WaMA’s Annual Conference in Spokane!

June 19-21, 2019
“All Stories Are Told Here”


Friday, June 21

9:00 – 10:15 am                      Breakout sessions
All sessions held at Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. Room locations to be announced.

(1) Island Stories: A Collaborative Digital Project in the San Juan Islands
Presenters: Larry Cebula, Eastern Washington University and Washington State Archives; Brandon Caldwell, San Juan Island  National Historical Park; Brittney Maruska, Orcas Island Museums; Chelsie Price, Eastern Washington University; Alex Mikinaak, Eastern Washington University; Whitney Wyngaert, Eastern Washington University.

Digital projects can seem daunting, particularly for small museums. This panel will show how a unique partnership of two small museums, a university, the National Park Service, and some clever university students produced an exciting digital interpretive project, Island Histories: Stories of the San Juans. Based on the Curatescape platform, Island Histories offers placed-based historical storytelling throughout the San Juans, and includes a smartphone app for exploring the history around you. Presenters will describe how the project came to be, describe the process of both building the website and researching and writing the stories, and will include a student perspective on working on the project. This session will also mark the public launch of the project.

(2) Bringing 21st Century Access and Digitization to the Wilson Research Center, Okanogan County Historical Society
Presenter: Sandy Brightbill, Okanogan County Historical Society.

Okanogan County Historical Society is the umbrella organization that includes the Wilson Research Center and four county museums.  OCHS is governed by an 18-member Board of Trustees. In 2016, our volunteer historical society submitted our first-ever funding letter to our membership. Braced with the success of our funding letter, we bravely forged ahead with a grant application to update our 1985 computer system.  It had come to a “do it or lose it” data situation.  This paper will highlight our maiden voyage exploring grant writing, planning, and accomplishing the upgrading of an antiquated system with new equipment, networks, and software.

(3) The Secret Life of An Artifact
Presenters: Brooke Wagner, Valerie Wahl, and Katie Staib, Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture.

How can museums illustrate to meaning and impact of collection and preserving material culture? The Secret Life of An Artifact exhibition at the NWMAC is a semi-permanent exhibition that acts as introduction to the Museum, how we collect, what we collect, and how we preserve what we collect. The gallery also functions as a working lab for collections work, engaging our visitor in its importance. In this session we will talk about how this exhibition came about and what it is like to work on collections projects in front of the visitor, as well as introducing you to the school age educational component that developed out of this exhibition. This presentation will be used to spark discussions on methods of making collections matter to museum visitors.

(4) Youth Stories in an Effective Arts-based Curriculum
Presenter: Ashlie Beach, Kirkland Arts Center.

Kirkland Arts Center instituted the Make Your Mark program to encourage youth development, particularly with underserved youth in Title 1 schools, and any students deemed in need of tools to express emotions. Learn to implement an after-school arts-based SEL (Social Emotional Learning) program, in which students can share their stories–verbally, through group discussion and oral expression; in writing, through guided journal prompts; and non-verbally, through completed art work–and thereby feel empowered.

10:30 am – 11:45 pm             Breakout sessionsAll sessions held at Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. Room locations to be announced.

(1) Using PastPerfect to Reveal Your Artifacts’ Secrets: A Case Study from an All-Volunteer Effort
Presenters: Suzanne Perin and Sharon Sumpter, Shafer Museum.

This presentation will share how a small rural historical museum uses PastPerfect software as an interpretive tool to link all the disparate items in its collections together to “paint” a fuller picture of a person, a town, an event, an industry. This is a quick and easy way to reveal the secrets of your collections. This is a step-by-step presentation of entering data into PastPerfect, anticipating useful metadata for what a specific keyword search can deliver, plus a time to discuss challenges for small museums that rely on volunteers (often dedicated retirees who may not know the latest technology) and to ask questions or swap tidbits of wisdom with other database users.

(2) New Topics: Museums and Well-being
Presenter: Jenna Green and Dorothy Svgdik, University of Washington Museology Program. 

Museums and Health—both inside and outside the building—is an emerging field of study; in this session two Master’s candidates present their intriguing findings. Jenna Green’s work will provide the context for how museum education can encourage innovative outreach programs, collaboration with new partners, and access to more communities. Dorothy Svgdik shares how working in a museum at a site of trauma, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack, impacts the emotional wellbeing of professionals employed in visitor-facing capacities.

(3) Flood, Earthquakes, and Fires, Oh My! The Importance of Planning for Emergencies
Presenters: Anna Goodwin, Maryhill Museum of Art; John Larson, Polson Museum; Lissa Kramer, Washington State Historical Society.

Are you ready for the unimaginable? This session will explore emergency preparedness from several angles. Anna Goodwin will present lessons learned from Maryhill Museum of Art’s recent disaster plan revision. John Larson, who has been front and center during the Aberdeen Museum fire and aftermath, will share the process of recovering from a catastrophic incident. Lissa Kramer will discuss efforts at the state level to develop further resources for emergency preparedness support and education.

(4) Beyond the Familiar Terms: Repairing Indigenous Collections through Inclusive Processing
Presenters: Anna Harbine and Tisa Matheson, Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture; Gena Peone, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

This panel is designed to help museum professionals who work with indigenous collections and are interested in decolonization practices in their collections. Processing indigenous collections can be daunting due to outdated nomenclature and cataloging schema, confusing access restrictions, or poor provenance and documentation. This panel will take an interactive deep-dive into the unique challenges collections managers face in processing indigenous collections, and empower attendees to incorporate inclusive practices in their own institutions.

12:15 – 1:45 pm             General session lunch

UW Museology Program graduate students Melinda Rukavina and Catherine Allen present their findings from a 2018 survey of Washington Museum Association non-members. [ES1] Annual Report by WaMA President Freya Liggett, including strategic plan progress; Presentation of new Board members and officers.

Free for full conference registrants.


June 21, 2:00 – 4:00pm Jundt Art Museum Reception

The museum is on the west side of Gonzaga University’s campus near the corner of Desmet Ave. and Pearl St.

Please join us for an afternoon reception at the Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University. Appetizers will be served in the museum’s Chancellor’s Room under Chihuly’s Gonzaga Red Chandelier, and guests are invited to explore two recently opened exhibitions from the CLOSE-IN series. In the Jundt Galleries, Drawn to the Wall VII features five regional artists: Jamie Naderny, Christine Kimball, Robert Fifield, Dan McCann, and Jen Erickson. Each artist is given two weeks to complete a drawing on one side of an 8-by-11-foot wall, but the unusual component of this invitational is that the drawings will be removed by the artists themselves by painting them over after the exhibition. On view in the Arcade Gallery will be Evolution: Potter Harry Green’s 50-Year Journey. Active in establishing the study and creation of pottery at Gonzaga University several decades ago, potter Harry Green continues to throw functional serving pieces using only porcelain clay and china white glaze.