I love conference time because it just feels good to be around people who like museums as much as I do, and have dedicated their working life to making museums incredible places for their communities. I have been blessed to be a part of two organizations that hold incredible conferences: the Western Museums Association and the British Columbia Museums Association. In October 2010, I was lucky enough to attend both of conferences: in Portland, I went to WMA a delegate, and, in Nanaimo, I was the Program Chair.
It’s pretty impressive that these annual events occur. Most of the work is done by volunteers, and self-sponsored either through institution or individual support. It takes a lot of effort, and it is always worth it to put on a good show. I commend the WMA board for a job well done, as well as the team that worked so many long hours for the BCMA.
Now I know that both the WMA and the BCMA have gone through some challenging times recently where resources – money and time – have been scarce. But we have made it another year, and were able to celebrate at the conferences. I really enjoyed WMA’s party at the Annual General Meeting luncheon where Melissa Rosengard and Sarah Kennington put on a slideshow of WMA through the years. I thought the hats and noisemakers on the tables were a fun addition for the 75th birthday party; it is this type of whooping and hollering and commemoration is fundamental to staying strong as an organization.
BCMA also had the opportunity to regroup this year, and to have a little fun. As Program Chair, it was my intention to bring back our owl, the unofficial mascot of the organization, to this conference. Owl – as we simply call him – has been part of our conference experience ever since the organization began in 1957. Although it wasn’t in the same form, Owl was always there at the annual conference . . . until he disappeared at the Richmond conference in 2007, and did not return in 2008 or 2009. No one knew where Owl might be, and this distressed me - he is an important part of BCMA’s ‘juju’ and,
boy, we needed him back, simply for the good of BC museums. I think we did his spirit to the conference when live owls come in for one of our evening events (courtesy of a wildlife rescue organization) (so beautiful!), and also through a shared art project (so challenged!)
Now… I am not sure if this Owl 2.0 will make an appearance next year when we have our conference in Cranbrook, but one of my colleagues reassured me that Owl was indeed back, and would show up again as another incarnation if not this slightly, um, arty one. In essence, she said to have faith in the future of the organization. And so I shall.
I am now back at home, stocked up with new information gathered in the sessions, ideas on how to use the products promoted at the tradeshows, and, most importantly, with memories of meeting and talking fellow museum friends – new and old - who love this work, struggles and all. As I have said before, nothing beats going to the annual conference for professional development and all-round rejuvenation of why museums – and the people who work in them - are so awesome.
I hope to see you in Cranbrook in 2011 for BCMA, and I am going to do my everything to see you all in Hawaii next year!
Caroline Posynick is a museum and heritage consultant based out of Victoria, BC, Canada. She is always looking to connect with fellow museum professionals in the US and Canada – Friend her on Facebook, or connect on LinkedIn. You can also follow her (young) blog Museum Work Musing . . .