NAAM E-NEWS - DECEMBER 2018, Volume 20, Issue 4
- President’s Message
- Mission Statement
- 2019 Annual Conference
- 2019 Annual Scholarship
- 2019 NAAMY Awards
- Curatorial Spotlight
- NAAM Facebook Group
- Member Museum News
By: Matt Anderson
Greetings NAAM Members,
As I sit down to write this column, strategic planning for NAAM’s future is very much on my mind. In a few days, our board members will gather at The Henry Ford to talk about our goals for the organization – in the next year, the several five years, and beyond. These strategic planning sessions are an important tool for evaluating our progress, addressing our members’ needs, and ensuring NAAM’s long-term sustainability. We’ve got several things to discuss at the upcoming session, but four topics are sure to dominate.
Much of our attention will focus on the annual conference. Our yearly meeting is the most important activity sponsored by our organization. It’s our chance to reconnect with friends and colleagues, of course, but more than that it’s our opportunity to share each other’s successes, learn from each other’s mistakes, and work to further our shared commitment to automotive history. Our meetings offer informative sessions and engaging field trips each year, but there is always room to grow. I look forward to encouraging new and emerging professionals in our field to present at the conference. There’s much we can learn from their fresh perspectives. I’d also like to bring in more speakers from museums with a non-automotive focus. I suspect there is much we can learn – about fundraising, exhibits, education – from our colleagues in art museums, science centers, and historic sites.
We’re sure to talk about the NAAMYs as well. The awards presentation is a fine capstone to the conference experience, but the awards themselves are more than that. Core to NAAM’s mission is the encouragement of following best museum practices in all that our members do. The NAAMYs are our chance to recognize those members who meet that goal. Yet I realize that completing an application for a NAAMY award is a considerable commitment. We’re all pressed for time and busy with multiple projects (a universal museum condition, I’m afraid), and we may think twice about diving into a daunting submission process. In our strategic planning, the board is determined to streamline the NAAMY application so that more of our members have the opportunity to be recognized for their outstanding work.
Sustainability remains a key concern for NAAM’s board of directors. Next year, our organization celebrates its 25th anniversary. Though we’ve been growing and flourishing since 1994, past performance is not indicative of future results (as they say in the fine print for all of those “sure-fire” investments). To ensure NAAM’s long-term viability, we must recruit, encourage and develop our next generation of leaders. I’m encouraged to see new faces at each museum, car show, and conference I attend. There’s no question that we have bright, motivated colleagues under whose leadership NAAM can continue to thrive, but we must invite them to participate – and welcome them warmly when they do. Crucially, we must also make sure that NAAM gives back to these emerging professionals as much as it takes from them – gives back to them in the form of career development, networking opportunities, and trusted help with professional questions.
Our strategic planning must, by definition, set goals for NAAM’s future. What do we want the National Association of Automobile Museums to be in the next few years – or even in the next few decades? Should our mission statement evolve? If so, then how? Should we be partnering with other organizations? Should we build a larger online presence? Are there other important services or benefits we should provide to our members? Is there an optimum size for our organization, or can we grow indefinitely? Are there more effective ways to communicate with our members? Once we identify these goals, what resources and tools do we need to meet them?
I’m excited for our planning session. We’ve got a terrific board of directors with a mix of NAAM veterans and newcomers. Our board members bring varied insights and ideas to the process, and our organization is stronger for it. Of course, we welcome thoughts from our wider NAAM membership, too – not just in the wake of strategic planning sessions, but anytime. The board members – and NAAM itself – are here to serve you and your museums. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. I look forward to sharing thoughts from the planning session in a future column.
All the best for the holiday season and the new year beyond,
President, National Association of Automobile Museums
The National Association of Automobile Museums is a professional center of excellence for automobile museums and affiliated organizations that supports, educates and encourages members to operate according to professional standards of the museum industry.
To be sustainable, NAAM member institutions must continue to grow their audiences and maintain their relevance in their communities. To that end, the 2019 conference theme is “Always Give More than you Promise,” a slogan borrowed from the Studebaker Bros. Manufacturing Company. Automobile museums promise their visitors cars, and we certainly deliver on that. But we need to go further and present the human stories behind those automobiles – stories about the people who designed, built, and drove them. Those stories can help to make our collections relatable to modern audiences.
The goal of our conference is to provide attendees with the tools to innovate, adapt and enhance all aspects of their museum operations. Sessions will examine administrative topics, curatorial concerns, interpretative strategies, programming, visitor engagement, and collaborative opportunities. The annual conference is our chance to network, to share stories and techniques, and to learn from each other’s experiences.
