Museums Association of Montana

MAM strives to strengthen all of Montana's Museums

 Finding the Money: Fundraising and Grant Seeking for Small Museums

Charlene Porsild, Montana History Foundation

About 75% of American museums are small and run largely by volunteers. Finding funding to cover operations, exhibits, education, and collection management is imperative to survival, yet finding funding sources is time consuming and frustrating.  This workshop focuses on a variety of ways to tackle and help solve the ongoing funding issues so many museums face today. Learn how to turn what you’re already doing into fundable and funded projects, and where to look for new and unusual sources of funding.

Your workshop leader, Charlene Porsild, is the President/CEO of the Montana History Foundation. Dr. Porsild has written hundreds of grants and planned dozens of fundraising events. She has been unsuccessful in grant proposals as small as $1,500 and successful in proposals as large as $6 million. Over her 25-year career, she has raised more than $20 million for cultural, educational, and historical projects.

The Science behind Capital Campaigns

Lisa Tate, National Museum of Forest Service History and Pete Bolenbaugh, ZooMontana

Is your organization considering starting a Capital Campaign?  Are you in the middle of a Campaign that is struggling? Coordinating a successful capital campaign is both an art and a science.  In this session, learn the science of developing a successful campaign. We make topics such as organizational assessments and feasibility studies fun!

Guiding your work or gathering dust? – Crafting Usable Collections Policies and Procedures

Emma Selfors, the Curator of Collections at HMFM

The management of collections is a core part of the work that museums perform. These artifacts, no matter their size or type, are collected to serve the public and must be cared for following legal, ethical, and professional standards. To demonstrate this important work, collections policies and procedures should be established that support the institution’s mission and operations but also guide the daily work of collections management. In this presentation, we will review the features and functions of a Collections Management Policy, discuss the importance of this core document for your institution, and discover specific ways that it can drive the development of new procedures for collections staff. The goal is to learn how to craft a policy that will truly guide your work with collections, rather than become a document to be placed on a shelf and forgotten.

How to Apply for and get more grants: An Executive Director’s Perspective 

Matt Lautzenheiser, Historic Museum Fort Missoula 

We could all use a little more money… In this session we will talk about the benefits and challenges of writing grants both large and small, as well as how to craft a dynamic grant proposal and steps you need to take prior to filling out an application.  Join us for an insider’s look at writing grants.

KEYNOTE: Home Waters: A Legacy Renewed

John N. Maclean, Author

John N. Maclean’s Home Waters: A Chronicle of Family and a River, has been hailed as a companion to his father, Norman’s, A River Runs through It, and a stand-alone tribute to their home state, Montana, fly fishing, and family. The younger Maclean, an award-winning author and journalist, has written five books about fatal wildland fires that are staples of the literature and often used for training. Before writing about fire, Maclean was for thirty years a reporter, writer, and editor for The Chicago Tribune, most of that time as diplomatic correspondent in Washington, DC. He was one of the “Kissinger 14,” the group of media who regularly traveled with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the era of shuttle diplomacy. Commenting on Home Waters, published in 2021, Publishers Weekly declared, “His Heminqway-esque prose is as clear as a mountain stream, flowing with a poetic cadence and lyrically describing the many splendid natural treasures to be found under the Big Sky.” Maclean divides his time between Washington and a century-old family cabin at Seeley Lake, Montana. He and his wife, Frances, have two adult children, Daniel, an author and chief of the science department at Robert Service High School in Anchorage, Alaska, and John-Fitzroy, a public defender for the state of Maryland.


Arma-dill-ing with the Pandemic: Roll with the Punches!

Katie Elam, ZooMontana

Chat with Educator Katie from ZooMontana about the vast and varying changes to their educational programming brought on by the covid-19 pandemic. She’ll cover the adventures of the zoo education team through virtual programs, both live and asynchronous, give examples of what has been successful and what has not, as well as their gradual approach to bringing back in-person learning. We’ll end with a discussion on tips and tricks with input from attendees and presenters alike!

Online Fundraisers: Tips, Tricks & More! 

Tom Petersen, National Museum of Forest Service History; Sabre Moore, Carter County Museum; and Kary Gagner,  ExplorationWorks

Join us to learn the ins and outs of online fundraisers, including tools like GuideStar and PayPal, virtual auctions, and event marketing and promotion. There will be time for a question and answer session after the panelist presentation.

Tackle Your Museum’s Capital Improvements: An Overview of the Montana Historic Preservation Grant (MHPG) Program 

Taylor Crowl and Mackenzie Espeland, Department of Commerce

This session will provide an overview of the Montana Historic Preservation Grant (MHPG) Program, which provides grants ranging from $5,000 to $500,000 for “brick-and-mortar” improvements to history museums, historical societies, and historic sites. If your museum has been struggling with how to address key but costly facility needs – like a leaking roof that threatens your collection or an unused space that could be renovated to attract additional visitors – then this is the discussion for you. This session will dive into the nuts and bolts of the MHPG Program along with hearing from two current grantees on their projects, experience with the program, and impact of the funding. The MHPG Program accepts applications on a biennial basis, so this session will wrap up with tips and tricks for museums to set themselves up for success in time for the next deadline in February 2024.

Welcome to the NEW and Improved Montana Memory Project  

Jennifer Birnel and Dave Colamaria, Montana Memory Project

The Montana Memory Project has moved to a new platform and has a brand-new look. Learn how to navigate this powerful resource. We will take an extensive look at how to browse and search the website.

