By Gavin Kleespies, Director of Programs, Exhibitions & Community Partnerships
At a recent meeting, a MHS staff member pointed out that it had been 400 days since we closed our doors to the public. While this was a sobering milestone, it gave us pause to reflect on what we have built in this time. The MHS began offering virtual programs the first week of April 2020. Since then we have hosted 64 programs with 11,000 attendees. Attendance has increased and the geographic diversity is truly amazing. Program attendees have joined us from 1,115 different communities across America from Anchorage, Alaska to Zephyrhills, Florida. We have also had people attend from 63 foreign cities in 18 different countries on five continents.
The shift to virtual programing has given us greater access to speakers from far-flung places. In the past, a historian who lived on the west coast would need to commit to at least two days of travel in order to speak at a program. And in many cases the MHS would have been expected to pay a speaker fee or travel expenses. Now, we need only a few hours online. We have been able to have presenters from across the country, and, in one case, the other side of the Atlantic. Virtual programming has enabled us to ask experts to moderate conversations that would have been impossible before.
The number of recorded programs has increased due to the move to online programs. Previously, we recorded around ten events a year to make available online. Since we shifted to virtual programs, we have recorded 63 programs, 3 seminars, our biannual conference, the Gomes Prize award ceremony, and our Making History Gala as well as 8 National History Day videos. All of these programs are available on our video page and YouTube channel.
While the advantages of virtual programming can’t be denied, we very much look forward to hosting in-person programs again. In the meantime, take a look at what is planned on our online events calendar.