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West Virginia Association of Museums

2017 Annual Conference

Protecting Our Collections

2017 Conference Schedule
at McKeever Lodge, Pipestem Resort State Park

Thursday, March 30

  • 2:00PM–4:00PM

    Pre-Conference tour of Bramwell

    Drive/carpool on your own. Meet at the Bramwell Depot (located at 100 Simmons Street, Bramwell, WV, 24715) at 2:00PM.

    Bramwell is a historic small town located about 40 minutes from Pipestem Resort State Park. It is best known for having the most millionaires per capita in the late 1800s. The wealth that built the town is exemplified in the gorgeous homes that remain today.

    Take this opportunity to arrive to the area early and make a trip to explore one of West Virginia’s most fascinating little towns—the home of the millionaires of the southern West Virginia coalfields! 

    Our meeting place, the Bramwell Depot, is officially known as the Southern Interpretive Center of the Coal Heritage Trail. The train station was demolished in the 1950s and was rebuilt. It now serves as a welcome center for Bramwell and houses interpretive exhibits that offer a glimpse at the history of the Pocahontas Coalfields and the area surrounding Bramwell.

    We will meet Mayor Louise Stoker at 2:00pm. She will lead us on a walking tour of the town—and may have a few surprises in store for us! Stroll along the river, learn about the history of the town, eat some ice cream at the Corner Shop, and browse in the Bramwell gift shop! 

    Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing and dress according to the weather forecast.

Friday, March 31

Conference begins at McKeever Lodge, Pipestem Resort State Park

  • 8:00am

    Registration table opens

  • 9:00AM–10:30AM

    “Country Roads Walk” with Pipestem’s naturalist, Julie McQuade

    Meet Pipestem’s naturalist, Julie McQuade, at the park’s headquarters to take a 90-minute walk and learn about the history and nature of this beautiful state park. Rated an “easy” walk, it will follow the paved road through Pipestem. Learn about the people who lived within the park’s boundaries and the flora and fauna of the area. The walk will end in one of the park’s 14 cemeteries.

  • 9:30AM–10:15AM (45 minute session)

    Ignite WVAM!

    Presenters: Eliza Newland, Collections and Program Manager at the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum; Kyle Bryner, Registrar and Collections Manager at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley; Sally Deskins, Artist and Curator; Crystal Wimer, Harrison County Historical Society Executive Director; Katey Lauer, West Virginia Mine Wars Museum

    Eliza Newland leads this exciting and fast-paced session along with five other presenters. They will discuss challenges faced in the museum field and provide tips to improve interpretation at your site. Each presenter uses a PowerPoint to guide his/her topic, but the slides advance every 15 seconds! Topics in this session include exhibit development and design, curating feminism, managing previously unmanaged collections, and utilizing free on-site consultation services.

  • 10:30AM–12:00PM (90 minute sessions)

    Grants Opportunities Panel

    Presenters: Erin Riebe, Grants Administrator with West Virginia Humanities Council; Renee Margocee and/or Debbie Haught, West Virginia Division of Culture and History; IMLS Representative

    Listen and learn from representatives of organizations that have funded projects at WVAM institutions and organizations around the state.

  • OR

  • 10:30am-12:00pm

    Monument Care in the National Park Service

    Presenter: Moss Rudley, Deputy Superintendent, Historic Preservation Training Center, National Park Service 

    This session will take a look at the broad diversity of the National Park Service’s collection of monuments, memorials, and outdoor sculptures. It will include an overview of the issues and complexities of repair and conservation techniques and material selection required for their maintenance, as well as a discussion of the required trade skills needed to perform this work.

  • 12:00PM–1:00PM

    Lunch (on your own)

  • 1:00PM–1:45PM (45 minute sessions)

    A Stitch In Time: How Museums Can Expand Their Usage of Textiles

    Presenter: Hannah McClearnen, Graduate Assistant at West Virginia University

    Museum collections often include spinning wheels, looms, and sewing machines. While some museums utilize these historic objects to show their mechanics, they can be used to tell much broader stories about the natural and cultural history of West Virginia and to incorporate STEM lessons. This session will also briefly discuss how sites might restore, care for, and preserve their historic looms, spinning wheels, and sewing machines.

