Last month, a colleague from the Heritage Museum and Cultural Center and I were talking to a recent grad about the upcoming AASLH/MMA conference. The grad asked us why she should attend the conference, and what to expect. Of course, we gushed about the MMA conference experience – the great sessions and discussions, the wonderful sites that host the conferences, and the truly amazing networking opportunities. As I reflected later on this conversation, it got me thinking about just how much fun the conferences truly are, and not just because of the fantastic content in the sessions and tours. It’s the fellow “museum nerds” we meet, and the memories we make – it’s easy to come back year after year.
Remembering the Good Times
I remember when the Museum Café session first started (it’s my favorite!). No one knew for sure how it would turn out – who would stay during a break to try out a “speed-dating” type roundtable of museum topics? I don’t think anyone anticipated the success, and I remember that after the first round was up, it was hard to pull people away from their conversations to switch to another topic (specifically the “horror stories” table…). Now it is a staple of the MMA conference, with topics submitted by conference-goers prior to the Café and more participants in general. This year, the MMA Lounge will host two Museum Café sessions on Thursday and Friday at 9:45 a.m.
Even students get in on the fun!
How many people do you know that can say they enjoyed Fort Mackinac without a mass of tourists? In 2014, early-arriving conference-goers attended an evening reception at the Fort, complete with weapon demonstrations and a cannon firing. Everything was open for perusal, there was an amazing spread of food and drink, and it was a great opportunity to catch up with everyone before the conference got into full swing. When asked, many MMA’ers said that their favorite part of the evening was the chance to watch the sunset from the Fort. Watching as the light faded over the island landscape with our fellow nerds was one of those moments that are a reminder that living in Michigan and being a part of Michigan museums is AWESOME. Looking over the schedule for the conference this year, the special events each day look like a blast. Which one will you choose – Distinctly Detroit, the Muse Cruise, the Leadership in History Awards Banquet, or The Henry Ford Un-Conference? I’m so torn about which one(s) to attend, they all look amazing. Find out more in the conference program.
Sunset over Mackinac Island and the bridge
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the “after hours” fun too – when I polled my contacts, almost every person who responded included a memory from one of the very popular MMA Pub Crawls. Many pointed out their favorite location, beverage choice, or shared a story about the shenanigans that were had, but to protect the innocent I won’t share them here (thanks for the stories everyone, I enjoyed hearing [or being a part of] them). My first experience with the pub-crawl included a “round 2” group, led by a seasoned museum professional who said to the group, “You’re only young once. I’m a lot older than all of you and I’m headed back out – you have no excuse!” This year, getting the opportunity to experience the night-life of Detroit will be amazing. Plus, anything with “Choose Your Own Adventure” in the title is bound to be a good time! Michigan museum people sure know how to have fun!
MMA brings together all of the museum nerds!
Making New Memories
This year at #AASLHMMA2016 we’re hosting the MMA Lounge - a swanky, fun area in Cobo for you to meet up and network with your Michigan museum besties. There, you can mark where you’re from on the big map of Michigan, leave your business card on the Michigan museums garland, and even leave analog status updates on table tops with the hashtag #oldschool. We know how special those memories from previous conferences are, and we want to make sure that you feel engaged with the Michigan museum community within the larger conference.
As we get closer to the MMA/AASLH Conference (only 73 days away!), I bet I’m not the only one who gets excited just thinking about it. So many great memories have been made at previous conferences, and joining with AASLH for this one, I can only imagine the number of amazing people we will meet, and the wonderful experiences we will have. I cannot wait to see you there!
Historic Charlton Park
MMA Communications Team