Post by Regina Gorham, Kalamazoo Valley Museum
For any of you who are considering attending the MMA Conference for the first time this year, I was in your shoes not too long ago. After coming to Michigan in 2015, I was lucky enough to attend my first MMA Conference that fall. Coming from Illinois, I had been to a few other conferences, so I had an idea of what to expect - new people to meet, new sessions to attend, fun tours, and a general “idea overload.” Along with those expectations, I was pleased to find a tight knit community of museum professionals who were just as jazzed about museum work as I was – bonus! I met many people who were from places in Michigan I was only vaguely aware of. I quickly became well acquainted with the famous Michigan hand map used to show where someone was from.
University of Michigan Natural History Museum, 2015
The dominant feeling I had leaving that first conference was that the members of MMA are one big happy nerdy family. We come together, celebrate each other’s successes, learn from one another, and then go on fun tours and geek out over what we’ve seen. There’s nothing better than being in a room with so many creative minds. The act of coming together feels like a lovely ritual with wonderful results that last long beyond the conference.
Along with meeting a great number of new fellow museum professionals, there were great sessions that led me to not only think through strategies for current projects, but ones that gave me the courage to start tackling projects that had not even crossed my mind before. The tour at the University of Michigan’s 3D Lab was drool-worthy, reminding everyone of what technology can do to help museums educate and, in some ways, re-create the past.
Welcome Sign for AASLH/MMA 2016 in Detroit
Being lucky enough to attend last year's joint conference in Detroit, I was again reminded of what a close knit community MMA is. Everywhere I went I saw a friendly face that I remembered from the previous conference, or from some other interaction over the past year. Though last year was a larger conference, with a lot of people attending and tons of sessions, you could find familiar MMA faces working their way through the crowds. It was a helpful gesture for anyone who might have felt intimidated by attending a conference of that size.
Fun with friends at the Henry Ford
This year’s conference in Lansing is a more than fitting reminder of not only the work we do, but the work that needs to be done. As we come together this year, now more than ever, we are going to need that tight-knit MMA community to push forward with all that we’ve got to ensure that museums continue to grow and thrive. With the theme of advocacy taking center stage, this year’s conference stands to be not only a reunion of Michigan’s museum community, but a barometer to see where we all are, and a rallying point to see where we all need to go.
Registration is now open, so click here for information. Hope to see you there!
Kalamazoo Valley Museum
Communications Team/Programs Team