Annual Meeting FAQ


The Western Museums Association's (WMA) Annual Meeting is as a premier venue for those who work in the museum industry to exchange ideas and best practices, network with colleagues, and learn from each other by attending valuable sessions. Attendees from across the Western US and beyond, come together over the course of four days and leave feeling inspired and energized about their profession and the future of the field.

Please review the FAQs below for more information.


General Questions  •  Registration Questions

Programming Questions  •  Request for Proposals


Online registration will open in June.

WMA members receive a discounted rate!

Not a WMA member? Join now! 


General Questions

What are the dates and location of WMA's 2023 Annual Meeting?

The WMA's 2023 Annual Meeting will take place this October 5-8 in Pasadena, California


What is the theme of WMA 2023?

With the theme of CONNECT, WMA 2023 will be an opportunity for attendees to participate in a unique slate of educational programming, CONNECT with colleagues, and explore ideas that will help define the future of museums and the diverse communities they serve.


What is the headquarters hotel for WMA's 2023 Annual Meeting?

The Annual Meeting sessions and activities will take place at the Hilton Pasadena with Evening Events hosted at Pasadena area cultural institutions. WMA Annual Meetings are all about connecting with colleagues, sharing ideas, and networking. We help facilitate these by contracting with a hotel for a discounted room block and centralizing meeting spaces - both of which require minimum financial thresholds to be met.

Staying in the headquarters hotel makes connecting with colleagues easier and helps us keep the Annual Meeting affordable to attendees. Online reservations will open in June and will be available through August 25, at a discounted rate of $185/night.


Can I sponsor, exhibit, and advertise at WMA 2023?

Yes! Please visit our Partnership Opportunities page to learn more.


Will there be a virtual option for WMA 2023?

WMA 2023 is designed as an in-person gathering focused on connection and professional growth. With the understanding that hybrid events are effectively two separate events layered on top of each other with their own logistics, expenses, and staffing needs, there will not be a virtual component for WMA 2023. Our goal is to keep registration costs as low as possible. A virtual option would substantially increase rates and therefore reduce the number of people who could access professional development. However, you can get a glimpse of the happenings at #WMA2023 by following WMA on Instagram or Twitter.


Can I Volunteer at WMA 2023? What are the benefits?

Yes! WMA is currently seeking enthusiastic volunteers to assist WMA staff with a variety of roles at the Annual Meeting. In exchange for hours work, volunteers can attend an equal number of hours of non-ticketed Annual Meeting events and sessions. Volunteers must work for time periods equal to a minimum of 4 hours; this can be broken up into two 2-hour shifts or one 4-hour shift. Volunteer opportunities will be announced this summer.


Registration Questions


When will registration open?

Registration for WMA's 2023 Annual Meeting will open in June


What are registration rates for WMA 2023?

Full Meeting

Member Early Bird Rate ..... $380
Member Regular Rate ..... $435
Non-Member Regular Rate (Includes WMA membership) ..... $510
Student Rate ..... $250

Single Day

General Rate ..... $230

WMA members receive a discounted rate! Not a WMA member? Join now!
Please contact for Presenter Rate information.


When does the Early Bird Registration end?

Friday, July 28th, 2023


What is the cancellation / refund policy for WMA 2023?

Cancellations made in writing on or before September 6, 2023 will be refunded, minus a $100.00 processing fee. Cancellations after September 6, 2023, will not be refunded. No-shows will not be refunded. Please contact WMA for further information or if you have any questions.



Are scholarships available for WMA 2023?

The Wanda Chin Scholarship helps to make attendance at the Annual Meeting financially accessible to individuals who might otherwise not be able to attend. Funded through annual auctions and donations, the Wanda Chin Professional Development Program is a vital component of the WMA mission and allows WMA to create opportunities for its constituents to build skill-sets to better serve their communities. Applications for 2023 Scholarships will open in April.


Can I donate to support scholarships?

Yes! By donating to the Wanda Chin Scholarship Fund, you will help to subsidize participation in WMA's Annual Meeting for professionals who might not otherwise be able to attend. The Annual Meeting is an opportunity for everyone to network will colleagues, learn best practices, and gain new skillsets that can be applied within their own institutions and local communities.

There are two ways to donate and make an impact:

  1. Donate to the Wanda Chin Scholarship Fund by clicking here. Choose the amount you wish to donate and specify that your donation is for the 'Wanda Chin Scholarship' in the comments section
  2. Support the Wanda Chin Scholarship Program by bidding on items in the Annual Meeting's Silent Auction. Proceeds from the Silent Auction directly fund this program.


Programming Questions

Who is WMA's 2023 Keynote Speaker?

This year's Opening General Session & Keynote will be announced in June.


What sessions, events, and networking opportunities will WMA 2023 feature?

With 36 sessions, 2 general sessions, 4 evening events, 2 tours, and many new opportunities to share content with colleagues and make in-person connections, #WMA2023 will be a fun and creative gathering of museum folk. For more details on the Annual Meeting sessions, events, and networking opportunities, look for the Preliminary Program to be available in June.


Who will be speaking at WMA's Closing General Session?

This year's Closing General Session & Panel will be announced in June.


Request for Proposals Questions


Who can submit a proposal?

