AIAC 2009-Welcome to the Craft Corner!

Hi, I’m Diana Stone, Education Coordinator at the Museum. During the American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC), Education staff provides a Craft Corner tent to allow the visitor to take part in the festivities.

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Hi, I’m Diana Stone, Education Coordinator at the Museum. During the American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC), Education staff provides a Craft Corner tent to allow the visitor to take part in the festivities.  The Craft Corner started in 2007, as a way to engage the youth during the three-day festival and a place to reflect on the inspiring world of Native American art.

AIAC 2008 Craft Corner
AIAC Craft Corner – Transparencies

At any time during the festival you will find staff, parents, teachers, chaperones, etc. sharing and helping children with their crafts. These crafts tap into the aspiring artist in all of us. These crafts, much like the actual Seminole art sold at AIAC, are inspired by the traditions of the Seminole people. Crafts in years past have ranged from Woven Paper Fans shaped like palm fronds fans to painted transparencies of archival and collection images. This year we are creating patchwork bookmarks inspired by the famous patchwork clothing of the Seminoles. While you’re in the tent you will learn about how the patchwork designs have changed of over the years.

AIAC Craft Corner
AIAC Craft Corner - Paper Fans

It is interesting to see how each child makes the craft their own work of art. My favorite part of the Craft Corner is sitting down and talking with the children learning about how they experience AIAC.  I would also like to take this opportunity, to promote a new children’s activity brought to AIAC by the Tribal Historic Preservation Office (or THPO) who will be teaching children about archaeology. The THPO studies the objects left behind by Ancestors of Seminole and other Native Florida Tribes.

This is also my opportunity to mention all the great and wonderful activities for children, ages 1 to 100, to experience at our Museum.  All performances at AIAC and the Museum are family friendly. The performances come from the Seminole Tribe and tribes from across the nation. There will also be an alligator demonstration and a critter show. And if this blog is not enough to convince you to come, email me at dianastone@semtribe.com and I can tell you about the many other reasons you and your family should come to this event.
 

AIAC 2009 it’s almost here…

AIAC, it’s almost here…You can feel the excitement grow as the tents and stage are being set-up, the artists arrive on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation and set-up their booths filled with arts and crafts for your consideration and purchase.

AIAC, it’s almost here…You can feel the excitement grow as the tents and stage are being set-up, the artists arrive on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation and set-up their booths filled with arts and crafts for your consideration and purchase.  Some artists sell only what they make and some come with goods representing their broader Native community.

This year we have 39 artists from 6 states and 10 tribes (including many Seminole artisans) making the trip to join in the American Indian Arts Celebration.  As I look at the photographs of their work, I just can’t wait to meet the artists and see their artistry in person.

I sincerely hope that you are planning to be there.  From the first year I ever attended, I was impressed with the music, the dance, the beautiful art, the great food, the beauty of the Everglades and the blue November skies.  It is simply amazing! There will be fantastic musical performances daily from a variety of Seminole and other Native performers.

This is our 12th year presenting the AIAC and it remains such bargain entertainment and fun at only $9 per adult and $6 for students/seniors.  Engaging activities for all ages include a Craft Corner, Critter Show, Alligator Wrestling, Archaeological Information Tent, Raffle Tickets and of course the Museum itself.  You can view photos of previous AIAC events at http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/photo_search.php?oid=46484093517&view=all

Friday, November 6 at 9am it all begins.  So come by and see me for I will be on the festival grounds in the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum tent.

On another topic, in my first blog, I mentioned our pending Direct Mail. Well it has mailed, so if you have gotten our mail, please join Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum today.  If you did not get the appeal, you can contact me for member information marybirch-hanson@semtribe.com or visit me during the 12th Annual AIAC.

Exhibits, Collaboration, and the Museum as the Third Space

Greetings, name is Saul and my title within the museum is Curator of Exhibits. But for anybody who has experience within the museum world knows that titles can be somewhat misleading. It might be more appropriate to list my title as Collaborator of Exhibits!

Greetings, name is Saul and my title within the museum is Curator of Exhibits. But for anybody who has experience within the museum world knows that titles can be somewhat misleading. It might be more appropriate to list my title as Collaborator of Exhibits! Throughout my professional career I have always tried to strive for collaboration. This approach incorporates the best of what museum professionals and partners have to offer.

 Collaboration is especially important when building exhibits. While, we have our own internal exhibits team, I consider all departments within the museum as contributors to the team. This concept is important for two reasons. First, it is essential to have most, if not all departments represented within a museum exhibit. Obviously collections and education elements are key, but aspects such as oral history, research coordination, marketing, development, traditional arts, and community outreach are also essential. Second, the more people involved in the development and ultimately the final product of an exhibit the better. When individuals feel that they have an important stake in the process the outcome will be that much stronger.

 Tribal museums are unique in the sense that most often they are located within and are an integral part of the tribal community. It is our job as employees of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to tap into and tailor our activities at the Museum to reflect and/or incorporate many tribal partners internally (Seminole Tribe) and externally (Native America). I feel that we meet this priority in numerous aspects of our museum projects. However, it is imperative that we do better! One Museum wide plan that we are working on is the Interpretive Plan, which I think has incredible potential for building internal tribal partners. Through this plan we are creating ideas to build an even stronger base of Tribal support and involvement when developing exhibits and programs. Another collaborative program that I am excited about is STEP (Seminole Travelling Exhibits Program). One of our goals is to share STEP with other tribal museums in a reciprocal or low cost manner. This is extremely important for building external collaborative relationships with other tribal museums across the country.

