with accessibility consultants to finalize the exhibition design, interpretive components, and digital resources. Four seasonal exhibit interpreters will be hired and trained to deliver new tour content. As a result, never-before-seen artifacts, tactile experiences, public tours, and a robust online presence with audio and video content will ensure universal accessibility and an enhanced understanding of the Revolution’s significance for all guests.

    George Eastman Museum, Finger Lakes


    The George Eastman Museum will conserve and digitize fragile films from the Anwar Sheikh Pakistani collection created from 1950-1979. The Pakistani films in Hindi, Punjabi and Urdu languages were made after the partition of India. Building upon collection activities supported by a 2020 Museums for America award, staff will conserve the films to address deterioration. The museum will hire two full-time film specialists to work with staff to repair, clean, document, and stabilize the films. Once fully processed, information will be published in the museum's online catalog of film records for the benefit of researchers, scholars, and archivists.

    Historic Hudson Valley, Mid-Hudson


    Historic Hudson Valley will undertake a project to digitize and fully catalog their collection of 3,500 manuscripts, transcribe selections from the collection, and create an online portal that will make the collection publicly accessible. As a result of this project, staff will be able to better understand, care for, and utilize the manuscript collection while reducing the risks of physical damage associated with regularly handling sensitive archival materials. Additionally, the collections portal will benefit researchers, students, educators, and curators who will now have the ability to search and discover digitized and transcribed manuscripts.

    Hudson River Museum, Mid-Hudson


    The Hudson River Museum will digitize approximately 8,000 objects largely consisting of historical photographs representative of their local and regional communities, including photographs from the archives of the John Bond Trevor family, the Alexander Smith Carpet Factory, African American artist Alvin C. Hollingsworth, and photographer Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. The museum will use funds to hire and train a full-time digitization technician, a part-time digitization cataloging assistant, and two part-time digitization interns. With a more fully digitized archive, the museum will be able to inform scholarship, share their collection with a wider audience, and identify materials for use at the museum and by community partners in future exhibits, publications, and interpretation.

    Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, NYC


    The Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will pilot Inspiration Academy, a new teacher training and resources program designed to help K—12 educators teach inclusive STEM, history, and social studies, built on the museum’s decade-long experience developing teacher professional development and providing of continuing education credits to teachers in New York State. Project activities include recruiting early-career teachers from Title 1 schools; implementing professional development opportunities, including in-person and virtual seminars and institutes; and conducting a program evaluation. The project will address early-career teacher attrition rates by fostering a sense of belonging in the profession and rekindling the joy and inspiration which brought individuals to teach.

    Long Island Children’s Museum, Long Island


    The Long Island Children’s Museum will launch the third phase of the development of “Saltwater Stories: The Sea and Me,” a new permanent exhibition that will engage family and school audiences in an exploration of the local maritime traditions that have shaped the historical, cultural, and economic development of Long Island. Building on previous grants, the project team will incorporate findings from the second phase to fabricate exhibition components with an outside contractor, develop seasonally informed programs and materials for families, develop website content, finalize and implement the exhibition marketing plan, and utilize a remedial evaluation of the installed exhibition to make adjustments. Exhibition content will correlate to several New York State Next Generation Learning Standards, and will extend the reach of humanities programming to key audiences, including underserved or recently immigrated populations from coastal communities in Mexico, Central America, and Asia. As a result, visitors to the museum will increase their understanding of Long Island’s maritime history and culture through participating in educational and intergenerational experiences.

    Memorial Art Gallery (University of Rochester), Finger Lakes


    The University of Rochester's Memorial Art Gallery will continue its robust arts-based partnership with the Rochester City School District to bring students in grades 2-4 from five city schools to the museum for four weekly sessions of interactive, guided gallery activities followed by art-making experiences. Project activities include developing curriculum and activities, recruiting teaching artists and teaching assistants, training staff, and ordering supplies, holding sessions for five city schools; and project evaluation. The resulting program will provide participants with access to arts and cultural resources, complement and enhance classroom learning, encourage positive behaviors, supports social-emotional development, and empower students with a sense of purpose and belonging within the museum and their community.

