So you’ve registered for the Western Museums Association 2023 Annual Meeting. What’s next?
No matter if you're a first-time attendee or a WMA regular, with so many great learning sessions, social networking events, and other fun happenings, it can be challenging or overwhelming to decide where to start. From preparing what to pack and planning transportation, to deciding what sessions to attend and how to successfully network, there is a lot to think about. To ease your mind and to help you smoothly navigate through the 2023 Annual Meeting while maximizing your professional development, we at WMA have created this Attendee Guide. Here, we share some things to consider as you prepare for sunshine-filled Pasadena and make your way through the 4-days at WMA 2023.
Prior to the Annual Meeting • During the Annual Meeting • After the Annual Meeting
Prior to the Annual Meeting
Getting There & Transportation
If you’re flying into Pasadena, there are a few ways to get to the WMA 2023 headquarters hotel, Hilton Pasadena. Unfortunately, the hotel does NOT offer airport shuttle service, but there are other transportation options available.
If you’re coming from Burbank Airport (BUR), you can get to the Hilton Pasadena by the Train, Tram, Bus (Metro line 501), Taxi, Uber, Lyft, or a rental car. Traveling by train will take you just over 1hr, while the bus will take just over 2hrs and a car ride will take only 20mins. Click here and here to view detailed transportation options from BUR to the Hilton Pasadena.
If you’re coming from Los Angeles Airport (LAX), you can get to the Hilton Pasadena by Tram, Bus (Metro Gold Line), Taxi, Uber, Lyft, rental car, or shuttle. Traveling by bus will take you just over 1.5hrs, while a care ride will take around 30mins. Click here and here for LAX transportation options.
Hotel Reservations & Saving Money
For WMA 2023 attendees, The Hilton Pasadena
offers rooms at a discounted rate of $199/night. Deadline for a guaranteed discounted rate is Friday, August 25.
Another way WMA attendees can save money, is by sharing a hotel room. Connect with your fellow WMA 2023 attendees on the Hotel webpage
to find a roommate.
What to Bring/Wear
Clothing & Shoes
Knowing that selecting conference attire can sometimes be a time-consuming process, we made WMA’s Annual Meeting casual - fun is one of our Core Values after all. That said, it is still important to make a good impression and business casual attire is strongly recommended. As for footwear, wear whatever shoes that are comfortable for you, but keep in mind that there will be quite a bit of standing and walking around the venue and at events.
During October, Pasadena has an average high of 82°F and a low of 54° F. Although it will be warm for any Annual Meeting outside activity, it can still be on the rather cold side inside the hotel conference rooms. Therefore, we recommend dressing in layers with sweaters and jackets. It is also best to check the weather during the week of the Annual Meeting for more specific weather information.
Accessories & Other Gear
When out-and-about all day and all night at the Annual Meeting, it's recommended that you bring a purse, small tote bag, or briefcase with you to stash some much-needed items. We suggest bringing the following items along with you: a notebook, laptop or ipad; pens and/or pencils; a reusable water bottle; phone charger/extended batteries; Kleenex and hand sanitizer; and of course personalized business cards and resumes! Please read on to the next section below.
Business Cards, Elevator Pitches, & Resumes
“What about business cards?”
It is always a good idea to bring business cards—everywhere. These bits of paper gold are a great way to start initial conversations with your peers, or follow-up with additional dialogues. You do not necessarily need to have business cards related to a specific job, particularly if you are an EMP or between jobs. Consider creating a personal card that includes your name, contact information, and a vision statement about your museum work.
are great resources for economical cards. Also consider buying business-card-sized paper at your local office supply store and make your own!
“Is there any way to prepare for networking conversations?”
Yes! It is important to prepare for the personal and professional conversations that will arise during the Annual Meeting. Many times, the first questions when meeting people are, “Tell me about yourself,” or “What do you do?” It is best to have a prepared response, known as an elevator pitch
, as this will help increase your confidence to engage on a deeper level. Your pitch should briefly summarize who you are, what you do or are working on, as well as why you are passionate about museums.
“Should I bring a resume?”
Yes! Bring printed copies, especially if you are an EMP. You can provide your resume to potential employers or ask your peers for suggestions about how to improve it.
