Maybe I’m just speaking for myself, but it seems we (museum professionals) often get so caught up in the day to day business of our institutions that it’s almost like working in a little bubble. Then opportunities arise, whether it’s through a webinar, seminar, conference, or workshop where we are reminded that we are part of a much larger community. These opportunities provide a chance to step back, take a breath and gain some perspective; gain new skills or brush up on old ones; be exposed to new concepts; recharge batteries; touch base with colleagues and friends; and simply be reminded why we entered the museum field in the first place.
I got bitten by the conference bug in 2005 when I attended my first conferences (American Association for State and Local History’s (AASLH) Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Kansas Museum Association’s Annual Conference in Salina). Since then I have continually sought out a variety of professional development opportunities. I have to admit I still get excited when I get a conference schedule and start deciding what sessions and workshops to attend. Over the past few years these opportunities have expanded greatly through webinars. Just this week for those of us who can't be at the American Association of Museum’s (AAM) Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, there's AAM’s Virtual Conference. And I have a mentioned the freebies from conference vendors (I would like to thank AALSH for their "I heart History" post-it notes, which made perfect gifts for my co-workers).
Last week I attended Museums in Conversation: How Do We (Re) Vision Our Museums? in Albany. Sponsored by Museumwise and the Museum Association of New York, Museums in Conversation is the annual conference for museum people (staff, volunteers, board members, students) in New York State. Overall the conference had a great vibe and I participated in engaging discussions on customer service, creating a space for community dialogue, thinking strategically, technology and school programming. I’m constantly in awe of what my colleagues are accomplishing despite challenges (mainly budget and staffing cuts). Museums in Conversation serves as a reminder that I’m part of wonderful museum community.
And sometimes you get to walk away with a little something extra. During the Museumwise Award of Merit Presentation the historical society, along with Elmira Little Theatre and Friends of Woodlawn Cemetery, was presented a Certificate of Commendation for the Woodlawn Cemetery Ghost Walk.