NEMA Primer follow up

On March 2 and 9, Housatonic Heritage‘s History Alliance sponsored a New England Museum Association Primer.  Thirty people participated each day, and all learned from experts in their fields:

Collections: Barbara Allen, Stockbridge Library Museum & Archive
Community Engagement: Elizabeth Sharpe, Amherst Historical Society
Governance: Liz Shapiro, Sharon Historical Society
Programs and Education: Lise Dubé Scherr, The Mount
Public Relations: Lesley Ann Beck, Berkshire Living
Events: Rachel Fletcher, GB River Walk, African American Heritage Trail
Fundraising: Susan Emerson Clapp, Bard College at Simon’s Rock
General Management/Budgets, etc: Gene Wenner, Berkshire Community College

The Primer was well received, and after a tally of evaluations is complete, follow up programs will be announced.  We will keep you posted here.

Mass Humanities June conference, still open to suggestions

Still Open to Suggestions

Off the Record: Telling Lives of People Hidden in Plain Sight
A Conference for Massachusetts History Organizations
Monday, June 6, 2011

Keynote Speaker:
Elise Lemire, Purchase College, State University of New York and author of Black Walden.

Mass Humanities is still accepting ideas for breakout sessions for this conference. If you have created a program related to their topic, let them know.   Please contact Patty Bruttomesso, Local History Coordinator no later than February 7th with your ideas and suggestions.

Workshop for historical societies, small museums and house museums

The History Alliance is hosting the NEMA Primer for historical societies, small museums, and house museums on March 2 and 9, two consecutive Wednesdays, at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge.

This primer, highly recommended by professionals in the field, has been presented at other New England locations, but this one will be offered nearby.  The History Alliance would like to make sure that this conference is available to all of the new and more developed historical societies as well as the more established house museums.

One of the benefits of participation is a take home binder filled with useful, practical information and sample policies and forms. Peer-to-peer learning and the opportunity to meet others working on similar issues, brainstorming together – hallmarks of this two day workshop.

A $40 fee covers both days, including lunch and morning coffee.  The History Alliance, a project of Housatonic Heritage, is sponsoring this event.

Please call Judith Monachina for more information 413- 298-3468, or e-mail:

New Dates: Become a certified museum or historic house tour guide –non-credit course at BCC

Note date change:  2/12 to 4/9 are the program dates

Berkshire Community College
Workforce Development Non?credit Course
Become a Certified Museum or Historic House Guide
Saturday, February 12 to April 9, 2011 (exact dates TBA), 10 am to noon
Fee $79 (to be confirmed)
Have you always wanted to work or volunteer as a guide in a museum or historic site? Or, are you a
seasoned guide who would like to deepen your knowledge and understanding of interpretive practices?
This course is designed to develop and refine the skills you need to lead guided group tours, interpret
collections and historic sites, and offer high quality visitor experiences. Topics covered include defining
the visitor experience, customer service, knowing your audience, presentation skills, group
management, and more.

Upon the successful completion of this course, you will have the skills and confidence needed to work a
cultural organization in the Berkshires and beyond. In addition to weekly instruction, each session
includes “mini” oral presentations to build your public speaking proficiency and discussion of current
standards, research, and trends. A background in art, history, or teaching is not required, just an interest
in working with the public, an open?mind and a willingness to learn.

Session 1:  Understanding the Visitor Experience
Expectations, needs, rights, leisure preferences, definitions, research, trends, when does
the visitor experience begin, what role does the guide/interpreter play in the visitor

Session 2:   What is a Guide/Interpreter? Roles and Responsibilities
Interpreter/Guide/Docent – same? different? roles and responsibilities, guided tours
defined, interpretation defined, what to expect, working with the public, attitude,
flexibility, open?mindedness, listening and speaking skills

Session 3:  Know Your Audience
Habits, needs, expectations, interests, different types of visitors and learners, teachable
moments, dealing with conflicts, difficult visitors, and “experts”, pacing/tone/language,
reading your visitor

Session 4:  Balancing Visitor Needs and Your Knowledge: The Tipping Point
Know your subject, how to avoid being overwhelmed, interpretation vs information,
reading, context, filtering, conversation and discussions vs talking head, “I don’t know” –
being a new guide

Session 5:  Storytelling & Performance – “Making it Stick”
Crafting an interesting story to tell, what visitors are interested in and remember, use of
visual aids and hands?on experiences, mixing it up – varying your presentation, filtering
content, defining your style, leading tours

Session 6:  Verbal and Non?Verbal Presentation Skills
Verbal and non verbal communication defined, voice, presentation, body language, group  management, keeping control, challenging visitors, confidence, attitude, style

Session 7:  Customer Service: What You Need to Know and Do
What is it? Why is it important? What defines excellent customer service? From theory to

Session 8:   Bringing it all Together
Creating great guided visits and interpretive experiences, logistics, how to get started,
overcoming fear, how to grow and improve, developing your style, self?reflection,
questions and answers, have fun

Course Format
? Classes are 2 hours in length
? In addition to the eight sessions, there will be at least one site visit required by students to
observe specific museum/historic site operations.
? Classes will consist of instruction, focused discussions on specific topics, “mini” presentations,
group discussion based on readings and observations.

