The ALHFAM Board advanced a key component of its 2018 -2020 Strategic Workplan during its fall meeting by approving the proposal of a task force charged with mapping the work of a new administrative committee on Skills Training and Preservation. The proposal includes 2019 funding for new training workshops, a project to document skills using short videos ("SkillClips"), a video library accessible through A.S.K., and an internship in skill documentation.
The new Skills Training and Preservation Committee is charged with leading ALHFAM's efforts to collect the practices, processes, systems, arts and skills that are preserved and presented through "living history.” To accomplish its goals, the committee will work with PIG Chairs, Regional Reps, Annual Conference Planners and individual members and sites, to inventory and catalogue skills, identify and document 'at-risk' and endangered skills, and support and organize skills training.
The committee is co-chaired by Board members Lauren Muney and past Board president Pete Watson and includes Ed Schultz, Sonrisa Crespin, Alison Dobier and advisors Cody Joliff and Jon Hallman.
In its proposal to the Board, the Skills Training and Preservation Task Force presented the following assessment of the challenge ahead:
"Collections management is a skill that is widely held among museum professionals, yet, one that is not uniformly applied to collections of non-material culture. The importance of creating, managing and using living history collections to advance the field historical research, documentation and education is not an endeavor peculiar to ALHFAM, its partners in AIMA and EXARC, or to re-enactors of military, industrial or social history. However, collecting “skills” is rarely, if ever, seen in traditional museums.
One of ALHFAM's greatest challenges is to take inventory of, document and share the countless, incredible array of skills held by, and offered through, its membership. To enable this, ALHFAM will create a culture that recognizes skills that are being lost, or soon to be lost, and find ways to place them in new hands. ALHFAM members will learn to take the knowledge and skill we have as curators of material culture, and apply it to the business of preserving the intangible culture of skills. ALHFAM members will become proficient at sharing skills with the public, enabling them to use their hands in problem solving -- allowing them try their hand at the doing, making and work that we bring to life. As museum professionals entrusted with the collection and care of those skills, we are challenged to teach the them not just to our colleagues, but to all."