Conference & Annual Meeting

NMA Annual Conference, April 8-9, 2024 at Stuhr Musem in Grand Island, Nebraska

Telling Nebraska Stories: The Power of Place

Stuhr Museum
Stuhr Building
Stuhr Building, interior
Railroad Town
Dr. Flippin Exhibit
Field Trip Cooking
Summer Adventure Preschool in Taylor Store
Summer Adventure School House Science
Summer Adventure Tinsmithing
Collections Tour
Collections Tour
Stuhr Building
Stuhr Museum with Grand Island in background

Silent Auction is Back!

Donating items to the 2024 NMA Conference Silent Auction helps promote your museum and fund the NMA Disaster Relief Grant. 
What can you donate to the Silent Auction:
~A basket of goodies from your gift shop
~Your favorite Nebraska History book or cookbook
~A free pass to your museum
~Items that showcase the mission of your Museum
Bring your items to the conference registration table where you will  fill out a bid sheet and find out where to display your treasure for attendees to bid on during the conference.  Must be present to win.
Want to participate in the bidding? Get your number at the registration table. All that’s left to do is make sure you bring cash, credit, or your checkbook. The auction opens at 9:00 am on Monday and Tuesday  and closes at 3:30 pm after the last session of the day.
 Questions contact

NEW! 2024 Conference Raffle

New for 2024! NMA is excited to announce our first ever Conference Raffle. Proceeds for the Raffle will benefit the NMA Disaster Relief Grant. Tickets will be available for purchase at the conference. 
Prizes include FREE registration for the 2025 NMA Conference in Alliance, Nebraska, original artwork by Stuhr Museum Direct Chris Hochstetler, and others to be announced. Winners will be announced at the end of the Conference. Must be present to win. 
Questions contact

Rita Paskowitz, Storyteller

Keynote Speaker

Rita Paskowitz doesn’t just tell stories: she ELECTRIFIES them! Believing that everyone – young or old – is a story waiting to be told, Rita combines her skills as a storyteller, actress, writer, comedienne and improvisationalist into interactive workshops that span the storytelling process. Participants joyously progress from self-discovery to story-crafting to actual performance in a mere five days. Choose an opportunity for your students to build intergenerational relationships, journey through mythology, understand the Holocaust, carve a pathway through pioneer Nebraska, write and present a personal narrative (perfect for fourth graders!), create or recreate a genre tale – whatever storytelling project might cross and coincide with your curriculum or current event – or let Rita create a residency JUST for you. Using hands-on activities and exercises guaranteed to free up even the most hesitant first-time teller, Rita’s goal is not just to focus on excellent storytelling but to illuminate the power of each individual’s life experience and the value of sharing it – while having a WONDERFUL time.

Guest Speaker

Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and has run poetry workshops in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus for the U.S. State Department. His poetry has appeared in The New York Times and Matt has received a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council. His work can be found in Rattle, Poet Lore, Prairie Schooner, and in hundreds of other publications. Mason’s 5th book, Rock Stars, was published by Button Poetry in September of 2023.

Matt Mason, Nebraska State Poet

Conference Schedule

Monday, April 8
*Please register for only 1 morning workshop/tour and only 1 afternoon workshop/tour.
8:00 am – 12:00 pmRegistration Stuhr Building, Main Level
8:30 am – 12:30 pmWorkshop: Environmental Education for ALL Museums!Stuhr Building, Hornady Hall
8:30 – 10:00 am Tour: Tetris and Tactics: Organization within a Museum Collection Ahrens Collection Building 
9:30 – 11:00 amWorkshop: Log Cabin Life: An Immersive Field Trip **FULL**Vieregg Cabin 
10:30 – 12:00 pmWorkshop: Mission-Driven Supporter EngagementReyndolds Building, Multi-purpose Room
12:00 – 1:30 pmLUNCH ON YOUR OWN
1:00 – 4 pmRegistration Stuhr Building, Main Level
1:30 – 4:30 pmWorkshop: Place-Based Storytelling using Clio and StoryMapsStuhr Building, Hornady Hall
1:30 – 3:00 pmTour: Grand Island CemeteryGrand Island Cemetery, 3168 W. Stolley Park Road
1:30 – 3:30 pmWorkshop: Storage and Display of Historic TextilesAhrens Collection Building
2:00 – 3:30 pmWorkshop Education through the Summer MonthsTaylor Store, north end of Railroad Town
5:00 – 8:00 pmWelcome Reception & BBQ DinnerRailroad Town (alternate location in case of rain/cold: Stuhr Building)
Tuesday, April 9
8:00 – 10:00 amRegistration Stuhr Building
8:30 – 8:45 amWelcomeHornady Hall
8:45– 9:30 am Guest Speaker: Matt Mason, Nebraska State Poet Hornady Hall
9:30 – 9:45 am BREAK
9:45 – 10:45 amConcurrent Sessions
A. Local Stories, Global ConnectionsHornady Hall
B. Collaboration – Calling in CommunityStuhr Bistro
11:00 – 12:15 pmKeynote: Rita Paskowitz, StorytellerHornady Hall
12:15 – 1:00 pmLUNCH & NMA Business MeetingHornady Hall
1:15 – 2:15 pmConcurrent Sessions
A. Museum Tours That Are Actually FunHornady Hall
B. How Humanities Funding Can Support Museum StorytellingStuhr Bistro
2:15 – 2:30 pmBREAK – Last chance for silent auction
2:30 – 3:30 pmConcurrent Sessions
A. Collecting from the Recent Past and TodayHornady Hall
B. Hometown History Comes AliveStuhr Bistro
3:30 pmClosing
Raffle Drawing for free 2025 NMA Conference registration – must be present to win!
Collect silent auction items
Hornady Hall
*Schedule is subject to change


