The following article was written by Margaret Greutert, a recipient of a scholarship funded by the Donna Matthews Professional Development Fund to attend Museums Alaska's annual conference, held in Nome in 2018.
As a first-time conference attendee and recent transplant to Alaska from Washington State, it was valuable to meet many fellow museum professionals in Alaska. The conference theme relationships especially resonated with me and I was surprised to see so many session conference presentations demonstrating the collaboration between a tight-knit group of Alaska institutions. For example, Bethany Buckingham Follett and Selena Ortega-Chiolero working together to host the Old Town Autumn Fest in Wasilla and demonstrating how museums and other non-profits can work together, Exhibit AK and Anjuli Grantham leading an exhibit label workshop, NPS, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, and Conservator Nicole Peters working together to preserve the Richard L. Proenneke Cabin site. The most valuable takeaway for me from the conference was learning from these partnership presentations and developing a support network as we move forward with projects and ideas in Kodiak.
I found the relationship between museum professionals and researchers at the conference especially unique. With so many joint presentations among Museum Alaska members, it is surprising to see fewer joint presentations with both the Museums Alaska and Alaska Historical society members. I brought this observation up in the post-conference webinar chat and thought Anjuli Grantham had an insightful response. She suggested bridging the gap between researchers and museum professionals through public history. I look forward to researching more about public history projects around Alaska and learning more about this field.
We are excited to be able to host the Museums Alaska/Alaska Historical Society conference next year in Kodiak. In the coming months of planning, I think it will be valuable to cultivate a workshop or session that encourages dialog between museum professionals and researchers or perhaps highlight public history projects so we can better understand each other’s work. I look forward to seeing everyone together again at the conference next September.