Letter from the Director, September 2015

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the 2015-16 academic year and to our newly redesigned web site. We hope you had a wonderful and productive summer. Ours was busy and fun. Six of our MSP students completed their practicums this summer in locations including the Huntington Library in California, the National Museum of History in Japan, monastery museums in the Indian Himalayas, the Museum of Performance and Design in San Francisco, and the Detroit Institute of Arts. Another student is currently interning at the Hockey Hall of Fame. As usual, a diverse and fascinating group of projects. You will be able to learn more about their experiences by attending our brown bag presentations this fall.

Here in Ann Arbor, Associate Director Brad Taylor, Administrator Amy Smola, and I spent the summer working on a number of projects. You are viewing part of our labor here on our newly redesigned web site. We thank Marc Williams in Rackham for his work getting it up, running and looking good and Amy and our student assistant Catalina Esguerra for their vision and hard work. Another project that took much of Brad and Amy’s time was their work in helping to plan and coordinate the annual conference of the Michigan Museums Association which will take place on our campus from September 30 to October 2 (for information visit  http://michiganmuseums.org/conference). This will be a jam-packed event, with tours, receptions, and presentations by several MSP alumni and affiliated faculty and museum professionals from around our state.

Brad and I also spent part of our summer visiting some of our partner museums around the state and forging new partnerships. This year, we primarily focused on the latter, with visits to the Belle Isle Aquarium, the Motown Museum, Pewabic Pottery, the Dossin Great Lakes Museum, the Lester Motts Gallery at the U-M Detroit Center, Historic Fort Wayne, and the Tuskegee Airmen Museum. We also visited with folks in the U-M History of Medicine Program to discuss their gallery, and travelled to Blissfield Michigan to meet with the founder of a yet to be built museum dedicated to the history of American farming!  We love these “road trips” – they give us the opportunity to meet interesting people and learn more about the exciting museum work taking place in our region and to develop new possibilities for capstone projects, student internships, and site visits.

We have a busy line-up for this academic year. Our fall lecture series, “Cultural Heritage at Risk” begins October 13 with a lecture by MSP Affiliated Faculty member Geoffrey Emberling on ISIS and the ongoing threats to museums, archaeological sites, and researchers (among many others) in Syria and Iraq. Geoff’s reinstallation of the DIA’s Ancient Middle East galleries opens on October 11, with an additional series of lectures. Other speakers in the series will address the financial crisis in Greece, the consequences of heritage neglect and rapid development in India, and challenges here at home. We also have a robust brown bag schedule lining up for the fall.

We are still planning our winter events – but can let you know that our visiting scholar in March will be Randi Korn, founding director of Randi Korn and Associates — a leading practitioner and thinker in the museum world.

For now, we look forward to seeing you at one of our events and wish you a wonderful fall semester.

Warm regards,