New Jersey Association of Museums

NJAM Connections

NJAM Connections: Reopening: Are You Ready?

June 11, 2020 

As expected, museums throughout the state are across the spectrum in terms of planning. Some have a written and vetted plan in place that they have started implementing while others are just starting to pull together task forces. 

Shared concerns include de-escalation training, sourcing PPE/sanitizing equipment, new cleaning protocols/high risk objects, maintaining educational programs/relationships with schools sans field trips, sussing out the appropriate regulation between federal/state/county/city guidelines, how to limit number of visitors/impact on events, and staff layoffs. 

A question we are all dealing with is just because we can reopen, should we? Some are reopening as soon as possible for the revenue. Some are using a phased approach with outdoor access prior to opening buildings.  

It was agreed the expectations for visitors and staff ought to be clearly communicated and based on sound medical advice...although it was noted there is disagreement on what is "sound medical advice". The messaging should include how audience members can prepare to visit as well as what our cleaning procedures are.  

A number of sites are utilizing surveys to assess the comfort levels of staff and visitors across a variety of scenarios. Liability is an issue - in terms of insurance as well as its impact on event planning and hiring contractors. Sites are also working though how to bridge the gap in staff comfort levels/ability to return due to life circumstances.  

Most have "pivoted" to digital with many planning on maintaining this new digital presence in tandem with in person programs/events.  

Overall, every organization is unique and thus has to cater plans and policies to the needs of their site, staff, and visitor base - there is no one overarching answer.  But we are not alone in working through these issues.  

Recommended reopening guides:

https://blacksheeprestaurants.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/BSR-COVID19-SOP-8052020.pdf  

https://www.eventsafetyalliance.org/esa-reopening-guide 

https://www.njnonprofits.org/GoingForwardReopeningGuideForNonProfits_May2020.pdf 

NJAM Connections: History, Culture, and Memory

June 24, 2020

Museums try to make history, culture and memory work in concert when planning exhibits and programs. How do we do this with a difficult subject like race? Do we understand enough about our own position - and our museum's position, hidden or overt - on race, to plan our programs and exhibits? Do we have a deep enough understanding of African American history (including our state's history) to develop programs and exhibits attractive to our audience? If not, how do we acquire the tools we need?

Speaker: Dr. Linda Caldwell Epps, President & CEO of 1804 Consultants, a founding member of The Sankofa Collaborative and former President & CEO of The New Jersey Historical Society

“There must be appropriate tension between stories of real pain, loss and tragedy with those of resiliency, optimism and hope. . . . It must give those of the culture a real sense of legitimacy and possibility, but also be a museum that is a lens into what it means to be an American, with a message that all of us are shaped indelibly by this African-American experience.“

- Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, former Director of The National Museum of African American History and Culture

About Dr. Linda J. Caldwell Epps:
Dr. Linda J. Caldwell Epps is President and CEO of 1804 Consultants and a founding member of The Sankofa Collaborative. She brings to clients more than 45 years of experience working with educational and cultural institutions, including The New Jersey Historical Society, a statewide museum, library, and educational facility, where she served as President and CEO, and New Jersey Network Television and Radio where she served as Vice President for Institutional Relations. She held various positions at Bloomfield College where she worked for 27 years. In her role as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, she helped create an award-winning campus-wide student assessment project to help assure student and faculty success. As Vice President for College Relations, she led the institution to successful completion of its first capital campaign which raised $8.4 million. She served as a Ford Foundation-funded consultant to several institutions of higher learning—including Keene College in New Hampshire, The University of Massachusetts at Boston, Union College in Ohio and the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey—on issues of diversity and equity in higher education.

Through 1804 Consultants, founded in 2011, Dr. Caldwell Epps has worked with various history and cultural institutions including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education, The William Trent House, The New Jersey Historical Society, The Newark Public Library, The Scotch Plains Public Library, Old First Church of Elizabeth, NJ, and The Timbuctoo Historical Site. She is a founder of the Sankofa Collaborative. Its purpose is to help educators in schools, museums and libraries present, interpret, and discuss African American history. The Collaborative has developed and sponsored seven day long themed workshops related to African American history and culture.

Dr. Caldwell Epps holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University’s Douglass College, a Master’s Degree in American Studies from Seton Hall University, and a D.Litt from Drew University. Her dissertation is titled, “From Zion to Brick City: What’s Going On? Newark and the Legacy of the Sixties”. She completed the Institute for Higher Education Management program at Harvard University, the American Association of Colleges and Universities Diversity Institute at Georgetown University.

