2020 Request for Proposals

It is with great pleasure and excitement that the Western Museums Association (WMA)
announces the Request for Proposals for the 2020 Annual Meeting
to be held in Portland, Oregon, October 8-11, 2020.
The deadline for 2020 Proposals is Friday, November 22, 2019

The WMA's Annual Meeting provides museum professionals an opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices, network with colleagues, and learn from one another by attending valuable sessions. Diverse presentations are a key component to the success of the Annual Meeting, and are important in creating a meaningful and content-rich experience for all museum professionals who attended. With this being said, you can help strengthen the WMA Community with a session or workshop proposal for our 2020 Annual Meeting.

WMA 2020 will be held in Portland, Oregon on October 8-11 in partnership with the Oregon Museums Association. The 2020 Program promises to provide a multitude of perspectives representative of today’s museum landscape, and continue the WMA’s rich tradition of provocative programming and educational opportunities. With the theme of FORWARD, WMA 2020 will focus on the ways museums can be adaptable, FORWARD-thinking institutions.

What does it mean for a museum to be forward-thinking? What will the museum field look like in years to come? As a collective field capable of inspiring social, cultural, political, environmental, and technological change, the 2020 Annual Meeting, FORWARD, will dig into how museums can foster on-going conversations, inspire forward-thinking ideas, and empower future generations for the betterment of the museum field and our global society.

Museums reflect the notion of forward-thinking by:

  • Refining mission statements and values
  • Embracing diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility
  • Acting as agents of social change / social justice / activism
  • Finding new methods of preserving collections
  • Going Green
  • Incorporating new digital technologies into exhibtions and programming
  • Joining into unconventional and innovative partnerships
  • Creating positive and caring work environments for all museum staff, and boards

If you'd like to submit a session or workshop proposal, please take a look at last year's 2019 Sessions or past programs to get inspired. If you attended WMA's 2019 Annual Meeting and had an exciting conversation or unique learning experience, you are encouraged to build off of the momentum of those ideas for a 2020 session topic!

If you already have a session proposal idea and are looking for feedback, or are searching for panelists, please use our 2020 Annual Meeting Discussion Thread. This thread is designed to connect potential presenters with one another, facilitate discussion, and make the process of desiging your proposal a lot easier.

New this year - online submissions!

We created a proposal worksheet to help collaboratively build your session proposal before inputting in our new online submission form. Please review the Proposal Guidelines before completing your proposal. Have quesitons? Ask!


Download Session & Workshop Proposal Worksheet

Download Proposal Guidelines

Submit Your Proposal Online


Session & Workshop Propsal FAQ
Do you have a question about submitting a proposal for WMA's 2020 Annual Meeting?
Some of the most commonly asked questions are...

What is the Program Committee review process?
Do I need to have all presenters listed in my proposal?
What is the difference between a workshop and a session?
How long can sessions run for? What are the typical session formats?
What is included in a good session proposal?
Can graduate students present and propose a session?
Can for-profit service providers and consultants propose a session?
How should I determine the workshop fee?

If your question is not answered here, please contact us directly.

What is the Program Committee review process?

The Program Committee (PC) takes the review process very seriously as they strive to assemble the most relevant and interesting topics in the museum profession. Once the submission deadline has closed and all proposals have been received, the PC thoroughly reads over all submissions. Each proposal is then assigned a PC member, who will reach out to individual candidates with questions, suggestions, and comments in order to get a better understanding of the proposed session or workshop, and make it stronger overall. (All candidates will be contacted by a PC member).

In January, the PC will convene and decide on provisionally accepted session or workshop proposals. If a session is tentatively accepted, its assigned PC member will once more, reach out to the candidate providing any feedback about the proposal. With this given feedback, the proposers will then rework (if and where needed) and resubmit their session or workshop for final consideration. The deadline for this second-round of resubmissions is February 14, 2020. (All proposals must be resubmitted even if no changes are required).

Proposers will be notified at the end of March if they have been accepted for the final Annual Meeting program.

Do I need to have all presenters listed in my proposal?

Although the initial proposals do not need to have all presenters included, the PC views a strong proposal as having all, or almost all of its presenters confirmed. In the second-round of resubmissions, every proposal MUST  have all its presenters confirmed.