  • Or

  • 1:00PM–1:45PM (45 minute sessions)

    Uncomfortable: Difficult Topics at Museums and Historic Sites

    Presenter: Joe Obidzinski, AmeriCorps at Preservation Alliance of WV

    History, specifically American history, contains a great deal of uncomfortable topics and episodes. This presentation will focus on examples of delicate yet important issues of historical significance and how they are interpreted by the staff of museums and historic sites. The format will be an analysis of examples of several issues (some handled well, some not). Participants will be encouraged to offer their examples of successes, failures, or ideas for dealing with such topics.

  • 2:00PM–4:00PM (90+ minute sessions)

    Strategies for Implementing Best Practices in County Records Management

    Presenters: Nora Sutton, Graduate Assistant from West Virginia University; Kyle Rothemich, Graduate Assistant from West Virginia University; Alee Robins, Records Manager at the Monongalia County Clerk’s Office

    As the only county in West Virginia with a designated Records Manager, the Monongalia County Clerk’s Office is spearheading efforts to implement archival best practices. To bridge the gap between their desire for archival practices and the public’s need for access, the County Clerk’s Office, through a partnership with WVU, is implementing a long-term comprehensive records management plan. The plan includes the indexing, digitization, and conservation of documents and an overhaul of their storage system. As they enter our fourth year, significant progress has been made and the public response has been overwhelmingly positive, but they have encountered numerous challenges that many museums can relate to. Presenters share with the museum community their strategies for professionalizing collections management in a dynamic environment, with the hope that museum professionals will share their own experiences in order to build on each other’s successes.

  • Or

  • 2:00PM–4:00PM (90+ minute sessions)

    Materials Handling 101: Learning the Basics

    Presenters: Crystal Wimer, Harrison County Historical Society; Edward Pride IV, AmeriCorps at Waldomore

    The safe handling of collections is a core principle of every museum and archive. Without basic techniques, one endangers the safety and integrity of your collections and institution. Practicing appropriate handling guarantees the longevity of your collections and illustrates your commitment to your mission and community. In this workshop, presenters will provide instruction and review of basic handling techniques for paper, ceramics, textiles, and artifacts of all types.

  • 4:30PM

    Guided Tour of Lake Shawnee Amusement Park

    Drive/carpool on your own to the park, located at 470 Matoaka Road, Rock, WV, 24747

    The Lake Shawnee Amusement Park near Princeton, West Virginia, has received quite a bit of attention in the past few years for its reputation as being haunted. Normally, the park is only open for tours in the fall—but we will be treated to a special visit to the historic park before the WVAM opening reception in Princeton. In addition to learning about the history of the amusement park, we will learn about the site’s history that predated the construction of the park in 1926.

  • 6:00PM–8:00PM

    Reception (with heavy hors d'oeuvres) at the Princeton Railroad Museum, located at 99 Mercer Street, Princeton, WV, 24740

    Hosted by the Mercer County Historical Society. Pat Smith will give a short talk on the history of Princeton and the Virginia Railroad’s role in the area’s history. Walk around Princeton and visit a few other sites and stores while you are there!

Saturday, April 1

Conference begins at McKeever Lodge, Pipestem Resort State Park

  • 8:00AM

    Registration table opens

  • 8:30AM–9:15AM (45 minute sessions)

    We Have to Pack What?! Things to Consider When Moving Your Collections

    Presenters: Edward Pride IV, AmeriCorps at Waldomore; Catherine Clevenger, Waldomore Manager

    Due to recent events throughout the Mountain State, museums are evaluating their ability to protect, preserve, and maintain their collections. Whether for renovation, cleaning, exhibits, or part of your emergency preparedness plan, the process of moving collections is a task that every museum and archive faces. Having recently finished an extensive renovation and move of their own, Waldomore staff are eager to share their insights and thoughts with fellow institutions. During this session, topics covered will include planning, funding, troubleshooting, and answering questions in regards to moving collections.