Environmental Education for ALL Museums!  Monday, 8:30 am – 12:00 pm

Environmental education really is for all museums, regardless of size, staffing, or type of institution. In this workshop, you will learn how you can incorporate activities from Project WILD and Project Learning Tree into programs you are already doing. We will also discuss how to create new programs using these two nationally recognized environmental education curriculum guides. They contain over 50 hands-on, interdisciplinary lessons focused on a range of environmental topics. Geared toward elementary through high school students, these budget-friendly activities can be used in indoor and outdoor settings, as well as in museum galleries or a classroom space. Participants must be registered by March 25th and will receive both Project WILD and Project Learning Tree curriculum guides upon completion of this workshop. 

Russanne Hoff has over 20 years of experience in the museum field. In addition to being a certified Nebraska Master Naturalist, she has been the Curator of Education at the Hastings Museuem since 2007. She loves being outside and connection people to the world around them through engaging nature experiences. 
Matt Jones recently joined the Hastings Museum in 2023. Prior to that, he was the state coordinator for the Nebraska Master Naturalist Program. Matt enjoys being outside and exploring the natural world with his family.

Log Cabin Life: An Immersive Field Trip             Monday, 9:30 – 11:00 am

**Full** No longer accepting registrations. Experience what students in Stuhr Museum’s field trips do as we learn about what life was like for someone living on the Nebraska Prairie in a log cabin. Learn about how log cabins were constructed and hear the stories of the people who originally lived in them. During this class students get to make biscuits, churn butter, wash dishes, taste test their biscuits and butter, and make rope. We will do a few of these activities as time permits. Preregistration is required, limited to the first 12 participants to register. 

Nancy Buettner is a Museum Educator at Stuhr Museum. She has been working in the Summer Adventures program since 2002 and the Field Trip program since 2023. Nancy worked in school nutrition services at Grand Island Public Schools for 25 years prior to her retirement, which has provided her a unique perspective of today’s students. Nancy enjoys spending time on the farm, cooking, baking, and fiber arts, and teaches many aspects of those topics in her classes at the museum.

Mission-Driven Supporter Engagement  10:30 am – 12:00 pm

Participants will learn practical strategies to engage supporters authentically, optimize fundraising channels, and measure success effectively. Gain insights into building genuine relationships with suporters by understanding their motivations and aligning them with the organization’s mission. Explore ways to embed your mission and values into various fundraising channels such as events, campaigns, and major gifts. Learn how to utilize data-driven approaches to minimize donor fatigue and deliver impactful results. 

Samantha Schueler joined the Stuhr Museum Foundation as the Communications Coordinator in December of 2019, her talents were quickly revealed and she was promoted to Foundation Giving Director after just one year. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Nebraska Wesleyan University in May of 2016. Sam is an active participant of Grand Island Noon Rotary and a graduate of Leadership Tomorrow | Class 36. 

Megan Cure has worked in the nonprofit sector for a decade and half and has made genuine and meaningful connections while working to make a difference in the greater Grand Island community. Megan’s caring, thoughtful, and sound leadership serves her well in her donor-centric role. Megan brings calm and inclusive direction to the many Foundation hosted events and works tirelessly to ensure success while maintaining positive relationships.

