Museum People Are the Bomb -or- Why I Attend the Annual Conference

September 25, 2017 8:27 AM | Anonymous member

Post by Shannon Pinkster, Historic Charlton Park

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to 2012 – the first time I attended the annual MMA conference. I’d gotten my first, full-time, “big-kid” job only months before, and I was afraid to attend the conference. I’m not the most outgoing. so I didn’t think I’d meet anyone. Boy was I wrong!  I left that conference with new ideas, new friends, and a LOT of great stories.

Can you see the fear behind the smile? This isn't my first conference, but I was just as terrified to drive to Detroit for the 2016 conference during rush hour!

Fast-forward to today. This is now my SIXTH consecutive year attending the conference and my second as part of the planning committee. Why do I give you my MMA backstory? I want to tell you the reasons that I continue to attend the conference and, hopefully, convince you to come too!

Museum people are nerds, and I mean that in the best way (I’m still trying to get #gatheringofcoolnerds to take off!). The conference is a place for us to congregate, get a fresh perspective on our field, and “nerd out” without the side-eye from our family and friends. I am eager to visit the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan History Museum, and the MSU Museum during the evening receptions. And the line-up for the Wednesday afternoon tours all sound AMAZING.

There is so much we can learn from each other. MMA does a great job of curating the conference program to cover a wide range of topics, so there is something for everyone. There are always so many great sessions to attend. I’m super pumped about this year’s slate of speakers and topics. The titles of the keynote addresses by Juanita Moore (President and CEO, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History) and John Capecci (Author, Living Proof: Telling Your Story to Make a Difference) are captivating! With the current climate, any opportunity to validate each other and our field is great. What we do is important!

A great keynote address from Dr. Tonya Matthews at the 2015 conference.

The conference is empowering. As I said earlier, I’m not the most outgoing, nor am I the most confident. In 2014, however, I was invited to present with colleagues from three other institutions. I was terrified, but it was also one of the best experiences of my life. It was one of those moments where I thought, “I do know what I’m doing, and I’m doing a good job!” MMA does a great job of empowering its members, especially through the Awards Lunch, where colleagues are recognized for their leadership and good deeds in the museum community.

Museum people are also the COOLEST, both in and out of their respective institutions. Coming to the conference is an opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives – a lot happens in the 10+ months between conferences! Marriages, houses, babies – oh my! We’re one big, happy, geeky family. The breaks between sessions, meals, and the infamous pub crawl are spent checking in with old friends on how life is outside of work. 

The lovely ladies of Historic Charlton Park at #AASLHMMA2016

There are only a few days left to register for the conference – the cutoff is October 3. If you’ve never been to one of the conferences, maybe nerves are preventing you from clicking here to register online,  or licking the envelope and dropping your registration in the mail. Take a chance and join us. Trust me, it’s worth it!

See you soon!

Shannon Pinkster

Historic Charlton Park

MMA Communications Committee

 The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721

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