  • Or

  • 8:30AM–9:15AM (45 minute sessions)

    Disaster Planning 101

    Presenters: Kyle Bryner, Registrar and Collections Manager at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley; Jane LaBarbara, Assistant Curator for Archives and Manuscripts in the West Virginia and Regional History Center at WVU Libraries; Lori Hostuttler, Assistant Director of the West Virginia and Regional History Center at West Virginia University Libraries

    In light of the recent devastating floods in southern West Virginia, it is imperative that museums be prepared for the unthinkable. In this session, two members of WVU Libraries’ West Virginia and Regional History Center will share information on developing a formal disaster preparedness plan. They will discuss their motivations for developing a plan for their unit, the resources they used, challenges, and tips. Presenters will then assist workshop attendees in creating their own disaster plan.

  • 9:30AM–11:00AM (90 minute sessions)

    The Pearl S. Buck Manuscript Collection

    Presenter: Kirk Judd, Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation

    This session will explain how the extensive collection of original manuscripts of Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author and West Virginia native Pearl S. Buck came to be owned by the Pearl S. Buck Birthplace Foundation. It will include a discussion of the current status of the collection and a brief history of the birthplace and foundation. 

  • OR

  • 9:30AM–11:00AM (90 minute sessions)

    Creating Professional Quality Exhibits in the Small Museum

    Presenter: Noel W. Tenney, Museum Specialist

    This session will explore the research, development, construction, and installation of small-to-medium (temporary and long-term) professionally created exhibits. The presenter— through discussion, question and answer, and visual and primary exhibit unit sharings—will assist the beginner- to advanced-exhibit developer with the possibilities of creating high quality, professional level, but cost effective exhibits. The presentation will include a PowerPoint slide show of various exhibit examples, sources for supplies, construction processes, and tips for creating the best possible exhibit for the small-to-medium sized museum. Time for questions and answers will be allowed and encouraged.  

  • 11:00AM–12:00PM

    Keynote Address: “Partnerships to Protect Our Cultural and Historic Resources”

    By Lori Foley, Administrator, Heritage Emergency National Task Force, Office of Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation


    As cultural stewards, we recognize the importance of having institutional preparedness plans to address internal emergencies. But when disaster looms large—as seen in last June’s record flooding (just the most recent in a long line of West Virginia flooding events)—we need to turn to first responders and emergency managers to help us protect our collections. Before we can turn to them, however, a relationship must exist between the cultural and emergency management communities. When these two communities collaborate, the resulting partnership can sustain an ongoing dialogue during “peacetime” and can spell the difference between damage and total collection loss during a disaster. Lori Foley will discuss the importance of developing local and state partnerships and the role the Heritage Emergency National Task Force plays in working with them (and how much harder it is without them) when a major disaster strikes.

  • 12:00PM–1:00PM

    Lunch (Hosted by WVAM and catered by Pipestem Resort State Park)

  • 1:00PM–2:30PM

    Building Partnerships to Protect Our Collections

    Presenter: Lori Foley, Administrator, Heritage Emergency National Task Force, Office of Environmental Planning & Historic Preservation

    Regardless of the scope of the emergency, the first response will always be local. In any major emergency, you will be working with local first responders to save and secure your institution and its collections. If you have a good relationship with your local first responders and are acquainted with their structure, systems, and procedures—for they will loom large and be in charge—you can help them keep your staff and collections safe. How does one initiate the dialogue? What does it take to create a cultural heritage emergency network? This session will examine the resources that are available to help you launch a local network based on the successful “Alliance for Response” program and begin exploring what it takes to establish a state cultural heritage emergency network. 

  • 2:45PM–4:15pm (90 minute sessions)

    Building Historic Walking Tours with Clio

    Presenter: David Trowbridge, Associate Professor of History at Marshall University; Hailey Horn, AmeriCorps with Clio

    Developed by faculty at Marshall University, Clio (www.theclio.com) is a website and mobile application that uses GPS to connect the public to nearby museums and historic sites. Entries can include images, videos, oral histories, and links to related websites and primary/secondary sources. Clio is nonprofit and free for everyone, with over two hundred institutions and two thousand individual contributors. Clio has grown to include over 14,000 museums and historic sites and nearly one hundred walking/driving tours throughout the United States. Participants in this workshop will learn how to create individual entries and walking/driving tours. 