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Recommended Resources:

https://www.newsreel.org

https://www.morethanamoment.org/

NJ Institute for Social Justice ‚”10 Ways to Do Racial Justice Advocacy After you Say ‚ 'Black Lives Matter‚'” https://bit.ly/388KDy9


NJAM Connections: Systemic Racism: What are museums doing? What can museums do?

July 29, 2020

Museums are not neutral. Systemic racism is a part of the history of our field, brought to light by more recent events across the country.  What is systemic racism, what are museums doing about it, and what can be done?  Whether your museum is already part of the conversation or just starting out, this dialogue will both provide examples of initiatives in the museum field and allow you to talk more with your colleagues in smaller breakout groups about what else can be done within our organizations.

Speaker: Dr. Linda Caldwell Epps, President & CEO of 1804 Consultants, a founding member of The Sankofa Collaborative and former President & CEO of The New Jersey Historical Society

About Dr. Linda J. Caldwell Epps:

Dr. Linda J. Caldwell Epps is President and CEO of 1804 Consultants and a founding member of The Sankofa Collaborative. She brings to clients more than 45 years of experience working with educational and cultural institutions, including The New Jersey Historical Society, a statewide museum, library, and educational facility, where she served as President and CEO, and New Jersey Network Television and Radio where she served as Vice President for Institutional Relations. She held various positions at Bloomfield College where she worked for 27 years. In her role as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students, she helped create an award-winning campus-wide student assessment project to help assure student and faculty success. As Vice President for College Relations, she led the institution to successful completion of its first capital campaign which raised $8.4 million. She served as a Ford Foundation-funded consultant to several institutions of higher learning—including Keene College in New Hampshire, The University of Massachusetts at Boston, Union College in Ohio and the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey—on issues of diversity and equity in higher education.

Through 1804 Consultants, founded in 2011, Dr. Caldwell Epps has worked with various history and cultural institutions including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, The Center for Holocaust, Human Rights, and Genocide Education, The William Trent House, The New Jersey Historical Society, The Newark Public Library, The Scotch Plains Public Library, Old First Church of Elizabeth, NJ, and The Timbuctoo Historical Site. She is a founder of the Sankofa Collaborative. Its purpose is to help educators in schools, museums and libraries present, interpret, and discuss African American history. The Collaborative has developed and sponsored seven day long themed workshops related to African American history and culture.

Dr. Caldwell Epps holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Rutgers University’s Douglass College, a Master’s Degree in American Studies from Seton Hall University, and a D. Litt from Drew University. Her dissertation is titled, “From Zion to Brick City: What’s Going On? Newark and the Legacy of the Sixties”. She completed the Institute for Higher Education Management program at Harvard University, the American Association of Colleges and Universities Diversity Institute at Georgetown University.

Audio Transcript

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Video Recording

Recommended Resources

Spreadsheet 


NJAM Connections: #MeToo and Museums: Understanding and Addressing Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination

September 30, 2020

But are sexual harassment and gender discrimination undermining these efforts to make workplaces safe and equitable? 

This compelling NJAM Connections discussion, “#MeToo and Museums: Understanding and Addressing Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination,” took place on Wednesday, September 30, 2020 from 2:30 – 3:30 pm. NJAM registrants joined Rutgers University-Newark professor Mary Rizzo, co-chair of the National Council on Public History's (NCPH) committee on sexual harassment and gender discrimination, as she explained how sexual harassment and gender discrimination affect the field. She discussed a national survey* launched through a partnership between NCPH (National Council on Public History) & AASLH (American Association for State & Local History) and talked about ways that museums can participate in eradicating these issues. Participants broke into small groups to discuss ways their organizations can tackle these issues.

Presenter Bio: Mary Rizzo, PhD

Mary Rizzo is Assistant Professor of History at Rutgers University-Newark, where she teaches public history, urban history and digital humanities. She is an advisor to the Queer Newark Oral History Project and curator of the exhibit, At Home In Newark: Stories from Queer Newark, and the founder of the Chicory Revitalization Project, which uses poetry to spur conversation around place and social justice. Before joining the Rutgers faculty, she spent a decade working as a public historian in New Jersey, from being a curatorial assistant at the Rockingham historic site to the associate director of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities. Her book Come and Be Shocked: Baltimore Beyond John Waters and The Wire, is out from Johns Hopkins University Press in September.

https://sasn.rutgers.edu/about-us/faculty-staff/mary-rizzo

*Please take this important survey and share with your colleagues!:

NCPH (National Council on Public History) & AASLH (American Association for State & Local History) Survey on Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination in Public History: http://bit.ly/GDSHsurvey

Audio Transcript

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Video Transcript

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