The Forums

Preserving America’s Diverse Heritage
January 31 and February 1, 2008
High Museum of Art and Woodruff Arts Center
Atlanta, Georgia

Webcasts now available!

Collections that tell the story of America’s diverse cultures face many challenges, from the handling of culturally sensitive objects, to caring for oral history archives, to difficulties in attracting funding. "Preserving America’s Diverse Heritage" provided both information and inspiration to help participants care for significant collections and mobilize support in their communities. This forum, like all aspects of the Connecting to Collections initiative, gave particular focus to the needs of small to medium-sized museums, libraries, and archives.

The forum’s speakers were top conservators and other distinguished professionals from throughout the nation. They addressed issues of particular importance to diverse institutions—caring for objects of cultural sensitivity and photographs and audio-visual materials—as well as issues that affect most collecting institutions, such as the need for improved storage and emergency planning. One panel discussed ways of enhancing public outreach and fund-raising on behalf of collections.

Lonnie Bunch, Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, was the keynote speaker. Sven Haakanson, Executive Director of the Alutiiq Museum in Kodiak, Alaska and recent recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Loretta Parham, Director of the Woodruff Library of the Atlanta University Center, and Susana Leval, Director Emeritus of El Museo del Barrio, provided an overview of the rich collections held by diverse institutions. Other experts included nationally recognized photograph conservator Debra Hess Norris of the University of Delaware/Winterthur and Alan Lewis, who has advised both the Library of Congress and the National Archives on preservation of audio-visual materials.

As was the case at the Connecting to Collections national summit, held in Washington DC in June, 2007, the forum provided extensive opportunities for participants to get to know each other and the representatives of funding agencies and national organizations who will attend.

Although invitations were sent to individuals who came to the attention of forum organizers, participation was open to any interested staff and board members of museums, libraries and archives.


January 31

1:30 p.m. – Opening Remarks
Michael Shapiro, Director, High Museum of Art
• Anne-Imelda Radice, Director, Institute of Museum and Library Services
• Lawrence L. Reger, President, Heritage Preservation

The Significance of and Challenges Facing America’s Diverse Collections
• Sven Haakanson, Executive Director, Alutiiq Museum, Kodiak, Alaska
• Loretta Parham, Library Director & CEO, Robert W. Woodruff Library, Atlanta University Center
• Susana Leval, Director Emeritus, El Museo del Barrio, New York

Connecting to Solutions: Addressing Issues of Special Significance to Diverse Collections
• Alyce Sadongei, Assistant Curator for Native American Relations, Arizona State Museum
• Debra Hess Norris, Chair and Professor, Department of Art Conservation, University of Delaware
• Alan F. Lewis, Audiovisual Consultant, Washington, D.C.
• Case Study: Tamastslikt Cultural Institute, Pendleton, Oregon; Roberta Conner, Director

6:00 p.m – Evening Keynote: "A Call to Remember: Why Preservation Matters"
Lonnie Bunch, Director, National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution

7:00- 9:00 p.m. – Reception Buffet
High Museum of Art

February 1

8:00 a.m. – Continental Buffet Breakfast

Connecting to Solutions: Covering the Fundamentals
• Leslie Guy, Conservator, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• M.J. Davis, Conservator, Newark, Vermont
• David Carmicheal, Director, Georgia Archives
• Case Study: Hampton University Museum and Archives, Hampton, Virginia; Vernon Courtney, Director

Connecting to Funding and the Public
• Joyce Hill Stoner, Professor, Art Conservation, University of Delaware
• Alicia Philipp, President, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
• Eduardo Diaz, Executive Director, National Hispanic Cultural Center
• Case Study: Wing Luke Cultural Center, Seattle, WA; Ron Chew, former Executive Director

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Lunch and Connections Lab – an opportunity for participants to connect with speakers, representatives of funding agencies, and each other.