As my three daughters were growing up, one of their favorite songs began, “Make new friends and keep the old; one is silver and the other is gold.” This line could be the slogan for the upcoming Western Museums Association (WMA) 2013 Annual Meeting, October 9-12, 2013 in Salt Lake City. Those of you who haven’t been to the “Crossroads of the West” since WMA was first here in 1996 will meet many new friends: a completely rebuilt downtown, whose layout has received several urban design awards; light rail and commuter rail systems that serve all parts of the Salt Lake Valley and Wasatch Front; and many diverse restaurants and night spots, including a variety of locally-famous brew pubs.
More importantly, you will renew your acquaintance with many continuing friends, some of whom you may not recognize. Major architectural landmarks have been preserved, including the State Capitol, Salt Lake City and County Building, Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square, Hotel Utah, and the Governor’s Mansion. Revitalized additions to the local cultural environment include new facilities for the Natural History Museum of Utah, Utah Museum of Fine Art, The Leonardo (a science and art museum located in the former city library building), and the award-winning Salt Lake City Main Library, along with a variety of new performing arts theaters and outdoor sculpture parks. Of course, the most important friends, old and new, will be associated with the conference. Colleagues, issues, ideas, technologies, experiences, and associations will continue to stimulate and refine you, as you have come to expect from your WMA.
Those of you who attended WMA in Salt Lake City seventeen years ago remember how remarkable the conference was. Since then, the experience of hosting major cultural events – including the Winter Olympics (2002), American Society of Church History (2007), and American Association for State and Local History (2012) – has prepared the city and local cultural community to present an even more memorable setting for the WMA 2013 Annual Meeting.
For all the right reasons – new and old, silver and gold – I invite you on behalf of the Program Planning Committee to attend the 2013 Western Museums Association Annual Meeting in “The Heart of the Everlasting Hills,” when the fall leaves are at their showiest, between the rush of summer and winter tourists, in order to renew your spirit and your career.
Steven Olsen is a Co-Chair on the 2013 Program Committee. Additionally he is a Senior Curator at the LDS Church History Department.