Time to switch hats
It is hard to believe it’s been two years since I came to ANSM. Like so many things in life it’s been both the longest and fastest two years of my career. What we have all accomplished together in two years is remarkable. I say we, because that is what ANSM is…a we, a group, a family, a network, a members-based organization. Nothing done at ANSM is done alone thanks to the working groups, membership, board, partners, and amazing staff. What we have done in the last two years is amazing. We all need to congratulate ourselves. And I want to thank all of you.
When I came to ANSM we were in the final months of COVID-19 public health restrictions. Museums, like all of us, were just trying to sort out what “new normal” was. COVID had changed how we made our stories accessible. Museums were innovating new approaches to programming, online engagement, exhibits, and collections work. Museums were also rethinking what it meant to be a museum. Museums were thoughtfully exploring how to decolonize museums, meet community needs, and question the way things had always been done. It was, and still is, and exciting time to come to ANSM and the museum sector.
We have all been on this journey together, and I’ve been so proud to be part of it for the last two years. ANSM’s programs and services have been evolving to increasingly incorporate EDIA (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility). Traditional ideas of “the right way” to do museum work have relaxed to finding the “the right way for this particular situation.” The development of the TRACK program, the Unlocking Community Museum Collections project and resulting ReconciliAction Plan, advocacy work for increased operational funding, and ANSM’s new strategic plan are all steps we are taking together to build a resilient, sustainable museum sector. This work hasn’t been easy for any of us but its been rewarding. I look forward to many of you coming together at ANSM’s conference in October as we recharge to continue this work.
As for me, I might be leaving ANSM but I’m not going far. I look forward to rejoining the wider “we” that is ANSM. My whole career I’ve been connected with ANSM (including during the late Federation of NS Heritage days), and this connection won’t be ending. I am returning to the Nova Scotia Museum to work in interpretation and special projects. In this role I hope to have chances to work with many of you again and I promise to stay involved in ANSM working groups and initiatives. I know this return will help me better balance my passion for museum work with sharing my love of museums with my three-year-old daughter. Leaving ANSM is sad for me as in many ways it is leaving my dream job. You might hear me joke, my retirement plan is to return to work for ANSM. Despite this sadness, in the marrow of my bones, I know this departure is the right choice for both me, personally and professional, and for ANSM.
Before I take off my ANSM ED hat for the last time I want to say thank you. The list of people I could thank is too long for this message so I will please consider yourself on this list. I do want to specifically thank two people though – Karin who was at my side for the last two years and Anita who “retired” but had laid such a strong foundation for ANSM for us to build on. I would like to extend good luck to Devin as he takes the ED position. With him and the newly expanded ANSM team of Karin, Alyssa, and Daniel I know that ANSM will continue to support all of us in the museum sector.
And so to misquote the dolphins, “So long, and thanks for all the cake.”