Consider setting some personal and professional goals before attending the 2023 Annual Meeting. The goals could be as simple as meeting three new people, or more complex like finding a strategy for a future program, exhibit, or policy, among other things. Think about discussing your goals with your friends, colleagues, or partner(s). Better yet, share your goals with one of your contacts also attending the Annual Meeting and you can help one another achieve them. No matter what your goals, being intentional about them will help you gauge how much you learned, determine if your experience was successful, and make the Annual Meeting more effective overall.
Connecting with Other Attendees
There are many ways for you to connect with other attendees and build your network at the Annual Meeting. Before arriving, find out who in your personal and professional networks will be attending. Consider asking friends and colleagues directly or using LinkedIn or Facebook to investigate.
All registered attendees will be sent a final attendee list prior to the conference, making it easy to find potential contacts. Once received, reach out to those peers via LinkedIn, or wait to connect in-person at the Annual Meeting. It's a good idea to make plans to connect with those peers at the Annual Meeting whether it be for meals, coffee breaks, or drinks—but be sure to allow flexible time in your schedule for whatever might come up!
If you know of some peers that are interested in attending the same sessions you are interested in, or who share similar interests, think about reaching out to those people via email, LinkedIn, or Facebook prior to Pasadena. This will help open the conversation before even meeting in-person.
Choosing Sessions to Attend
With so many exciting sessions at the 2023 Annual Meeting, it can be a tricky task determining which ones you want to attend. When selecting programs to attend ask yourself: What information will benefit my institution, particularly if they are supporting my attendance? What information will help me reach my professional goals? What am I passionate about within the museum-field? Are there discussions that I want to start or extend into a future Annual Meeting session?
Our 2023 Program Key
located in the 2023 Preliminary Program
, makes this task manageable. If you're interested in a specific topic – such as community engagement or leadership – the Program Key can guide you as to which sessions fall under that topic. That said, it can be beneficial to attend sessions that are not in your direct discipline or interest to further expand your perspective. So, look through the 2023 Preliminary Program
to see what other sessions might be worth attending.
Another way to select sessions is to see who's presenting. If there are any presenters or institutions you would specifically like to hear from, you can attend their sessions. And be sure to connect with them afterwards!
During the Annual Meeting
Here are some things to consider maximizing your time and experience at the 2023 Annual Meeting. Get involved, talk to your peers and of course, have fun!
Networking can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. WMA Board and Committee members and attendees are all friendly, responsive, and enjoy conversations with new and old colleagues. Whether it’s drinking coffee at a break or perusing galleries at an evening event, don’t be afraid to start a conversation! Remember, fun, collegiality, and inclusion are some of WMA’s Core Values.
The WMA Board and Program Committee also have special-colored tags on their conference badges. Feel free to start up conversations with them—they’re looking forward to it! Try asking a Board Member about the work they do for their own institution or try asking a Program Committee Member about the in-depth proposal review process.
It is also important to remember that WMA Annual Meetings are gatherings of like-minded people who are all passionate about the same thing you are: museums. As former WMA Board President Anne Rowe explains – “WMA Annual Meetings are intentionally constructed to provide a safe and fun space where the foundation for social interactions is well advanced of where you typically begin when meeting new people.” Take advantage of that. Introduce yourself to the people you are seated near in session rooms and even ask for their business cards. Remember, these people are in the same industry and chose to attend the same session; they probably have something in common with you. Make sure to join in on session discussions, and share what you found interesting with your fellow attendees.
Engage with Social Media
Another way to network and join in on discussions is engaging with WMA and attendees on social media. Throughout the 2023 Annual Meeting, follow us on Twitter as WMA staff will be Tweeting about live happenings, reminders of upcoming events, information on our presenters, and more! We also want to hear from YOU whether it’s Tweeting, sharing photos on Instagram, posting pictures to your Facebook profile, or joining in on deeper conversations. No matter where you're engaging from, make sure to use #WMA2023 and tag WMA (tags listed below) when sharing content from the 2023 Annual Meeting!
There are multiple free and paid events throughout the 2023 Annual Meeting, which can all be found in our 2023 Preliminary Program
. During each day, there will be free coffee breaks and other networking opportunities in the Exhibit Hall. We recommend attending the FREE Exhibit Hall Networking Lunch
, the Networking & Refreshment Break
, the Coffee Break & Poster Session
, and the Closing Reception
. These are all fantastic gatherings that many people attend.