    Museum of Arts and Design, NYC


    The Museum of Arts and Design will use funds to upgrade its primary content management system (CMS) and photograph, review, and update its collection records to support greater access to its collection. This project will convert their current system to a cloud-based CMS, photograph new acquisitions, and support a full inventory of their collections toward complete record consolidation. At the end of the project, the museum will have a functional and user-friendly, publicly accessible database of its collection with artifact-based programming for K-12 audiences and lifelong learners of all ages.

    Museum of Jewish Heritage, NYC


    The Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust will develop public programming for families and children ages 8-12 relating to the new exhibition “Courage to Act: Rescue in Denmark” the museum’s first exhibition for children. Project activities include organizing 19 public programs for children and families including guided tours, children’s book events, holiday celebrations, concerts, and theatrical performances. Project funds wills support building the museum’s internal capacity to serve children and families by onboarding a full-time family programs manager who will organize the events and lead the audience development strategy with marketing and outreach efforts. The project will build internal capacity and create a strategy for engaging children and family audiences. It will also empower program participants to become active bystanders in their community who counter hate and stand up for what is right.

    New York Transit Museum, NYC


    The New York Transit Museum will develop a community-informed model for creating adult public programs and sustaining audience engagement. Museum staff will work with consultants to conduct an audience assessment as well as develop plans for improved digital communications. A full-time outreach coordinator will be hired to supervise the project and identify external stakeholders to serve as advisors for program development. This stakeholder advisory committee and partnering downtown Brooklyn cultural organizations will inform the resulting program planning framework, helping the museum better-understand and engage with its existing adult audiences, identify potential audiences that are not yet engaged, and collaboratively design programs that include community voices and input.

    New-York Historical Society, NYC


    The New York Historical Society will create the Tang Academy for American Democracy Digital Curriculum, a free digital curriculum that blends the study of civics and history for middle school students. Building on the successful in-person version of the program for New York City 6th graders, the new digital curriculum will transform lesson plans and museum content into a free resource that teachers across the country can use in their classrooms. Project activities include digital curriculum creation, testing and evaluation, and program marketing and dissemination. The project will increase student understanding of democracy, how it works, and how to make a change in a democracy, and it will build a network of teachers across the country committed to teaching about democracy.

    Parrish Art Museum, Long Island


    The Parrish Art Museum will evaluate, improve, and expand an existing gallery experience and art-making program that serves individuals with special needs, including cognitive diverse individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, individuals on the autism spectrum, people with physical disabilities, and people who have experienced severe trauma. The museum will work with an external evaluator to develop an evaluation plan as well as a community advisory panel with members from the program’s target audiences and partnering human service agencies to guide the project. Program evaluation will support the development and expansion of future community-informed museum programming to serve a wider audience and will leverage lessons learned to improve the museum’s overall service to special audiences in all of its programs.

    Rochester Museum and Science Center, Finger Lakes


    Rochester Museum and Science Center will partner with Haudenosaunee stakeholders and artists to develop an exhibit that will present Haudenosaunee stories through contemporary and historic art, collections objects, multimedia presentations, and interactive, multisensory experiences. Funds will support the purchase of materials necessary to develop immersive, themed components such as a longhouse structure, as well as a professional conservator to assess and prepare collection items for display. The exhibit will be developed and curated by a Seneca artist and knowledge-keeper and will explore themes of Haudenosaunee cultural continuity and change, identity, and sovereignty. The project partnerships and resulting exhibition will make the museum’s collection more accessible, expand historical narratives, and celebrate the dynamic and active art, culture, and heritage of the Haudenosaunee people.

    Rubin Museum of Art, NYC


    The Rubin Museum of Art will expand knowledge and understanding of Himalayan art and cultures through the development of a flexible traveling exhibition that presents the iconography, materials, and artistic and cultural practices of the Himalayan region. Presented in three modules with a variety of thematic access points, different museum communities will have the ability to modify the exhibition according to their needs. Project activities will include working with five university museums to adapt the exhibition, transporting and installing the exhibition at the host site, and refining an open-access digital platform to accompany the exhibition. The public will learn about the fundamental art forms and important universal ideas from the Himalayan region, such as compassion, karma, the cyclical nature of existence, and the interdependence of things.

