Looking for possible conference session topics? Here are some items people shared they'd like to see on past conference evaluations:

  • Technology in museums. How to engage with the public from "behind the scenes". Making mistakes (and fixing them).
  • Copyright issues
  • Here were discussions about staffing and inclusion, especially for POC or marginalized group, but I didn't see anything being addressed about their retention.
  • Leadership accountability.
  • I would love to see social justice in museums addressed more deeply.
  • What to do with historic (maybe hazardous?) substances like powders, liquids, etc. in containers we want to retain. These collections that often lurk in many small community museums. Are their specialized grants to bring in consultants for those sorts of collection surveys? 
  • Leaders of small museums (with only one or two staff, or volunteers or students that work with them) are retiring in droves across the country. Those of us wanting to leave feel torn because much of the research and knowledge we've gathered is so difficult to organize while we are still doing our "regular job of running the place." We will need guidance on how to transition and how to groom the next leaders without impacting current payroll budget while we are still working. 
  • Collections and issues in University museums. 
  • Museum Missions--are they critical and if so, are there some rules/tips for those of us who can't afford $$$ for classes to create the all-encompassing, but brief mission statement. 
  • Stories about regional natural disasters and the museum's response related to collection recovery.
  • Networking is probably the key thing. Maybe a session for senior leaders. And I mean people in the field for 30 years or more, sitting around and talking about our challenges as we move forward in our careers, not retiring quite yet.
  • I loved the idea of accessibility for all. There was a session on that, but I would love to see more of that.
  • Integration of film and video at your site for promotion, information sharing, documentation, etc.
  • Experimenting with some type of new time/interaction format such as unstructured time, workshop time or project time to connect with collagues about MMA work we're doing through the year in person. It could be to work on policy for the board or advocacy for the membership or do some kind of current issues in the field discussion.
  • Something geared more towards Emerging Museum professionals other than a resume workshop. What is an entry level job like, what are some tips and tricks to move up quicker/gain experience etc. What is happening in museums around the state? What are best practices in varying positions? How are exhibits created at small and large institutions, what are the differences?
  • Evaluation? Survey design? Data-informed decision-making?
  • Diversity access pipelines being implemented!
  • Historic houses-challenges, opportunities museums and technology
  • Art and education related topics.
  • How to manage cross-functional teams
  • Training docents-- to work with a variety of ages, continuing education, balance of pedagogy and content in new docent education.
  • Mentorship--I would love to get better tools to identify and nurture a mentoring relationship. I wanted very much to speak to conference-goers who are more established in their careers, but for some reason felt intimidated to strike up a conversation with them, despite the fact that I am confident in the work that I do and that this is one of the logical purposes of the conference.
  • Leadership
  • Cultural Competency.
  • Finding museum jobs
  • Would love to see some sessions about board recruitment and engagement.
  • Specific collection types. For those of us from small-mid level places, handling care of plastics and wood and paper is a bit daunting at times, so a session that would cover specific care of X items would be useful for me. Continued sessions on project management for collection moves or large collection intake were helpful this year and I think inventory management will be a similar consideration going forward.
  • Fundraising ideas and publicity for museums
  • Management training
  • Field long-term strategic sessions. Similar to AAM Trends Watch and their Center for the Future of Museums. There are so many bigger questions and dialogues that we need to have more often. It's time to offer real compelling sessions that forces us to look at the hard questions and changes we need to move towards.
  • Traveling exhibitions and loans, organizational development, leading fundraising projects
  • "Building from the ground up", how to create, thrive, and sustain a culture of change and continuous improvement at cultural organizations and centers.
  • Museum Marketing and Social Media usage. 
  • Case studies for effective #givingtuesday techniques
  • Collections policy in storage (safety,food,access, etc.), how to manage volunteers to your/their best benefit, ways to get more volunteers/interns at a small institution.
  • How to engage younger generations in museums, challenges of shrinking number of donors in non-profits, how to appeal to older and younger generations within a community.
  • Climate change
  • Equity Almost something like MuseumNext (what will mi museums look like going into the future)
  • Sessions that touch on projects with smaller budgets, it's great to hear about the DIA and their projects but it can be hard to parcel out helpful lessons and creative solutions when large organizations can just hire more staff etc.