Hosted by: Studebaker National Museum
Conference Dates: March 18 (Arrival), March 19- 22nd (Conference)
Host Hotel: Aloft South Bend
Host Hotel Address: 111 North Main Street, South Bend, IN 46601
Host Hotel Number: (574) 288-8000
NAAM is dedicated to helping its members grow professionally through informative annual conferences and networking opportunities. To fulfill this goal, NAAM offers up to 3 conference scholarships each year. The scholarship program is designed for museums with limited financial resources to pay for their staff to attend (annual budgets under $500,000). Awards included $1,000 for travel expenses, plus complimentary conference registration. These valuable scholarships are made possible thanks to our generous sponsorships.
Apply Now: The application process is easy, completed online, and if you have any questions feel free to contact Christine Bobco at firstname.lastname@example.org. The deadline is February 12, 2019.
How: Please visit the NAAM website for scholarship criteria, guidelines and the online application
The annual NAAMY awards competition honors the work of nonprofit automotive transportation museums. The awards recognize industry leaders for achievement, professionalism and creativity. They are designed to further promote professionalism in automotive museum managerial, curatorial, educational, and promotional work.
- Entries are open to all non-profit automotive transportation museums. Entrant is required to be a member of NAAM.
- All submissions must have taken place or been created in the previous calendar year.
- Museums may enter as many categories as many times as they have exemplary work to showcase.
- There are eight categories to enter- Newsletters & Magazines, Collateral Materials, Books & Exhibit Catalogs, Interpretive Exhibits, Web Design, Film & Video, Events & Public Promotions, and Educational Programs.
- Museums may enter under one of the two divisions of competition. Division I: museums with annual operating budgets less than $300,000 and division II: museums with annual operating budgets greater than $300,000.
Now is a great time to start thinking about what projects, programs, exhibits, and events from 2018 that your museum might want to enter to the NAAMYs. There will be new entry guidelines for 2019 and an exciting line-up of judges from across the country! Be sure to watch for the 2019 Submission Packet coming out in January.
Never entered for a NAAMY and curious about how to do so? Here is the handbook provided to the judges. It includes program information, a sample judging sheet showing the criteria they look for, and one example narrative with supporting documentation from a 2018 entry that won the Kansas City Auto Museum a first place in Events & Public Promotions. More information is available by contacting Christine Bobco at email@example.com.
For those who collect history, time is both friend and foe. We study it, treasure it, and learn from it, often reflecting on the memories it leaves behind. On the other hand, left unchecked, time will erode, rust and eventually scrub away the details of the past, erasing it or changing forever how it is recorded. There are those, however, who get in the way of time--racing against it to beat the clock and save the stories, artifacts and lessons of history, to eventually secure them and share them at places like the National Corvette Museum.
On the front line of that war against time is NCM Curator, Derek E. Moore. Derek uses science, proven preservation techniques, and his insatiable curiosity for what he calls “the story” to keep up the fight. His mission is to tell the WHOLE story of Corvette, which sometimes involves shining the spotlight on the competitors who pushed the brand to become better. This is something he does willingly, even at the risk of his popularity among some Corvette fans. “Bringing in the cars that we fought against, makes for a more powerful visual presentation to our guests, especially our younger visitors,” Derek says. “It also makes the victories that much more triumphant, seeing what Corvette has had to overcome to get where it is.”
Alongside him, my job is to collect the oral history of Corvette on camera from those who lived it. For nearly a decade I've gone all over the country, interviewing the designers, engineers, racers, innovators, and enthusiasts who have made the Corvette the iconic symbol of achievement that it is. In total we've captured the life story of nearly 130 of those people, turning many of those interviews into articles for our Museum magazine and video productions we call, The Heritage Series.
Like a detective piecing together a case, often our interviews turn up leads that take us to deeper truths. Contradictions to stories arise providing views and clues from different angles, as do side stories that we didn’t even know were there. Often, we pull out a memory precariously hanging on the verge of being lost forever, that leads us to important nearly-forgotten moments of time.
For example, we learned how the world's only 1983 Corvette was spared from the car crusher because of a pair of cowboy boots.
We discovered how a man defied direct orders from management to kill the Corvette, risking everything he'd ever worked for to develop the car in secret. He would pay for his insubordination professionally but would be vindicated when his Corvette became the Motor Trend Car of the Year.
We learned about those who literally risked their lives on a track in Fort Stockton, Texas, to break the 24-Hour Land Speed Endurance Record and prove that a stock Corvette was the best in the world.
