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Inclusive futures for museums
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Nicole Ivy talks with an audience member after her presentation at Washington Hall

In Washington Hall, a place that has soaked up the creative vibes of everyone from Duke Ellington to Elvis Costello, Marian Anderson to Mark Morris, and Danish theatrical productions in the early 1900s to Nu Black Arts West Theatre in this century, the spirit of inclusion was operating in full force on the night of December 6 when Dr. Nicole Ivy came to town, courtesy of 4Culture and the University of Washington’s Department of Museology.

As the first Director of Inclusion for the American Alliance of Museums, Ivy had come to discuss her work in studying museum trends, with a particular focus on diversity and the future of labor in the field. Prior to her current appointment, Ivy served as a museum futurist for AAM under a fellowship of the Mellon Foundation and American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). 

In her Seattle appearance, Ivy started invited the audience to consider demographic trends in the United States. One hundred years ago, more than 90 percent of the United States’ population was Caucasian, but over time that number has slipped to 66 percent, and is continuing to trend downward. Meanwhile, the percentage of museum-goers in the United States today is still predominantly white – over 90 percent.

And when it comes to people currently working in museums, while approximately half of the security and facilities maintenance jobs are held by non-whites, leadership positions continue to be dominated by Caucasians at around 90 percent. With the population becoming increasingly diverse, unless museums transform with the times, they are in danger of losing their relatability and relevance.

Ivy dug into Seattle’s demographic trends in particular — the two most rapidly growing populations in Seattle are the people under five years of age or over 60. Creative aging is becoming increasingly important, Ivy noted, and she challenged museums to figure out ways to address that. She also proposed that intergenerational activities involving these two fastest-growing sectors could be successful.

Seattle is also recognized for its significant population of Millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000). With that sector’s propensity for ethical consumerism, Ivy challenged museums to think about what that could mean in the years ahead as that generation inherits the wealth of their Baby Boomer parents. 

“Inclusion is a process,” Ivy said, “not a destination.” She encouraged her listeners to exercise strategic foresight by considering the acronym STEEP – Social, Technological, Economic, Ecological and Political trends that the museum world may be able to interact with in a multitude of ways

“Museums are a force for social change,” she concluded, and left the audience with some questions to consider: 

  • What is the work force we want to see?
  • How do our processes help us get there?
  • What do our hiring practices look like?

Preceding Ivy’s talk, 4Culture’s Brian Carter and Chieko Phillips gave a reprise presentation of their King County Heritage Report, completed earlier this year. 


Presentation proposals being accepted by Heritage Caucus
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The 2017 legislative session begins on January 9, 2017, with the first meeting of the Washington State’s Heritage Caucus on Wednesday, January 11, 2017.  Proposals are now being accepted for presentations during the regular meetings of the Heritage Caucus, on Wednesdays at 7 AM, Cherberg Building, Room A-B-C, on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. 

As a reminder, presentations need to be 10 minutes or less, and must fit into one of the following prioritized categories:

  • Immediate policy issues; pending legislation; current initiatives 
  • Relevant or upcoming policy issues; proposed future legislation or initiatives 
  • Overviews of state funded and heritage organization activities (current exhibits, programs, etc.) 

Please keep in mind that the budget will continue to be the focus of the Legislature this session, and a portion of Caucus time will be devoted to discussions related to the budget and implementation policies. Caucus chairs are Senator Jim Honeyford and Representative Steve Tharinger. 

Provide the following information in your proposal, and send via email: 

  • presentation title
  • names, titles, and organizational affiliation of presenters
  • a detailed outline of your presentation, including its priority category from the list above
  • technological needs (DVD, computer, internet access, projector, and screen are available)
  • a list of all state legislators in your district, (

Presenters will be notified as soon as possible about scheduling. 

If you would like to have a bill(s) tracked please email Glenda Carino:

Glenda Carino, Communications Manager
Washington State Arts Commission

For those of you new to Caucus, we meet in the John A. Cherberg building in Conference rooms A-B-C, (see map 304 15th Avenue Southwest, Olympia, WA 98501. Metered parking begins at 8am in the area surrounding the building. You can also find information about campus parking here,

Contact Mark Vessey at the Washington State Historical Society if you wish to be added to the e-mail list for Heritage Caucus.


Capturing oral histories
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AKCHO members listen to Liz Stewart talk about oral histories at the Renton History Museum

How to identify oral history subjects, conduct the interviews, and then preserve and use the results was the topic of AKCHO’s November membership meeting, held at the Renton History Museum.

Museum director Dr. Elizabeth Stewart shared her institution’s early focus on collecting the stories of Renton pioneers – those tended to focus on Renton’s earliest industries: Pacific Car & Foundry, coal mining, and airplane manufacturing. Stewart said the Museum also has recordings of traditional Duwamish songs sung by Joe Moses, the father of Henry Moses, who was an early sports star of Renton High School. The Museum, which has taped 145 oral history interviews since 1975, now seeks to capture the diverse voices of more recent arrivals to Renton.

Stewart noted that special skills are required to conduct oral histories, and since the Museum has only a small staff, she depends on volunteers to do this work – with the number of people available to help ebbing and flowing over time. The Museum sometimes finds opportunities to gather oral histories while assisting others, such as the Museum’s recent work with the Renton Parks Department in developing Heritage Park, a project which focused on a predominantly African American neighborhood in Renton. In another project, the Museum is archiving completed short films that have been shot in Renton in conjunction with the Seattle International Film Festival’s presence there. While these are generally fictional films, they do capture the look, feel, and sound of the place at a moment in time. Stewart also shared an instance of a recent oral history collection effort that wasn’t very successful, and encouraged audience members to talk about their experiences – good and bad – in collecting oral histories. 

