genx says, aam reflections

I’m very pleased to announce that I’m a contributing author at GenX Says. This collaborative effort came from the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting workshop Generation X Transforming: New Paths, New Perspectives. My first post is here. Check it out, no matter your age, rank or serial number. Let’s learn from each other!

speaking of aam…

This was my second year attending and while the overwhelming feeling of sheer panic wasn’t nearly as bad this time around, navigating through the massive selection of workshops, tours, and special events was still daunting.

my handy-dandy conferencing tips:

  • Select workshops that appeal to your career plans. If you aspire to lead a museum, you need to be in sessions that deal with such. Don’t feel trapped into a workshop track based on your current status.
  • If it’s not what you expected, leave. One of the most valuable things at these meetings is time. There’s no shame in quietly ducking out if the workshop isn’t giving you what you need.
  • Bring snacks. These meetings are all-day affairs and your blood sugar will get low. I had granola bars, a water bottle, chocolate and fruit stashed away in my Target-sponsored tote bag.
  • Make time to see the city. I’ve visited Minneapolis before and each time, I find more to admire. I envy their parks and lakes,mass transit, and robust museum association. I made sure to dine locally and visit as many sights as possible.


  • Socialize. I attended my first AAM meeting on fellowship, so I was determined to prove that I got as much out of the experience as possible. Unfortunately, I neglected the importance of simply chatting with other museum professionals in an informal (i.e.non-museum) setting. This time around I made a point to just hang out, engage with new people and stalk meet my Twitter crushes. If you don’t know where to begin, haunt the caffeine source.
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. One of the presenters with The Moth (the Peabody Award-winning storytelling collective that blew my mind at the general session) mentioned that he didn’t realize museum people partied so hard. Yes, we are human and yes, we like to have fun! Everybody knows you’re at the conference on business, but don’t that doesn’t mean your personality goes on lockdown. Just try to stay upright, and you’ll be fine.

stuff that excited me:



  • Thanks, Social Media! The most useful tool by far was my phone. Via Twitter, I quickly connected with other attendees, scheduled meetups, read highlights from various workshops, and used Instagram to share pictures with my museum friends who couldn’t attend.
  • World Wide Wikipedia. From hosting in-person and online workshops to being name-checked in other sessions, Wikipedians were openly represented. It was encouraging to see that more museum professionals are becoming aware of and open to the valuable resources available via the GLAM-wiki partnership.

some things i would like to see:

  • Price breaks for students/emerging museum professionals. The cost of the annual meeting is not discounted for students or those with fewer years in the field. Fellowships are offered, but they are extremely competitive and limited (I applied for three years before receiving one.) Many organizations do not offer professional development funding or if they do, it is restricted to managerial-level employees. The gathering collectively suffers when the viewpoints of those new to museum work are excluded. If AAM membership can be reduced for these groups (students, anyway), why not fees for the Annual Meeting?
  • Make the opening party free. Once you get past the fees for the conference proper, you quickly realize that your budget also needs to accommodate the costs of attending organized tours and social functions. If there’s one thing that should be free, it’s the opening party. Nothing dulls the shine of the Welcome to our Meeting! message than having to pony up money for the kick-off gathering. For the event hosts, it’s a nice way of saying, “We appreciate your support” and allows everyone at least one cost-effective chance to interact with fellow attendees in an informal and fun setting.
  • Creative meeting spaces. I felt really bad for the presenters who had really engaging and interactive content yet were restricted by the constraints of a  lecture-style meeting space. Can the meeting be held in the lobby on comfy sofas? Outside in the park? On the floor in a drum circle? Anything to break up the traditional environment would be appreciated.

Here’s a quick round-up of other attendees’ impressions:

Please share takeaways you have from the Annual Meeting. If you didn’t attend, why not?

winner & weekend!

Thank you so much to everyone for reading, sharing and commenting during Emerging Museum Professionals Week! I hope the posts gave you ample food for thought and introduced you to some up-and-coming museum rockstars. Extra-special thanks to the contributors for sharing your ideas, inspiration, and enthusiasm with us!

The super high-tech random bot generator that selected the giveaway winner went on full revolt. I almost resorted to pulling names from a hat when it finally gave up the goods last night. So, without further delay, congratulations Courtney Barrette! Check your email for info.

In other news, I’m heading to Minneapolis this weekend for the American Association of Museums Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo. This is my second year attending and I’m very excited. Museum geekery will flow via Twitter so apologies in advance if that’s not your thing (but if you’re reading this I hope it is!) You can also follow these hashtags for meeting-related updates: #aam2012, #futrchat, #musesocial, and #aamemp. If you have any questions about my tweets during the events, please give me a shout at @adriannerussell. It would be cool to break the Q&A ice with, “One of my Twitter followers wants to know…”

As you can see above, the theme is Creative Community. I think I have my workshop selections nailed down but I’ve made sure to leave plenty of time for meeting my Twitter crushes, catching up with old friends, and making new ones. My plan last year to find people by hanging out near a coffee source worked pretty well, so there’s a good chance you will find me there between sessions. Visiting some of the area’s amazing museums and sampling local beer is also on the agenda.

I’ll be back next week with much to share!

h-town bound!

Recently, I wrote a post about the challenges of securing nonprofit professional development funding.  Thankfully, I am not prone to ignoring my own advice because one tip–applying for fellowships to in-person conferences–definitely paid off: I was selected as a 2011 American Association of Museums (AAM) Diversity Fellow to attend the 2011 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in Houston, TX May 22-25.

My first trip to Houston was a whirlwind two days when I was a kid, so I am excited about experiencing  more of the city, particularly all of the fun adult things my parents got to do! I plan to cram as much sightseeing and museum-hopping into my schedule as humanly possible.

It also goes without saying that I am thrilled by the opportunity to learn from so many dynamic, innovative and hard-working museum professionals.  As a museum wonk, deciding which sessions to attend has been challenging as they all interest me.  But after days of careful deliberation, my schedule is finally set.

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know my tweets are museum-heavy, but be warned: it’s about to go into overload!  You can also find other chatter about the meeting via Twitter by following @AAMers or searching #aam2011.

Are you attending the AAM Annual Meeting? I’d love to meet  you! Many thanks to AAM, its Committee for Diversity in Museums (DivCom) and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.