- President’s Message
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- 2020 Annual Conference
- Conference Hotel
- Call for Papers
- Curatorial Spotlight
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- Member Museum News
By: Matt Anderson
Greetings NAAM Members:
The days have cooled, and the leaves have turned as I write this column. I hope you all enjoyed a successful season, whether with programs and events at your respective institutions, or on the road at concours and car shows around the country. As usual this time of year, my thoughts have turned toward our NAAM annual conference. Granted, due to our joint session with the World Forum for Motor Museums, we’re not actually meeting again until November 2020. But it’s certainly not too soon to start thinking about sessions, panel discussions, and projects for our gathering.
I can’t say it enough: The annual conference is NAAM’s signature program and, for many members, the primary reason for joining our organization. It’s our chance to network with colleagues, to share common concerns and suggested improvements, and (rightfully) to brag a little about our various successes. I hope you will all consider submitting a proposal for one of our 2020 conference sessions.
Conference sessions are generally presented in one of three formats. Case studies focus on a major project or issue from your museum. Perhaps it’s a new exhibit, or a new fundraising idea. It’s generally something that worked well for you, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s certainly value in sharing a project that didn’t pan out quite as you’d hoped – particularly if you’ve already got ideas for how you might improve it next time. We look for specific, focused topics. Case study presentations often feature a single speaker, but you could include up to two more speakers as well. You might wish to include multiple members of an exhibit team, or representatives from different areas in your museum who collaborated on a special program.
Panel discussions usually tackle broader topics or concerns shared by automobile museums. The panel isn’t necessarily focused on a single exhibit, or a single program, but on “big issue” topics like attracting new visitors, building a volunteer corps, or fundraising in a competitive market. Panels include one chairperson who coordinates and moderates the discussion. They also include up to three additional panelists. These panelists represent various – and maybe even contradicting – viewpoints. Ideally, each panelist represents a different museum, ensuring diversity of opinion. Experience suggests that panel discussions often generate many audience questions. Time management is a must for any effective panel presentation – to allow adequate time to hear from the panelists and from the crowd.
Workshops are the third presentation format typically seen at NAAM conferences. Generally, workshops focus on some specific skill or ability. Past workshops have tackled exhibit label writing, grant writing, and artifact cataloging, but there are many more possibilities for an effective workshop. During these sessions, audience members are asked to complete a sample version of the task – either individually or collaboratively in groups. A workshop can be a great benefit (and great fun), but again time management is essential.
Please consider submitting a session proposal for our 2020 joint conference. It’s an opportunity to share your knowledge and experience, and a chance to build your resume. It’s also a safe environment in which to hone your public speaking skills – the NAAM audience is generally friendly and sympathetic!
I look forward to next year’s meeting. Mark Vargas and his colleagues at the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida, are assembling a wonderful week of sessions, tours, and activities. Their facility is beautiful, and their location in southwest Florida should provide spectacular scenery and perfect weather in November – a most welcome contrast for those of us in the Midwest and Northeast.
Our conference hotels, the Hyatt House and the Ramada Inn, began accepting reservations on October 15, 2019. Please book early. Naples is a popular tourist destination and, even in November, rooms fill up quickly. You’ll want to register for the conference early too. The “Early Bird” conference fee, for anyone who registers in January-April 2020, is just $350. Note that this early rate is lower than the “Early Bird” fee charged for the last joint NAAM/World Forum conference in 2014. We’ve tried to keep fees as low as possible, but you must register early to lock in this special rate. Conference registration isn’t open quite yet (we’ll let you know as soon as it is), but you can reserve your hotel room now.
Thank you for your continued support of NAAM, and the annual conference. Our conference depends on you – not just your registration fees and membership dues, but your participation, whether as session presenters, panelists, or inquisitive and engaged attendees. We’ll look forward to seeing you in Naples in November 2020. Remember, it’s not as far off as it seems!
All the best,
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.
The joint conference of the National Association of Automobile Museums (NAAM) and World Forum for Motor Museums (WFMM) is at the Revs Institute in beautiful Naples, Florida from November 11-14, 2020. The theme of the conference is The Future of the Past is Collaboration.
The conference schedule will be very full on all days. A pre-conference reception and registration will be on Tuesday, November 10th, 2020.