 I would also like to take a moment to comment on the changing face of museums, especially tribal museums in the 21st century. I first heard of the theoretical idea of museums and libraries as being a “Third Place” during a keynote address by the great museum thinker Elaine Heumann Gurian during a recent Florida Association of Museums conference. Elaine described this concept as neither work nor home, the Third Place is a neutral community space, where people come together voluntarily and informally in ways that level social inequities and promote community engagement and social connection. She cited Ray Oldenburg’s 1989 book The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons, and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community as the inspiration behind Third Place, and can be directly related to the idea of museums as civic space in her book Civilizing the Museum: The Collected Writings of Elaine Heumann Gurian. Both writings seek to explain the critical importance of these Third Spaces within a community and how socially engaged places strive to positively improve social relationships. I feel that the museum industry should trend towards the Third Place concept in the future, especially since all communities are becoming more fractionalized due to technological advancements. It will be important for museums to become increasingly active in the social engagement arena and to become the best alternative in the tech vs. human interaction divide. I believe emerging and established tribal museums are in a unique position to become Third Places. I also believe that entrenched and quite possibly dated notions of what museums are can be transformed to meet new and challenging concepts such as Third Place. However, as I stated before, it is imperative that we as museum professionals and institutional leaders have the wherewithal to incorporate new ideas and think outside the box!

Thanks for letting me bend your ear!

Food for thought:

“What would happen if we almost for the sake of argument said it is neither a library nor a museum, but it is a third place. Not just a third place, but a third force if you will. I think our institutions inevitably are going to be forces as well as places.”
Harold Skramstad, President Emeritus
(Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village)
(from Pastore 2009)

“Many subtle, interrelated, and essentially unexamined ingredients allow museums to play an enhanced role in the building of community and our collective civic life.” (Elaine Heumann Gurian 2001)

Join Us:

The Randle/ Sheffield Collection: Life Along the Tamiami Trail in the 1940’s and 1950‘s, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Big Cypress, July 17th 2009-January 18th 2010

Postcards and Perceptions: Culture as Tourism, Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum Big Cypress February 12th 2010-November 28th 2010

The Oral History Program Hits the Road…

I left Florida bound for the Oral History Association Conference in Louisville Kentucky where I presented a paper called “Native American Oral Tradition v. Oral History: Dispelling Myths, Saving Language, Non-traditional Methods, and Unlikely Interpretations.”

I left Florida bound for the Oral History Association Conference in Louisville Kentucky where I presented a paper called “Native American Oral Tradition v. Oral History: Dispelling Myths, Saving Language, Non-traditional Methods, and Unlikely Interpretations.”  My paper highlighted some of the distinctions between oral history and oral traditions.  The paper was well received and opened the door for future discussions about how Native Americans define Oral History.

I then flew right from Kentucky to Portland, Oregon for the Tribal Archives Libraries and Museums (TALM) conference.  I taught back to back 4 hour workshops- Oral History for Beginners and Intermediate to Advanced Oral History.  The room was jam packed with people from Tribes all over the country and their employees.  Everyone was so enthusiastic to learn about Oral History and how to start a program, develop projects, use the latest technology, interview techniques, and much more. 

Elizabeth Lowman presenting at TALM 2009
Elizabeth Lowman presenting at TALM 2009

Some of the biggest concerns other Tribes had was collections access, language, and technology.  Participants talked about problems they were all facing with collections management, technological advances, and ethics.  In the end, participants walked away from the workshop with better understanding of Oral History, methods, technology, and everyone made connections with other people. 

Pedro Zepeda, the Museum’s Traditional Art Coordinator, and I are presenting about using oral histories in museums and Traditional Arts later on in the conference.  We look forward to assisting other Tribes as they grow and develop their own programs.  Another plus of attending the conference is looking forward to learning and being inspired by the work of other Tribes as well.

Introducing our Membership program….

Hello, I am Mary Birch-Hanson and I am the Membership Coordinator for the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. I have been with the Museum for nearly three years. It has been a fun and interesting adventure, learning about the Museum and beginning to learn about Seminole history and culture.

Hello, I am Mary Birch-Hanson and I am the Membership Coordinator for the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum. I have been with the Museum for nearly three years. It has been a fun and interesting adventure, learning about the Museum and beginning to learn about Seminole history and culture.

Over the past year, we have been working on enhancing and developing our Museum membership opportunities, after researching what other museums offer and forming partnerships with several reciprocal membership programs. This month we are launching our first large scale membership drive. In fact, the direct mail package is at the printer as I write this post. We are all excited and admittedly a bit nervous! We are excited, because the Museum tells such an important story from the perspective of the Seminoles in a beautiful setting. And nervous, because the economy has made us all think seriously about the money we spend on what may be considered non-essential items.

In the effort, I have learned a great deal about working with copywriters, print designers, printers… as well as selecting who we should mail to, and not to mention the good folks at the United States Post Office. So now we wait…to see how you will respond.

In addition, I have been working to secure Native American artists/vendors from around the United States for our 12th annual American Indian Arts Celebration (AIAC) November 6, 7 & 8. We will have delicious food and an incredible program of Native American music, culture and dance. I do not think you could possibly find a more beautiful setting to enjoy the best of the Seminole Tribe of Florida and other Native peoples all for just $9, or FREE if you are an Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum member. 

Would you like to join the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum?  We have memberships available at several levels.  Email me at marybirch-hanson@semtribe.com for specific information.