Tag Archives: National Endowment for the Humanities

Is Twitter Effectively Engaging Your Audiences?

twitter-afpWith the new year on the horizon, I’ve been evaluating my projects from the last year to determine how I can help historic places better connect to their audiences. For the past two years, I’ve used Twitter to share news about history, historic sites, historic preservation, and history museums.  Each morning I scan the New York Times and other newspapers for stories, aiming to tweet about three stories daily to my @maxvanbalgooy account so that my followers can quickly learn what’s happening.  The result? I have created 4,180 tweets and attracted nearly 500 Followers since I joined Twitter in June 2009.  This blog, on the other hand, has 1000 subscribers, so it seems my time is better spent on my blog than Twitter.  It could be very different for you, but how do we decide if Twitter is effectively engaging your audiences?

A useful place to start is with the metrics that Twitter provides: Followers and Likes.  Likes are a low level of engagement because they only require that readers support a specific tweet or find it especially useful or enjoyable—but that’s it. Followers are a mid-level form of engagement because it means that a reader wants to engage with you and read everything that you tweet (“read” is probably overstating things; “scan” is more appropriate for Twitter). Retweets engage at a high level because your Followers share your tweet to their Followers (did you follow that? it’s about the impact of the multiplier effect)—unfortunately, there’s no easy way to measure Retweets (but boy, we would have more impact if we promoted Retweeting instead of Liking).

To better understand how effectively Twitter can engage audiences, I collected statistics for a variety of major history organizations to measure Tweets, Followers, and Likes as of today (December 8, 2016) to develop the following chart: Continue reading

Unconference in DC Poised to Transform Museums


Openlab is convening an unconference, talks, and a planning workshop in Washington, DC on December 1-2 to “to accelerate the speed and impact of transformational change in the GLAM (gallery, library, archive, and museum) sector” in order to “to increase and disseminate knowledge; to encourage civic dialogue and engagement; and to support individuals in their right to access and participate in culture.”  The brain child of Michael Peter Edson of the Smithsonian, much of OpenLab’s work seems to be focused on using digital technologies to solve age-old questions, such as “what needs to change in galleries, libraries, archives, and museums?” and “what is missing in the current funding and support landscape for GLAMs and the humanities?”  It’s all a bit nebulous and unclear, but that’s the core nature of an unconference. Nevertheless, it’s one of many concurrent efforts to increase the impact of museums in society (and yes, we’re still in the fragmented stage).

The first day on December 1 (today) is the unconference and a series of Ignite talks from 2-7 pm in Arlington, Virginia that’s free and open to the public.  The second day, however, Continue reading

Review of 2013 NEH Grants Reveals Opportunities and Challenges

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The National Endowment for the Humanities has announced their last round of grants in the America’s Historical and Cultural Organization‘s (AHCO) program for fiscal year 2013, and a review suggests that opportunities and challenges await applicants–and NEH.  AHCO offers the largest grants for both planning and implementation of exhibits, programs, and activities for history organizations, and it’s often the one that people think of first for funding from NEH.

NEH awarded twenty-five grants totaling $4.2 million in 2013, with history organizations (i.e., historical societies, history museums, historic sites) receiving ten grants (40 percent) and $1.3 million in funding (32 percent).  That’s pretty good compared to the other categories, such as art museums and universities, although I’ll admit it’s a bit subjective depending on how you categorize an organization (I counted the Peabody Essex Museum as a history organization but could as easily be considered an art museum).  NEH funding has long been known as prestigious but rare (NEH states that about 9 percent of applications are funded) so history organizations are doing pretty well.

A Closer Look

A deeper analysis suggests that the chances of obtaining a grant may be easier for some than others.  When you examine Continue reading

NEH Shares Film Series on Civil Rights

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The National Endowment for the Humanities and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History recently launched Created Equal, a new program to bring four nationally-acclaimed films on civil rights to historic sites, museums, and libraries.  They can easily fill a summer series of programs when accompanied by an historian and spark a conversation about your community’s experience with civil rights.

The films include:

  • The Abolitionists.  A small group of moral reformers in the 1830s launched one of the most ambitious social movements imaginable: the immediate emancipation of millions of African Americans who were enslaved. 
  • Slavery by Another Name.  Even as slavery ended in the south after the Civil War, new forms of forced labor kept thousands of African Americans in bondage until the onset of World War II. Produced and directed by Sam Pollard. 
  • Loving Story.  The moving account of Richard and Mildred Loving, who were arrested in 1958 for violating Virginia’s ban on interracial marriage. Their struggle culminated in a landmark Supreme Court decision, Loving v. Virginia (1967). 
  • Freedom Riders.  The Freedom Rides of 1961 were a pivotal moment in the long Civil Rights struggle that redefined America. This documentary film offers an inside look at the brave band of activists who challenged segregation in the Deep South. 

Up to 500 communities across the nation will receive these four inspiring NEH-funded films, accompanied by programming resources to guide public conversations. Each participating site will receive an award of up to $1,200 to support public programming exploring the themes of the Created Equal project.  Applications are due May 1, 2013 and open to museums and historical societies; humanities councils; public, academic, and community college libraries; and nonprofit community organizations. 

NEH Announces Recent Awards

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently announced the awards for the applications submitted in August 2011 (yes, 2011) for the “America’s Historical and Cultural Organizations” grant program.  Out of the 25 major grants awards (I’m not including the small NEH on the Road grants), about a third are related to historic places including:

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park Visitor Center Plan

  • Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation, Santa Barbara, CA
  • Award: Outright; $40,000
  • Planning for interpretive exhibitions and programs in a newly constructed visitor center about the history of Santa Barbara.

Impressions of a Lost World

  • Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield, MA
  • Award: Outright; $40,000
  • Planning for a website, mobile applications, hand-held digital and print tours, public programs, and educational materials about the early nineteenth-century discovery of dinosaur tracks in the Connecticut River Valley and the impact of this discovery on American thought and culture.

Continue reading

Collections Chat on NEH’s Preservation Assistance Grants

"Skeleton Room" at the Smithsonian Institution, ca. 1890.

On Monday, March 12 at 1 pm Eastern, the Connecting to Collections
Online Community
will host another live chat in their series. Join Elizabeth Joffrion, Senior Program Officer in the National Endowment for the Humanities’
Division of Preservation and Access
to learn about Preservation Assistance Grants. She will review what Preservation Assistance Grants fund, share tips on making a strong application, and answer your questions. No preregistration is required;
on Monday at 1 pm EDT just go to http://www.connectingtocollections.org/meeting and log in.

National Endowment for the Humanities’ Preservation Assistance Grants help small and mid-sized institutions—such as historic sites, museums, historical societies, cultural organizations, Continue reading