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News & Press: Annual Conference

Take the Time

Friday, July 13, 2018   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Ryan Paul
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I graduated from high school in 1988. If you do the math, you would come to the conclusion that this year, my class would celebrate our 30th reunion. They did; I didn’t go. I had some good reasons; my wife and I just had a baby (12 years difference between our second and third child), work commitments, and the people I really bonded with, I was still connected to. However, as the day came and I saw many photos on social media, I admit to some regret.  I had assumed that there was nothing to be gained by my attendance.  I soon realized that I missed connecting with people who had tales to tell, stories to share, and possibly lessons to teach. I will never know what I missed, or might have gained.


In a similar vein, this September, I will be attending my 17th Utah Museums Association Conference.  Over the years, this meeting of seasoned and emerging museum professionals has drastically impacted my professional and even personal life.  While I have participated at some administrative level at most of these conferences, it is the meeting of the minds, the connections with my colleagues and peers that has benefited me most. 


This year’s theme, Museums: A Catalyst for Belonging resonates with me. As I get older and more water flows under my museum bridge I find more and more the need to connect with those who wander in and out of my environment. One would think that as we age and grow in knowledge, wisdom, and experience, we would become more flexible in our thinking and accepting of new ideas. However, that often seems to not be the case.  Many times, as our world changes around us, we calcify our beliefs, reminisce about the “good old days”, and struggle to adapt.  This is why this conference is so relevant, timely, and necessary.

I have learned, in my years of working in museums, teaching history, and living my life, that what truly brings us joy is how we engage with others. How we communicate our thoughts, ideas, and opinions really does matter.  This is why you are needed at this year’s UMA conference. Whether you have worked at a museum for 50 years or 50 minutes is irrelevant.  Our community, I, need to hear your story.  I promise there will be much to learn and more importantly, many seeds of conversation and ideas will be available for you to plant in your mental garden.  Take the time; engage with our broad and diverse community, you will not regret it.

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