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VAM Conference 2022

by Jaylyn Smith '22

My name is Jaylyn Smith and I am a history major at the University of Lynchburg. For my senior year I was given the opportunity to intern at the Historic Sandusky. This semester has been a wonderful experience as I have gained a better understanding about the kind of museum work I might want to do after graduation. Last week, on the recommendation of Historic Sandusky, I was awarded the Professional Scholarship to attend the 2022 Virginia Association Museum Conference in Richmond, VA. The conference was split into sessions and attendees were given the choice to participate and discuss various topics.The first session I attended was Catalyst for Change in the Community. Panelist speakers were members of the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and the Robert Russa Moton Museum. They discussed how their respective museums are striving to become outreach programs for the public. The second session I attended focused on how to decolonize museums. The panelists were from the Pamunkey Indian Museum and Cultural Center, and the Nottoway Indian Tribe Community House and Interpretive Center. We began the session by playing a fun game of bingo.

As the session continued, we were given key initiatives that museums can learn from to actively engage with Native communities and decolonize museums from western perspectives. For example, including indigenous narratives, incorporating indigenous traditions and holidays to programs, identifying how museums can build relationships through resource sharing and outreach to tribes. The third session I attended was called Making the People’s Record Accessible. Panelists for this session were from the Historic Records Management at the Loudon County Circuit Court, Black History Committee at the Thomas Balch Library, and the Freedom Center. The session highlighted the importance of maintaining and preserving local historic records for the public. Panelists discussed that some of the records they have in their collections are birth, business, and marriage records.

Overall, I had a wonderful time. I was able to socialize and network with educators and museum workers who specialize in collections, exhibitions, and development. I enjoyed hearing about the work that they do and why it is important to them and their respective communities. I highly recommend attending future conferences for anyone interested in working in museums.

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