Life as the textile expert at a regional history museum

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Unofficial AAM Report

The American Alliance of Museums conference was in town this week. Almost all the MOHAI staff went, and in a couple weeks we are going to get together for a group report/download/discussion about what we learned. Here are all the things that probably won't come up in my official work report.

For those of you outside the museum world, all you need to know is that AAM is basically comprised of conference sessions by day and on-site museum parties by night.

The opening party was at EMP (a music and pop culture museum in Seattle), and featured free wine and an all-you-can-eat dessert bar.

Most of the sessions I went to were really interesting and inspiring.  Only one turned out to be disappointing and useless but I made up for it by zoning out and brainstorming some unrelated ideas. At one point I got this idea of making a Seattle fashion ABC book, and I tried to mentally match a name or company with every letter of the alphabet.

Would you file me under J, D, or B?

Of course it was quite puzzle, because some letters had too many options (would F be Filson or Frederick & Nelson??) and when you get to X you basically either have to come up with a reason why Xylophones are important to Seattle fashion or you just straight-up cheat  and say something like "X is for the Seattle Fur eXchange!"

Most of the good sessions I went to focused on how to improve visitor experiences and think outside the box on how to use objects and exhibits. The extroverted side of me was all YES PEOPLE I LOVE PEOPLE SO EXCITED TO ENGAGE WITH PEOPLE AND CHANGE LIVES!!

But then, on the last day, I woke up with the realization that I had caught a cold. I dragged myself to work for an "onsite insight" tour my department was doing of our collections space, and discovered that one of my coworkers was also sick. We concluded that collections people are not conditioned to interact with so many other humans at once.

So I stayed home for the next two days and worked on my ABC book.

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