    Sciencenter, Southern Tier


    The Sciencenter will address its community’s need for outdoor family learning experiences and increase access to hands-on STEM education through the creation of four outdoor exhibit areas. The project team will use community input to drive the design and development of the exhibit areas, and create and test prototypes with a focus on accessible play-based activities to address learning declines resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Project activities will include meeting with the community and gathering input to define the learning goals, fabricating selected components of the exhibits, consulting with advisors and accessibility experts and testing prototypes, and continuing evaluation after the exhibits open to the public. As a result, the museum’s role as a relevant and welcoming resource for science learning will be evident, and local children and families will increase their social skills and knowledge of the science process.

    Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, NYC


    The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum will increase access to its collections and online educational resources for visitors with disabilities through a two-pronged approach: creation of a new digital museum map of the Frank Lloyd Wright building, and an in-depth review and remediation of the website design, development, and content to ensure usability. The museum’s digital experience team will start the map redesign process with user research before proceeding to design and release. A part-time project manager will be hired to oversee the website remediation, and will conduct website quality assurance from an accessibility standpoint, add access content, provide cross-departmental training, and serve as the point of contact for best practices in user accessibility. As a result, visitors will have access to a variety of digital platforms, such as websites and apps that support use by screen readers or other assistive technology; and accessible content, such as verbal description audio and American Sign Language video.

    The Strong National Museum of Play, Finger Lakes


    The Strong National Museum of Play will use funds to improve the documentation, preservation, and accessibility of 15,000 trade catalogs from the toy, doll, puzzle, and game industries. Project staff will make collections-related information accessible and searchable online through its own website as well as through an external collection website. Enhanced documentation, preservation, and accessibility of the collection will advance the museum’s mission and benefit historians and researchers of American toy and game production.

    The Wild Center, North Country


    The Wild Center will conduct a two-year outreach and summer program initiative to train a cohort of teen climate educators in climate literacy, enabling them to communicate climate change science and impacts as well as climate justice and solutions to museum visitors using the museum’s Science on a Sphere and Climate Solutions exhibit. Project activities include recruiting and onboarding the educators, developing and implementing training and mentoring plans, enhancing the visitor experience through exhibit-based engagement, working with the teens to develop and implement climate action projects for their school or community, and planning and hosting the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit. Project funds will also support purchasing high-quality projectors and two back-of-the-house computers to run the Science on a Sphere exhibit. The teen climate educators will lead interpretive programming, become active in community outreach and civic engagement, and support the youth-led planning and implementation of the Adirondack Youth Climate Summit.

    Whitney Museum of American Art, NYC


    The Whitney Museum of American Art will launch a three-phase project to assess, update, and deploy interpretation strategies geared toward visitors with disabilities, particularly those who identify as D/deaf and hard of hearing, Blind and with low vision, with ambulatory disabilities, neurodivergent, and more. The project will develop new standards for accessible digital interpretation and implement them across new materials focused on approximately 50 time-based media works. A cross departmental museum team will work with an advisory committee, focus groups, and an evaluator to carry out a user-centered iterative evaluation process, including completing a needs assessment. As a result, the museum will have institutional guidelines for accessible interpretation and standards for preserving these digital materials. This project will also inform the museum’s future accessible digital interpretation for time-based media and all other forms of art.

    Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff

    Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program supporting staff capacity-building projects that use professional development to generate systemic change within a museum. Each of the 19 recipient institutions will focus their projects on one of four categories: digital technology, diversity and inclusion, evaluation, or organizational management.

    Wildlife Conservation Society, NYC


    The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) will create a new training program for supervisors of internship programs in the five New York City wildlife parks operated by WCS — the Bronx, Central Park, Prospect Park, and Queens Zoos, and the New York Aquarium. The professional development training program will focus on positive youth development, cultural competence, supervising young adults, and mentoring and career support to help the intern supervisors develop the necessary skills to succeed in this important role. Project activities include hosting listening sessions with current intern supervisors to understand their needs, gathering existing training resources, developing a training curriculum, delivering supervisor training, and conducting training follow-up. The new training program will ensure the internship program is effective, inclusive, and supportive, transforming the zoo into a more welcoming place resulting in a broader representation of youth participating in the internship program.

