Okay, so I didn’t really exchange LinkedIn information with anyone beyond the grave.
However, the Kentucky Museums & Heritage Alliance (KMHA) crowd really enjoys a good cemetery, which is how I found myself on a tour of the Frankfort Cemetery this past weekend. It was somewhere between ninety and one hundred degrees, and the humidity was gluing my business casual clothes to my body. “We’re going to be in direct sunlight for most of this,” the local tour guide historian said, “because a tornado blew down about forty trees about five years ago.” He handed us four pages of names, size-14 font, single spaced. There were at least 150 names listed. “We’re going to get through all of these folks, probably. We have two hours together.” I used the pages to shield my face from the sun, rolled up my sleeves, and we were off. I saw graves from the Mexican-American War (including Henry Clay Jr.’s), the Civil War (from both sides of the border), and the American Revolution.
This was just the kick-off for the annual KMHA Networking Conference, hosted this year by the Kentucky Historical Society (KHS) in Frankfort. After the tour, I had hors d’oeurves at Liberty Hall, the home of Kentucky’s first Senator, John Brown. On Monday, I sat in on sessions about grant writing, the heritage hemp industry in Kentucky, and strategic planning. On the last day, I sat in on sessions about how to properly handle culturally-sensitive collections, which created interesting dialogue for how museums and collections-based institutions deal with objects in context. My final session dealt with properly engaging audiences with different teaching techniques, and the differences between adult and child programming. It was a museum nerd’s dream.
My supervisor (who is quickly becoming a mentor figure to me), Eric, started out the conference as Vice President of KMHA. (Yes, this means that, as his intern, I made the programs for this conference. And quite a few of the signs and table tents, #internlife.) To close the conference, the President stepped down, which made Eric the new President. He kindly gave me a shout-out in his entrance speech, and I had Board Members who graduated from both Michigan State and Ohio State come up to me after and give me some friendly grief. Networking at it’s finest!
At the conclusion of the conference, Eric took me back to the KHS collections department, where I watched him sign loan paperwork for various Mexican-American War artifacts. Eric is currently working on an exhibit about this war and its relevancy today, and we carted it back to Lexington and carried some (quite) heavy boxes up three flights of historic-home stairs. For the historical museum business being all about dead people, I’m consistently surprised at how much is always going on; I’m certainly never in fear of being bored to death.