After experiencing a day filled with learning sessions, attendees are invited to gather at one of our 2023 unique Evening Events, hosted at one of Pasadena's many wonderful cultural institutions.
- Thursday: Pasadena Museum of History and The Gamble House
- Friday: Autry Museum of the AMerican West
- Saturday: Armory Center for the Arts
- Sunday: USC Pacific Asia Museum
Additionally, on Friday, attendees are invited to mingle at our ticketed WMA Happy Hours
. While on Sunday, there will be ticketed Affinity Luncheons
(tickets can be purchased in advance through the online registration system). We encourage attendees to join as many events as possible, as they maximize potential networking opportunities and are the places where many meaningful conversations occur. Please view our 2023 Preliminary Program
for more information.
Please Note: there will also be limited tickets for Evening Events and Affinity Luncheons available to purchase at the Registration Desk during the Annual Meeting. Please check with staff for availability. There will also be a message board in the registration area where attendees often post tickets to exchange.
Food During the Annual Meeting
“Where will we eat?” is always a looming question when traveling. Inside the Hilton Pasadena, you'll find the full-service Corner Craft Kitchen & Bar serving sustainable dishes alongside local craft beer, wine and coctails. You'll also find the Corner Coffee with a menu of Starbucks coffee, fruit smoothies, fresh pastries, parfaits, and grab-and-go breakfast; and of course, there's in-room dining.
Outside of the headquarter hotel, you'll discover an endless number of eateries that can be found in Old Pas, majority along Colorado Blvd, which only a five-to-fifteen-minute walk from the Annual Meeting Headquarters Hotel. You'll find a list of some of our top favorite places to wine and dine on our Pasadena page
Additionally, WMA's 4 Evening Events will feature a variety of small plates for munching and drinks to enjoy!
While attending sessions and events at the Annual Meeting, consider developing a running list of key takeaways—these could be programs that you want to research to find more about, suggestions for new programs back at your own institution, or ideas for a session at WMA's 2023 Annual Meeting.
After the Annual Meeting
So, you've left the 2023 Annual Meeting with lots of stimulating ideas that you want to share and discuss with your friends and colleagues. But now what? There are multiple ways to engage with both WMA and attendees after the Annual Meeting.
Write a Blog Post
Did you learn something interesting during WMA 2023? Were your perspectives changed? All museum professionals need to listen, learn, and lead the way—how did your WMA 2023 experience change your methods of engagement with colleagues and communities? These are just a few questions that you can write about it in a blog post for WMA's WestMuse Blog
. You're welcomed and encouraged to share your thoughts with the Western Museum community and museum professionals! Plus, writing is a great way to develop your communications skills while getting your name out there!
View the WestMuse blog Submission Guidelines here
Review Your List of Takeaways & Goals
Remember that list of takeaways you developed during the Annual Meeting? Review it and determine your next steps. Check in on your goals—did you achieve everything you intended at the conference? Why or why not? Consider sharing that feedback in the 2023 Attendee survey, or by writing all about it in the WestMuse Blog
Fill Out the Attendee Survey
Did we do a great job? Are there areas that we can improve upon? Do you have a great suggestion for future Annual Meetings? Let us know in the 2023 Attendee Survey (coming this fall)! Your response greatly matters as we use the survey results to help plan our future Annual Meetings—please be sure to provide your honest feedback. The Attendee Survey will be sent out to all attendees after the Annual Meeting, so make sure to keep an eye out for it!
Propose a WMA 2024 Session, Workshop, or Activity
Did you have an amazing discussion or attend a session at WMA 2023 that you think the Western Museum community should know more about? Proposals that build on the conversations and offerings of the 2023 Annual Meeting will provide future attendees at the next 2023 Annual Meeting with a rich, engaging diversity of sessions. Submit your proposal for a WMA 2023 session, workshop, or networking activity by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2024 Annual Meeting Request for Proposals
will open in late October 2024. To view WMA's 2023 slate of selected programming, please read through the 2023 Preliminary Program
Follow Up with Your Contacts
Exchanging business cards is great practice but collecting them is only the first step. Before filing those business cards away, it's essential that you follow up and connect with all your new contacts on LinkedIn. Establish a relationship and keep the dialogue professional, open, and friendly. Use these tips and tricks on how to follow up after a networking event.