Primary Text
Falk, John H. 2009. Identity and the Museum Visitor Experience. Walnut Creek, California: Left Coast
Press. ($30.00)

Lise Dubé?Scherr

Lise Dubé?Scherr is currently the Deputy Director at The Mount, Edith Wharton’s Estate and Gardens in
Lenox, MA. For over 17 years Lise has worked in museums and historic sites in the areas of education,
public programs, and audience development. Throughout her career she has used innovative and
progressive practices to increase public access, participation, and engagement. She has taught graduate
level courses in museum and art education at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania as well as in?depth
guide and docent training courses at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario and the Allentown
Art Museum, Allentown, Pennsylvania. Lise is currently a Peer Review Surveyor for the American
Association of Museums’ MAP Accreditation program. At The Mount, Lise oversees the daily operations
of the historic site including visitor services, the bookstore, café, year?round and seasonal staff as well as
programs, marketing, social media, the web site and other special projects. Lise holds a BA in Art History,
University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta and a MA in Art Education, Concordia University, Montreal,

History Alliance to host two day conference

History Alliance to offer Save Your Collections,  March 2 & 9
Mark your calendars: Southern Berkshire location to be announced

Program for historical societies, small museums and related organizations

The History Alliance will host a two-day primer for small museums and local history organizations on two consecutive Wednesdays, March 2 and 9, from 9:30 to 4 p.m.

This program, developed by the New England Museum Association, was specifically designed for organizations run by volunteers or with a small number of paid staff.

The History Alliance, a project of Housatonic Heritage, was founded in early 2010 to serve as an informational and educational clearinghouse for history organizations in the Upper Housatonic Heritage area, in Northwest Connecticut and the Berkshires.  Fundraising and social media have been the subjects of recent History Alliance workshops, and these two important topics will also be covered in the Primer.  In addition, this program will address the following topics:

•Simple ways to record and organize your collection;

•Putting new life into old exhibits;

•Attracting school groups in the era of the MCAS, CMT and CAPT;

•Essential policies to preserve your collection;

•Attracting new visitors and volunteers;

•Raising money through activities, appeals and grants;

•Connecticut and Massachusetts non-profit reporting requirements;

•The basic responsibilities of the museum board.

Each participating organization receives a significant collection of articles for further reading, bibliographies of books and web sites, and sample forms and policies.

A  registration fee of $40 is required for two-day conference, which includes coffee/tea and lunch on both days.  To register or to learn more about this conference, call 413-298-3468 or e-mail:

GB Historical on WSBS

Great Barrington is celebrating its 250th anniversary this year with events throughout 2011. The first event  pertains to Revolutionary War hero General Henry Knox and the Knox Trail which runs from Ticonderoga NY through Great Barrington to Boston.
As part of the event, Gary Leveille of GB Historical wrote and recorded a group of Henry Knox/Knox Trail trivia questions, which will be played twice per day on WSBS radio. A few of the multiple-choice questions are straightforward, but most have a “playful” element to them. The afternoon airing time varies, but one segment will be played each morning this week at 8:50 a.m.
You can hear him “live” each morning this week. Simply go to and click on LISTEN LIVE just before 8:50 AM any morning this week.
-Sent by Gary Leveille

See Housatonic Heritage site for Berkshire history related events

Housatonic Heritage maintains an events page on their site, which currently includes Arrowhead’s holiday candlelight tours, Mass MoCA’s Deedle Deedle Dees, the educational rock band, and other Berkshire events of interest to history lovers.   Keep us posted about your events, and we will post them there!

W.E.B. Dubois: A Life Examined, course offered in Gt. Barrington

W.E.B. Du Bois: A Life Examined taught by Du Bois scholar Dr. Homer (Skip) Meade is a four-part course exploring the many contributions made by this scholar, sociologist, environmentalist, human rights advocate, visionary and writer. Dr. Meade, with the assistance of the University of  Massachusetts Special Collections staff, will guide participants through a reading of literature by and about Du Bois.  He will present links between Du Bois’ early years as a chronicler of family events, and local community current events for the Springfield Republican as a fledgling but serious communicator, with his school years at Fisk, Harvard, and Berlin Universities, and beyond, to his leaderships as a national and international human rights advocate.  Du Bois’ story (born in 1868, five years after Emancipation Proclamation and dying on the eve of the March on Washington in 1963) will be linked to the experience of Afro-American and Pan-African people and to the vital role he has played, and continues to play, in American history.

W. E. B. Du Bois, Atlanta University, 1909

This course will take place on four consecutive Thursdays in February (2/3, 2/10, 2/17 and 2/24) at Monument Mountain Regional High School . There will be a snow date of Thursday, March 3 .

Class hours are 7:30 to 9 pm. For people not requiring course credit the cost is $40.00. PDP’S are available for anyone taking the course. Graduate Credit is available through MCLA for $260.00 per credit.

This course is co-sponsored by the

Upper Housatonic Valley African American Heritage Trail

For more information, contact:
Ellen Broderick
Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed

Free Teaching History Workshop for K-12 History Teachers

Free Workshop for K-12 History Teachers

The National History Education Clearinghouse is offering their workshop on Saturday, January 8th at the Marriott Boston Copley Place during the American Historical Association’s Annual Conference in Boston. Register for this free workshop by emailing If you have any questions, please contact Jennifer Rosenfeld at

Scholar in Residence funding at Mass Humanites, deadline

Scholar in Residence funding

Looking for $3,000 to fund a scholar to conduct research in your organization’s collections? Need background research to better inform your programs and exhibits? Then apply for the 2011 Scholar in Residence grant! You must contact Patty Bruttomesso, Local History Coordinator no later than January 1st to discuss your proposed project. Applications for the SIR will only be accepted at the February 1, 2011 deadline.

For the complete SIR guidelines and application, please visit the Mass Humanities’ Web site.