By: Adam Mikos
With WMA 2012 only a few short months away (summer days always seem to go by so much faster) I find myself thinking back to my first conference experience. The “museum field” was pretty mysterious to me at that time. The session schedule was like a candy store, so many exciting topics to choose from and professionals from museums that I loved, speaking on topics I was interested in. At the same time it was incredibly daunting! That first morning, while checking in and getting my name badge, it really hit me. I belonged at that conference, I was dedicated to learning new things and I really did think that museum people were super cool. I also understood that everyone else was there for essentially the same reasons. Walking away from the registration table all of the lights seemed brighter. The conversations were louder. Don’t get me wrong, I was still nervous about being there and completely sweaty over how to strike up a conversation with someone I didn’t know. But. But. We were all colleagues, we just hadn’t met yet.
Fast forward to 2012. These days I can’t wait for conferences to come down the road. Over the years I have been able to meet many of those colleagues and I can honestly say they are even cooler than I imagined. In the years since that first realization walking away from the reg table, I’ve been fortunate to speak on session panels, participate on the Program Committee of the Western Museums Association and this year I cycle out as a Co-Chair for the Program Committee. In addition, with WMA 2012, I’ll be starting my second year on the Board of Directors for the WMA. How in the world did all of this come about? The answer, at least for me, is still a mystery. Maybe not a total mystery, but I need to save some things for when I publish a book. Totally kidding.
So, take heart if you are new or relatively new (or just really shy) to the “field” and WMA conferences. When there are discussions during sessions and you have something to add, try and add your two cents. If you see someone is from a museum you like try introducing yourself and talk about an exhibit you saw there. Or, if you’d prefer to hang back and just be a part of the crowd, please know that you’re not the only one. What I would ask you to keep in mind is that we are all there to learn from each other and, even if you don’t know it yet, you have many valuable contributions to make.
In building the schedule for 2012, the Program Committee (an amazingly fun group of people) kept in mind that “casual learning” is equally as important as sessions. The Topic Tables will be a great time to meet folks in your area and talk over things, the ice cream social is always an opportunity to have a laugh and the hotel in Palm Springs has a lovely pool. Personally, I plan to discuss institutional strategic goal setting and the hurdles facing digital asset management with the ever changing Library of Congress subject topic headings and their impact on re-evaluating the current modes of lithic conservation in alternative museum registration, while wading in the shallow end. I’m expecting a break through.
2012 WMA Program Committee Co-Chair