Keynote speakers include leadership from the American Alliance of Museums, the international OCLC consortium, Miles Collier, and award-winning journalists John Davis, Ken Gross, and David Lillywhite. Attendees will take tours through Revs and its world-class shop, parts department, galleries, library, and digitization room. Sessions already scheduled include:
- Accreditations standards for auto museums
- Financial benchmarking for auto museums
- How to speak to the media
- Museums from the media’s perspective
- Obsolete materials in vehicle restoration
- Provenance research
- All attendees will sail on a sunset river dinner cruise on the Naples Princess and also visit the Edison-Ford Winter Estates.
- Pre-conference reception.
- Want cars? Attendees will see cars running from the Revs Institute, Revs volunteers, and the best of the Jaguar Club of Southwest Florida.
- Looking for fun? Trolley rides will be available to all the Naples landmarks, including 5th Avenue, the pier, beach, shopping, spas, and much more.
- An opera performance about cars (yes, you read that right!).
Please email Mark Vargas at the Revs Institute for additional information. The entire Revs team is very excited to welcome friends and colleagues from NAAM and the World Forum, and we look forward to seeing you in November 2020 in warm, sunny Florida.
- The registration for both conference hotels is open. You need a credit card to guarantee your reservation.
- IT IS VERY IMPORTANT that attendees plan on booking their hotel room by NO LATER than December 31, 2019. Naples is a very seasonal city, and hotel rooms become almost impossible to find and prices spike beginning in January. You will receive additional reminders about booking your rooms, but please arrange with your administration to book your rooms in the October-December 2019 time frame. Shuttles will run from both hotels to Revs. If you want to vacation longer in sunny Florida both hotels will make special arrangements for attendees who wish to come early or stay later.
- The first hotel is the beautiful waterfront Hyatt House that will have 100 rooms at an amazing rate of only $150 for single king and double queen rooms (taxes not included). The Hyatt House is a perfect location in easy walking distance of lots of exciting fun and restaurants. Book online and use the discount code “G-Revs”. If you prefer, call Hyatt reservations at 888-233-1234.
- The second hotel is the Ramada Inn which will have twenty rooms at only $80 for a single king bed or a room with two full-sized double beds (taxes not included). There are no online reservations for the Ramada. Call 800-325-1135 and be sure to mention the name of the room block is under “Revs Institute” before making your reservation so that you will receive the special group rate. You can also email the manager at email@example.com.
Registration: Look for early bird registration to begin on the event website in January 2020. Please note the exceptional early bird registration fee below, which is lower than the 2014 joint conference with the World Forum!
Registration Fee: January through April (Early Bird Member) $350. May through September (Member) $450. October (Late Member) $600.
Sponsors: Please visit our sponsors and support them whenever possible. They help keep the conference costs low for attendees.
- Hagerty Classic Car Insurance - Official insurance provider of the National Association of Automobile Museums
- Aldecor Custom Framing
- Big Sea web design
- Collier Auto Media
- Intercity Lines car shipping
- MediaPreserve AV preservation services
- OCLC worldwide library consortium
- Softrim IT Services
- Sparks museum exhibit design
You are invited to submit program proposals to the NAAM Conference Committee. Papers can be individual, group, or panel presentations. The joint conference is looking for papers that deal with collaboration broadly defined, and each should provide specific ideas, principles, or take-aways that other museums can implement. All proposals should be submitted to the NAAM Conference Committee by emailing Christine Bobco by no later than December 31, 2019. A monthly reminder will be sent by email to NAAM members. The NAAM Conference Committee will review proposals and submit recommendations to a joint NAAM/WFMM/Revs committee which will finalize a list of accepted papers by February 1, 2020.
Shave and a Haircut…
By Bob Bubnis
National Corvette Museum
One of the greatest pleasures that we can have in the museum world is the experience of observing our guests from afar as they take in the history that we have collected for them. Watching someone slow down, then pause, and then lean in for a closer look at some detail that has caught their attention--those are the moments we live for.
Most people have no way of knowing the journey that some artifacts took through time to finally make this stop in one of our galleries. Only others in our field can appreciate the effort that it took to set this history before them. The dangers along the way; the science that went into caring for it; the negotiations and logistical challenges that it took to get it here; the years of study that would finally culminate into the perfect placement and lighting of an object—this is the alchemy by which exhibits are made.
Then there is the final touch, the exhibit label. Here we carefully craft the wording that will give this artifact historical context and meaning, detailing the facts as concisely as possible in the largest font we can use.
Earlier I mentioned the rewards of seeing people react from “afar.” I put it that way because one of our greatest frustrations in the museum world can sometimes come when we get too close to our guests.
Case in point.