The group also covered the ways oral histories might be used: by researchers, in exhibits, as reference materials for staff, and – Stewart forecasts – more and more in multimedia presentations. “Podcasts are coming!” she said.

Before the meeting came to a close, there was a discussion around the urgent necessity of digitizing oral histories that were recorded on cassette tapes, before those tapes degrade. Both MiPoPs (Moving Image Preservation of Puget Sound) and UW Libraries have programs that can assist in that regard.


AKCHO board report – November 2017
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Illness and professional commitments elsewhere left the AKCHO board meeting without a quorum at its November meeting, so those present were unable to take action on some pending issues. However, board members in attendance did talk over plans for the annual membership meeting, which will take place on Tuesday, January 30, at the Museum of Flight, and preliminary thoughts concerning the AKCHO Awards for next year. They also discussed the November 16 WESTPAS preparedness workshop which AKCHO co-sponsored, and the idea of providing similar promotional support in 2018 for a possible images collection care workshop led by UW Special Collections Visual Materials Curator Nicolette Bromberg.

Other items on the agenda included membership renewals and the 2018 increase in membership dues, the search for new board members, and plans for updating AKCHO’s current website.

Also, the board was pleased to welcome Ivy Freitag, Preservation Planner for the King County Historic Preservation Program, who reported on current landmark designation efforts throughout the County. 


Curtis150/Beyond the Frame to launch in 2018
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Autographed portrait of Edward S. Curtis sent to Harriet Leitch in 1951 – now a part of the Seattle Public Library’s Balch Autograph Collection – Courtesy of The Seattle Public Library spl_esc_030

After several years of planning, outreach, and soul-searching dialogue, an ambitious slate of activities commemorating the life and work of photographer Edward S. Curtis has been scheduled throughout 2018, which marks the sesquicentennial of the Seattle-based photographer’s birth. 

But thanks to accumulating hindsight and the willingness of everyone involved to engage in a frank exploration of Curtis’s legacy, this collaborative effort has expanded to include not just Curtis’s portraits of Native Americans, whom he considered to be members of a vanishing race. It will also embrace responses by present-day Native American artists and writers who are irrefutable proof that Curtis’s dire predictions did not come to pass.

The overall endeavor, which will involve museums and other cultural institutions throughout the Puget Sound region, has been branded “Curtis150/Beyond the Frame” with the guidance of Pyramid Communications.

Among the Curtis150/Beyond the Frame programs and exhibits around the region next year, there will be:

• A series of three exhibits at Seattle Public Library that will examine aspects of Curtis and his legacy using artifacts in the special collections at Seattle Public Library. These exhibits will also travel throughout the King County Library System in 2018.

• A display of Dale Chihuly’s expansive collection of Edward Curtis prints and Northwest Native American baskets at Chihuly Garden and Glass.

• A reading and discussion with Mojave American poet Natalize Diaz on invisibility and the gaze of contemporary America on native Americans. This will take place at Hugo House.

• At the Frye Art Museum, a Native American Art History lecture series, which consists of lectures, looking at contemporary Native artists and issues germane to their practice.

• At the Seattle Art Museum, a major exhibition of more than 180 works by Curtis, as well as contemporary works by indigenous artists Marianne Nicolson, Tracy Rector, and Will Wilson seeks to evaluate this photographic legacy from 21st-century perspectives.

• At the Washington State Convention Center, an exhibit of never-seen-before color glass slide images, made by Edward Curtis over 100 years ago for his public performances.

• A new display on Princess Angeline at the Museum of History & Industry.

• A major exhibit of young and emerging Native American artists at the King Street Station Exhibition Space, run by the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

• “Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian: Out of the Shadows” – a one-man show in which storyteller John Wasko portrays Edward Curtis.

Outside of King County, there will be additional exhibits at the Suquamish Museum, the Tacoma Art Museum, Cascadia Art Museum and the Northwest Museum of Art.

AKCHO will post all activities and exhibits on its website and online calendar as details become available. For more information about the project, contact Shannon Kopelva, Curtis150/Beyond the Frame project coordinator, at



Heritage Advisor is published by the Association of King County Historical Organizations as a service to members and those who support its mission. We update our website continually throughout the month, and on the first of every month we e-mail a condensed version of Heritage Advisor to our mailing list – you can subscribe to this service by filling out the requested information in the right sidebar on this page.

AKCHO was established in 1977 to encourage cooperation among historical organizations; promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve; and support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

The Heritage Advisor welcomes submissions of news items, calendar items, and opinion columns from AKCHO members, HA subscribers, and readers. Articles are limited to 300 words and they should have a strong relevance to historic preservation and heritage issues in King County, Washington. Submission of an article does not guarantee publication. AKCHO does not pay for published submissions. All articles are subject to review by AKCHO staff. Please send your article within the body of an email (no attachments, please) to

AKCHO welcomes new members year round. Individual memberships are $15. Organization memberships are $35. Join more than 150 individuals and organizations supporting heritage work and historic preservation in King County. For more information and an application form, visit


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AKCHO was established to encourage cooperation among historical organizations and to promote and encourage the study and preservation of the history and heritage of King County through member organizations, individual members, and the community they serve, and to support such preservation efforts through public awareness and understanding of legislative issues.

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The Labor of Diversity with Dr. Nicole Ivy

December 7, 2017, 6:00pm - December 7, 2017, 7:30pm

The American Alliance of Museum's (AAM) first Director of Inclusion, Dr. Nicole Ivy, will be teaming up with the University of Washington's Museology department and 4Culture to present a talk on The L...

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