Last week, I had the privilege of flying to Denver, Colorado with fellow Museum colleagues Elaina Johann and Amalia Wojciechowski for the 2023 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo. AAM is a national non-profit organization that provides leadership, advocacy, and service to museums, museum professionals, and the field at large. The conference brings together museum professionals working in a variety of areas like education, administration, curatorial, and visitor engagement.
This year, the conference was connected by four themes: People, Power, Planet, and Possibility. Keynote Speaker Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe) addressed these themes during his poignant lecture. As a multi-disciplinary artist, activist, and “disruptor,” Deal’s work is informed by his Native identity and includes exhaustive critiques of American identity, society, politics, pop culture, and history. He continues to fight for “honoring Indigenous experiences, challenging stereotypes, and pushing for accurate representations of Indigenous people in art,” according to his 2018 TED talk.
His talk, among many other influential sessions on museum education and the importance of community, were just some of the many highlights of the trip. It was inspiring to hear so many museum colleagues at institutions ranging from the Smithsonian, to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, to the not yet open American LGBTQ+ Museum share their experiences and resources. Some thematic takeaways from both networking conversations and scheduled panel sessions for me included the importance of representation through diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, as well as engaging the local community. I continue to remain dedicated to both in my role at the Woodson Art Museum.
In addition to attending conference sessions, Amalia, Elaina, and I visited Denver museums and attractions including History Colorado, Clyfford Still Museum, Meow Wolf, the Dikeou Collection, and the Denver Art Museum. It was a jam-packed visit which provided memorable opportunities to absorb resources. I’m excited to continue reflecting on my time in Denver by allowing for fresh ideas to develop into new educational experiences for visitors at the Woodson. Sadly, there was one thing we didn’t have time to explore: the mountains. Maybe next time, Denver.