It’s been another eventful year of special programs, building projects, and partnering with our schools and town to improve our community and the APM experience. Please take a look at our most recent postings below.
For Museum Day, Windsor’s American Precision Museum Opens Up About Manufacturing
American Precision Museum Appoints Steve Dalessio as New Executive Director
Windsor, VT, September 12, 2019. . . The American Precision Museum’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Dalessio as its new Executive Director. He succeeds Ann Lawless, who retired in 2018 after serving as director for 15 years. Dalessio will implement the museum’s mission and goals in innovative and creative ways, overseeing the daily operations, budget, and fundraising, in addition to refining the museum’s long-range strategy and interpretative plan.
Free “Windsor Day” on August 24 Brings Local History to Life
Windsor, VT – The American Precision Museum will host its first annual “Windsor Day” on Saturday, August 24 from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. to honor the town’s residents and deepen understanding of the community’s manufacturing heritage. Windsor Day features activities for all ages, including rocket launching, interactive electronic and mechanical assembly areas, an introduction to Tinkercad 3D design basics, robotics lessons, and friendly competitions with Sphero robots. Materials from Historic Windsor Inc., modern milling machine exhibits, and machine tool demonstrations will provide insights into Windsor’s pivotal role in the “Precision Valley” and its significant contribution to our daily lives.
“The Museum is building a library of video-based oral histories that document local industry,” says Scott Davison, Director of Education and Interpretation, “so machinists and engineers who have worked in Windsor are especially encouraged to participate in this event. Bring your family and share your stories! It’s personal memories and real life experiences that make history truly exciting.”
Admission to Windsor Day is free
The American Precision Museum is located in the 1846 Robbins & Lawrence Armory, a National Historic Landmark, and traces the beginnings of manufacturing to modern technology through exhibits and interactive programs. Open daily, Memorial Day Weekend through October 31, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The American Precision Museum is proud to be a Blue Star Museum, offering free admission to active duty military & their families.
From the Director of Education & Interpretation:
Second in a series about “heritage interpretation”
The interpretation planning and programs at APM are still young despite our 54 years of existence. As part of the initial steps to develop a strong interpretive program, and receive recognition for same, I conducted a 32-hour course in December of 2019 for persons wishing to gain training in professional interpretation. I was pleased that one of our supporters and board members, Barbara George, took the course with five others. Joining her were the Manager of Interpretive Programs at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, two Antioch University graduate students, a former National Park Service ranger, and staff from the Green Mountain Club. As a Certified Interpretive Trainer for the National Association for Interpretation, teaching this course is one of the requirements that allows me to maintain a recognized professional certification. But even more than that, APM hosting this course also serves to lets our professional museum colleagues know that we strive to maintain the highest standards of museum interpretation and planning. Perhaps as we grow and progress they will begin to see APM’s programming as a model to emulate.
As mentioned in the last newsletter, our mission-based obligation is to tell the full spectrum of our available stories, from the historic past and, into a potential future; to go beyond just describing objects, giving dates and preaching to the choir. We must place our site, the related historic events and our physical collections in their cultural and social contexts or we risk diminishing the deeper meanings of what happened here and how it changed our world. The training I conducted helps us meet that obligation. It also tells the rest of the museum world that we are, in addition to being forward thinking, also firmly grounded in the foundations of industry best practices.
So for those not familiar with the profession of Heritage Interpretation here is a brief, intro primer and a glimpse into some of the tenets and components of what an interpreter does. In that 32-hour course students are introduced to many concepts, practices and theories of communication only to just begin to understand the potential of interpretation to transmit meaning to diverse visitors and audiences. But let’s begin with one of the basic components called the “interpretive equation”.
It is stated this way:
(KR + KA) x AT = IO
Translated it reads: the Knowledge of the Resource plus the Knowledge of the Audience times an Appropriate Technique (of delivery to, or engagement with the visitor) equals an Interpretive Opportunity. It may seem deceptively simple, but that is both its charm and its power as a communication and teaching model.
True mastery of the three components in front of the “equals” sign can consume years of study, research and practice. How long does it take to really understand the machines in our collection & how they function? Our founder Ed Battison spent a lifetime at this, and was probably still learning in his later years. What was the impetus for their development? Who are the audiences and how are they categorized in terms of interest, learning style, preferences, generation and gender designation etc…. And finally, (But really only just beginning.) How then do you use this knowledge to determine and create appropriate techniques to tell those stories, or create a descriptive sign or exhibit or activity to someone ignorant of your knowledge and understanding so that they find personal meaning in it all?
This simple equation, along with other concepts like “tangibles”, “intangible meanings”, “universal concepts”, and “the visitor is sovereign” are some of the foundation building blocks to effective interpretation of our sites history and relevance.
Now, combine all of this with new ideas and understandings introduced by the “experience economy” movement and you may begin to glimpse the power of professional heritage interpretation in telling our full stories and what they mean today.
Interpretation and Education
2020 is the third year in the transformation of our education program and the development of interpretative planning . By all accounts and measures we have made significant strides in our efforts. As museums change to meet modern demands and interests of a changing culture we are challenged to adapt. As an industry, museum practices are evolving, but also revisiting the fundamental practices and philosophies that continue to be successful.
In keeping with our stated mission I believe that we are obligated to tell the full spectrum of our available stories, from the historic past and into a potential future; to go beyond just describing objects, giving dates and “preaching to the choir”. We must place our site, the historic events and our physical collections in their cultural and social contexts or we risk diminishing the deeper meanings of what happened here and how it changed our world.
But how do we do that? In great part through better interpretation and interpretive planning.
In addition to skilled and experienced leadership and staffing, which we now have, we must do something, offer experiences and understanding that will have value to a wide audience of visitors. In the heritage interpreter’s world that means events, programs and opportunities designed to connect to the audience’s interests.
I am aware that most in the general public misunderstand the word “interpretation,” often relating the term to language translation. But it is in fact one of the most powerful tools a museum or heritage site has to invite their audiences to care about the resource and ultimately care for the resource.
Interpretation in its simplest terms means telling the stories of the site, its objects through an organized communication process which offers the visitor an opportunity to create their own personal understanding and relevance. It is an essentially “constructive” activity. Visitors will construct their own meaning of our site based on their personal experience(s). If we do it wel,l the care for and care about will inevitably follow.
Next time, I will describe some techniques we can use to light the fire of enthusiasm in our visitors and introduce you to something called the Interpretive Equation.