Monday, November 1, 2010

Connections from the Past Nurture Ties for the Future

VAM and its members continue to reach beyond Virginia to make connections and connect common threads. As you may have seen in the news, a group of African-Nova Scotians visited Virginia last month to attend the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities Nova Scotia Best Practices Trade Mission Forum and to visit sites in Virginia that interpret African American and American slave history. The group was hosted by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities in partnership with Nova Scotia's Black Business Initiative, which seeks to foster the growth of business and cultural sites owned by Nova Scotia's black community.

The trip was the first in what will likely be an ongoing exchange and dialogue between Virginia and Nova Scotia on the challenging subject of interpreting African history in the Americas. In fact, Virginia museum professionals have already been invited to Nova Scotia for a follow up exchange program based on African history.

Most people do not realize the links between black history in Virginia and that in Nova Scotia, where Halifax has been called the “birthplace” of the black Canadian population. Whether they were loyalist refugees at the time of the American revolution or escaped slaves on fugitive ships, many of Nova Scotia's African-Nova Scotian community have ancestral ties to Virginia.

In addition to the VFH, VAM took an active role in the VFH Forum (ED Margo Carlock gave a presentation on Best Practices and Standards in Museums). Several of its member museums were highlighted in the Canadian group’s tour around sites in Virginia that interpret African American history (museums involved, included Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, the Robert Russa Moton Museum, Legacy Museum of African American History, Alexandria Black History Museum, Black History Museum and Cultural Center in Richmond, Virginia Historical Society, and the Christiansburg Institute). We all look forward to a developing dialogue and relationship with our Nova Scotian colleagues. Planning for a reciprocal exchange visit to Nova Scotia by VAM members is just beginning – let us know if you would like to be involved!

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