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Amy Hollander Strategic Consultant for Historic Sites and Museums

Today’s museums and historic sites are more than places to preserve the artifacts and memories of the past. They are the new town square, where the diverse members of the community can come together, and consider issues against the backdrop of their history.
“The purpose of a storyteller is not to tell you how to think, but to give you questions to think upon.” Brandon Sanderson

I am a storyteller, and a strategic planner. I excel at helping organizations navigate 21st century challenges by strengthening their institutions, exhibits or programs, and by developing comprehensive strategies that garner stakeholder support and utilize modern tools to make their vision, reality.

Collections are the heart of any museum. Each artifact and interactive is a gateway to a story. Who designed it? Who manufactured it? How did it transform the lives of the people in the community it served? These stories are key--serving as a bridge between the past, the present, and the future.

At the National Museum of Industrial History, I had the opportunity to leverage a signature collection that connects directly with the industrial landscape surrounding the museum, from the iconic blast furnaces of Bethlehem Steel to the nearby silk mills. The Museum’s visitors see more than 200 unique artifacts—whether it is the first made, the oldest-surviving, longest-operating, or last-produced. Visitors' initial impressions focus on the scale of the artifacts, but their lasting impression is of the stories of the inventors, entrepreneurs, workers and advocates whose work has transformed the way we live.

The Museum Educator's challenge is to find pathways that forge connections between the past and present, inspiring visitors to apply critical thinking and to become engaged in creating their own places in history.

I have 10 years’ experience designing and implementing a curriculum of experiential school programs for students K-12. Whether it was transporting first graders back to the sights, sounds and smells of an 18th century Dutch farmhouse, immersing fourth graders for a day in a one room schoolhouse, leading students to explore the inner-workings of the Red Mill and Quarry operation, or coordinating dynamic STEM tours for middle school students at the National Museum of Industrial History, I have provided the youth of today with the tools they need to learn from the past and to help them solve the complex problem of building a better tomorrow.

"Memories establish the past; Senses perceive the present; Imaginations shape the future.” Toba Beta
Today, museum exhibits and programming are designed to help our visitors find new ways to explore our complex past, ask questions that help them understand the present, and inspire them to generate ideas for the future.

My exhibit design philosophy is to develop interactive exhibits that connect visitors to stories and allow them to learn through play. For instance, at the National Museum of Industrial History, the kinetic stations allows visitors of any age to explore the scientific principles of how machines work. Through audio stations, visitors experience a range of historic voices, learning about industrial history's progress and prejudice from multiple perspectives. Interactive map tables allow visitors to discover the global reach of industry: where the labor force comes from, natural resources were mined, and products were sent.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

In many ways fundraising is the biggest challenge museums and historic sites face today. The competition for public and private funding is fierce.

Raising the funds is only half the battle. Benefactors want tangible results and powerful narratives to showcase the impact of their donations. We must build into every campaign both the goals we hope to achieve and the metrics by which we can measure our success.

It is essential for nonprofit organizations to balance traditional fundraising resources with innovative solutions that explore new ways to raise funds while strengthening mission and expanding donor bases. The Adopt-an-Artifact program I designed for the National Museum of Industrial History not only raised over $50,000 for the museum in its first year, but it also invested the community in the launch of the Museum, and expanded our knowledge of the collections. The adopters "bought" artifacts that resonated with their own personal stories. They not only shared those powerful stories with the Museum, they shared it with friends, family and on social media, building support for the Museum within their own circles of influence.

"Philanthropy is not about giving money but about solving problems."-- Naveen Jain
We live in a complex, interconnected, and ever-shrinking world. Today, advocacy is is a 24/7 job focused on forging long-term, strategic alliances. These relationships enable us to respond to the shifting landscape with agility, effectiveness, and speed, working together to make change.

I have excelled at engaging stakeholders and building strategic partnerships throughout my nonprofit career, advocating at all levels to build support, develop relationships and make change. During my three years at AJC, I took on the challenge of building a statewide coalition of new voices advocating for the economics of immigration reform. The efforts of this coalition of business, advocacy and inter-ethnic organizations as well as local and multi-national chambers of commerce (with a combined membership of over 20,000) culminated in the founding of the annual New Jersey Immigrant Entrepreneur awards.

"We don't always have to agree, but we must empower each other, we must find the common ground, we must build bridges across our differences to pursue the common good." Cory Booker
So how do we optimize our facilities and collections, build better exhibits, engage broader audiences, maximize our advocacy and outreach and ensure our sustainability? It all starts with establishing strategic objectives with clear measurable goals.
“An idea is like a play. It needs a good producer and a good promoter even if it is a masterpiece." David Bornstein
Museums and historic sites face many challenges: the role that digital media plays in shaping narrative, the growing prevalence of social activism as a lens by which history is evaluated, the ever-increasing need of the public to have interactive, educational experiences, the necessity of building strong partnerships with stakeholders, and the intense competition for funding. I am ideally situated to explore how your organization can navigate these shifting trends.

Amy Hollander, Strategic Planner, hollanderajc@gmail.com

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