By: Irene Rodriguez
As March 22 and 23 were approaching, I was looking forward to meeting again with my WMA Program Committee colleagues and discussing the potential sessions and creating an energizing Annual Meeting for Palm Springs (especially since my institution will be one of the hosting venues).
Before the Program Committee (PC) meeting, work needed to be accomplished from the discussion at the January meeting. The second part is both easy and challenging. As a PC member, I reconnected with my assigned sessions proposers to provide them with feedback from the meeting to make the session stronger. Sometimes the feedback is simple and direct; while others I worked to developed further the session by providing different panelists. In addition to this effort, I needed to keep in balance my very own proposals that I had submitted for considerations.
Once the meeting started, hosted by the Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, the real work began. Within this meeting, some sessions were stronger, relevant, and clearly needed to be part of the Annual Meeting. Hard decisions needed to be made: which ones we were willing to defend and others to let go for the benefit of our WMA members and the Annual Meeting? It was fitting that we met in the studio that had life size tools.
Around the studio, we had our laptops, Smartphone’s, iPads, and the LCD to discuss the sessions proposed. Once we arrived to the point of decided which sessions will be held what days and time, all technology was no help. I realized that even though we are a very high digital, technical world, we always need low tech. With paper, blue tape and sharpies, Adam Mikos, PC Co-Chair, designed the conference template on the wall. This visual template aided the PC members to see which sessions complemented each other and to consider the flow of the whole Annual Meeting. You will enjoy another WMA Annual Meeting full of wonderful sessions.
One of the reasons I enjoying being part of the PC is hearing the good work colleagues are doing in their respective disciplines of the museum field. Every year, the standard for session proposals is higher, which makes our work more impactful to our community.
As a museum educator I cannot resist to give a directive: register for the conference, network with your colleagues (make new contacts) and partake of the local museums in Palm Springs—the weather will be breathtaking.
Irene N. Rodríguez is the Associate Director of Education at the Palm Springs Art Museum, where she oversees family, children, community programs as well as manage the museum's bilingual initiative. She has worked at Museum of the American West, formerly the Autry Museum as well as the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose. Irene has a B.A. in both Art History and Business Economics from UC Santa Barbara and a M.A. in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University.