Annual Meeting Reflection

Written by Linda Scarcella, 2014 J.D. Britton Scholarship recipient

This was my first Ohio Local History Alliance Annual Meeting. I was lucky enough to be chosen for the J.D. Britton Scholarship. The following recap is my perception of the seminars I attended.

Day One

On the first day of the conference, I attended “Utilizing Your Square Footage” presented by Art Hupp, Project Principal at Glaserworks. Art has helped many organizations with amazing transformations. The Cincinnati Museum was one of his projects. Originally opened in 1933 as the Union Terminal train station, the building is a national historic landmark and was renovated and reopened as the Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990. He shared memories passed down to him from his grandfather who recounted the days when soldiers returned to the area after World War II and passed through this train station. What a sight that had to be! The complex houses the Omnimax Theater and three separate museums: the Cincinnati History Museum, the Duke Energy Children’s Museum and the Museum of Natural History & Science. The idea of joining museums is brilliant. This on my bucket list of places I must see.

“Grantwriting, Fundraising, and Donor Cultivation” was presented by Ricki Chanault, Executive Director at Fairfield Medical Center Foundation. Chanault is responsible for fundraising at the hospital. She gave an in-depth review of her experiences in cultivating stewardship. I attended this session because I was interested in grant writing. She pointed out that grants have a way of “drying up,” so it is also important to look for donors. She outlined the giving cycle and mentioned success is assured if you can develop a compelling case for the purpose at hand.

The session on “How to Build an Effective Board” focused on the proper selection of board members and developing written procedures. Presenter Todd Mc Cormick, Curator/Director at Logan County Historical Society, shared his story about dealing with difficult board members. I liked the organization binder he passed around and plan on creating one at my organization.

Alan Canfora, our luncheon keynote speaker, revealed his insights into the May 4, 1970, Kent State shootings. Alan and I attended school at the same time and my memory of the event changed quite a bit.

During “What is That? How to read Artifacts,” attendees brought in objects that they could not identify for a panel of experts. Andrew Richmond, Auctioneer/Appraiser for Garth’s Auctions, Inc., Cliff Eckle, Curator of History at Ohio History Connection, and Julie Parke, Executive Director at Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, gave the class resources and methods to identify objects in their collections.

Day Two

“The History Fund: Grants for Museums, Too” was presented by Andy Verhoff, History Fund Grant Manager at the Ohio History Connection. He outlined funding programs, such as the new Ohio History “Mastodon” license plate and tax check-off available when Ohioans file their state income taxes. These monies go toward funds made available to local history organizations.

Frank Quinn, Director of Preservation at Heritage Ohio, presented “You’ve Saved it… Now What?” This session was informative. I was not aware of the Wellington, Ohio, museum that was saved back in the 90s only to be torn down in 2012. This fact was disheartening because, as he pointed out, so many organizations will suffer the same fate without an alternative source of income.

“Ohio Archaeology: A Fifteen-Thousand-Year Human Odyssey” was my favorite presentation. Brad Lepper, Curator of Archaeology at the Ohio History Connection, piqued my interest to the vast picture of Ohio’s prehistory. I would love to have him speak at our organization.

“Collections Management 101: Caring for Your Collections When You’re Low on Space and Short on Money” gave me ideas on how to organize and store historic items. I picked up some useful, economical tools that can be utilized with our own small collection.

Finally, “Ohio’s New American Indian Dialogue” shared insights into presentations regarding American Indians.

In talking to fellow historians throughout the conference, I came away with many ideas that I will share with my board and try to implement. The idea I liked the most came about in casual conversation with another historian about a “president’s dinner.” I really hope I can develop a closer relationship with this the group.

Linda Scarcella is Secretary of the Brunswick Area Historical Society in Brunswick, Ohio. 

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