  • July 31, 2023 8:07 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Broken Millstone, Whitney Plantation

    Dear Members, Friends, and Colleagues,

    At a friend’s birthday party last week, I had a conversation with someone who works at a food co-op about what it was like to be an essential worker at the height of the pandemic. After a rambling discussion, they said “can you believe we made it through that?” and since it was a party, I smiled and replied that I felt lucky to be here. What I didn’t say is that I know that many of us have mended, but have still not “made it through.” 

    As the MANY staff traveled around the state this year, we heard first hand that attendance at most museums has not returned to 2019 levels, that many are having trouble filling staff positions, and that operational changes are essential for the future of museums. We learned that recovery remains inconsistent from city to city, region to region, and discipline to discipline. We also learned that federal relief funding, grants from the state and private foundations, and community support made a real difference. 

    The reported statistics in the American Alliance of Museums 2023 Annual National Snapshot of United States Museum Survey, echo many of the stories we hear firsthand. The national data that AAM collects each year illustrates the continuing impact of the pandemic. It has been almost three years since MANY has asked our members and colleagues to share information about how the pandemic has affected your museum. But with the occasion of AAM’s publication, we thought it was the right time to ask (just seventeen questions, eleven are multiple choice) so we can compare data from New York’s museums with some of the national data. 

    Click here to respond to the survey using your information from 2022 or from the end of your last fiscal year. It may help to have your annual report with you when you answer the survey that should take less than six minutes of your time. A pdf of the survey questions can be found here

    The survey will remain open until 5 PM on August 18 and we will share the NY data in comparison to the national data soon after. 

    With thanks advance for sharing your information and hopes that you are taking time to enjoy the summer, 

    Erika Sanger

    Executive Director

  • July 31, 2023 7:58 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    John Sapida is the Manager of Digital Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and the recipient of the BIPOC Museum Professional in Museum Administration scholarship to attend the 2023 conference "Finding Center: Access, Inclusion, Participation, and Engagement."

    This scholarship is awarded to a Black, Indigenous, or Person of Color working in museum administration who has played a leadership role in advancing the capacity and sustainability of their museum. We asked John to share his conference experience.


    Now entering my sixth year as a museum educator and professional, I’ve faced plenty of challenges and opportunities for growth and innovation. One challenge is, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic. As an educator in a small team that manages the Museum’s learning management system as well as online learning, it felt as though multiple heads had turned to my direction when the shutdown happened. It was a lot of pressure, but it did give me an opportunity to lead. In my search for more opportunities to lead, I found the Museum Association of New York (MANY) Conference.

    This year’s conference brought practical solutions and pedagogically sound innovations. MANY provided opportunities to network with other professionals to discuss important topics in our industry such as inclusion, accessibility, and belonging. At the same time, MANY highlighted its host city by providing access to many of the institutions nearby such as the Erie Canal Museum, Everson Museum of Art and the Museum of Science and Technology (MOST). Each session I attended welcomed an exchange of ideas between myself and my peers which made me feel like an expert in my practice while still allowing me to learn from others’ unique experiences. Reflecting on my overall experience, there were two strong threads that build access, engagement, and belonging in museums,

    The first thread is partnership. I personally believe that the strongest programs out there involve partnership and collaboration. For example, in the session, Are you still lecturing? How to engage students with primary sources using Visual Thinking Strategies, I was able to learn from colleagues at the New York State Museum about their partnerships with the NYS Department of Education and also how they align the inquiry strategies we all know and love, their collections, and their educational programs to Science, Social Studies, and English Language Arts standards. In Relationship Building for Educating Our Community, we heard from the Vestal Museum’s key partnership with the Haudenosaunee community and how this collaboration provided opportunities for sharing, teaching, learning, and amplifying underrepresented voices. Such conversations are a testament to the power of storytelling and have great potential to provide guidance for the larger museum industry. 

    The second thread is consistency. Through these sessions, it became clear that the valuable work that comes from accessible digital and onsite projects should be approached proactively, not reactively.  The session, Social Media Savvy: Thinking Big, Working Smart, brought together specialists that talk about the use of storytelling through social media and the importance of a consistent call to action and voice throughout the seeming endless of platforms museums may use to engage their audiences. Attending the session, Bringing Inclusive Digital Materials into the Classroom, introduced me to online expanded archives and repositories that provide primary and secondary resources that are ready to adapt for the classroom. This got me to start thinking about all of the science-rich digital resources that the American Museum of Natural History has on their website. Through this session, an idea for a professional development course came to fruition that I am now currently working on for the summer! 