Care of Historical Photographs

Jeff Malcomson, Montana Historical Society

Photographs are some of the most sensitive and most popular materials in our historical collections.  Do you need a refresher on the latest information about how to care for your precious photographic materials?  This presentation will provide just that—information about the care and preservation of various commonly held photographic materials.  We will also have time to discuss specific problems or challenges you are facing and what solutions there might be.  Join the Montana Historical Society’s Photograph Archives Manager Jeff Malcomson for this guided tour through caring for these valuable historical resources.

How to Contribute to the MMP 

Jennifer Birnel and Dave Colamaria, Montana Memory Project

The Montana Memory Project shares digital copies of content from libraries, museums, and archives across the state in one searchable digital repository. Learn how your organization can create and share a content collection on the MMP website. We want collections from all museum types - including yours.

Humanities Montana

Randi Tanglen, Humanties Montana

Humanities Montana has long supported museums across the state with programs, grants, workshops, and partnerships. After the last two years, HM Executive Director Dr. Randi Lynn Tanglen is eager to hear how museum needs have changed, what new focuses and possibilities museums are facing, and how Humanities Montana can help. This session will provide an overview of opportunities available to museums through Humanities Montana, but will primarily serve as a forum for museum professionals to share public programming ideas, challenges,  and concerns in order for Humanities Montana to better meet the sector’s needs.

4 Essential Understandings for IEFA For Museums

Mike Jetty, Office of Public Instruction

The state of Montana has a constitutional and legal obligation to implement Indian Education for All.  This session will share ideas, resources and strategies for teaching about accurate historical and contemporary American Indian topics.  There are currently 574 federally recognized tribal nations and it is a challenge to incorporate authentic and relevant information about all tribes, but these 4 key Essential Understandings of diversity, culture, history and sovereignty can be used to contextualize your instruction about American Indians.  These Essential Understandings are highly complex concepts that encompass not only the diversity found among and within tribes, but also political, historical, and contemporary issues, as well as ontological and epistemological aspects.  Come ready to learn about the exciting resources that have been developed to support culturally relevant instruction about American Indians.

Mixed materials in museum collections

Pat Roath

Using costume and textiles as examples, we will explore how to evaluate objects made of multiple materials for storage or exhibit. Costume and textile collections are good subjects for evaluating storage & exhibit methods and micro-environments in the museum because they are often comprised of multiple materials or require special attention due to inherent fragility. We will talk about how to identify these materials of composition and how that informs their care and handling. This information is applicable to any museum object that is made of multiple materials, including artworks and other historic objects.

Museum Social Impact: Implications for Rural Museums

Michelle Mileham, Project Manager, MOMSI & Sabre Moore, Carter County Museum

​​Social impact is the effect of an activity on the social fabric of a community and the well-being of those living there. The Measurement of Museum Social Impact (MOMSI) is an IMLS grant project addressing the critical need of establishing best practices for measuring social impact within museums. The national scope of this project advances museum practice by measuring the social impact participating museums have on visitors and developing a toolkit to better understand any museum’s social impact on individuals and communities. Our session details the project and toolkit for measuring museum social impact in the US. We invite attendees to examine our methodology and survey design, including changes made to the project in light of the social and health events of 2020. The conversation includes the MOMSI project manager, and a participating host museum site (Sabre Moore and CCM), reflecting on their experience and recruiting respondents. We also include an overview of the data from the Utah pilot of this project, giving attendees insight into the data available at the conclusion of MOMSI, how it informs the toolkit, and how participating museums have used their data to understand their museum audiences. This reflection during a global pandemic and an ongoing civil rights movement in the US has never been more important or more challenging for museums. Knowing what impacts museums make helps inform choices in strategic planning, programming, hiring, and outreach. By setting expectations and establishing interest in the ensuing toolkit we will inspire museums to consider how they might take ownership of learning about their own social impact, and what changes they can make to their museum practices as a result of this new data.

Sparking A Deeper Interest: Interpretive Writing for Exhibits

Kristjana Eyjolfsson, Education Director HMFM   

Exhibits are a wonderful way to share the stories of your communities and museum – but how do we write exhibit text that connects our visitors to our content? In this session we’ll look at how the core concepts of historical and environmental interpretation can shape our exhibit texts. We’ll look at some real examples of exhibit panels and workshop them together to create more engaging text. Many of us work at smaller museums where many folks pitch in to help with exhibits, brochures, and web content, this session will be a great way to look at interpretive text from a different angle.

Gift Shop Roundtable 

Kathy Barton, ZooMontana

Bring your thinking caps for this roundtable discussion about museum gift shop management. Who is your target audience? What’s your top seller? Where do you find quality merch at low costs? How have supply chain issues affected you? It’s all on the table. Together, we’ll tackle these questions and more!

Crafting Accessible Exhibit Design

Lauren Hunley, Western Heritage Center

So you’ve done the research and picked the objects. Now the real work begins. Learn how to craft engaging and accessible museum exhibits on a budget. From composing interpretive content to designing eye-catching and accessible graphic design, this session will share concepts, checklists, and resources for small museums to create memorable exhibition spaces.

1-406-444-4789 Monday - Friday 9 am to 5 pm

"Museums Association of Montana" is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. 225 N. Roberts St, Helena, MT 59620

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