2009 Annual Meeting

August 26-29
Indianapolis, IN

Making History a 21st – Century Enterprise

The days of museums as “cabinets of curiosity” are gone. To succeed in our increasingly fast-paced, technology-saturated society, we must embrace new models of operation. Remembering from 2007 that relevance equals the bottom line, and from 2008 the power of transformation, we envision becoming centers for ideas and inspiration – cultural entrepreneurs. The 2009 AASLH Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, Indiana, will explore the place of entrepreneurship within the field – marrying fresh concepts with our mission as stewards of the past.

The city of Indianapolis will provide the setting for AASLH members to gather and discuss how we may help our institutions leverage their greatest strengths. We are overwhelmingly recognized as the keepers of historical truth and authenticity. This is a powerful position, with great opportunity and responsibility. What are the most promising new ideas, best practices, and models to connect our audiences with our intellectual capital?

As entrepreneurs, our product is not tangible, but rather experiential through high quality visitor services. To compete in the global economy, our product must be developed, delivered and marketed with a level of passion and knowledge that makes it meaningful and valuable to visitors, donors and stakeholders. Cultural entrepreneurship does not end with the fiscal bottom line. It inspires meaningful interaction among visitors, multiple constituencies and staff; it connects personal history to the larger history of our nation and our world; and it promotes positive social change.

Indianapolis offers inspiring examples of the history organization as entrepreneur, thanks to a partnership of diverse institutions helping to build Indianapolis into a vibrant center for heritage, culture and the arts. Conner Prairie has totally re-vamped its approach to visitor engagement. The Indiana Historical Society is introducing a major new visitor experience to share its archival collections with the public. The President Benjamin Harrison Home has opened its historic rooms to accommodate live theatre performances. The Indiana State Museum is extending its brand across the state and beyond by building exhibition partnerships with other museums. Through the creation of world class international traveling exhibits, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is expanding its reach far beyond its physical walls. The State and City Arts Councils have led the development of new public art projects, cultural trails and districts, and leveraged economic development dollars for cultural and tourism projects.

At the 2009 AASLH Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, we seek to engage in candid and informative conversations that will equip and inspire each entrepreneur in attendance and each organization represented.