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Staying relevant in a rapidly changing, technology-driven society can be a challenge for heritage organizations. In June, the Association of Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) holds its annual meeting in Tacoma, WA to discuss “the future of the past.” The conference, hosted by Fort Nisqually in partnership with Metro Parks Tacoma and the Fort Nisqually Foundation, will prioritize discussions on diversity, equity and inclusion in cultural institutions and the role living history will play in the future interpretation of museums.
ALHFAM, a professional organization serving individuals and organizations involved in the collection, preservation or interpretation of material culture, traditional skills and historical processes, has been at the forefront of the growth and professionalizing the use of living history techniques in museum programs. “Experiential learning — or learning by doing — allows visitors to relate to the subject in a way that creates deeper meaning,” says Fort Living History Museum supervisor Jim Lauderdale. Nisqually and ALHFAM 2022 Conference Chair. “ALHFAM is guided by its mission to share knowledge and practical skills among those who make history relevant to contemporary life.”
Conference 2022, its first in-person meeting since 2019, will do just that. Professional development excursions and service projects at regional heritage sites that use living history and share the stories of diverse Pacific Northwest communities are the focus of the conference. Participants will visit the Museum of Flight and Klondike Gold Rush National Park in Seattle, Puyallup Canoe Landing Place and Reservation, Squaxin Island Museum and Library Research Center, Fort Nisqually Living History Museum and other regional attractions. Sessions and workshops feature discussions on including diverse voices, attracting new audiences, and creating innovative programs to serve large audiences. Scheduled sessions range from discussions on creating summer camp programs for immigrant populations, creating museum podcasts, the history of transgender populations in the West, to restoring heritage cultures.
Annual traditions also return, allowing attendees to reconnect and socialize with one another. The Smoked, Salted, and Pickled Reception features dried, preserved, and pickled foods prepared by members, the annual Fashion Show showcases period clothing, and the Plowing Contest brings together performers and cattle to plow the wheat field. heritage of the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum using traditional techniques.
Early registration for the 2022 conference is now open for ALHFAM members and non-members. Attendees can choose between day registration and full conference registration. Information can be found at alhfam.org/2022-Conference.