And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days. ~ James Russell Lowell


June 15, 2018

Customs House Museum & Cultural Center, Clarksville




Exploring Diversity and Inclusion at TAM 2018

Part 2: Educators and School Programs Roundtable

This year's TAM conference, with its theme of Strength in Unity, saw several sessions focused on questions of diversity, equity, and inclusion, including the facilitator-led roundtable sessions where participants had the chance to discuss these issues together in an informal setting. We are sharing some of the insights and questions that came out of those discussions through the newsletter: this month is focused on the Educators and School Programs Roundtable.

The Educators and School Programs Roundtable noted that museum education is the most trusted form of education, and therefore we have a responsibility to model language and behavior that embraces diversity and inclusion throughout our work. This means that we can't shy away from the ugly parts of history or sugarcoat hard facts  by facing these challenging topics and engaging our visitors, we can find our way to good conversations and better understanding. It is important to remember that while working with our visitors, there is a difference between being assertive with that history and being aggressive  and these approaches have different results. If people feel attacked, they will shut down, get defensive, and not hear what we are saying or be open to exploring the topic further. However, the effort to engage our visitors with difficult history is worthwhile as challenging the narrative we have about ourselves, our communities, and our history can plant positive seeds.

There are different ways to open up the conversation and engage visitors. For instance, we can use objects or images from our museums or sites to help to tell the story we want to tell. A personal connection to people's experience or interest makes it easier to understand difficult topics, and items from our content can help make that connection. We should also examine how we address various concepts and consider that they might be viewed in very different ways by different groups. For example, if we are talking about citizenship, we should think about how this concept can be perceived: is it a signifier of one's citizenship in a country, is it about people's engagement with their community and society, or is it something else? We want to really think about our potential audience and how our portrayal of concepts, ideas, and topics will impact them  will they see themselves in what we are talking about, or will they feel excluded by how we address the topic?

Several participants in this roundtable shared examples of how they were addressing issues of diversity and inclusion within their educational programming. One museum is actively training volunteers to use more inclusive language. For example, rather than saying "our ancestors," which can be exclusive, they are encouraged to say "my ancestors" because it is then personal to them and not excluding others in the group. Another historic site has changed their tour script to more fully acknowledge the family's difficult history as slave holders, which has opened up different discussions with their tour and student groups. Another consideration that was addressed was accessibility. A kit at the front desk that addresses different needs was also a good suggestion; for instance, it could contain gloves to allow guided touch tours or 3-D printed artifacts that can be touched.

Everyone in the roundtable agreed that if a visitor asks why we don't address a specific need or why some issue isn't considered or addressed within our exhibits or programs, honesty is the best policy  in other words, be honest about why the situation is as it is, acknowledge that it is a problem, and address how we are going to approach the issue. These types of questions from our visitors can help our institutions to grow into more diverse and inclusive places.

Next month we'll share the discussion from the Collections and Curators Roundtable. You can also access the notes from all four roundtable sessions here.

Speak Up for Museums!

The American Alliance of Museums and the American Association for State and Local History are encouraging their members to contact legislators and urge them to support the Office of Museum Services in the coming funding negotiations. The House FY 2019 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations measure, which includes funding for the Office of Museum Services (OMS) within the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), is expected to be considered by the House Appropriations Labor-HHS-Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee this week and then by the full Appropriations Committee the week of June 18. The Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee is expected to consider its version of the bill the week of June 25. AAM has prepared helpful tips for advocating, along with a template for contacting legislators, here.


Featuring Tennessee Institutions and All the Great Stuff They Do!  

With limited space in the TAM newsletter, it's hard to feature all of the great events, exhibits, programs, and achievements of our Tennessee museums, cultural institutions, and historic sites. Therefore, as often as possible, we will use some space to feature the websites and blogs of Tennessee institutions. This will help point our members to these sites so that they can follow all of the wonderful work these places are doing and go deeper into their content.

This month check out the website of the Customs House Museum & Cultural Center. With news about the many events and exhibits the museum hosts and a fascinating history of the building (opened in 1898), the website is full of useful information for the Clarksville community and the institution's visitors.  
If your museum or site runs a blog or interesting website that you'd like to see featured in the TAM newsletter, please send details to Communications Chair Rene Rodgers at



 AAM Webinars
Recorded webinars:
Did you know that you can access recorded webinars from AAM? With over 70 programs to choose from, their recorded webinars cover a range of topics and offer an affordable, accessible and convenient online learning opportunity for you and your staff. Purchase of each recorded webinar includes access to the archived recording and presentation materials. Programs originally produced after 2009 feature closed-captioning.

Click on the categories below to browse the AAM webinar library:

Inter-Museum Council of Nashville Annual Meeting & Symposium

The Inter-Museum Council of Nashville (ICON) annual meeting will take place as part of a half-day museum symposium at Clover Bottom Mansion June 29, 15pm, with a membership meeting starting at 12pm. They would love it if you could make it out! The meeting will include a discussion about the future of ICON, guest speakers, a tour of the grounds, conversation and networking, and some good laughs. For more information, check out their Facebook event page.


AASLH Webinars

June 20, 2018: Uncovering Hidden History: How Small Museums Benefit from Having an Archive


AASLH Online Courses

July 9September 3, 2018: Collections Management

July 16–September 10, 2018: Caring for Museum Collections


AASLH Scholarship: Deadline June 20

The Small Museums Committee of AASLH is offering scholarships for an individual to attend the 2018 AASLH Annual Meeting in Kansas City, MO, September 2629. This scholarship is available to full- or part-time paid/unpaid employees of a small museum (annual budget of up to $250,000). The $700 scholarship will cover the cost of the conference registration and the Small Museums Luncheon with any remaining funds to offset travel and/or lodging expenses. The scholarship is open to AASLH individual members or people working for institutional members. For questions, please contact Aja Bain at AASLH, 615-320-3203. Award notification will be made no later than July 20 by email.


AAM EdComversations 

EdComversations: From 4:00 to 5:00pm (EDT) every third Thursday of the month, join other museum professionals for conversation. These online, talk-show-style discussions cover timely, relevant topics from the museum community and encourage dialogue, networking, and collaborative idea generation. These conversations are free but participants are asked to register; the next EdComversation is Thursday, June 21 at 4:00pm. For more information and to register, check out this link.

- More Information -

Continuing Conversations on Diversity and Inclusion

It's not just TAM that is addressing and discussing diversity and inclusion. AAM shared Facing Change: A New Report from the American Alliance of Museums' Working Group on DEAI in May (DEAI stands for Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion). I can be accessed here

Amazon Smile and TAM

Did you know that you can support TAM through any shopping you do on Amazon Smile? Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% to the Tennessee Associations of Museums whenever you shop on the site for anything from books to clothes to house goods!

Use this link to set up TAM as your charitable beneficiary on Amazon Smile today!

Current TAM Board Members, including contact details for regional reps:

Ken Mayes, President
Dollie Boyd, President Elect
Brad Kavan, Treasurer
Brooke Mundy, Secretary
Debbie Shaw, State Coordinator
Rene Rodgers, Communications Chair
Bethany Hawkins, Conference Chair
Tori Mason, Awards Chair
Hobart Akin, Professional Program Chair
Melina Ludwig, Technology Chair

Charles Googe, Vice President East TN

Rebecca Price, Vice President Middle TN
Chick History

Vice President – West TN (to be filled)
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