WMA limits the number of sessions that an individual can be included in - individuals may only present in 2 sessions and may only moderate 1 session. This is done to ensure that a variety of perspectives are represented, as well as to alleviate scheduling difficulties. Please be aware of this as you agree to be on and/or ask people to join a session.

If you are having trouble determining additional presenters for your proposal, we suggest posting to the WMA LinkedIn Group, or to our dedicated Facebook discussion page, as well as reaching out on professional listservs such as RCAAM, Museum-Ed, or Museum-L.

What is the difference between a workshop and a session?

Although workshops and sessions are somewhat similar,  there are some key differences between the two. Workshops tend to be more practical and instructional hands-on group activities, while sessions are opportunities for professionals and scholars to share new ideas, innovative research, or best practices. Workshops are presented on the day preceeding the Annual Meeting and can either be for a full-day (9am—4pm) or half-day (9am—1pm), and are often at times given by companies or consultants. In contrast, concurrent sessions run throughout every day of the conference in 75min durations. Another point to mention is that workshops are typically paid for as a separate registration fee, while sessions are included in the conference package.

View Past Annual Meeting programs to get a better sense of this distinction.

How long can sessions run for? What are the typical session formats?

Sessions are 75-minutes. Double sessions are no longer being accepted. As for the structure, sessions must consist of a presentation(s) and built-in-time for audience engagement, discussions and questions. Aside from these two elements, there are a multitude of ways in which a session can be designed, and uniqueness is encouraged. There are Standard Sessions, Fishbowl Sessions, Pecha Kucha, Dialogue Sessions, Critiques, Roundtables, Meet-the-Press, etc. The WMA is open to other various, inventive formats, but please make sure to include a full explanation in the proposal. More examples and descriptions of session structures can be found here

What is included in a good session or workshop proposal?

The Program Committee (PC) is looking for well thought-out and complete ideas when evaluating the proposals. Think about these questions before you submit: How does the topic influence the future of museums?; Who will benefit from this session or workshop?; Is the proposal applicable to all types (small/large) and levels of museum professionals?; What improved knowledge will attendees walk away from after having attended this session or workshop?

As WMA is interested in representing broad and meaningful perspectives, and aims to provide cross-disciplinary content, proposers are asked to incorporate a variety of individuals, institutions, and perspectives within their sessions and workshops. Ideally, both sessions and workshops should include speakers from a variety of museums (including size and location) and disciplines (history, art, science, etc.) to stimulate broad conversations, and offer different perspectives on the chosen topic. Additionally, strong propsosals focus on relevant topics or issues facing the museum field, and should be of interest to delegates who are outside of the specific area of study.

Please note, generally, sessions without broad representation are less likely to be accepted.

Can graduate students propose a session or workshop?

Yes, absolutely! The WMA's Annual Meeting welcomes all students, emerging museum professionals (EMPS), small museum professionals, experts in the field, and any other type of museum or cultural institution professional. Everyone is strongly encouraged to submit a session or workshop propsoal.

Can for-profit service providers and consultants propose a session or workshop?

Yes! WMA encourages session proposals from company representatives and private consultants. However, the following policies ensure that these sessions are effective:

  1. Your session must address an issue or topic in an objective manner. During your session, it is OK to present your work, but it must be done in a manner that addresses a broad context and avoids specifically endorsing your business. If you are unsure of how to accomplish this, please feel free to contact the WMA with questions and concerns to help develop your proposal.

  2. It is strongly preferred that a museum professional (not a client) serve as the session moderator, while you serve as a speaker.

  3. Your session panel should not consist of only yourself and your clients. This structure does not represent a truly objective session. If you have difficulty finding panelists outside of your client list, you are strongly encouraged to indicate this on your session form (Section 1.G), and the Program Committee can help suggest additional panelists that are knowledgeable about your topic.

  4. No payment of professional fees will be paid to any consultant or for-profit service provider for facilitating or presenting in a session or workshop. It is expected that all Annual Meeting participants donate their time and expertise to the program.

How should I determine the workshop fee?

Workshop fees cover the expense of basic materials such as any AV needed, books, handouts, etc. Other major expenditures (such as lunch or coffee service) must have prior WMA approval in order to be addressed by the fee. Include all possible expenses in the initial proposal submission. After the workshop is accepted, WMA staff will work with workshop proposers to determine the final fee amount.



Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Just want to see if you are a robot.