  • Or

  • 2:45PM–4:15pm (90 minute sessions)

    Preserve the Past or Design the Future: An Architect’s Role in Museum Development

    Presenter: Michael Mills, Mills Group, LLC

    Using examples from his firm’s projects, Michael Mills, AIA, will discuss two building options for museum stakeholders: new construction and repurposing existing structures. Understanding spatial needs to guide exhibition design and the benefits associated with both options will also be addressed. Attendees will be better equipped for their organizations to navigate crucial decisions about housing collections, displaying them, and otherwise acquiring the space necessary to accomplish their missions.

  • 5:30PM–6:30PM

    Cash bar opens, viewing of auction items, music provided by “Sugar Run”

  • 6:00PM–7:00PM

    WVAM Dinner

  • 7:00PM–9:00PM

    WVAM Meeting and Auction

Sunday, April 2

Conference begins at McKeever Lodge, Pipestem Resort State Park

  • 9:00AM–10:30AM (90 minute sessions)

    Collection Procedure

    Presenter: Toni Ogden, Museum and Education Coordinator for the Greenbrier Historical Society and North House Museum

    Collection policy determines whether an item is accepted by the curator of the museum committee, and collection procedure is what comes immediately after acceptance. How will you assign an identifying number and apply it? What’s the safest way to label wood, textiles, ceramics, and metal objects? Where do you purchase the right tools and supplies? What paperwork must you have to keep track of items, stay organized, and prevent the dreaded dissociation that plagues so many museum collections? This step-by-step, hands-on workshop will take the mystery out of the process. Participants will register, accession, and label a variety of items. The result will be increased confidence in your collection management skills.

  • Or

  • 9:00AM–10:30AM (90 minute sessions)

    Building Pathology for your Historic Site

    Presenters: Bekah Karelis, Wheeling Heritage; Sarel Venter, Owner of Adventures in Elegance, LLC

    Do you have an historic building in your life? We often don’t “see” what the buildings try to show us as they age. This session will explore some easy-to-spot exterior and interior tell-tale signs when something is going wrong—or about to. Participants will learn how to decipher a building’s pathology; covering topics like cracked plaster, deteriorating brick, and elusive leaks—learn how to play detective in your historic building!

  • 10:45AM–12:15PM (90 minute sessions)

    Collections Session

    Presenter: James Mitchell, Curator of The West Virginia State Museum

    Let’s talk about museums. What kind of museum? What is your mission? What are your collections? Remember, a museum is basically a place where a person learns something by viewing three-dimensional objects. It is also a treasure house where objects of art, historical artifacts, and/or scientific specimens are stored and preserved for the future under the care of a board and a staff. We preserve our collections. We do not use them up. We also do research about our subject—so a library is necessary. Remember we are object-oriented, not book-oriented. Books are necessary to learn about our collections so that we can write good interpretative material such as texts, labels, guide material, and exhibition catalogues. We are concerned with objects and their homes, museums.

  • Or

  • 10:45AM–12:15PM (90 minute sessions)

    Tough As (Clean and Well-kept) Nails: Basic Preservation of Delicate Metal Artifacts

    Presenter: Samantha Hartford, AmeriCorps at Jackson’s Mill

    Though we tend to think of metals as some of the strongest or most durable materials in our world, the truth is many metals—especially iron—are extremely susceptible to corrosion and need just as much care and attention as any other artifact. In this hands-on session, we will discuss the reasons for degradation in metals and walk through proper methods of cleaning and caring for them, finishing with a look at preventative measures and the optimal conditions for keeping metal artifacts safe. Throughout the session we will focus on a collection of iron artifacts (given their ubiquity as cooking implements and tools), but questions and insights about all metals will be welcomed.