A few weeks ago I was contacted by Adam MacPharlain about contributing a guest post. He and four others have been working for a few months to start a new EMP group in Kansas City and wanted to share the good news with our community. I asked him to write a little about their experiences in starting a new group, which he happily obliged. Adam is currently a Museum Cataloger at the Toy & Miniature Museum of Kansas City, and working with him are Amber Courtney (also a Museum Cataloger at the Toy & Miniature Museum), Amy Duke (former Museum Educator, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art), Lacy Bettcher (Museum Cataloger, Toy and Miniature Museum of Kansas City), and Rebecca Rosamond (Retail Associate, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art). Many thanks to all of them for sharing their story, and best wishes with the new group!
For those of you haven’t heard the word, a new EMP group is forming for the Kansas City metro area, which will serve students and professionals in Lawrence, Kansas. As the group is about to get off the ground, we thought the EMP blog would be a great place to share the experience of forming a new group with two goals in mind: to inform others interested in forming EMP groups on some of the nuances and, of course, to spread the word for our inaugural event.
The Kansas City EMP group has been a team effort, with five co-founding members sharing the load. Each of us has had an itch to start an EMP group in the Kansas City area, but it wasn’t until the Museum Career Lab collaboratively organized by AAM and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in March that we finally found a platform to start. After initial talks between individuals, we met for our first meeting–over a lovely happy hour meal–to discuss our goals for the group and tried to weed through the logistical information for starting an EMP group provided by AAM. We decided that these goals should push beyond social events and networking to include professional development and promotion of local museum activity. However, in order to makes these goals a reality, we still needed a little help.
What better place to go for advice and get information on what does and doesn’t work, than to talk to other established EMP groups around the nation. By divvying out a locale or two to each team member, we were able to send out a brief questionnaire to groups across the country. The questions ranged from how each group was organizationally structured to event aspects. After receiving several great responses, our group met again, reviewed the answers, and decided our first few steps. As AAM does not require a formal structure, we found that established EMP groups varied in how the load is shared, though many have some type of formal or informal structure of officers. Similar to the Cleveland group, we have started our own group with organic roles with each team member taking on the roles that are most comfortable; we will likely form formalized positions once the group gets off the ground.
For our first step, we wanted to send out a “feeler” survey to get a sense of interest. We’re lucky in that we already had a substantial email list from the career lab, and we were able to make contact with the University of Kansas Museum Studies program. We have had nearly 40 responses to date (!) and have found that there are a large number of students; most are focused in registration, curation, and education; and 75% of respondents are interested in history museums, over 50% in art museums, and almost 40% in natural history museums. We also asked questions regarding how often people would like to meet, what type of events they are interested in, and what days of the week and time of day work best.
In addition to the survey, we decided that our first event should be museum-related; after all we are emerging MUSEUM professionals! So after a few more dinner meetings, we have our inaugural event set for Friday, September 7th from 6-8pm, hosted graciously by the Toy and Miniature Museum here in Kansas City. Just like the survey, this will be a chance to meet one another and see where interests lie. Like other EMP groups, we intend to have a mixture of museum-related events and happy hour gatherings. We also want to encourage professional development, offering opportunities including the National EMP career event this October.
In the meantime, we have set up a Facebook and Twitter account (@KCEMPgroup), as well as a group email (email@example.com). We hope to keep active through social media, posting updates about our events, museum happenings and exhibitions in the area, professional development info, and general info about what’s going on in the field at large.
It has been a fun and relatively easy journey thus far. Though we still have a bit of planning ahead of us, we anticipate a great first event, with 30 RSVPs to date. Wish us luck as we continue our trek into starting a new EMP group!
- Friday, September 7th
- 6:00pm – 8:00pm
- Toy and Miniature Museum, Kansas City
- Contact the Kansas City EMP Group at firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP or for more information