We recently attended the 2019 Museum Association of New York annual conference and spoke with attendees from all over New York State representing all types of museums and cultural institutions. I talked with folks from 21 different museums and cultural institutions about how they are creating inclusive environments, attracting new audiences and fitting within the tourism fabric of their community. We used these great insights to create another Museum Series (see last year’s series here) with five episodes filled with knowledge. Through this series, I hope you will find a new perspective on this important segment of the tourism industry.
Samantha Hall-Saladino shares the history of the Albany County Historical Association, housed in a historic home in Albany, New York. She discusses the efforts the Association is making to promote inclusivity by telling the stories of the slaves and immigrants who at one time lived in the home. She discusses the difficulty of making the entire house accessible for everyone and shares details of the virtual tour that will allow guests to view the second floor of the home in a virtual setting if they are unable to go to the second floor in person. She shares efforts to attract new audiences to the site, including key cross-promotion partnerships. She discusses exciting future opportunities for the mansion to continue its growth and community engagement.
Any Weinstein shares the mission of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to honor the lives lost in the terrorist attacks as well as to document and preserve the story of those attacks. She shares how the Memorial is working to honor all of the first responders and others who became sick due to chemical exposures on that day, as well as anyone who helped with the city of New York’s recovery efforts. She shares how inclusivity has always been a part of the Memorial as people from all walks of life were affected by the terrorist attacks. She shares details of their new Memorial Glade and its designers, and the symbolism surrounding it. She discusses maintaining the Memorial as a place of honor and as a reminder of the past. She talks about the upcoming 20-year anniversary of the attacks that will take place in 2021, and she shares how the staff has been discussing plans to commemorate the significant date.
Beth Hill shares the historical significance of Fort Ticonderoga and discusses their efforts to preserve the Fort as an important site of military history. She discusses the unique upcoming opportunity Fort Ticonderoga will have to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of the United States. She shares how Fort Ticonderoga is working to create programs dedicated to women and people of color who served in the military, and she talks about why accessibility and inclusion have been of vital importance to their work. Beth discusses why families, not history buffs, are their largest audience, and she talks about building marketing and programs around visiting families. She shares some of the audience outreach work the Fort has been doing. She discusses the Fort serving as a major tourism anchor for the region and shares the economic impact the Fort has brought to the region, and she shares the importance of supporting the local community’s infrastructure development and the partnership opportunities that has brought. She shares future opportunities to expand the reach of Fort Ticonderoga.
Joshua Voda outlines the history of the Museum of the American Indian and explains why one of its important missions is to remind people that, while the history of Native Americans is a rich one, Native American life continues today and isn’t entirely represented by the history we know. Joshua discusses the role inclusivity plays in the mission of the museum, and he shares how the museum works to dispel stereotypes and steer people toward a better understanding of the impact Native Americans have had on all aspects of American history. He shares efforts the museum has made to attract new audiences, including opening the new STEM-focused “Imaginations Activity Center.” He shares details of an exhibit the museum is working on to showcase the Native American history of the New York area. He discusses outreach efforts to help teachers bring knowledge from the museum directly into their classrooms.
Araya Henry shares the many diverse and multi-disciplinary functions the Hudson River Museum serves, dedicated to both art and science. She outlines inclusivity efforts the museum makes through programs dedicated to teens of all ethnic, educational and economic backgrounds. Araya shares partnership efforts the museum is making to build their audience, including collaborations with nearby museums and cultural sites for cross-promotion and with local businesses to offer mutual discounts. She shares the future opportunities the future is looking to, including working with the local school system and becoming a part of the curriculum for local students. She discusses the local LGBTQ+ Advisory Board and the opportunities for partnerships and promotion that it represents for the museum.
Each of these organizations has turned to marketing and partnership opportunities as a crucial component to fuel their growth and reach. Working with area schools and offering new educational opportunities has been one avenue for success for many of these museums and historical sites. Developing and promoting inclusive programs and reaching out to different groups of people from all backgrounds have been equally important. A prevailing theme from each of these conversations is that travel and tourism sites such as museums, historical and cultural organizations can only benefit from working together, and the region-wide travel and economic impact these partnerships can create are dramatic and beneficial for everyone.