Looking Back at 2019

Looking back at 2019, we, at the museum, feel a sense of accomplishment. We received an Award of Excellence from the American Association for State and Local History for our short documentary film, Love Song for the Dead, received two major grants from New Mexico Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, and we completed some much-needed renovations to the museum. Some of the renovations were planned—and cosmetic; some were brought on by the record snowfall which collapsed part of our roof. This last event made us all the more motivated to find a more modern space in 2020. 

So, despite being semi-closed for several months, we kept very busy. 

In January, TV station KRQE came out to do a story on our Lines Across Time phone booth (a collaboration between UNM Arts and Medicine and our museum). 

During the coldest months, we catalogued our over 1,700 books and folios in the online Library Thing data base and took possession of several collections of WWI and WWII artifacts and photos. We conducted several spouse and veteran focus groups at the museum, participated in a face-to-face veteran’s sensing session with New Mexico’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, and actively participated in local and regional Chambers of Commerce events.

In March, novelist Andria Williams visited the museum as well as did memoirist Candace George Thompson.  In April, we held our first naturalization ceremony of the year. (We host several such ceremonies every year.) We had our grand re-opening in April, and unveiled two new exhibits:Military Kids’ Lives and Together We Serve: The Modern Military Spouse. 

In May, the Poco Quatros car club visited, and their Model A’s parked in front of the museum made a lovely photo. Director Circe visited the West Baton Rouge Museum to finally meet the team she’d been collaborating with remotely. The museum was featured on KOB TV, and Cabinet Secretary Judy Griego and County Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty opened the museum’s exhibit, Still Shouting! We spoke at the Memorial Day Ceremony at the Sandoval County Vietnam Veterans Memorial and completed our walking path in the museum’s Memory Garden. And the month ended with a front-page Memorial Day article about MAMF in the Albuquerque Journal.”

The Route 66 automobile tour stopped at the museum as it crossed the state on the “Mother Road” in June— just in time to admire our brown attraction sign courtesy of the New Mexico Department of Transportation.  And, Arizona State Graduate student Sarah created and led a wonderful theater workshop for military kids in the area. Musican Jason Moon presented us with several music CDs for our collection. June was also the month in which MAMF Artist- in-Residence Lora finished up her project—a completed play—with a reading of it at TheatreLab in Richmond, VA.

In July, we swapped out Still Shouting, for our exhibit GI Jokes, and we received a grant to add ramps to our exterior doorways to make them wheelchair accessible. The Museum was accepted into the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s National Veterans Intermediary, and our East Mountain Veteran Families Collaborative was formed. The collaborative meets monthly and will focus on issues (and solutions) important to rural military families. 

July also brought more than a hundred former Defense Department teachers and administrators to our museum as part of their attendance at the annual Dodds Reunion held this year in Albuquerque. After his visit to the museum, along with his communications director, the DoDDS Director told the entire reunion of more than 800 former teachers from all over the country about the importance of our work and is now considering establishing a DoDDS-MAMF partnership.

In August, the New Mexico Department of Veterans Services —  — and the museum– held a community outreach event, with vendors and helping agencies on site to assist veterans and family members with benefits, healthcare referrals, information, etc. We held our second outreach in October. 

In September, author Kathleen Rogers came to visit. (She’s featured in our Modern Military Spouse exhibit). The Museum hosted the monthly meeting of the Albuquerque Museum Collaborative Council, a group of museum professionals representing all the major museums in the city. It was great to show off the museum to our peers, many of whom were seeing it for the first time. 

A group of Brats on an OASIS excursion came to the museum for a two-hour tour, but as what typically happens, once the stories started flowing, and connections made, the two hours extended to three…then four, and finally, we had to send them packing!

In November, we broadcasted KUNM’s “Children’s Hour” radio show live from the museum. In December,ber we will present a one-day exhibit and program “A GI’s Christmas Carol: Tokyo Army Hospital, 1954”.

These instant community moments happen often at the museum—and is at the heart of our mission and vision. We bring people with “shared and converging paths together as community, inspiring a sense of place and history. As a repository for their stories, we shape the future by preserving our heritage, recording its evolution, and inviting dialogue by sharing our experiences with the world.”

Daily, family members drop off mementoes, letters, photographs, and artifacts knowing that they will find a caring and lasting “home” for items they treasure and want to share with others. Often, the donor leaves our museum feeling relieved and proud that their loved one’s legacy will live on.

This is why we do what we do. Military families—the parents, spouses and children’s sacrifices, service, and support are often overlooked. We shine a light on the family’s accomplishments, struggles, and pride through our exhibits, workshops, publications, and programming. 

Like many nonprofits, we are gearing up for #GivingTuesday, which is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. If you are planning to partake in this “Global Day of Giving,” we hope you consider our small, but mighty museum! 

We have big things planned for 2020 — continuing with our programs and exhibits, as well as procuring our own permanent building. That, of course, will come with a big price tag, and so we will be rolling up our sleeves and striding out in January. We will need to raise around $350,000 to make our dream a reality; and, we owe it to our military families to move to a bigger and more accessible location to ensure their legacy is preserved.

To donate to our museum’s building fund, please donate at: https://www.facebook.com/fund/MuseumoftheAmericanMilitaryFamily/