Tetris and Tactics: Organization within a Museum Collection               8:30 – 10:00 am

This educational tour of the Stuhr Museum Ahrens Collections Building will highlight the different collections care and storage techniques used by the Curatorial staff of Stuhr Museum. The curatorial staff stewards a collection of over 147,000 artifacts. Everything from the smallest artifacts like thimbles to the largest collections artifacts like historic homes are cared for by the Curatorial staff. How these items are cared for and how this sort of collection is kept organized and rotated is the topic of this tour. 

Robb Nelson is the Curator of Stuhr Museum and has been a part of the curatorial staff for the past 5 years. He received a PhD in History from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in December of 2023.

Kylie Luth is the Assistant Curator of Stuhr Museum. She has a B.A. in Art History and History from Hastings College and an M.P.A in Public Administration from the University of Northern Arizona. Kylie is new to Stuhr Museum and started in her role in the Spring of 2023.Megan Sharp is the Registrar of Stuhr Museum. She has a B.A. in History and Library Science from Chadron State College and an M.A. in Museum Studies from the University of Nebraska Lincoln. Megan has had a long career in the museum profession. Before working at Stuhr Museum she was the Executive Director of the Merrick County Historical Society and Museum as well as the Plainsman Museum in Aurora, Nebraska.

Place-based Storytelling using Clio and StoryMaps  1:30 – 4:30 pm

This workshop will provide participants with an introduction to using Clio and StoryMaps as two means for museums to engage in place-based storytelling. Clio is a webpage and mobile app designed to provide users with a virtual guide to historic sites in your community. With over 40,000 entries and 1,600+ walking tours, it has become an industry standard and an increasingly popular way for connecting the pubic to the past around them. StoryMaps, powered by ESRI, lets you quickly and easily create visually appealing webpages that interpret the history of your community using text, images, audio, video, and powerful mapping software. You can even easily integrate the webpage you produce into your museum’s existing website! And the best part is that both programs can be used for FREE. 

For the best experience, participants should bring a laptop with them so that they can participate in building a Clio tour and/or StoryMap as part of the workshop.

Will Stoutamire is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, where he coordinates the undergraduate minor in public history and new online graduate MA in public history. He has previously worked as a contract historian for the National Park Service and as Director of the G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture at UNK.

Grand Island Cemetery Tour 1:30 – 3:00 pm

This tour has been Hall County Historical Society’s most popular summer program since 2001. The Grand Island Cemetery, established before Nebraska was a state, contains thousands of stories about the history of the community providing new stories every year that draw audiences back for new and distinctively different experiences. 

Sue Clement turned her lifelong interest in Plains history into a career as an educator at Stuhr Museum and Humanities Nebraska speaker. As Historian for St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church and a board member for the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation and Hall County Historical Society, she also directs her efforts toward historic education and preservation projects.

Michelle Setlik is an educator, writer, and community historian with deep roots in Hall County, spanning seven generations. In addition to her role as a college administrator, she serves on the Hall County Historical Society Board and is a passionate volunteer for historic preservation projects and educational programs.

Storage and Display of Historic Textiles 1:30 – 3:30 pm

Most museums have textiles in their collections, but do we know how to care for or properly display these garments? What can we do when our museums do not have the facilities or funding to store every item in the ideal way? In this workshop, we will focus on how all museums can make strides towards improving how they care for textiles within their collections. We will cover storing garments in boxes, how to make a padded hanger in a pinch, and how to pad out garments on a dress form when displaying them. Much of the time will be spent participating in hands-on practice so that you can replicate what you’ve learned at your site. There is so much that we can learn from garments and textiles, so together let’s help each other care for them and help these artifacts tell their stories for as long as possible.  

Alyssa Smith has worked at Stuhr museum since 2016 and is currently the Director of Interpretive Resources. She has degrees in History and Psychology and a Masters in Material Culture and Textile Studies with a focus on the care and display of historic dress and a minor in History. As a graduate student she oversaw the University of Nebraska’s historical textile collection and now works closely with the Stuhr Museum curators on any textiles that come into the museum or are displayed in exhibits. Her goal is to make knowledge about historical textiles and their care more accessible to others in the museum field.

Education through the Summer Months                               2:00 – 3:30 pm

Take a look at what a Summer Adventures Lesson Plan & Supply List looks like at Stuhr Museum, and how we make the lessons come alive! Participants will experience a snippet of a Summer Adventures class and understand how the flow of activities and the basis behind the curriculum make all the difference in the student experience. Preregistration is required, limited to the first 20 participants to register.

