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Drinking Deep from the Fire Hose: The Benefits of the UMA Conference

Tuesday, August 16, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Drinking Deep from the Fire Hose: The Benefits of the UMA Conference

By: Ryan Paul, Museum Curator for Frontier Homestead State Park Museum


Once, a long time ago, I dared my sister Melissa to drink from a fire hose. She refused. Since that time, I like many of you, have attended conferences, sat in meetings, or attended events where massive amounts of great information have pounded into my brain, much like the focused, pressurized water used to douse fires. It can be overwhelming. In the decades that have passed, I have come to understand that drinking from the fire hose can be done if pressure is not a factor.


Since 2002, I have been attending the UMA conference and at times have struggled to keep up, and yes, even sought to find relevance in the sessions I attended and the messages I was hearing.  What I have come to realize is that as I worked to find applicable meaning, my mind opened. As I applied myself to understand basic and sometimes advanced principles, not only my work product improved, but my ability to accomplish all aspects of job did as well. No matter the size of your institution, the depth of your experience, the breadth of your educational background, or the length of your job title, the UMA conference has something to offer you


The UMA 2016 conference sessions have been diligently curated to provide quality presenters and programming to meet a variety of needs. Here are a few examples:

·  Facilitating Unusual Narratives (FUN) in the Galleries  - Creating visitor-centered approaches to interpretation.

·  Making a Difference with Excellent Customer Service  - No matter the institution, understanding these principles is key for success.

·  Underserved, Underrated, and Untapped – This session deals with creating programming for groups with special needs.

·  Lynn D. Dierking, our keynote speaker, will discuss the importance of and provide tools for connecting to and engaging with our local communities.

·  Making the Jump: Shaping your ideas into successful project plans- Taking your ideas combining them with your resources and turning them into viable project plans.

·  Locally Sourced: Grant Writing Out of the Box – Who does not need funding?

·  Advocacy 201  - Advocacy is becoming more and more essential to our survival.

And this does not even scratch the surface of all that there is to offer at this year’s conference. If you have trouble finding a relevant session, give me a call and we will explore together.


More importantly, the conference is a perfect place to network, find out answers to your difficult questions, and build relationships with other museum professionals from across the state who share your issues, and maybe have found some answers that could help you. The field trips, workshops, meals, and breaks all provide perfect opportunities to have personal conversations with your colleagues, process what you have learned, and get tips for ways in which your conference learning could be relevant to your institution. We should see the UMA conference as a living laboratory to explore new ideas, or an incubator in which to process, evaluate, and develop strategies to communicate our museum’s core issues to our audiences and stakeholders.This experience is available to all who can and will apply themselves to the task.


The Utah Museums Association has been, and continues to be a constant advocate for our membership throughout the state. The members of UMA care about the conditions of our museums and, what I believe is more important, the people who run them. After all, without our museums and their staff and volunteers, all of this would be for naught and our great state would become a cultural wasteland.


UMA encourages us, and to a larger extent the museum community, to focus on fiscal sustainability, structural integrity, and programmatic quality all of which are addressed at this year’s conference. I invite you to be innovative, imaginative, and creative in designing your individual conference program. Planning ahead, striving to find relevance, and enjoying the company of your peers will allow you to accomplish great things, including drinking from the fire hose.


So what are you waiting for?! Register for the 2016 UMA Conference today! Find out more information and registration here.


Ryan D. Paul currently works as the Museum Curator for Frontier Homestead State Park Museum and as an adjunct Professor of History at Southern Utah University. He is a devotee of all things Elvis, Dr. Who, and DC Comics. He is also a member of the 2016 UMA Annual Conference Program Committee.


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