2021 has been a year unlike any other in history (excluding the previous one). Thinking back to this time last year, we can all truly appreciate the way museums across the US have responded to the ongoing crisis, pivoted to create digital offerings, and worked diligently to open their doors once more.
Like so many, the Western Museums Association (WMA) adjusted what was once our “normal” programming and created new content that would reach, assist, and engage at-home audiences. In doing so, we found ourselves collaborating with U.S. regional and state museum associations, as well as a Canadian museum association (twice!), developing new partnerships, and gaining new friends along the way.
As we look back, we say THANK YOU to everyone who has worked alongside WMA throughout this year and the last – including our sponsors. Thank you for your generous support and for the amazing work you have done. Now, please join us as we recap the WMA programming of 2021.
Digital Empowerment for Small Museums
Museum Learning Hub
We began our 2021 programming with the launch of Museum Learning Hub – a nationwide initiative organized by the six U.S. regional museum associations, that provides free, self-paced training resources for small museums. This inaugural series of online trainings and resource toolkits are focused on digital media and technology topics and are made possible by the Institute of Museum and Library Services National Leadership Grant for Museums award.
Initially created as part of the Digital Empowerment – Technology and Digital Media Training for Small Museums Project, training programs and resources on the Museum Learning Hub will support small museums seeking to overcome barriers to audience engagement and educational program delivery in a post-pandemic environment.
Access previously recorded webinars, free toolkits, and a Community Forum on the Museum Learning Hub.
Museums Are Not Neutral Virtual Bootcamp
In April, WMA produced the first ever Museums Are Not Neutral Virtual Bootcamp with Museums Are Not Neutral co-producers La Tanya S. Autry and Mike Murawski. Museums Are Not Neutral is a global initiative that exposes the fallacies of the neutrality claim and calls for an equity-based transformation of museums.
This limited series of 3 monthly workshops was geared toward museum professionals, leaders, and changemakers who are committed to advancing transformative change in museums at every level and in every area of their practice. Together, La Tanya S. Autry and Mike Murawski helped attendees unpack oppression in museum practice & developed action-oriented strategies for change.
June Keynote Webinar – Museums Are Not Neutral
Come June, as an extension of the Museums Are Not Neutral Virtual Bootcamp, and this time in partnership with British Columbia Museum Association (BCMA), we hosted a special free Keynote Webinar featuring Museums Are Not Neutral co-producers, La Tanya S. Autry and Mike Murawski. These inspiring change leaders – who are exposing the myth of museum neutrality one step at a time – came together to explore the strategies for how museums can become relevant, socially engaged community spaces that act as agents of positive change, and highlighted the importance of having a strong and ethical institutional core.
You can watch the recording of the webinar right here on our website.
With safety precautions in place, we anchored our Autumn with unique in-person programs: the WMA Roadshow. WMA partnered with the Utah Museums Association, Museum Association of Arizona, California Association of Museums, and Washington Museum Association to run 4 small, safe, in-person pop-up museum professional development events in 4 different cities.
These half-day experiences provided learning sessions and created opportunities for museum people to network and reconnect with one another after more than one-year apart. Read more on the individual Roadshow events and their individual programs here.
"The WMA Roadshow was the safest event/interaction/gathering I have experienced during the pandemic. From requiring proof of vaccination, to well-spaced seating, they made it possible to meet in person again. There is no substitute for the kind of learning and connection that happens when people get together to co-create knowledge. Thank You!" – Roadshow Attendee
Fall Keynote Webinar – Sterlin Harjo
To round out our 2021 virtual event roster, we partnered once more with BCMA to host a second free Keynote Webinar, this time featuring Sterlin Harjo (Seminole/Muscogee Creek), the co-creator (along with Taika Waititi) and showrunner of FX's original series Reservation Dogs. We had a wonderful discussion with Sterlin on how Indigenous representation is changing in film and television, the messages behind Reservation Dogs, as well as his thoughts on how museums can amplify Native voices.
Tune in on our website here to watch the recording.
Well, that’s a wrap!
And a special shout-out to all our 2021 event sponsors for your generous support and encouragement of transformative change in museums.
Upcoming in 2022
Next October, join us for an in-person Annual Meeting in partnership with the Oregon Museums Association in Portland, Oregon. The request for session proposals will open in Spring, 2022. Please stay tuned for more updates!