The Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC) held its annual meeting in Charleston this month from Tuesday, Oct. 13, through Thursday, Oct. 15. SEMC, begun in 1951, is a nonprofit membership organization that serves 12 states across the southeast, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, as well as Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The group holds its annual meeting one of three week/weekends in October. It has been approximately 20 years since SEMC met in West Virginia.
On Wednesday evening, Oct. 14, museum professionals attended a reception at the Governor’s Mansion that included an official welcome from Gov. Joe Manchin III and First Lady Gayle C. Manchin and music by the outstanding traditional old-time music band, The Full Moon Boys. The group then went to the Culture Center where they enjoyed the musical stylings of jazz great Bob Thompson and the culinary delights of Wellington’s of Scarlet Oaks.
Commissioner Randall Reid-Smith of the Division of Culture and History and Cabinet Secretary Kay Goodwin of the Department of Education and the Arts greeted guests and provided a special after hours tour of the newly renovated West Virginia State Museum. Representatives from the American Association of State and Local History (AASLH), the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (IMLS) and the American Association of Museums (AAM) were also in attendance. The commissioner accompanied AAM president, Ford Bell, on his museum tour. “It is encouraging to see the support for our museum from our peers and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to showcase our museum to cultural leaders from across the southeast,” Reid-Smith said.
The SEMC selected Charleston for its annual meeting for many reasons, particularly the West Virginia State Museum, according the Adam Hodges, director of museums for the Division. “More than two years ago, the site section committee for SEMC reviewed plans for our museum and recognized the innovative quality of the design specs. They really wanted to come see the finished product,” said Hodges. He later reflected that Graig Shaak, interim executive director of the SEMC, told him he couldn’t remember any evening event in his long history with SEMC that could possibly compare with this visit, from the supportive and gracious governor and first lady to the tour of the West Virginia State Museum.
Auntaneshia Staveloz, content coordinator of the museum assessment program for AAM, told Holli Vanater, museum operations manager for the Division, “Visiting your museum was absolutely phenomenal and you and your staff were perfect hosts. Thank you for sharing such an immersive experience.”
SEMC members also attended the Clay Center on Tuesday, Oct. 13, for a reception. On Thursday, Oct. 15, the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsored a reception with music on Capitol Street during the monthly Art Walk.
For more information, contact Hodges at (304) 558-0220.
The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. Its administrative offices are located at the Culture Center in the State Capitol Complex in Charleston, which also houses the state archives and state museum. The Culture Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. The agency also operates a network of museums and historic sites across the state. For more information about the Division’s programs, visit www.wvculture.org. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.
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