I started working full time in the arts and cultural sector a decade ago when I moved to Las Vegas. After attending the annual meeting of the Western Museums Association in Portland last fall, I am still kicking myself for not having become involved sooner! I had no idea that so many valuable resources would be made available to me as a result of my attendance.
I had been invited to participate on a panel examining tourism and the museum and initially this was my motivation for attending. Once in Portland, however, it became clear that the meeting had been carefully and exceptionally planned to offer a number of specialized tracks as well as unique pre-conference events and cultural opportunities in the evenings. The meetings were diverse in subject matter and offered a variety of well-known experts with practical advice and ideas on virtually every area of museum and library operations, programming and development.
I wished I had had more time than the conference allowed to fully explore what was on offer. I also learned that the WMA membership is substantial and wide ranging! When I think of how being a part of this network could have helped me with the work I was doing in Las Vegas, I feel very sorry and rather foolish for not exploring this sooner.
The conference was well attended and I especially liked that it was geared toward the work of museums and libraries in the West and that it had an atmosphere conducive to meeting colleagues and making new friends and acquaintances. I didn’t feel lost in the crowd, the way it sometimes happens at large meetings.
This year’s meeting in Honolulu on September 23rd-26th will be, most assuredly, a spectacular event! The exceptional work that the programming committee has undertaken during the past year will be much in evidence. Along with the superb efforts of the WMA board and staff, and very especially the generosity and commitment of the Hawai’i Museums and Pacific Islands Associations who are co-hosting the event, this promises to be an unparalleled professional, artistic and cultural opportunity! With over 450 museum professionals from the United States and Pacific Rim expected to be attend, this year’s theme of “Working Together to Move Forward” will be fully actualized.
May I encourage you to join us? I have never regretted my decision to become involved with this talented and committed group of professionals whose mission, as the WMA, is to provide opportunities for learning and personal interaction to enhance the creative skills and enrich the lives of individuals who do museum work.
Through our work in museums and libraries, we do so much for our communities. Isn’t it terrific that there is the recognition that we need opportunities for our own development and growth in order to bring new perspectives and fresh ideas to those whom we serve? The WMA is a leader in this effort and I applaud them for their advocacy and commitment.
Hoping to see you in Honolulu in September!
Elizabeth B. Herridge Principal, Elizabeth B. Herridge Fine Arts, LLC. Las Vegas, Nevada