We captured the dramatic story of John Greenwood, a privateer racer and car builder, qualifying against Peter Gregg, probably one of the best sports car drivers of his time, and how he beat him in a Corvette he put together himself. These stories and more are available for you to see on the Corvette Museum YouTube channel.
Occasionally, when I can orchestrate it, I'll put a group of people together who worked on a Corvette related project, and film it as a “round table” session. One of the most rewarding aspects of those tapings come when someone brings up a detail that triggers a memory in someone else. They'll say, “I forgot all about that...” igniting a discussion about events nearly lost in the current of time.
Whenever that happens, I am reminded that with every passing second, memories fade and we come closer to losing those who lived those memories.
Even though the first production Corvette rolled off the line a relatively short time ago on June 30, 1953, most of the people directly involved with it are gone now. Still, every now and then, Corvette history will seek me out. I’ll never forget the day when George McGriff came to the Museum. From a wheelchair, he opened a Corvette history book on his lap, to show me a familiar black and white photo of a group of men standing behind that very first Corvette. With a shaking finger he pointed at one of the men and looked up at me with a smile, “That one is me.”
Sadly, there is very little in the way of video on the key people who gave us that Corvette, but we do have a growing library now of people going back to what we call the 2nd generation. Those are the original Corvette Sting Rays dreamed up by GM's second VP of Design, Bill Mitchell, and sketched out by a teenager in one of Mitchell’s studios. That teenager was Peter Brock. Peter, now in the Corvette Hall of Fame, generously gave us a lengthy and thoroughly engaging interview on his life and his memories of those days, providing a firsthand account of the work that led to the highly coveted 1963 split window Corvette. Current Corvette Designer, Kirk Bennion, said in his video interview that those lines on Peter’s sketch, way back then, still inspire the look of the car today.
Although I've interviewed the greats like Mario Andretti, Dario Franchitti, and Rick Hendrick, perhaps one of the most meaningful moments in doing this work came when I spoke with a man who worked on the first fuel-injection system with Corvette Chief Engineer, Zora Arkus-Duntov. I don’t recall the details of his story, but what he said at the end of the interview has inspired me ever since.
Just before we concluded, I asked a question I often close with…
“How do you want Corvette history to remember you?”
He turned his head away, and I could see that he was trying to compose himself.
Eventually, he looked up at me with tear-filled eyes and said, “I thought no one would ever ask.”
Asking is what we do.
As it often happens, the people I interview get a sense of closure and satisfaction, knowing that their role will not be forgotten. I feel that same sense of accomplishment and relief knowing that we beat time again, collecting another memory before it was too late. Whether the contribution was big or small, whether they made history behind the wheel of a Corvette race car, or they found a way to get the clutch to work better on that first Grand Sport Corvette, their part of the story has been saved forever in the archives of the National Corvette Museum.
Today, modern technology is doing a pretty thorough job collecting history—some might argue too good of a job as it amasses exhaustive amounts of information about each of our lives. With iPhones catching history at every angle, and Youtube and Facebook to broadcast it, very little goes unnoticed these days. But what of that time that was recorded with more archaic tools?... what of those episodes in history that reside only in the mind of the person who lived it?
Thankfully, there are member-supported institutions like the National Corvette Museum, helping those of us who are in that battle against time, as we race to save history.
Join the new NAAM Facebook Group! This space is in conjunction with the NAAM Online Community and is a great place to share successes and challenges, gather ideas, and network with member museums. Go to www.facebook.com/NAAM2017
Hackett Auto Museum- Jackson, Michigan
Hackett Auto Museum Launches “2 Minutes with Ted” Video Series
The Hackett Auto Museum announced the launch of its new video series “2 Minutes with Ted”. The series, hosted by museum Founder and Executive Director Ted O’Dell, consists of short educational videos that focus on a specific historical vehicle or artifact housed within the Hackett Auto Museum’s collection.
“Our purpose is to capture the interest of the public to let them know we have an important shared heritage that must be preserved,” O’Dell said. “We’re trying to make fun, unique content that will help viewers understand what makes these items special and why they are so important to both local and automotive history.”
The first two-minute video was released this afternoon and focuses on the museum’s Ford Model T – “the car that put the world on wheels.” The video can be viewed on the museum’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and website. Additional segments of "2 Minutes with Ted” will be released on these platforms each month.
All items featured in the videos will be on display at the Hackett Auto Museum once it opens to the public in 2019.
For more information on “2 Minutes with Ted” or the Hackett Auto Museum, please visit www.hackettautomuseum.org.
- Natalie Scalabrino, Senior Communications Manager