Emily Byerly graduated from Wayne State College with her Bachelors Degree in K-8 Elementary Education & K-6 Special Education Generalist in December of 2019. After graduation, Emily taught in public schools for two years before becoming the Director of Education at Stuhr Museum in Grand Island, Nebraska in June of 2022. However, this was not Emily’s first educational encounter with Stuhr as she has been teaching Summer Adventures classes at the museum since 2018. As Director of Education, Emily oversees the curriculum, growth, and community- and state-wide impact of the museum’s educational programs.

Karen Hurst is the Director of Marketing & Communications at Stuhr Museum. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a B.A. in Fine Arts with an emphasis in Photography. Karen was a part of the Education Department for several years, working first as a Summer Adventures teacher during her college years, then as the Administrative Assistant for 5 years, and Director of Education for 10 months prior to her marketing role. Karen continues to work with the Education Department to promote educational opportunities for students of all ages.

Session Descriptions:

Local Stories, Global Connections: Telling Transnational Nebraska Histories in Local Museums

10:30-11:30 am

Nebraska museums often emphasize the local history plot, a focus on local, county, or state stories confined to the geographic boundaries of the community. Yet, history is messy and strays beyond defined borders and boundaries. This presentation highlights the stories of Canada’s first Black lacrosse player, a Korean military academy, and a captured Japanese battle flag to share how the Buffalo County Historical Society in Kearney is telling transnational and global stories with its collections. In a globalized economy and culture, telling stories about Nebraska and the globe in local museums offers new perspectives and connections to established histories and collections. This session will point to strategies in researching, narrating, and exhibiting local histories through a global or transnational lens for museums of all sizes. 

Dr. Nathan Tye is the assistant professor of Nebraska and American West history at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. He serves on the board of three Nebraska museums: The Buffalo County Historical Society, G.W. Frank Museum of History and Culture, and the Japanese Hall at the Legacy of the Plains Museum. His research is published in Nebraska History, Annals of Iowa, The Willa Cather Review, he appeared on NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, and is the Mari Sandoz Heritage Society’s current Mari Sandoz Scholar. 

Collaboration – Calling in Community         10:30 – 11:30 am

Museums are an integral part of their communities. However, for many museums, community engagement can present a challenge. This presentation explores how museum collaborations can foster innovation, and inclusivity, and enrich visitor experiences. Presenter Libby McKay will share anecdotes of successful and not-so-successful collaborations that were undertaken by Elkhorn Valley Museum. She will also discuss looking outside the norm for these partnerships and how working with other entities can increase visibility and visitorship. As cultural institutions navigate the ever-changing social landscape, cross-disciplinary and interdisciplinary partnerships will be the key to sustainability and viability within their communities. 

Libby McKay has been the Executive Director of Elkhorn Valley Museum in Norfolk for 2 years. Previously she served as the Education and Outreach Coordinator. She is a self-proclaimed advocate for the arts and humanities, serves on the Norfolk Public Library Advisory Board, and is the Norfolk Community Theatre board president. 

Museum Tours That Are Actually Fun 1:15 – 2:15 pm

In this session, learn how creating out-of-the-box tours for the public can engage visitors with each other, your museum, and the community. We will show you that lost or hidden local history can be the basis for a fun tour that will make people want to come back. In addition, you’ll discover how you can keep the content in your museum fresh (without bringing in new exhibits) by using your existing artifacts as a jumping off point to new stories. We will discuss how to use these tours to talk about local history and people, as well as ways to tie them to national events and famous figures. BONUS: There will be audience participation if you choose!

Russanne Hoff has over 20 years of experience in the museum field. She has been the Curator of Education at the Hastings Museum since 2007. She finds job inspiration in the most unlikely of places and enjoys the challenge of implementing new museum programs.

Curtis Gosser has been with the Hastings Museum since 2015. He is also an adjunct instructor of Media Arts at Central Community College. Curtis enjoys creative problem-solving and finding new ways for visitors to interact with exhibits. Giving guided tours is one of his favorite aspects of the job.

How Humanities Funding Can Support Museum Storytelling 1:15 – 2:15 pm

Museums exist to tell stories. Oftentimes, there are more stories to tell than there is time and money to tell them. In this panel discussion, representatives from museums who have recently received Humanities Nebraska program grants – Elkhorn Valley Museum, The Plainsman Museum, and Robert Henri Museum and Historical Walkway – will describe their grant-funded projects and talk about the grant application experience, and representatives from Humanities Nebraska will moderate the panel discussion and talk about how to submit a successful application for a grant to help support your museum’s storytelling efforts. 