    Looking through my notes from the weekend, I now feel a sense of urgency to put together the programming ideas inspired by the conference. The work continues! 

    –John Sapida, Manager of Digital Initiatives, AMNH

  • July 31, 2023 7:51 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Melissa Kiewet was a William G. Pomeroy Foundation scholarship recipient to attend the 2023 annual conference "Finding Center: Access, Inclusion, Participation, and Engagement". Scholarship recipients were asked to share their conference experience. 

    The William G. Pomeroy Foundation sponsored ten museum professionals working in history-related fields with an annual operating budget of $250,000 or less and who had not attended a MANY conference in the past.

    Since writing this reflection, Kiewet was named the new Executive Director of the Dyckman Farmhouse Alliance. 


    When I was notified in January of 2023 that I was awarded a scholarship for the annual Museum Association of New York conference, I did not yet know that my role at the Dyckman Farmhouse Museum would be changing. Shortly before the April conference, I was selected to be the museum’s Interim Director, and hopefully the permanent Director, as the former Director moved on to a new organization. The switch came as a surprise to me, but it was one that I felt I was ready to face. Coming to the conference now took on a new meaning. I went from expecting to learn from my peers about programs and development issues to networking and focusing on larger scope issues within museums. Attending a conference that focused on New York state allowed me to meet people who were potential partner organizations and whose service areas overlapped with my own. This differed from the larger regional and national conferences and it could not have been better timed.

    Going into the conference with a new mindset, there were two sessions that really stuck out to me and made me think about how I could implement things in my home institution. The Panel “Tell Me What You Want (What You Really, Really Want): An Honest Conversation about Constituent Engagement,” was a case study about a funded grant project that did not go as expected. It was an open and vulnerable discussion about admitting failure and learning from it. I had never been to a session that examined failure, most tout their successes. The panel’s choice to focus on a project that did not go as expected brought down the guard of attendees and allowed the room to be vulnerable and talk about their own failed projects that resulted in big lessons. Obviously, we do not like to fail, but it is important to remember that failing often results in a better understanding of our projects. The other lesson that this session taught me was to ensure you have your constituents buy in before writing that grant. We cannot know what our constituents want without interacting with them and getting to know their needs. We can certainly guess, but then you risk creating an unsuccessful program.

    The last session of the conference was particularly powerful.  "Change is Still Required: What's Next?" was set up in a town hall style meeting, which I found uncommon for a museum conference. The panel consisted of five contributors to the book Change is Required: Preparing for the Post-Pandemic Museum. While multiple topics were covered, it was great to hear from a diverse group of museum professionals, from emerging to senior staff. It left me thinking about how, though I have worked for a change bringer for the last five years, I might be able to institute change during my own leadership. I am filling big shoes at Dyckman. Previous leadership created an institution that not only discussed Black history, but celebrates it year round, and engages closely with the community. I know I will continue these efforts, but what other contributions could I make? In listening to this session and speaking with colleagues, I found my professional mission. The museum industry is notoriously paying its workers at rates that make it nearly impossible to live. If I am to be the change I want to see in museums, I must pay my workers and pay them above what is average for museum workers. I received my first job in NYC six years ago for $38,000. That is not a living wage, but I did it for love of the industry and the promise on the horizon for advancement. I was privileged to be able to do so. If we want diversity in museum work, we have to pay, because divested communities cannot afford to take a job that pays so little just because they have a love for the field. They need to be compensated and, at least at my museum, I want to ensure that happens.

    –Melissa Kiewet, Executive Director, Dyckman Farmhouse Museum Alliance

  • July 31, 2023 7:44 AM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    Daisy Rodríguez is a lifelong New Yorker. As the Executive Director of Government & Community Affairs for the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) she oversees all NYC and State-based government and community engagement. Rodríguez is responsible for helping seek public funding (capital and expense) support for WCS. She engages elected officials, community members, and the public on the importance of conservation of wildlife and wild places. 

