Kathy McDonald, President and Curator of the Sebastian Area Historical Society, was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2016 AASLH/MMA Annual Meeting. You can learn more about the AASLH Small Museums Scholarships here.

As a first time President and Curator of the Sebastian Area Historical Society (Florida), I had a lot to learn from the American Association of State and Local History Conference in Detroit in September. I still have a lot to learn but came away with a resounding cry of “Keep Changing and Enhancing the Museum or Die.” If you don’t change and grow, the museum will end up closing and that would break my heart.

I dearly love our little six-room museum in Sebastian, a small fishing village with a population of  approx. 23,000 residents.  We are an all volunteer museum working on a shoestring budget. We have so many wonderful items on display and we so enjoy showing the museum off to our visitors. We have been struggling with changing things up in the museum in part because of a lack of room to expand, lack of manpower to make changes and financial restraints.


While attending the many sessions at the conference I continually heard about new and changing ways to present history and make it come alive for the public. That is exactly what needs to be done in Sebastian. The suggestions from the presentation, “High Tech Enrichment with Low Staff and Resources” really made sense. Using technical equipment and enhancements could very well be the answer to enriching the visitor’s experience and bringing in new and younger visitors. Hopefully, by enhancing the displays, using new technology and making what is old, look new, we’ll be able to attract new volunteers, increase donations and breath new life into our museum.

I loved the suggestions from all the presenters as well as the sharing of ideas from all of the conference attendees and came home with a renewed and refreshed spirit ready to jump in and start incorporating the necessary changes and upgrades to our little six-room museum.