Anyone can submit a proposal for the following: Session, Workshop, Poster Session, Roundtable Host, Happy Hour Host, Inspiration Station Host, or Activity Station Host.


What will I receive if my proposal is accepted?

If your proposal is accepted for any of WMA's proposal opportunities, you will receive a discounted “contributor” rate to the Annual Meeting.


What is the Program Committee's review process?

The Program Committee (PC) strives 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 reviews all submissions. Each proposal is then ranked based on its thoroughness, relation to the theme, and diversity of perspectives represented. Then a draft schedule is created using the highest-ranking proposals and finalized by the PC. Proposers will be notified in May if they have been accepted for the final Annual Meeting program.



What makes a good session or workshop proposal? What topics are best?

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. YOU can help strengthen the WMA Community by submitting a session or workshop proposal for our 2023 Annual Meeting.

WMA's Program Committee looks for proposals that use creative approaches to leverage the in-person nature of the Annual Meeting. Preference will be given to non-traditional session formats with a variety of interactive components, such as those with less emphasis on slides, more opportunities for Q&A, and audience engagement activities. So, experiment with session structure! Download our Program/Session Structures document to get inspired by different approaches for sharing your content. 

Additionally, WMA specifically seeks historically under-represented conference session topics including those on visitor services, docents / volunteers, safety and security, fundraising / marketing, and cyber security.

Sessions will take place across three days: October 6th, 7th, and 8th. Workshops will take place on October 5th and can either be half day (4 hours) for full day (7 hours).

Need to get inspired? Please, look back at our 2022 Sessions or past programs.


What is the difference between a session and a workshop?

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 preceding 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 75-minute 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 do sessions run? 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. Download our Program/Session Structures document to get inspired by different approaches for sharing your content. 


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 proposal.


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

Yes! WMA encourages session proposals from company representatives and private consultants. 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 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.


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 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.


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

With only one round of review, it is necessary for submitted proposals to have all presenters confirmed or notation that you are interested in the PC suggested additional speakers to round out the proposal. WMA limits the number of sessions that an individual can be included in - individuals may only present or moderate in 2 sessions. 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, please let us know as we would be happy to help.



What is the Poster Session? What is involved in presenting?

The perennially popular Poster Session provides a unique opportunity for individuals to present their academic research, progressive ideas, or public programs through illustrated and informative posters. The Poster Session allows presenters and attendees to engage in discourse with one another and network in an informal setting.

To present at WMA's 2023 Poster Session, you must be in attendance, standing next to your poster where you can interact with attendees, answer questions, and discuss your projects/research on Saturday, October 7, 2023, from 10:15am to 11:00am. Posters will remain up for the rest of the day for additional opportunities to engage with attendees.

Whether it's your first time presenting, or you'd like a refresher course, click here to check out our tips and tricks for designing and presenting your poster!



What is a Roundtable Discussion? What is the role of the Host?

A roundtable discussion is a breakout, casual conversation on a specific topic, held between a group of participants with a host, or moderator. The roundtable format brings together different points of view while giving all audience members a chance to learn and interact with each other.

Roundtable Hosts introduce the topic of choice, and then proceed to facilitate the conversation while keeping things on track and making sure all voices are heard.


What is a Happy Hour Discussion? What is the role of the Host?

WMA's Happy Hours are casual events for attendees to meet and socialize. In Pasadena, these will be held onsite at the Annual Meeting hotel with a variety of beverage options. WMA is looking for hosts to stimulate and direct the conversation. As a Happy Hour Discussion Host, you will lead colleagues in a conversation or activity and will receive a discounted registration! Below are some Happy Hour ideas to get your wheels turning. With only a small number of available Happy Hour slots available, inclusion will be based on creativity and compatibility with other programming.

To get your wheels turning, here are some Happy Hour theme ideas:

  • Emerging Museum Professional Happy Hour
  • LGBTQI+ Happy Hour
  • Drink & Draw Happy Hour
  • Small Museums Happy Hour
  • Collections Happy Hour


What is an Inspiration Station? What is the role of the Host?

An Inspiration Station is a small group, informal showcase of ideas, solutions, and innovations from around the museum field that provides attendees with the chance to talk directly with the folks making them happen. These small groups can take the form of a discussion or activity workshop. Federal agencies, museum associations, and individuals with great ideas will all be in the mix. Do you want to test out a hands-on activity – this is the place!

Hosting an Inspiration Station is a way to continue the conversation from their session or workshop.

Inspiration Hosts lead the small group of attendees in conversation, present on a specific topic with feedback, or lead participants through an activity.


What is an Activity Station? What is the role of the Host?

An Activity Station is where attendees participate in a low-cost 30-minute activity. The purpose is to connect with colleagues and to share and receive information or ideas. Here are some Activity Station examples:

  • An educational activity that you run at your museum and want to get feedback on
  • A hands-on activity you want to do, but need some beta testing
  • An interactive or creative activity that you think will benefit museum professionals (i.e., journal writing, meditation, label-making, etc.)

Activity Station Hosts facilitate the activity, prompt conversations, and keep the participants on track.


We hope these general FAQs will help you prepare for the Annual Meeting and feel safe during your visit.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please reach out to our staff at

We look forward to seeing you in Pasadena!