Friday, September 4, 2015


A little more than a week from now, I'll be doing something I've never done before in my museum career.

I'll be attending an American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Conference.  (In Louisville, Kentucky.)

It's not that I don't like History Museums, or admire the people who work in them, but my museum "tribes" tend more toward Science Center and Children's Museum folks (and their respective conferences.)

So what prompts me to make this trip to Louisville?  Well, Maker Stuff.  And by "Maker Stuff" I mean the vast worldwide network of MAKE Magazine, and Maker Faires, and the eclectic group of artists, craftspeople, tinkerers, and engineers (amongst others) who get herded under the big umbrella term "Makers."

A few months ago,  I was invited to a meeting of museum folks in Atlanta, and it turns out that many of the other folks in the room were History Museum people. And (me being me) at a certain point I started to berate those nice fellow museum professionals for "completely missing the boat" on the Maker Movement.  It also immediately became clear that many of the people at that meeting had absolutely no idea of what a Maker Faire or MAKE Magazine even were! YIKES!

I mean, what genre of museums is better placed than History Museums to engage people with the stories and stuff behind inventing, designing, building, and manufacturing things?  It's in their institutional DNA!  Not to mention the enormous opportunities for History Museums to tap into new sets of audiences and communities that are deeply engaged in Maker activities that would love to connect with such awesome repositories of the stories and stuff associated with Making.

(Of course this is not to say that there aren't any History Museums plugged into the Maker Movement. The Henry Ford has hosted several Detroit Maker Faires, and The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is hosting a workshop later this month called  "What is a Maker Space (and why would I want one in my museum)?")

Shortly after that fateful meeting in Atlanta, Bob Beatty, the COO of AASLH, basically said "OK wise guy, I agree that History Museum folks should know more about the Maker Universe, what can we do about it?"

So I'm off to Louisville to launch something called making/history.  What can making/history be? I'm not really sure yet, but that's part of why I'm going to Louisville --- to meet and talk with a bunch of cool and smart History Museum people to find out.

If you're reading this post, and it resonates at all with you, please help in making/history in any (or all) of the three ways below:

1) Spread the word! (Tweet, Facebook, Email, Phone folks in your networks who can help with this.) I want to help brainstorm and instigate with folks who are interested in connecting more Makers with more History Museums.

2) Meet me in Louisville!  The plan is to let me set up shop in the AASLH Exhibit Hall on Thursday, September 17th.  I'll be doing Maker show-and-tell and giving away free swag, but most of all chatting with more folks to help making/history happen!

3) Add your two cents! Are you already plugged into the Maker Universe, or History Museums, or both?  Share your ideas for ways to increase the connections between Makers and Historians in the "Comments" Section below, or by emailing me directly.

See you in Louisville!

P.S. By an amazingly happy coincidence, Louisville will be hosting a Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, September 19th (the last day of the AASLH Conference --- good timing, or what?) that is FREE and open to the public (including AASLH Conference Attendees --- hint, hint!)

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