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News & Press: Annual Conference

2013 WMA/UMA Conference Report

Thursday, December 5, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: UMA
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Combining with the Western Museum Association for our annual UMA Conference was a new, challenging, interesting, and ultimately very successful and rewarding experience. Longer than our ususal conferences - four full days - it included many sessions on a variety of interesting topics, several great day-long workshops, tours, good food, and enjoyable evening events. We had many opportunities to meet and network with colleagues from museums throughout the West as well as enjoyable times with our Utah friends. Because of the many varied opportunities, attendees each took home a unique set of memories and information. Many students, volunteers, and museum employees were able to attend the conference through scholarships generously provided through the Utah Division of Arts and Museums. Scholarship recipients reported on their conference experience.

Many found networking opportunities beneficial for their career goals. Ali Royal said: “I felt that the social networking and mingling opportunities gave me an opportunity to meet important people and discuss my future academic and professional career. I received advice that has shaped my plans for the future. Also, meeting so many museum professionals provided a boost in my confidence towards my career.”

Michael Thompson related: “My experience at the UMA/WMA conference was a fantastic one and a great jumpstart for my career in the museum field. During the conference, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of wonderful students and museum professionals who have become friends and have helped me figure out me path towards a job in the museum fieldI was also able to make new acquaintances that I hope will last for the rest of my career.”

Reigan Ware stated: “I was able to meet people just like me, who are enthusiastic about their life in a museum environment and who enjoy inspiring people to want to learn and love museums. . . . I was able to talk with them and get an idea of what it was like to have a career in museums. I was also able to return home and share ideas that are now being implemented in our museum.”

For Britten Harmon the conference “was absolutely essential to my museum research and my future career goals. The number one thing I benefitted from was listening to the museum dialogue throughout the conference whether in small gatherings or in large sessions. Understand the language of museums and the current conversations within them helped me to become better educated and acquainted with this professional world. . . I was able to meet lots of wonderful emerging professionals who were able to give me advice on my research, as well as all the possible opportunities for gaining experience in museums and the resources available to advance my career.”

For some, like Leslie Evens, networking opportunities provided very tangible benefits for her museum career:

“Maybe it’s because I like making new friends, but I love networking. Through longer conference sessions and specific networking opportunities I have been able to interact and build relationships with professionals from all over the state. This year, during the ‘Help for History Museums: Following the Path to Excellence’ session, I was able to make connections that have since lead to a paid internship with a local museum. I am applying to Masters Programs in Museum Studies this coming year, and through this combined conference I was able to meet and converse with a number of representatives from the Museum Studies programs I am applying to. I was able to make personal connections with these professors and administrators, while gaining a much better understanding of the programs themselves.”

Many came away with great ideas, insights and practical information. Brent Farley “gained a reinforcement of good practices already working at our museum while gaining new insights to add “sparkle” to our practices. The ‘Stories in Space: Design Strategies for Museum Interpretive Materials’ was my favorite session because my interest is in great displays that tell an educational and interesting story, lessons from which can make lives better today. That’s the ‘sparkle’ I’m talking about.

Kimberlee Buckner found the session 'Coordinated Emergency Prepardness“a good reinforcement of what I had learned in the Disasters Plan preparation course from Randy Silverman, who is one of the presenters. . . In this session, I was able to learn why the disaster plans we are working on can and are vital to the success of a museum in the event of fire, flood, or any other type of disaster. Most of all, I came away with a sense of direction for writing the plan assigned by the workshop, having seen how the plans were placed into action.  This was one of my favorite sessions to attend.

Leslie Evens stated: Over all, the UMA Conference’s greatest benefit for me is that it makes me feel like I am a part of something important. Each year I leave the conference with a mind full of new ideas, and a new sense of purpose and motivation. The UMA conference cultivates an inspiring setting in which hundreds of passionate individuals come together to help one another and plan for the future of museums.”

David Wicai felt that “this conference was effective for me because it not only allowed me to learn new things, but it allowed me to take those new things and ask questions about them and think about different ways to approach various situations.

Some attendees are already making use of things learned at the conference. Kari Ross Nelson related that “Dave Stroud's (Narrowing the Focus of Exhibitions) method of organizing an exhibit like a middle-school essay was so simple and logical, and I really appreciated Brianna Spots encouragement to recognize when it is ‘time to shut up and draw.’ Interestingly enough, we applied it shortly after the conference. We have spent the last several month planning for a new exhibit at the MPC, with the standard team meetings, brain storming, shared documents, that go into that process.  Before graphic designs were finalized, our designer's computer crashed, destroying all the proofs and prototypes he had for exhibit panels, labels, etc. Fortunately, we still had all the text.  So a few of us gathered around a computer while he worked his magic with Illustrator.  ‘No, I don't like that.’ ‘Love it.’  ‘What if we did this or that.’  Within an hour we had created and selected templates. Clearly we were ready to draw without further discussion!

Robyn Haynie said: “I enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about their backgrounds and their institutions, and have developed solid foundations that will hopefully facilitate future collaborations. It was also great to finally meet local people with whom I’ve corresponded but never had a chance to meet. These interactions as well as the useful knowledge shared by the presenters have  impacted the way I work and already provided positive benefits to the collections here at the UMFA.”

Jennifer Pennington “was inspired by the conference to try to put together a panel session submission for the conference in Las Vegas next year. The Leonardo is a new organization and we are eager to meet and share our experiences with our contemporaries.

Cathy Erdmann related a different perspective: “This year I attended the UMA conference as a representative from the Springville Museum of Art board of trustees. I was able to gain valuable knowledge not only pertaining to museum boards and volunteers, but also a strategic planning and visioning of museums in general. What an enjoyable experience! As a result of this conference, I have found a new enthusiasm for becoming a better informed and contributing member of the board I currently serve on. I also look forward to sharing all that I have learned here!”

To see what some Western Museums Association colleages had to say about the conference, see theWestmuse blogMore great pictures from the conference (flickr).

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