“Where Everybody Knows Your Name” (from your conference badge)

By: Matt Foss, assistant director on May 25th, 2022

In February 2020, Museum educator Catie Anderson, curator of exhibitions Shannon Pueschner, and I, booked our registrations for the American Alliance of Museums’ annual conference in San Francisco. The pandemic put a halt to those plans and in-person museum conferences since then.

After two long years, we hit the road again. This time, to the East Coast. Catie, Shannon, and I just returned from the 2022 American Alliance of Museums conference in Boston. It was a great opportunity to not only travel to a city I had never visited, but also connect with fellow museum professionals from around the country and learn tips and skills to benefit the Woodson moving forward. Highlights from the conference include a keynote from Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist / author Thomas Friedman, and several sessions discussing the role of museums in society and how museums can better serve their communities.

On top of that, it was an opportunity to visit many well-known Boston area museums including the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Gardner Stewart Museum, Institute of Contemporary Art, and the U.S.S. Constitution Museum. Besides museum-going, Catie, Shannon and I toured a few historic locales and enjoyed great food in several Boston-area eateries.

Shannon Pueschner and yours truly taking advantage of Boston’s maritime transportation. Photo by Catie Anderson.

Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood

Shannon and Catie enjoying their time at the Institute of Contemporary Art. Photo by subject(s)

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Who am I kidding? Perhaps the biggest highlight was a bucket-list trip to Fenway Park to watch the Boston Red Sox. While not a Red Sox fan per se, as a baseball fan, Fenway Park is hallowed ground. Seeing the former workspace of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Pedro Martinez, and many others, was a tremendous thrill.

Not too “Pesky” from this view.

Connecting with Museum professionals across the country, learning about new ways to engage visitors and members, and assessing the operations of other peer institutions, left us grateful we made the trip to Boston. We are already anticipating the next museum learning opportunity for staff in another great part of the country. I wouldn’t mind a return trip to Boston in the future, though.

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