Monday, November 7, 2011

Thoughts on the 2011 Kansas Museums Association Conference

October 26 through 28 marked this year’s Kansas Museums Association Conference, and I was lucky enough to go (thanks to my museum sending me).  The KMA Conference is an annual event for Kansas museum professionals to network and learn how to improve the institutions we work in.  This year’s event was spectacular fun, and a great educational opportunity. 

The conference was held in Olathe this year and featured a great pre-conference workshop on Making Collections Meaningful.  So often in museums, we have many fantastic artifacts, but do not use them to their full potential.  To do this requires conducting strong research and proper exhibit strategies; two things that are easier said than done.  It takes time to create a dynamic exhibit and tell an involving story.

A staple of the conference is the museums tour / progressive dinner.  During this time, all of the conference participants are taken to different museums to tour and have refreshments.  During this time, our destinations were the Deaf Cultural Center and William J. Marra Museum, the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm, the Ernie Miller Nature Center, and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art.  All of these were great places to visit, and more information can be found by clicking on their names.  I cannot recommend these places enough.

The bulk of the conference is made up of multiple sessions that each participant attends to learn about different techniques in museums.  Topics include: visitor services, building web collections, exhibit program strategies, and working with volunteers.  Attending sessions are my favorite thing to do at the conference since I am new to the museum profession and still have much to learn.  During these times, I am a vigorous note taker and am often thinking of new ideas to use.  With any luck (and a lot of work), I will hopefully begin working towards a web collection and some unique exhibits for next year.  

Between all of these things, three keynote addresses, and a formal dinner and auction, this year’s KMA Conference was a rousing time and a memorable event.

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