The Recorder – Museum grants to help Historic Deerfield, PVMA weather the pandemic

DEERFIELD – Historic Deerfield and the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association (PVMA) have received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities to develop new programs as the museum industry navigates the enduring COVID-19 pandemic.

Of a total of $ 87.8 million awarded to nearly 300 institutions across the United States, Historic Deerfield received $ 200,000 to develop enhanced virtual and hybrid programming. Meanwhile, PVMA received $ 50,000 to develop its “Pocumtuck Valley Voices” program, which seeks to preserve, promote and interpret the multicultural history of the Connecticut and Deerfield river valleys.

Laurie Nivison, Director of Marketing for Historic Deerfield, said the $ 200,000 grant will allow the museum to continue to develop its growing virtual and hybrid offerings while placing the museum in a new position to increase digital engagement.

“When the pandemic hit, we went online pretty quickly and sort of had to learn from scratch how to stream these virtual programs,” Nivison said. “We created a model that allowed us to virtually create high quality programming and generate revenue at the same time. ”

Nivison noted that there were no concrete plans yet as Historic Deerfield just received notification of the grant, but she is considering an “e-learning platform” and potential mobile app integration for more accessible and improved learning.

She said the current virtual and hybrid offerings are “here to stay” and that funding from the grant will allow the museum to continue reaching a global audience, including when the pandemic subsides.

“We want to be able to continue to reach these audiences both locally, regionally and across the world,” Nivison said. “This will continue a lot of the programs we started during the pandemic… the free lectures we had, the paid seminars, the museum classes that were hugely popular last winter, and continue to work and expand. these offers. ”

PVMA executive director Tim Neumann said his organization’s $ 50,000 grant will help maintain seven jobs while expanding the museum’s interpretations of local history.

“We’re trying to do something around African American history and we really like native stories,” Neumann said. “(We also wanted to) move in the direction of safeguarding existing jobs.”

Neumann said PVMA will expand its exhibits on Indigenous and Black people whose histories are intertwined, but under-represented, in Franklin County history. PVMA will expand its Arosen’s Gifts exhibit and add a new exhibit on Native American nurse Susie Yellowtail and black and Afro-Indian soldiers during the War of Independence.

“The African American people haven’t left a lot of physical evidence behind, so you really need to do a lot of research,” Neumann said. “The Afro-Indian accent is also new. It emerges among academics as an under-represented story of Métis people. ”

He said each exhibit had different opening dates, with the Black and Afro-Indian soldier exhibit slated for the United States’ 250th anniversary in 2026.

“The work around African-American participation locally in the revolution aims later,” Neumann said. “I think the biggest chunk is if we find their graves – and we’ve found some already – there will be a way to see it online.”

Neumann added that Historic Deerfield and PVMA receive these grants reaffirm the historical and educational work being done in the area.

“We’re not part of Historic Deerfield, but it’s always good when they get money for activities,” Neumann said. “National merit humanities work is done in Franklin and Hampshire counties. ”

Chris Larabee can be reached at [email protected] or 413-930-4081.

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