Conference Gratitude

October 27, 2021 8:52 AM | Anonymous member
I’ve learned a lot about many things over the past 19 months, but something that I knew already, and was reinforced many times, over is that Michigan Museums Association people are generous and creative and ambitious and persistent. And in no other way were those things more visible than in our 2021 virtual conference.

I was not excited about the idea of a virtual conference. To me, the whole point of a conference is to be together. In person. I even wrote about that in this very publication several years ago, long before the pandemic. However, in early 2021, when it seemed clear that we could not reasonably plan for an in-person conference for the year, it was obviously the best path forward. And while it did not feel as satisfying as an in-person event, there was much about it that did feel like we were connecting and coming together to me. It did feel like we had a successful conference that met our goals and kept our values. It was a great conference.

There were MANY people that made the success of the conference possible. First and foremost was the MMA Board of Directors. Conversations about the 2021 conference began in the summer of 2020, when we decided to end our contract with our planned venue. The board met monthly and considered every concern and risk. It was a painful decision to have to move to a virtual conference, but they were thoughtful and serious and decided what they felt was best.

Another group of people who were critical to the success of the conference were the many volunteers. Members of the programs and events teams, the speakers and session presenters, the individual volunteers who helped with the sessions, and the various people we talked to over the course of the seven months of planning. So many people generously offered their creativity and experience and wisdom at many points along the way.

A person who clearly deserves her own shout-out is Claire Johnston, MMA Membership and Communications Coordinator. This was one of the most challenging MMA projects that we have had, and her sense of humor and calm demeanor helped carry the project through many stressful moments.

But the most important people who ensured the success of the conference were the participants. Many, many people invested their time and focus into being “present” at the conference even though we were apart. Participants carved out space, physically and mentally, to make the conference time feel different. They used the engagement features as part of the conference platform to connect with other participants. Moreover, they leaned-in to sharing, listening, learning and talking about leadership, social justice, and museums.

Much about MMA has changed during the pandemic, but one thing that has remained the same is the determination of the Michigan museum community to come together as best we can to share and learn and support and inspire each other. Thanks for all of that!

Lisa Craig Brisson
Executive Director

The Michigan Museums Association is supported in part by an award from the Michigan Arts and Culture Council

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