Katie Bradshaw is the Grants Management and Outreach Specialist for Humanities Nebraska and the former director of the Legacy of the Plains Museum and North Platte Valley Museum in Gering.

Mary Yager is the Associate Director for Humanities Nebraska and manages its Museum on Main Street partnership with the Smithsonian Institution.

Tina Larson is the Executive Director of the Plainsman Museum in Aurora, where she has served the museum in various capacities over the past 25 years. 

Libby McKay is the Executive Director of Elkhorn Valley Museum and the former Education and Outreach Coordinator. 

Peter Osborne has been the director of the Robert Henri Museum and Art Gallery in Cozad for five years after serving in administrative positions in several other museums back East. 

Collecting from the Recent Past and Today 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Collecting from the recent past and present is challenging for many institutions. There are several aspects to consider and just as many obstacles. For example, how many times have you heard, “why would you want that? It’s not old!” But then, so many collections essentially stop at WWII, so we perpetuate this sentiment. In reality, history never stops being made, and unless your mission says otherwise, your organization will eventually have to tell these stories. So what do we need to know? A panel of curators and archivists will lead an interactive roundtable discussion that will cover theories, strategies, issues, successes, and failures. 

Dan Brosz joined the Hastings Museum as curator of collections in December 2021. Dan began his career as the registrar for the National Model Aviation Museum in Muncie, IN. He then spent 11 years as the curator of collections with the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre, SD. Dan then directed a major grant program for the North Carolina Arts Council, in Raleigh, NC. Dan served as president of the Association of South Dakota Museums and was a steering committee member for the creation of the Coalition of State Museum Associations. 

Andrew Dunehoo‘s lifelong passion for the arts and history has lead to a career in museums spanning over 20 years, and encompassing museum education, curation, exhibitions design, and administrative management. Andrew worked in state and local history in Shawnee Kansas, while completing his Masters Degree in History and Material Culture Studies from the University of Missouri Kansas City. He moved to Colorado in 2007 and worked in arts, history, and public cultural programming with the City of Fort Morgan Colorado, followed by the Town of Windsor Colorado, before moving to South Dakota in 2017 to become the Director of Museums & Cultural Affairs for The Indian Museum of North America at Crazy Horse Memorial. Andrew recently took on the role of Executive Director for the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney in 2023. He now directs the major expansion of the MONA, setting the stage for future arts exhibitions and culturally enriching programming in the arts for generations to come

Karen Keehr is the Archivist at the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. With over 22 years of experience in the Archives field, she specialized training in digital imaging and photograph preservation. One of her goals at AHSGR is to increase access to our unique German Russian collections through digital access and improved archival processing. Karen was the Curator of Research at Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer in Grand Island, NE for nine years where she worked on two books of photographs, Grand Island and Hall County and Grand Island: the Julius Leschinsky Photographs. In June 2009, Karen became the Curator of Photographs and Head of Digital Imaging at the Nebraska State Historical Society (now known as History Nebraska). She has also proudly served on the Nebraska Museums Association board since 2000 and has been recently working on legislation to modernize the Nebraska Museum Property Act.

Hometown History Comes Alive 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Learn how the Legacy of the Plains Museum developed a living history tour that brings third graders to explore the concepts of community and change. With a focus on how everyday people worked together to meet their common needs, volunteers snap their suspenders, fluff their petticoats and transform into personalities from the founding of panhandle towns. Students meet heroes from long ago who surveyed, settled, and shared their strength and skills to create the communities that shape our region today. Hear how program development evolved to share commonalities in the founding of our region through the stories and activities of specific pioneering settlers. Personal hands-on experiences build excitement and pride for this special place we call home. We hope this experience helps make students aware of their legacy from the dreamers of the past. We want them to carry that vision to build a future supporting collaboration and community. 

Dave Wolf, now Executive Director of Legacy of the Plains Museum, learned to value active learning in his former job as outdoor educator for the North Platte Natural Resource District. He believes in making education programs fun and interactive to cultivate the next generation of history lovers. 

A retired teacher, Penny Businga loves to explore history, plan active educational programs and encourage volunteers to wear costumes! Penny has been working on education programming for over 30 years and has developed several programs that are still going on today. She is currently the lead volunteer for the museum education programs.

Future NMA Conference Locations:
2025 – Knight Museum in Alliance, Nebraska
2026 – Gage County Museum in Beatrice, Nebraska

Resources from Past NMA Conferences