I am excited to welcome you to my home city of Las Vegas for the Western Museums Association (WMA) 2014 Annual Meeting. Nevada is celebrating its Sesquicentennial anniversary this year, and as I reflect upon where we’ve been, it brings to mind all that is new here in Las Vegas. This year’s theme, “Expect the Unexpected,” is certainly apropos!
We all know Las Vegas as an entertainment and tourist capital, but more recently it has been going through a cultural renaissance. Many new museums have opened with more in store for the coming years. Downtown Las Vegas is undergoing a transformation with many new small businesses, a designated Arts District, a monthly First Friday, the Container Park, the Smith Center, and a renewed sense of community. The emergence of new museums that are uniquely Las Vegan is helping to define who we are. Of particular interest this year are specific conference sessions that focus on Las Vegas’ unexpected art venues and our uniquely Vegas collections.
We Las Vegas museum professionals certainly look forward to illuminating our cultural institutions for you, our peers. The Evening Events—Vintage Vegas: The Mob Museum & the Neon Museum, and Atomic City: The National Atomic Testing Museum—promise to give attendees a special insight into my city’s museums. Pre-Conference Tours can also show you the richness of southern Nevada, from the Hoover Dam and Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, to the Clark County Museum, Lost City Museum, Wetlands Park, Valley of Fire State Park, and two amazing studios that are becoming house museums. I particularly look forward to the final afternoon of the 2014 Annual Meeting as the entire conference moves to the Springs Preserve. This is truly a free-choice programming aspect, as attendees will have the opportunity to learn and connect with one another during regular sessions, in the galleries, on special tours, and at WestMusings | Ten Minute Museum Talks.
A view of the Las Vegas skyline from the Springs Preserve
I was honored to serve on the 2014 Program Committee, and while it was an intense experience, it was also very rewarding. This year, our focus is on training, networking, and specific professional tracks that include Business, Leadership/ Careerpath, Collections, Technology, Visitor Experience, and Community Engagement. I can speak on behalf of the Program Committee by saying we gave careful consideration to each session proposal and the programmatic flow. I am pleased with the over 50 sessions and workshops that we selected. These sessions and their panelists represent the most thought-provoking topics facing museum professionals today.
The keynote speaker this year, Mark Hall-Patton, will be a highlight of the conference. Don't miss it! He brings years of museum experience, astute observations, a disarming sense of humor, and a spot-on evaluation of the relevance of museums.
I am looking forward to the 2014 Annual Meeting in October as my colleagues and I welcome you to Las Vegas. There is 1 week left for the Member Early Bird Registration rates! Non-members can still save if they become members and register!
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Director of Galleries
University of Nevada Las Vegas