    Prior to her arrival at WCS in August 2017, she was the Director of Government Affairs at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), where she was responsible for seeking public support and funding, including helping with the outreach to communities throughout the five boroughs. Previous to joining AMNH, Daisy served as Community Outreach Director for U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer, and as the Senator’s Constituent Liaison helped to resolve numerous constituency concerns and expanded the Senator’s profile. She also served on the Senator’s campaign during his 2004 re-election.

    She holds an MA in Urban Affairs from Hunter College of the City University of New York. She attended Manhattan College and received her B.A. with a dual major in Urban Affairs and Political Science, as well as a minor in Latin American and Caribbean studies. 

    We spoke with Daisy to learn more about her career, what motivates her, and what she hopes for the next generation of museum professionals.

    Where did you begin your career?

    Technically it began with US Senator Charles E. Schumer, as a very junior staffer working in his NYC office. I was the one answering all the calls that came into the office and dispatching them to colleagues, and doing basic administrative work. This was right after 9/11 and during the Iraq War and it was not easy, but that was my introduction into politics. I think I was answering around 300 calls a day. I learned how to be respectful to everyone and had to navigate a lot of different emotions from people at a young age. From there, I went into casework, worked directly with constituents across the state on a variety of issues, managed his intern program, staffed him as needed, worked on his campaign, and just wore many hats. It was a pivotal learning experience that I’ve learned to appreciate much more now as I’ve grown in my career. 

    Can you tell us about your journey from Community Outreach Director for Senator Schumer to AMNH to the Wildlife Conservation Society?

    I always had an affinity for nature and the arts. It was always at the core of my identity. I would have never imagined working in the field I am now, much less helping to advocate for the arts or helping cultivate generations of STEM leaders. I learned early in my career that I didn’t have the drive to stay solely in that political world—I needed something else. Through the Senator’s office, I learned that “doing government affairs” is done at many organizations in one form or another, and it was a necessary skill. And I started looking at opportunities in museums across the city. It took a while but there was an opportunity at AMNH for a Government Relations Coordinator, so I went for it. It was certainly vastly different and yet familiar from my time at the Senator’s office. At AMNH I was able to develop professionally in my field while reconnecting with a love for science I thought I had lost. I never excelled in math or science in school but I had a secret love for biology and astrophysics. Because of my own frustrations with the subject and overall lack of mentorship at a young age to encourage me to pursue it, I ran away from it. And now, I work to ensure that youth don’t make the same mistake as I did. After AMNH, I found an opportunity to work at WCS. I went from the preservation of dead collections to live ones. But more so, it was an opportunity to run my own shop in both government and community affairs – I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

    These cultural spaces are very much healing places. I’ve always believed that and it felt like a confirmation of that, especially during COVID. I am part of a much larger coalition of people that are advocating for culture and the arts specifically in New York City and helping to ensure that this community received the funding that it needs to thrive is important to me. 

    What other experiences in your career journey have you found most helpful in your role now?

    I credit a lot of my career growth to my personal upbringing and listening to people’s stories. 

    As a child of immigrants, I grew up quickly and needed to be my family’s advocate, mostly because I spoke English. It may have been a child’s English but nonetheless, I learned how to translate and begin to understand the complexities of real-world issues. I credit that role of being my family’s advocate to becoming involved in advocacy. Also, I always have been interested in the stories of “others” regardless of where they come from. I’ve learned that if you listen to these stories, there are always gems of advice scattered throughout them. 

    I have found this work to be challenging yet fulfilling because I see myself in visitors to our institutions and I know how it feels to be disenfranchised from the cultural world and disconnected from the scientific fields. In my work, I realized that my own personal story resonates in the narratives of why it is critical for communities of color to be represented in STEM careers. The way I speak, the community I come from, the way I connect to cultural and scientific institutions, and how I have advocated have been different and needed.  

    What are some of the things that motivate you in your current role?

    The fact that I’m filling in a real need that requires a specific skill set. That I believe in the mission of the organization and I have colleagues that believe in this too. I’m also motivated because I get to foster the next generations of not only STEM leaders but also mentor those coming into my field of work. Encouraging them to do this work better than any of us who already are here. I believe strongly in succession planning. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for a community of people. And lastly, I have a great team who do amazing work and we trust each other’s leadership and vision.  

