How can the Reher Center continue pursuing its mission in the midst of a pandemic, as museums large and small across the country are closed to the public and laying off their staff?
In May, I reached out to my colleague Sarah Johnson from the Hudson River Maritime Museum to ask if we could talk through some ideas I had about how local museums might help each other to get our digital programs and resources “out there” into the public’s view, or even create a new digital project together. I imagined I wasn’t the only local museum director facing an uncertain future.
With Sarah’s support, I reached out to two more colleagues, Troy Ellen Dixon at the African Roots Center and Jane Kellar at Friends of Historic Kingston. Jane reached out to her local network to endorse the idea and invite others to participate. And so the “HAK,” or History Alliance of Kingston, was born.
We considered three different ideas to start:
- Combining forces by merging our Zoom lectures into one local history series
- Creating a cellphone app for a Kingston history walking tour
- Creating a digital scavenger hunt of local history
We settled on creating a digital scavenger hunt, agreeing that it would help folks learn to see our city in new ways, pique folks’ interest in local history, and help participants discover each institution’s online collections where they could learn more.
Each week since late May, our group of volunteer representatives from nine local history organizations has met weekly via Zoom. Collaboratively, we refined the concept, developed the content, and created an infrastructure for three month-long Hudson Valley History Hunts. Read more about the goals and members of the HAK at historyallianceofkingston.com
Hunt one launches tomorrow, August 15th and runs through September 15th. Hunts two and three, each of which features a new sets of clues, launch on September 15th and October 15th, respectively. You can find the hunts here. historyallianceofkingston.com/hudson-valley-history-hunt/
We are not sure what’s next for the History Alliance of Kingston, but what is clear is that this network of colleagues and collaborators will continue to benefit the Reher Center, our mission, and the museum and history communities far beyond this season.
I hope you’ll be in touch with your ideas and feedback, and if you would like to be involved. You can reach me at Sarah@ReherCenter.org or the HAK at HistoryAllianceofKingston@gmail.com