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RIHS Receives IMLS Grant for Staff and Volunteer Professional Development

Award to Include Funding for International Coalition of Sites of Conscience Training

The Institute for Museum and Library Services announced a Museums Empowered award of $22,306 to the Rhode Island Historical Society for the purposes of training staff and volunteers across the organization to better develop, frame, interpret, and tell the histories of those who have been traditionally overlooked, marginalized, or silenced.  

The award is a part of a competitive grant program funding 27 projects totaling $2,967,382. According to the IMLS, “Museums Empowered: Professional Development Opportunities for Museum Staff is a special initiative of the Museums for America grant program supporting staff capacity building projects that use professional development to generate systemic change within a museum. The 27 recipient institutions and their projects focus on four categories: digital technology, diversity and inclusion, evaluation, and organizational management.”

“I am excited about the potential of this grant to help the staff in every department of the RIHS to embrace new ways of thinking about the cultural work we do, and the important aspects of the public trust that we hold in terms of our constituent communities,” said Richard Ring, Deputy Executive Director for Collections & Interpretation.

Geralyn Ducady, Director of the Newell D. Goff Center for Education and Public Programs at the RIHS, said she is “passionate about this project and the work we are looking to do here. For the education team, we’re excited about learning how to better tackle some of the difficult topics our sites cover by moving beyond the traditional, lecture-style museum programming and into guided conversations with our audiences.”

The award will support such activities as a three-day training offered by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience, which was “founded on the idea that as trusted educational and community spaces containing human and visceral connections to the past, museums and historic sites are ideal venues for fostering dialogue and civic engagement.” ICSC will also set up a series of four video conferencing sessions with the following international sites: Memorial ACTe (a museum in Guadeloupe, on the site of the former Darboussier sugar factory); the Barbados Museum and Historical Society; Maison des Esclaves on Gorée Island in Senegal (the first UNESCO World Heritage site in Africa); and the Whitney Heritage Plantation Museum in Louisiana. Furthermore, physical site visits will be made to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Conn.; the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese-American Archives & Special Collections at the University of Massachusetts (Dartmouth); and the Hip-Hop Archive at the Joseph P. Healey Library at University of Massachusetts (Boston).

At the conclusion of this project, RIHS staff and docents will have knowledge and practice of engaging in facilitated discussions with different audiences and be prepared to work on re-interpreting programming, exhibits, and collections practices to assist in making the RIHS more effective in presenting topics dealing with diversity and social justice to children and adults.

About the Rhode Island Historical Society

Founded in 1822, the RIHS, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is the fourth-oldest historical society in the United States and is Rhode Island’s largest and oldest historical organization. In Providence, the RIHS owns and operates the John Brown House Museum, a designated National Historic Landmark, built in 1788; the Aldrich House, built in 1822 and used for administration and public programs; and the Mary Elizabeth Robinson Research Center, where archival, book and image collections are housed. In Woonsocket, the RIHS manages the Museum of Work and Culture, a community museum examining the industrial history of northern Rhode Island and of the workers and settlers, especially French-Canadians, who made it one of the state’s most distinctive areas.

About the Institute for Museum and Library Services

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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