Program Perspectives: One Month Until WMA 2013

By Keni Sturgeon


Conference registration…check! Hotel and plane reservations…check! Evening events booked…check! My part in the session on collaborative exhibits completely ready to go…well not quite check, but getting there.

With a little over one month to go until the Western Museums Association (WMA) 2013 Annual Meeting kicks off in Salt Lake City, I find myself growing excited to see how the thoughtful session proposals we on the 2013 Program Committee had the opportunity to vet turn out in “real life.” I cannot wait to see how those 50 final sessions play out during the conference.

This year, I was thrilled to serve on the Program Committee, in part because of the dedicated and hard working committee members, led admirably by “the Steves” (Steve Comba and Steve Olsen) and of course WMA Executive Director, Jason Jones. But mostly, it was a pleasure to read and discuss the 75 session proposals submitted for the WMA 2013 conference from all over the region.

I had the opportunity to serve on the Program Committee about 10 years ago, and now as then, I am humbled by the talent, professionalism, inspiration, scholarship, thoughtfulness, breadth and sense of humor of the museum professionals in the western region…we are fortunate to have such a wealth of gifted individuals, many of whom will be presenting in sessions, workshops, posters or other venues during our four days together in Salt Lake City.

As I finalize preparation for the conference (travel arrangements, plan of action for attending sessions, evening events, lunches and committee meetings, and yes…finishing my own presentations) I am struck by what the WMA Annual Meeting gives us in the museum profession in the western region - seasoned and new:

  • Motivation through networking, education and fun.
  • The chance to share how proud we are of our work, our museums and our profession.
  • The opportunity to reconnect with each other and with what drew us to the field.
  • The occasion to share experiences, learning, trends and triumphs.
  • A time to reflect on the profession and our place in it.
  • The tools to explain the value of what we do to others outside the museum world.
  • The encouragement to celebrate what is going well and talk about things that aren’t.
  • A few days to think outside the box about what we currently do or what we could do in the future.

Of course there are several things, besides the sessions, that I am looking forward to during WMA 2013:

NHMU_Exterior_1_SRThe evening event at the Natural History Museum of Utah (NHMU) on Thursday, October 10. Natural history museums are one of my all-time favorite types of museums and the chance to see NHMU’s new facility is fantastic. Several members of the Program Committee were able to visit the new site during the winter Committee meeting and took some inspiring photos of the exhibits, and I can’t wait to see them myself.

The Poster Session on Friday, October 11. This is the first Poster Session for WMA and we hope it will become an annual part of the program. The Poster Session was designed to provide opportunities for individuals to present their research, new insights, ideas or programs through illustrated and informative posters. The purpose of the Poster Session is to share some of the most current work in our field; to encourage emerging museum and small museum professionals to share their work with colleagues and engage in dialogue and process; to showcase projects and research currently being undertaken in and for museums; and to present information on and encourage museum professionals at all levels to seek trends and principles that can guide efforts to improve practice.

I have to admit that above all, I look forward to each WMA Annual Meeting because of the opportunity it presents to touch base with old friends and new colleagues. As Margaret Kadoyama said in the last Program Perspectives “It is always a pleasure connecting with WMA folks!”

To register for the WMA 2013 Annual Meeting and the evening events please visit:

Hope to see many of you there.

Keni Sturgeon

Keni Sturgeon is the Curator and Museum Director at the Willamette Heritage Center, in Salem, Oregon. She also teaches with the University of Oklahoma’s online museum studies MA program and at Linfield College teaching undergraduate museum studies courses. She relocated to back to Oregon from a position as Curator for Programs and Education at Brown University’s Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. She received her graduate degree in Anthropology and Museum Studies from Arizona State University. She is serving on the Western Museums Association’s Program Committee for the 2013-2015 Annual Meetings, and is currently the Secretary for AAM’s Small Museum Administrators’ Committee and the co-program chair for AAM’s Curators’ Committee for AAM’s 2014 conference in Seattle.



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