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Seward House Director Elected to Nat’l Museum Association Board


The executive director of one Auburn museum is now also serving with a national museum association.

Billye Chabot is the Executive Director of the Seward House Museum. At its annual conference in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this week, she was elected to the Small Musem Association’s (SMA) Board of Directors. Chabot told Finger Lakes News Radio the association’s goal is to provide a way for small museums to support each other through peer networking.

“The mission is to develop and maintain peer networks among people who work in the small museum field and support each other, connecting the dots on how we can better serve our institutions,” Chabot said.

Now in its 40th year, the SMA was founded in Maryland to support small museums in the mid-Atlantic region but has since expanded into a nationwide organization. While the association doesn’t currently have an official definition of a “small museum,” Chabot added that 60-70% of US museums, including history and art museums, historic sites, historical societies, and botanical gardens, could be considered small.

“[These museums] might just have one staff member or even be an entirely volunteer staff,” Chabot continued. “That’s the majority of museums in the United States so this organization is really looking to serve the majority.”

While other museum conferences and associations may see talks and programs and talks targeted at larger museums, the SMA allows small museums to share ideas that can be immediately actionable for smaller sites that may not have larger sites’ staff or financial resources.

In her role as a board member, Chabot said she hopes to cultivate museums across Central New York and the Finger Lakes into the association.

The SMA has no staff, being an all-volunteer organization. A term on the board lasts three years and members are eligible to serve up to two terms.

Chabot has worked in the museum industry for 24 years. She moved to Auburn in 2010 after being offered the Executive Director position at the Seward House.


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