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  3/29-4/1: Smithsonian's Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums Conference

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Author Topic:   3/29-4/1: Smithsonian's Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums Conference
Robert Pearlman
Editor

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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-21-2008 12:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum presents...
Mutual Concerns of Air and Space Museums Conference
March 29 - April 1, 2008
L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, Washington, DC

As the event description implies, this event is primarily for the air and space museum community:

quote:
Experience a unique international meeting specifically focused on the needs of the air and space community. The seminar features general sessions, panel discussions, presentations, and concurrent sessions. Topics include air and space history, conservation, exhibit design, and marketing. Get practical information and timely tips that will help you and your organization soar!
However, space collectors may take interest in one of the conference's sessions:
quote:
Tuesday, April 1
9:30 - 10:45 a.m.

Space Museums and Space Collecting: Common Concerns

Speakers:

  • Cathleen Lewis, Curator, Space History Division, National Air and Space Museum
  • Alan Lipkin, Senior Vice President, Regency-Superior, Ltd.
  • Robert Pearlman, Editor, collectSPACE.com
  • Margaret Weitekamp, Curator, Division of Space History, National Air and Space Museum
Chair:
  • Jennifer Levasseur, Museum Specialist, Division of Space History, National Air and Space Museum
Although interest in Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo memorabilia remains strong in the commercial world of space collecting, Shuttle-themed objects and memorabilia associated with post-Apollo spaceflight generates less enthusiasm. If this trend indicates that interest in space exploration is declining (perhaps as the generation that witnessed the beginning of the space age gets older), that trend has profound implications for space museums as well as for space auctions and the collectors' community. Drawing on experts in space collecting from both the museum world and the space collecting business, this panel will discuss how space museums and space collectors are responding to these trends and what your museum might do.
To support our own part in this session, collectSPACE will be debuting a survey about collectors' interests in early February. Watch for details on how to participate...

Choose2Go
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posted 01-21-2008 07:37 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Choose2Go   Click Here to Email Choose2Go     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Boy, I'd like to go to this! Maybe I can scrounge up the registration fee, and use some air miles. If not, I look forward to your reports, Robert!

Jim

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 01-21-2008 08:19 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Rob... I think its tremendous that such a forum exists to facilitate the interchange of information with collectors/museums as it further validates the important role collectors play in supporting our mutual interest of longterm preservation of space artifacts and memorabilia. You/collectSPACE have been largely instrumental in elevating the stature of this hobby to such a degree that NASM / NASA has stood up and taken notice. A couple of questions for you and the rest of the cS community on as it relates to the specific conference charter in your initial entry which states "If this trend indicates that interest in space exploration is declining (perhaps as the generation that witnessed the beginning of the space age gets older), that trend has profound implications for space museums as well as for space auctions and the collectors' community."

What are the "profound implications"? Why would a trend of disinterest in the space program have ramifications for a museum's ability to acquire artifacts (after all NASM and affiliated institutions benefit from direct access to these items though government channels)? Clearly less material would be sought by private collectors but how does that translate to an impact on institutions?

Why is it in NASM's interest to sustain the viability of commercial auctions and private trade in these artifacts/memorabilia? Obviously this is a good thing for collectors but what sales pitch do we give to NASM and other museums which incentives them to support the "free market" commiditization of space artifacts/memorabilia?

------------------
Scott Schneeweis
http://www.SPACEAHOLIC.com/

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 01-21-2008 09:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by LCDR Scott Schneeweis:
Why would a trend of disinterest in the space program have ramifications for a museum's ability to acquire artifacts?
I am not sure artifact acquisition is the "common concern" being raised by this comparison; rather, I believe it has more to do with museum attendance and future exhibit planning. I believe the panel is questioning if collecting trends and the space memorabilia market can be used as a "canary" of sorts to the museum's "coal miners": if collector interest dies, is it an indicator that museums need to change direction less they face a similar fate.

Of course, it is also within collectors' interests to see the hobby maintained and grow (a "common concern") thus, the question is also what can and is being done by both communities to insure interest not just remains but flourishes?

quote:
Why is it in NASM's interest to sustain the viability of commercial auctions and private trade in these artifacts/memorabilia?
Though I believe I have addressed this above, do keep in mind that it is not just about NASM, but all air and space museums represented by this conference.

Alan Lipkin
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posted 01-22-2008 03:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan Lipkin   Click Here to Email Alan Lipkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will be participating along with Robert in the forum on Tuesday April 1st. I guess I am the de facto representative of the Space Memorabilia Auction Industry, but really will be only giving my own and Regency-Superior's opinions. I hope to supply a bit of the history of the space memorabilia auction business which few, if any of the conference participants will have any experience with. In terms of the direction of the hobby as it impacts the auction business, I can shed some light there; how changes in the hobby affect museum exhibits and attendance is a debatable point and I will give my opinions.

If anyone would like to suggest comments please respond here on the message board, to my email address: alipkin@regencysuperior.com or call me at: (310) 203-8766; I will try to include your input as well. This will be a great opportunity to expose the museum sector of the space hobby to the collector sector. I hope it clears up some misunderstandings and helps spread the word.