One day I was walking through the National Corvette Museum when I saw a father enjoying the exhibits with his two sons. Something about them reminded me of when my father took my brother and I through the Museum of Natural History many years ago, so I decided to shadow them for a while at a distance.
I couldn’t hear what the dad was saying, but all three of them seemed to be having a good time. I was pleased to see that they were reacting to the galleries just as our Curator predicted they would when he designed this excursion through time.
I got my first surprise however, when they walked by one of the most significant Corvettes in history with no more than a passing glance. We had done all that we could do to highlight the importance of this car short of installing a flashing neon light with an arrow pointing to it. THIS was a car that they should be taking selfies with, but instead they moved on.
At this point I wanted to catch up with them, stop them, flash them my museum credentials and march them back to the car. Somehow though, I resisted the temptation to intervene, telling myself that maybe they had seen the car in one of its other rare appearances… or maybe they were just running short on time.
Turns out Dad had spotted one of his favorite cars further along in the exhibit hall. It had some history too, so I flew in a little closer to listen in on what he was saying about it.
He began telling what he knew of the car to his boys, complete with wide eyes and grand hand gestures. He was very animated and enthusiastic in sharing its history. Problem was, he was getting a lot of the details wrong. As my blood pressure continued to elevate, I began hoping that one of them would look down at the exhibit label in front of them and steer this story back to reality. Dad was on a roll, however, and the kids were completely engrossed in his telling of the story.
Again, I wanted to flash my staff credentials like an DEA agent with a badge and put a stop to this. After all the work we had put in to getting the story right something needed to be done.
Didn't I have an obligation as a caretaker of history to right this wrong?
Then it occurred to me that in a world of virtual reality, video games, social media, and endless digital distractions, a father had taken his sons out to spend an afternoon together at the National Corvette Museum. Even if he was off on some of the facts, I could see by the expression on the faces of his boys that his enthusiasm for the automobile was indeed contagious. At that moment, I felt like I was witnessing the birth of two more “car guys” in our exhibit hall.
No matter what your job is in the museum world, we can all take pride in the fact that we provide a place for this kind of magic to happen. Computers can share pictures, videos, and facts, but we give our guests the ability to take their own pictures, tell their own stories, and see history with their own eyes.
Thanks to us, the actual story will be here waiting for those boys when they come back with their own kids.
I'd like to say that the story ended there with that tender moment and that powerful realization, however, there is more to it.
If you have ever seen the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” you will remember a scene where the bad guy is trying to flush out the hiding cartoon rabbit. To do this, he does the one thing cartoon characters can't resist. He walks around the room and taps out the rhythm that goes with the words, “Shave and a haircut... two bits” but leaves off those last two knocks. Each time he does this, Roger Rabbit begins to tremble with pent up energy, doing all he can to keep from finishing the phrase. Ultimately, he was unable to contain himself and bursts out of hiding to sing out “TWO BITS!”
Well, that was me.
Keeping in mind that I love our guests and appreciate the fact that they pay for the admission tickets that finance the work we do in preserving history, I was unable to hold back. I approached them and introduced myself.
“I couldn't help but notice just how much you are enjoying this car,” I said with a big smile. “It is one of my favorites too.”
I then offered to take a picture of the three of them in front of the car together using Dad’s phone. As they happily complied, I decided to throw out some facts that he missed with the hope of inspiring further investigation later. Careful not to contradict Dad, I gently pushed the narrative closer to the truth.
Because I can go behind the barriers, I continued to use his camera to shoot some detail shots inside the car and at angles he wouldn't be able to get—all the while sharing more about the car’s past.
After they thanked me profusely for my time and personal attention, they went on through the remaining galleries on their own.
As they walked away, I reminded myself then that Museums are not just here for preserving and presenting history, they are also a place for older folks to reminisce about the past and for young people to get inspired about the future. They are also the perfect place for families to enjoy together on a Saturday afternoon.
We can all be thankful for our roles in maintaining the places where all that can happen, but be warned, watch from afar or you too might be tempted to throw in your two bits.
Follow the NAAM Facebook Page! 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.
If you haven't already joined the NAAM Group on Facebook, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and join today! Just search National Association of Automobile Museums Private Group on Facebook. Would you like a direct invite to the NAAM Group? Send an email to Jarrid Roulet and he will get you added!
Stahls Automotive Collection- Chesterfield, Michigan
We are in the process of putting together a volunteer handbook and other documentation for the museum. I would like to put together a library of files in the NAAM Facebook group page if anyone is interested in sharing their documents so new or growing museums can have additional direction. It can also help those established museums when it comes time to update their volunteer manual.