  • Everyone always seems displeased with their database system- so maybe a round table about different systems. I attended a session about digitizing collections- I want to hear more about what people do after and how they utilize their digitized collection.
  • Possibly Museums 101 type content. It would be great to have a few different tracks depending on the level of experience and knowledge of participants. I had several new-to-the-museum world staff with me.
  • How to make museums a place that all people feel welcome!
  • How to keep networking ongoing, how to create a center /portal/site/data base with resources and/or mentors.
  • Dealing with dangerous materials/toxins in collection objects... Matchbooks, chemicals, taxidermy animals, etc... I feel this is an important topic that hasn't been covered before. It may need to be presented by both museum professionals and people in the field of fire and safety.
  • Marketing Development
  • Audience engagement
  • Copyright issues
  • Communication (internal and external) Connection (with a target audience, the broader community, and governing authority)
  • Workshops and sessions related to art. 
  • Fundraising Organizational 
  • Grant Writing help 
  • Capacity Troubleshooting
  • Education/public programs
  • Middle management, cross-disciplinary, collaboration work. Both big and small museums have many challenges and tend to do a great deal of work with other departments and contractors too. I find those topics the most interesting.
  • Education in museums; educators sharing best practices -for informal/museum setting. -Emerging museum professionals; how to better connect with other newbies and with veterans in the industry
  • Education- What are museums doing to extend their reach into the classroom? How do museums support and train school teachers? How do museums support their exhibits and events with lesson plans for teachers?
  • Docents. How do museums train and support docents? How do they design docent tours?
  • Accessibility.
  • Technical skills in the museum field.
  • Millennial engagement
  • Addressing employee satisfaction issues in the field--pay, work-life balance, etc.
  • Digitization standards/procedures - more how-to and less we did it: clap for us!
  • Collections and collections practices.
  • Fundraising
  • Board development
  • How to start building preservation project
  • How to get on the National/State List of Historic Places
  • Historic preservation and architecture, other related professions within the field.
  • Fundraising/annual appeals/planned giving
  • Staying in touch what's new at your institution
  • Getting collections online/accessible
  • Tips for gaining skills as an Emerging Museum Professional.
  • Museum educational programming.
  • Small Museum Focused - finding community connections, funding, logistics, how to get from here to there, etc.
  • The "in and outs" of programming and special events for small museums.
  • Leadership and management, connections between content areas.
  • Programs/sessions that demonstrate or support small museums working with large institutions.
  • Marketing
  • Topics specific to historic homes/buildings
  • Internships
  • Collection storage
  • Current events on a national scale
  • The economic impact that museums are having on the state of Michigan.
  • Technology
  • Hands on sessions on building a shadow box display, or simple electronic equipment to run sound...or tips and tricks that museum curators use... etc...
  • Museums that are housed in historically and architecturally significant buildings whose main mission is not interpreting that building.
  • More contemporary issues like how museums are staying relevant in a polarized political climate. Such as the "Me too" session and the "contemporary collecting" session.
  • Museum education
  • ontemporary collecting and the museum's place in activism
  • Exhibits in general seem to always hit on the same thing how to do it cheap not how to do it right. Making an exhibit team how now you need all parties at the table to make exhibits work for as many visitors as possible.
  • Creative hands-on education solutions, art and collections
  • Technology how to. 
  • How to stay engaged with the profession
  • Work-life balance
  • Successful engagement with student intern programs
  • Accessibility/diversity in the workplace
  • How to attract and retain volunteer Commissioners, and members in small museums with *no* paid staff. How to get a herd of Cats to focus on one primary task *and not the one they 'like to do'*
  • Grants
  • How to keep a home museum clean.
  • Helping small museums.
  • How to research and produce exhibits
  • Fundamentals of corporate sponsorships
  • New ideas for increasing attendance
  • PR and social media
  • Board development
  • Fundraising
  • Using Museum space for private rental
  • Fundraising ideas and strategies
  • Using MAPs through IMLS
  • Strategic planning
  • How to make a Museum relevant
  • How to match personality type to museum jobs.
  • Fundraising/development
  • Academic museums/collections
  • Basic professional development - career building in the field or fine-tuning skills.
  • More practical tips on how to manage and fund raise for preservation projects


Michigan Museums Association       313-334-7643       PO Box 5246, Cheboygan, MI 49721      lcbrisson@michiganmuseums.org

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