    What are some of your goals in your role as the Executive Director of Government & Community Affairs? What advice would you give to other museums and cultural institutions about communicating the value of their institutions?

    I want to do this line of work differently. I like to take a genuine approach and want those that I lobby to care about the work that we do because it does have a real global and local impact. Cultivating the next generation of STEM leaders is pivotal in these times, and ensuring they also come from communities of color is personal for me because I was that kid that didn’t think she could do science or be in these spaces. I didn’t have the mentors and my parents didn’t have the resources to know even where to go. So I like to do my line of work as genuinely as possible and with real results.

    As far as advice on how we communicate our value, I believe people outside of the institutions solidify our value and that line of engagement with the communities we serve and the ones we need to do better to serve are key. The work we do, and the collections we have are invaluable among our institutional communities but it is a different level of appreciation when we can take these collections to communities who become inspired by it and want to preserve and advocate for it.   

    Would your 18-year-old self imagine that you would be where you are today?

    My 18-year-old self would be in awe to know that most mornings I have my coffee watching the lions stretch out and roar before the park opens to the public. She would be wide-eyed to know that one day she will get to learn and see collections that encapsulate the history of the Earth, our universe, be able to experience encounters with animals from across the globe in places she has yet to visit, meet with some of the brightest minds in the scientific communities and talented artists, be able to experience the halls of world-renowned institutions and still have to sometimes translate for her family too. 

    I did not visit a museum until I was in my teens even though I literally lived blocks away from AMNH. I never went as a kid because my mom didn’t know how to enter the building. She felt like it was such an overwhelming space with no clear direction. It was easier for her to take me to the Central Park Zoo. I’ve seen so many others go through this kind of experience as well, so when I entered this space as a museum professional, it was definitely something that fueled me to want to show people that these places are accessible. I want people to have a sense of belonging that these institutions are theirs because they’re city-owned, they belong to the people of New York and you should take advantage of them. 

    Can you tell us about where you grew up? What was it like growing up there? Where did you go to school and what did you study?

    I was born and raised in NYC. I’m Caribbean and Central American, remixed with the Latino diaspora found throughout the City. My childhood was challenging but I was surrounded by love and empowered to succeed. I was heavily influenced by a variety of cultures, from language, food, music, and the arts. I loved to draw as a child and my father would also doodle on the apartment walls with me. He was a maintenance worker so he would cover up our mess with paint – no harm done. I think because of that influence, even as minor as that was, I was accepted to LaGuardia HS for Music & Art where I majored in art.  The Metropolitan Museum of Art was and remains my favorite museum. It was the first one I ever visited because my school made me do a project there. Prior to that, I never went because neither I nor my parents knew how to visit these institutions. It wasn’t always a welcoming experience, there were language barriers, and these experiences fuel me today to do this work. I then attended Manhattan College where I studied political science with a minor in Caribbean and Latin American studies. I thought law school was the next step but after a few months working at a law firm, it wasn’t for me. Instead, I ended up working for Senator Schumer. While working for Senator Schumer I was pursuing a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies at Hunter College.

    What was the first museum experience that you can remember?

    I always had an affinity for animals. Maybe because I am an only child and was a latchkey kid, all I had were my animals. From a very young age, my mom would take me to the Central Park Zoo. It was a constant destination for us, but costly for my mother. She always made the investment in that excursion because it brought me the most joy. And here I am now working at WCS who also manages the Central Park Zoo and ensuring that we provide access to communities in need. 

    Can you describe a favorite day or more memorable moment on the job?

    There are so many. I feel fortunate to even say that. One occurrence that tends to follow me that are the moments I treasure most, is when I have access to the spaces where I work before it opens to the public and after the public leaves. Whether that was walking the halls at AMNH alone or strolling through the Bronx Zoo or New York Aquarium, having that private experience in those spaces feels peaceful and gives me a deep sense of connection. It’s those personal moments of zen that I treasure. 

    Do you have any mentors or someone who has deeply influenced you? Has there been any advice that they’ve given you that you’ve held on to?

