Post by Lisa Craig Brisson, Michigan Museums Association
One of my favorite parts of our MMA conferences is lunch. Since so much of what we do at MMA is one on one, in smaller groups, or online, It is wonderful to have an opportunity to look out over a sea of faces who make us who we are – from members to donors, and program participants to volunteers. At lunch, we all get together!
2014 Conference, Mackinac Island
Unlike many other museum conferences, meals and events are not add-ons at ours. It’s temping for us to split off lunches and receptions too. They are usually the most expensive elements of a conference and we know that other organizations use these activities as an additional source of income. But one of the major goals of the MMA conference, and everything else we do for that matter, is engagement. We work to bring the Michigan museum community together because we know that when that happens, great things result. We want as many people as possible to be able to participate in as much of the conference as possible. So tempting as it may be to do otherwise, we keep the cost of the lunch included in the regular registration so that everyone can attend.
Lunch is a different kind of experience than the rest of the conference. When you are sitting at a table with people and sharing a meal, it feels more relaxed than during the rest of the day. It is easier to connect with new people when you are sitting together for a little while. I find MMA conference lunches to be delightfully loud and there is usually a lot of laughter.
We try and make the program at the lunches meaningful as well. For the past several years, we have used the lunch on the first day of the conference to present awards. I am always so inspired by the work being done throughout the state, and it is wonderful to hear from those being recognized. In the midst of several days of focusing on what we can be doing better, it is nice to spend a few moments recognizing what has been done well.
Nancy Bryk receives a 2015 award
The second lunch is always all about MMA. We have our required business meeting, but the board infuses their own sense of humor in the whole affair so hopefully it is more fun than boring. It also helps that MMA is doing well, so we have lots of good things to report. Finally, it is always fun to announce the location and dates of the next conference. It’s never too early to begin planning for next time!
This year’s lunches promise to be as good as those in other years. On Wednesday, we are excited to present three awards for leadership and service to individuals and organizations that are well deserving. I can’t say who will be getting them, but I am very excited about it. On Thursday we will hear from the MMA Board of Directors. It’s always fun to see how Bruce Lynn, MMA Treasurer, will make us laugh – something I am not sure usually happens in most Treasurer’s Reports. Unfortunately, he and several other beloved board members will be rotating off, but several new members will be elected, so it’s not all sadness. And even though we are still just in the very early stages of planning, the 2018 conference is beginning to take shape and it will be great to be able to share the location and dates for that conference.
I am pretty sure that on the conference schedule, the lunches look like some of the most boring parts, but I know that is not true. I am looking forward to another chance to bring everyone together to share a meal and hopefully a few laughs.