Let’s Talk Religion: Engaging Audiences with the “R” Word

Track
Forces of Change
Start Day and Time
Tuesday May 9 10:30-11:45 a.m.
Venue and Meeting Room
223 America's Center
Description
In this session, practitioners from institutions representing children's, living history, contemporary art, and archival genres will share stories about why their museums decided to tackle the risky subject of religion and what happened when they did. Examples will include exhibitions and programs employing varied methods of presentation aimed at broad public audiences, all focused on creating understanding through the exploration of religion. Speakers will describe the challenges they encountered and provide pragmatic tips for turning passionate exchanges into learning opportunities.
Learner Outcome
  1. Learn techniques for presenting religion without proselytizing or favoring a single point of view.
  2. Learn how to prepare for and minimize negative audience reactions with advisors, community participation, inclusive language, and staff training.
  3. Gain an understanding of audiences' readiness to participate in discussions of religion, and learn about what they value in these discussions.
Speakers
Presenter: 
Charity Counts
Role: 
Moderator
Title: 
Executive Director
Organization: 
Association of Midwest Museums
Bio
Charity Counts is the executive director of the Association of Midwest Museums. Prior to leading AMM, Charity was the associate vice president of exhibits at the Children's Museum of Indianapolis where she led design and production on numerous exhibit projects, including those with religious content like Take Me There China and National Geographic Sacred Journeys. Charity has extensive experience working with community advisors to develop experiences with complex subject matter for a variety of audiences.
Presenter: 
Christian Carron
Role: 
Presenter
Title: 
Director of Collections
Organization: 
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
Bio
Christian G. Carron is Director of Collections for The Children's Museum of Indianapolis, where he was project manager for National Geographic Sacred Journeys, an exhibit for families that explores the sacred journeys of faith traditions around the world. In 2016 it received an award from AAM's Excellence in Exhibition Competition. He has also worked for Grand Rapids Public Museum, The Kentucky Library and Museum, Louisiana State Museum, and Missouri Historical Society, and holds degrees from Luther College and Eastern Illinois University.
Presenter: 
David Trobisch
Role: 
Presenter
Title: 
Director of Collections
Organization: 
The Museum of the Bible
Bio
David J. Trobisch, Th.D oversees one of the world's largest private collections of rare biblical texts and artifacts that comprise the Museum of the Bible Collection. As the collection's director, Trobisch advises on new acquisitions, supervises a team of some 30 scholars and curators from around the world, and identifies story lines for the collection's traveling exhibits and for the new Museum of the Bible facility opening in Washington D.C. in the fall of 2017.
Presenter: 
Stephen Seals
Role: 
Presenter
Title: 
Nation Builder, Community Outreach, and Mentorship
Organization: 
Colonial Williamsburg Foundation
Bio
Stephen Seals is Interpretive Program Development Manager for Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He previously portrayed numerous religious characters at Colonial Williamsburg and served as Program Development Manager for African American and Religious Interpretation. He began as a freelance director and actor, teaching theater for youth and portraying religious figures from history. He attended Virginia Commonwealth University as a Theatre Education Major, where he wrote a trilogy of religious One-Act plays.
Presenter: 
Terrence Dempsey
Role: 
Presenter
Title: 
Director
Organization: 
Museum of Contemporary Religious Art
Bio
Terry Dempsey, S.J., is the founding director and curator of the world's first interfaith Museum of Contemporary Religious Art at St. Louis University, a position he has held for 25 years. MOCRA is dedicated to the ongoing dialogue between contemporary artists and the world's faith traditions. In a time when religion is viewed in exclusive ways, MOCRA intends to be inclusive and embracing, a center for healing and greater understanding.