    I’ve had a lot of mentors throughout the chapters in my career. Both good and rotten but all have been life lessons. The most pivotal lessons I carry throughout my career are to 1) Take up space even in places you may feel unwanted - I deserve and am needed to be there and 2) Pay it forward - I had my opportunities because of many of those before me. 

    What advice would you give to those interested in your career in government and community affairs for a cultural organization?

    I’m a big believer in inviting people out for coffee and asking questions that can give you really good advice. I’m also a believer in getting some kind of experience in the field like the work I did with Senator Schumer. I don’t do that kind of work now, but it gave me a sense of the culture of government relations and a sense of the type of people I would work with. 

    I also believe that succession planning is vital in the non-profit world. It is so critical, especially amongst Communities of Color. We have to prepare the next generation. The time I’ve spent planting seeds everywhere that I’m starting to see all of those seeds blossom. I have former interns who are now elected officials doing amazing work. I want to see more of these successes. 

  • June 27, 2023 3:33 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

    During the most recent legislative session, the New York State Assembly and Senate allocated or reallocated $10,875,000 in program funding and economic development assistance to 51 museums, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums in Assembly Resolution 714 and Senate Resolution 1395, 1399, 1407, and 1408. Seventeen museums were allocated or reallocated $45,725,000 from the capital assistance program in Assembly Resolution 715.

    The resolutions included reallocations from the prior year funding for those organizations that did not receive their full allocation of funding as well as those who were fully funded, i.e., both “old” and “new” money. The resolutions authorize New York State to meet any prior year funding obligation in full. If you have any questions about what you see below or on the more detailed list here, please contact your legislative representatives. 

    MANY would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our state legislative representatives whose generous support will enable our arts, history, science, and cultural institutions to continue to serve their communities, attract tourists, and secure the historic structures they call home. The summer is an excellent time to be in touch with your legislative representatives and invite them to come see what you do. Not sure who represents you? Click here to find your Assemblymember and here for your NY State Senator. 

    The list of organizations that received funding is below. If your organization was allocated or reallocated funding, and you don’t see your organization’s name below, please let us know and accept our apologies in advance for the oversight. 

    Recipients of Program and Economic Development Assistance

    Adirondack Historical Association

    American Museum of the Moving Image

    American Museum of LGBT History & Culture

    Amigos del Museo del Barrio

    Bronx Museum of the Arts

    Brooklyn Botanical Garden

    Brooklyn Children’s Museum

    Brooklyn Historical Society

    Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens Society

    Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society

    Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

    Buffalo Society of Natural Sciences

    Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum

    Burchfield Penny

    Herschell Carousel Factory Museum

    Cultural Museum of African Art

    Museum of Science and Technology

    Everson Museum of Art

    Frederick Remington Art Museum

    Garden City Historical Society

    Goshen Public Library & Historic Society

    Historic Hudson Valley

    Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County

    Hudson River Museum of Westchester

    Historic Huguenot Street 

    Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum

    Irish American Heritage Museum

    Long Island Children’s Museum

    Louis Armstrong House Museum

    Lower East Side Tenement Museum

    Mid-Hudson Discovery Museum

    Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Arts

    Cradle of Aviation Museum

    National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

    New York Hall of Science

    New York Historical Society

    New York Zoological Society

    Northport Historical Society

    Old Stone House of Brooklyn

    Queens County Farm Museum

    Roosevelt Island Historical Society

    Safe Haven Museum

    Schenectady Museum Association

    Seneca Park Zoo

    Staten Island Zoological Society

    Studio Museum in Harlem

    Wave Hill Public Garden & Cultural Center

    Western New York Railway Historical Society

    Whitney Museum of American Art

    Wildlife Conservation Society

    Zoological Society of Buffalo

    Recipients of Capital Assistance 

    Bronx Children’s Museum

    Children’s Museum of Manhattan

    Cultural Museum of African Art

    El Museo del Barrio

    Everson Museum of Art

    Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

    The Jewish Museum

    American Museum of Natural History

    New York Botanical Gardens

    Onondaga Historical Association

    Planting Fields Foundation

    Queens Botanical Garden Society

    Queens Museum of Art

    Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site Foundation

    Underground Railroad Education Center

    Universal Hip Hop Museum

    Wildlife Conservation Society

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Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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