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News & Press: Annual Conference

What is this Conference All About?

Monday, April 8, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Carrie Snow
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Our theme for the 2019 UMA conference is Riding the Relevant Rails. What does that even mean?! Simply put, it means that we as museums need to stay relevant to our communities to be of value.  All too often we can find ourselves in a rut. We can spend years or decades with the same exhibits up, the same tours given, the same events serving the same food. Our communities can set their watches by our programming and sometimes they can run for cover because of the same glaring issues that we may fail to address. Unifying Utahns is a major part of what museums in Utah do.  But are we as museums the force for unity that we think we are?


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Our conference asks members in museums across the state to reflect upon and be inspired by this legacy as they strive to increase their relevancy in their communities.  This event truly changed Utah and put people in contact with groups outside their own.  This year we will explore how museums can be more relevant, using history, technology, storytelling, and research to reach our diverse communities. Increased relevance can come through new programs, sharing new accounts and collections, revising our current practices, and broadening the tent of meaning for all of our institutions.


For some of you this will be your first conference, and here I offer some suggestions on how to get the most out of your experience.   

  1. Embrace the uncomfortable. You will hear ideas and approaches you might not have heard of or think will work. You will be meeting people from all sorts of museums and places that aren’t your own.  Awesome. We learn from each others experiences and ideas.
  2. Get ready to geek out. You are not in a staff meeting justifying your existence or with the team you supervise. Now is the moment to talk about museums and what you love.  Roll with it!
  3. No squad goals. While it may be tempting to stay with your co-workers or friends, don’t. Branch out -- you are developing you not them.
  4. Now and Later isn’t just candy. Make sure you attend sessions that apply to your immediate needs, but ones that will have you thinking about your and your institution's future.  
  5. Musical chairs. Sit somewhere new each time you sit in a session, meet new people, get a new perspective, and stay energized.

For those of you conference veteran warriors,  I have something for you.

  1. Branch out. If you are a curator, attend a session with educators.  If you are a membership person, listen to some programming ideas. Learn your co-workers' lingo a little -- it will buy you more street cred than bringing donuts to the conference room.
  2. Remember the newbies. Talk to the first time attendees and help them build up their networks.
  3. Look at something with new eyes. Ask yourself if I had never been inside a museum before what would excite me about what I am hearing.
  4. See number 3 above, reconnect with your passion for your work.

Now, this is for everyone.  Come ready to listen, learn, participate, and engage.   Each of you is a part of the museum community here in Utah, and we all deserve to hear your voice.

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