A Secular Gathering Place: The Sandy Spring Museum (Museums in Strange Places S02 E06)

The Sandy Spring Museum describes itself as “community-activated.” They want to be a secular gathering places, where people of different backgrounds can come together and build a sense of place and belonging. I visit the museum to speak with Executive Director Allison Weiss about the museum’s radically community-driven programming, the Quaker principles built into the museum’s design, and how they are trying to serve a community of incredible diversity.

Music in this episode is by Los Hijo ‘e Plena, the musical arm of the community-building nonprofit Cultural Plenera.

This episode is sponsored by The Lyndhurst Group. The Lyndhurst Group is a history, museum, and nonprofit consulting firm providing community-focused engagement strategies for institutional planning, organizational assessments, and interpretive direction.


Interested in starting a podcast at your organization? Check out my new book, Your Museum Needs a Podcast: A Step by Step Guide to Podcast on a Budget for Museums, History Organizations, and Cultural Nonprofits

How to Listen to Museums in Strange Places

Welcome to Museums in Strange Places. I’m your host, Hannah Hethmon, a museum consultant specializing in podcasting for museums, and this is a podcast for people who love museums, stories, culture, and exploring the world.

In this season of the podcast, I’m visiting the museums of Maryland to discover what stories they hold and how they reflect and shape this state’s unique cultural identity.

You can find and follow me/the podcast on Twitter and Instagram @hannah_rfh (I love to hear from listeners FYI).

The podcast is available on all podcast players and apps, just search “Museums in Strange Places” on any podcast listening platform:

Learn More

Sandy Spring resident artists

History, mission, and vision of Sandy Spring Museum

‘The Memories We Keep:’ New Art Exhibit Puts Spotlight On Refugee Artists (WAMU radio piece about Uprooted: The Art of Refugees).

Refugee Artist Paints with New Colors in US

Washington Post profile on Sandy Spring, MD

Photos of the Museum

The Sandy Spring Museum
Museum entrance as seen from the parking lot.
A covered walkway leading from the main museum building to outbuildings containing artist studios.
Museum entrance.
Front entrance to the museum.
A gallery space holding the temporary exhibit “Uprooted: The Art of Refugees.”
Artwork by Khalid Alaani
Artwork by Khalid Alaani
Artworks by Ahmad AlKarkhi
Artwork by Fetun Getachew
More art from the “Uprooted” exhibition
The artists featured in the “Uprooted Exhibition.”
The museum’s courtyard
Gardens in the museum’s courtyard
Hallway in the museum looking out on to the courtyard.
Artist Julie Smith showing off one of her more abstract pieces in her studio with a buffalo painting on the wall behind her.
Artwork by Julie Smith in her studio.
Artwork by Julie Smith in her studio.
Metals artists Eun Ju Lee in her studio.
Close up of Eun Ju Lee’s soldering station in her studio.
Eun Ju Lee’s in-process sculptures that I thought looked like sea urchin armor.
Artist Eun Ju Lee’s representation of a stick figure her son drew.
The original drawing.
Artist Patricia Powell Kessler in her studio.
Patricia Powell Kessler’s painting depicting a wildfire.
Paintings by Patricia Powell Kessler in her studio.
Artist Robin Ziek in the shared Clay Works studio.
Works from the Sandy Spring Clay Works artists displayed in a dedicated gallery section of their studio.
The Sandy Springs Clay Works studio where four clay artists work together.
A map of the museum grounds. It sits on seven acres.
A sculpture in the museum grounds, which host a juried sculpture show every year.
An interactive sculpture on the museum grounds. See next image for its label.
Label for the image above.
A sculpture on the museum’s grounds.
The history gallery in the museum.
The history gallery in the museum.
The history gallery in the museum.
Two artist studios on the second floor of a renovated historic barn that was brought to the museum property.
Sign at the museum’s reception counter
Driving down the “Highway to Heaven” many different religious centers are visible.

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