Alan Lipkin

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 01-22-2008 03:54 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Robert indicated a survey would be forthcoming and I am sure that will be helpful in gaging the pulse of the community, but do you think it would be also worthwhile to schedule a pre-conference collaborative e-session with the cS group (using something like MSN Chat or one of the other widely available chat tools) to further stimulate discussion and a joint consensus on issues/positions we would like to see put forward during the conference?

Alan Lipkin
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posted 01-23-2008 10:14 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan Lipkin   Click Here to Email Alan Lipkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Scott, agreed that an on-line conference would be useful. However, please recognize that my conference presentation is scheduled to take only 10 to 12 minutes and then I participate in a Q & A with the rest of the panel. It will be difficult to do more than brush the surface in 12 minutes. However, that being said, I will be at the conference for several days having conversations with many people, including many influential ones where I can try to get across important points. I will also be holding one of my Space Memorabilia Appraisal Clinics just before the conference where I will be meeting lots of people as well.

I have already gotten one telephone call about the conference and three emails. Interest is there, so let's capitalize on it.

Alan

LCDR Scott Schneeweis
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posted 03-22-2008 10:46 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for LCDR Scott Schneeweis   Click Here to Email LCDR Scott Schneeweis     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert Pearlman:
To support our own part in this session, collectSPACE will be debuting a survey about collectors' interests in early February.
Rob... is this still on for the 1st and if so do you still intend to promulgate a survey?

Robert Pearlman
Editor

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Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-22-2008 11:53 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will still be speaking as part of the panel on the 1st but for my presentation, rather than a survey, I have drawn from the data collected over the past 10 years through collectSPACE, as well as through the past decade of space auctions and sales.

I do plan to share my presentation slides here on cS as well as provide a summary of the session afterwards.

Alan Lipkin
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posted 03-24-2008 12:28 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Alan Lipkin   Click Here to Email Alan Lipkin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I will also be participating in the panel discussion along with Robert and a couple of museum people. I will be presenting a brief history of the Space Memorabilia auction business along with some comments on the Space collecting hobby in the auction company's eyes. I will make available the presentation (along with some colorful images after I return frim Washington. This should be an interesting & enjoyable experience. We will be introducing the hobby of space collecting to mueum officials who may have very little knowledge of or connection with the collector view of the hobby.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27327
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 04-01-2008 11:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It has been a long day but I wanted to post some initial reactions to this morning's panel discussion on the common concerns between space collectors and space museums. I hope and believe that what began today will lead to a continuing and expanding dialog between both communities as we seek to address the issues that serve to unify and divide us.

For a first-of-its-kind session, I would say that it was well attended. Among the museums represented in the audience were the National Air and Space Museum (Space History Division Chair Michael Neufeld), the Kansas Cosmosphere (Senior Vice President Jim Remar), the Museum of Flight in Seattle (President Bonnie Dunbar), the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (archivist Irene Willhite), the San Diego Air and Space Museum (education specialist Shalene Baxter) and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (curator Daniel Gruenbaum). NASA had a representative there, too (Tony Springer with the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate).

John Fongheiser of Historic Space Systems (and a cS contributing writer) was a very welcome attendee.

My own presentation was dedicated to introducing the audience to the collectSPACE community (and in doing so, further defining who the modern space collector is) and then addressing specific concerns and possible answers that the two communities could work together to achieve. Among the themes I covered was a need to generate interest among the Gen X and Gen Y populations, the need to place the space shuttle into its proper historical context, the need for NASA to take a more proactive role assisting both museums and collectors, and the threat from frauds, forgeries and theft. I also briefly spoke about a desire to see museums and collectors work more closely together to advance our individual goals.

During the Q&A session, both Alan Lipkin and I were asked to comment on the growing need to establish and document provenance. NASA's Tony Springer inquired directly as to what I think NASA should be doing to assist collectors (a discussion that continued post-session and for which there was some positive feedback).

As mentioned, I was very encouraged by the reception to the idea behind the panel and would fully expect to see (and participate in) a similar session to be included in next year's Mutual Concerns conference (in Ottawa).

Jake
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From: Issaquah, WA U.S.A.
Registered: Jun 2002

posted 04-02-2008 02:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jake   Click Here to Email Jake     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Way to go Robert...

I'll be working with Bonnie at a series of upcoming meetings and look forward to hearing what she felt about the session/conference. Glad you got some exposure so collectSPACE and the Museum of flight can work together better than ever.

------------------
Jake Schultz - curator,
Newport Way Air Museum (OK, it's just my home)

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 04-04-2008 11:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Robert:
Among the museums represented in the audience ... the San Diego Air and Space Museum (education specialist Shalene Baxter)

Shalene told me that the presentation was very interesting and informative - a very dynamic dialog about the roles of museums and collectors, that she is glad she attended. I would have been there too if I hadn't had to give an engineering presentation up in San Jose that weekend.

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