By Aldona Jonaitis
A first glance at the Western Museums Association 2013 Annual Meeting Program
One session to attend at the Western Museums Association (WMA) 2013 Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City is Reflections and Projections: Perspectives on the Museum Profession. We – Gail Anderson, Art Wolf, Stephen Olsen and Aldona Jonaitis – have together had almost 140 years of museum experience. Our session will be an informal, free-flowing dialogue amongst the panelists and the audience addressing the dramatic changes the field has undergone in the past 30 years. Going beyond an accounting of events, which has been done in many books, essays and conference presentations, we will share our personal experiences, insights gained over years of museum work, and our reflections on how we changed as the museum world changed. And, as history is the foundation of thinking about the future, we will discuss with the audience how younger museum professionals can prosper as the museum world continues to change over the next 30 years.
The structure of the session will include 5-minute statements by the panelists, followed by discussions of the following questions:
- How can we manage the expectations of a museum career?
- How has the idea of the museum career changed over time?
- What historical truths about the museum profession – that the panelists have personally experienced – are often not recognized or reflected upon?
Examples of the truths from item C include the blurring of boundaries between institutional and independent museum professionals; the distinctions between fads and trends; the radical changes in who has the authority to speak in museum exhibits; and the broadening of themes appropriate for museum presentation.
We expect that the actual dialogue at WMA might expand to address other questions of interest to the audience. In that spirit, we hope that you might participate in the discussion even prior to our meeting. We encourage you start this dialogue among your colleagues and till then, we will see you Salt Lake City in October.
We look forward to hearing from you!!
Aldona Jonaitis was Vice President for Public Programs at the American Museum of Natural HIstory from 1989-1993 and Director of the University of Alaska Museum of the North from 1993-2010. She has returned to that museum as Interim Director.