Pioneer Museum director plows new groundPublished 11:00pm Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Kari Barley and Caitlin Ventiere have plowed new ground and are ready to “bring it all to the table,” after attending the Association for Living History Farm and Agricultural Museum’s 2013 Annual Meeting and Conference in Akron, Ohio.
Barley, director of the Pioneer Museum of Alabama, said she and her assistant director needed time to digest all of the information they were fed during the conference and determine how it could be used to best serve those who visit the local pioneer museum.
The theme of the 2013 ALHFAM conference was “Bringing it All to the Table” and addressed the need for museums and historic sites to develop strategic partnerships to remain relevant and vital, Barley said.
The theme applied to the public’s desire for food of a different kind – knowledge.
“This is the second year that I have attended the ALHFAM conference,” Barley said. “The conference is a way to broaden my horizons. Those who are in the business of history came from all across the United States and from Canada, France, Germany and England. We all shared ideas, events and activities that have worked and those that haven’t. We learned from them all.”
Barley said more than 350 people attended the conference that was hosted by Hale Farm and Village. She came back home with ideas for new programming at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama.
“One idea that we are very excited about is a plowing contest,” Barley said. “Those of us that wanted to participate were divided into categories of experience. I decided to enter so I could see how the contest was worked.”
Barley competed in the novice class and won sixth place against about 60 contestants.
“I plowed pretty straight and it was a lot of fun,” she said. “Caitlin and I are already looking for a mule to pull the plow at our Spring Plantin’ event in 2014. A plowing competition will add interest and fun to this popular event.”
Barley said she was impressed with several of the events and is considering adding mule plowing and woodstove cooking to the museum’s programs and changing some of the layouts at the museum to generate greater interest.
“We have several good ideas for hands-on history activities and a more in depth education curriculum that will benefit the students and teachers on their class visits to the museum,” she said. “We’re also thinking about more performance programs like ‘music in the moonlight.’ We’ve got some good ideas and are anxious to implement them.”
Barley said there was a giving and taking of ideas throughout the conference.
“We shared many of the things that we do at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama,” she said. “Everyone was interested in our Old Time Christmas program and especially in our Pioneer Days and Spring Plantin’. They were all impressed with the size of our museum and that we have 18,000 artifacts and 22 historical structures, but only have four staff members. We took photographs and shared information about the Pioneer Museum of Alabama with people from all across the country and from several other countries. They were in awe of what we have in a town the size of Troy.”