Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide is the third volume that Elizabeth Bollwerk and Robert Connolly have jointly edited.  In 2012, along with Natalye Tate, based on a Society for Applied Anthropology annual meeting session they edited a special issue of Museums and Social Issues titled Open(ing) Authority Through Community Engagement.  In 2015, they published Co-creation in the Archaeological Record in Advances in Archaeological Practices one of three peer-reviewed journals of the Society for American Archaeology.  Both volumes were based in a theoretical framework co-creation to present case studies by leaders in the field of community engagement in cultural heritage.

They view Positioning Your Museum as a Critical Community Asset: A Practical Guide as the next step in that process.  In this volume, they do not mean to convince anyone of the value of museums engaging with their community.  This publication is meant as A Practical Guide.  In fact, that practical application is the reason why they have also created this digital Resource Guide!

The Editors

rc4Robert Connolly received his PhD from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996 based on his long-term research at the Hopewell Fort Ancient hilltop enclosure in southwest Ohio.  He served as the Station Archaeologist and at the Poverty Point earthwork complex (now World Heritage site) in northeast Louisiana for the next seven years.  In September of 2016, he retired after a decade as the Director of the C.H. Nash Museum at Chucalissa and an Associate Professor at the University of Memphis with a focus in Museum Studies.

Robert’s research interest is at the intersection of Museum Studies and Applied rc3Archaeology in working collaboratively with community partners to develop cultural heritage programs.

From his retirement home in New Orleans he serves as the President of the Advocates for Poverty Point. Along with his colleague Elizabeth Cruzado Carranza, he is part of a public archaeology project on the north coast of Peru.  In addition to consulting, he also will play a role in the community outreach projects of Whitney Plantation and other New Orleans area cultural heritage venues.  And, he is most excited to spend more time with his wife, Emma working in her shop, Uptown Needle & Craftworks on Magazine St. in New Orleans.

Robert currently serves on the Editorial Board of Advances in Archaeological Practices and blogs at Archaeology, Museums & Outreach. In addition to maintaining this Resource Guide, in the fall of 2016 he will launch a blog reviewing New Orleans museums.  He can be reached at robert.connolly@gmail.com or on Twitter @yagumboya

bollwerk_headshotElizabeth Bollwerk received her PhD from the University of Virginia in 2012. Her research examined the geographic distributions of Native American tobacco pipe and ceramic attributes with Geographic Information Systems software to explore Late Woodland and Historic period exchange networks and social systems in the Middle Atlantic region of the United States.

Elizabeth is currently an Archaeological Analyst for the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery (DAACS) at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation based at Monticello. As an archaeologist who works with digital data, she collaborates with researchers to analyze historic records and artifacts using digital methods to develop new ideas and interpretations of the past and, by extension, the present. Her current research focuses on investigating enslaved consumers’ roles in the production of Colonoware, a low-fired, locally made, unglazed earthenware found on sixteenth to nineteenth century sites in the Southeastern United States.

Before joining DAACS, Elizabeth was a Collections Assistant at the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington where she assisted in the curation, analysis, and interpretation of archaeological collections. She also served as the Museum Manager at Central Washington University’s Museum of Culture and Environment where she worked on public outreach and grant writing projects.

Elizabeth’s other current projects focus on using archaeological digital data from museum and repository collections for research and public outreach. She is an advocate of using both qualitative and quantitative evaluation measures to understand the impact of digital resources. She recently served as the Taskforce Chair of the Public Education Committee’s Taskforce on the reassessment of the Society for American Archaeology’s For the Public Webpages. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Museum Computer Network.

The Contributors Include:


Melanie Adams, Ph.D. is the former Manager Director of Community Education and Events at the Missouri Historical Society.  She currently serves as the Senior Director of Guest Experience and Educational Services Minnesota Historical Society.  E-mail Melanie at adams.melanie28@gmail.com


Mary Anna Evans is an assistant professor at the University of Oklahoma, where she teaches fiction and nonfiction writing.  Her website is www.maryannaevans.com.  E-mail Mary Anna at maevans@ou.edu


Brian Failing is the Executive Director of the Aurora Regional Fire Museum in Aurora, IL.  Contact Brian Failing at brian.failing92@gmail.com or on Twitter at @b_failing.


Sarah Miller received her Masters degree in Anthropology from East Carolina University in 2001 where she developed archaeology education programs. Sarah supervised field and lab projects with public involvement for the Kentucky Archaeological Survey. She now serves as Director for FPAN’s Northeast and East Central Regions, national Leadership Team for Project Archaeology, and Board Member for the St. Augustine Archaeology Association and Society for Historical Archaeology. Her specialties include public archaeology, historical archaeology, and historic cemeteries. Contact Sarah at @semiller88 @FPANnortheast @FPANlive @FPANeastcentral


Rebecca L. Price is the founder and President/CEO of ChickHistory, Inc, a nonprofit dedicated to rebuilding history one story at a time by focusing on women’s history, original programming, and community outreach. She holds an M.A. in Museums Studies from George Washington University and has worked for the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Institute of Museums and Library Services, and the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH). She currently serves on the board of the Tennessee Association of Museums, as founding Co-Chair of the Women’s History Affinity Group at AASLH, and is a member of the Votes for Women Trail Committee for the National Collaborative for Women’s Historic Sites.


Melissa Prycer is the President and Executive Director of the Dallas Heritage Village at Old City Park.  She blogs at www.redevelopinghistory.com.  Contact Melissa at mprycer@dallasheritagevillage.org or on Twitter at @misajane79


Kelsey Ransick received her MA from University of Delaware. She has performed curatorial and archival work, web design, and sundry other small museum tasks. She can be contacted at freethemuseum.net or kelseyransick.weebly.com.


Ashley Rogers is the Director of Museum Operations at the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, Louisiana. She can be reached at arogers@whitneyplantation.com


Jody Stokes-Casey earned her MA in art history and Museum Studies Certificate from the University of Memphis. She has served as Education Coordinator and Interim Director of Education, Interpretation, and Collections at the National Civil Rights Museum, as Interim Associate Director of Education in Family and School Programs at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, and as Programming Manager for the UrbanArt Commission. She has taught art at all levels K-12 and is currently back in the classroom. Contact her on Twitter @jstokescasey.