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Staff drive innovation at American Independence Museum

Staff drive innovation at American Independence Museum

When Emma Stratton took over as executive director of the American Independence Museum in early 2017, one of her objectives was to encourage staff “to think outside the box,” which led to rapid organizational growth.

“I wanted everyone here to connect with the community, build relationships and think creatively in building up — and in some cases starting from scratch — core program offerings,” she said. 

The results include an expansion of public programs, development of educational programs with curriculum for a wide range of ages in secondary schools, and new approaches to collection care. 

“My hope is that we continue to grow in our role as not just stewards of history, but active interpreters with a focus on inclusivity and accessibility,” she added.

Stratton credits Victoria Su, director of engagement, for helping reshape public perception of the museum in the last three years.

She has been a huge part of the public face of the museum,” she said. “She has managed our social media and ran all our public programs, including our  American Independence Festival — that was all her. She also took over managing our volunteer program.”

These acknowledgements, however, are bittersweet, as Stratton said Su recently accepted the the position of executive director of North Country Studio Workshops, which provides advanced-level workshops for professional and non-professional artists.

“While the museum will miss her tremendously, she is going back to her roots and passion in the arts,” she said. “She demonstrated exceptional leadership skills at the museum and North Country Studio Workshops is very lucky to have such a talented individual leading their organization. We are excited for her next chapter.”

The museum will also enter a new chapter, as Stratton said their growth and recent expansion into digital programming necessitate two new positions. The content and marketing manager will manage content, online communication and social media, while the public program assistant will help staff create public and education programs.

In commenting on these positions and the future for the museum, she said one thing is certain.

“Digital content is here to stay,” said Stratton, who said viewership for the museum’s YouTube channel increased 3,000% in the past year alone.

“Digital engagement increased exponentially across all platforms — website, social media,” she added. “These new positions will contribute substantially to our ability to build digital content that is inclusive and accessible to all. We appreciate the impact Victoria and all our staff have had to get us to this point.”

Home to a world-class collection of 3,000 historic artifacts, the museum is currently developing a variety of public and education programs in digital formats to encourage digital inclusion for all ages.