Making Small-Town Museums Work: Not Your Grandmother's Rocking Chair

Learning Approach: Best Practices

| Sheraton New Orleans, Oak Alley | Posted: Sunday, 2:45-3:30 p.m.

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Small Town Museums

In a well-intended effort to celebrate their heritage, small communities often decide to turn a historic landmark into a museum. “Collections,” ranging from grandmother's rocking chair to typewriters, high school yearbooks, military uniforms, start coming in and are showcased as artifacts that, admittedly, were a large part of what built that community. The museum opens to great acclaim, but then excitement wanes, visitor attendance drops, the proud collection starts to gather dust, and discouraged volunteers fall by the wayside. In this session, you’ll learn ways to reposition exhibits, create joint promotions with arts-oriented businesses, and raise funds to benefit the museum and Main Street alike.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Find out how to develop exhibits in small town, otherwise "historic" museums, in order to keep the facility fresh and appealing to local residents, as well as tourists/visitors traveling through the area.
  2. Learn how to tie in promotions with merchants and other arts-oriented facilities downtown.
  3. Get ideas for fundraisers that will benefit museum and Main Street alike.
  4. Participate in discussions about workable facility spaces that could be developed into museums.


For more information contact:

Kay LaFrance-Knight, Winnsboro LA Main Street
Kay LaFrance-Knight was a Main Street Manager in Columbia, LA, from 1993 to 2001, when she became curator of the Schepis Museum, one of the first buildings restored downtown and the location of the Main Street office. It quickly became apparent, after the opening exhibit, "Louisiana in the Marine Corps," that the doors were going to have to stay open...thus the need for future exhibits. In 2002, Kay went on from that position to become the Main Street Manager in Winnsboro, LA, and helped oversee the restoration in 2009 of the old WPA-era Post Office downtown into the Old Post Office Museum and offices for Main Street, Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development and Tourism. Kay is a speech and theatre graduate of University of Louisiana at Monroe, and was a television news anchor for ten years for CBS affiliate KNOE.