Champagne Bubbles Provide Extra Lift at the 1940 Houston Air Terminal

“Holy cow!! That’s a GyroCraft!”

My friend, muralist Lee Jamison ( spotted the image as he and I were walking in to the party at the wonderful Art Deco 1940 Houston Air Terminal tonight. The image is in one of the plaques over the windows. Here’s what he saw:

This is Lee:

Air Terminal administrator and curator, Megan Lickliter-Mundon, confirmed Lee’s know-it-all superpowers then gave us a quick overview of the Terminal building’s future.

It is one of the very few Art Deco buildings left in Houston, but came damned close to being torn down. The outside of the building was badly damaged in the ’80s and the row of plaques on the right side of the door were deeply scarred. They’re going to stay that way: Megan explained that the damage is part of the history of the building, part of it’s story.

Renovation and restoration are the plan for the inside, however, and I’m very excited to see what they do, especially after meeting the staff. Terminal Museum Director A.J. High seems to have built a good team: Megan obviously knows what she’s about, but more than that, all the staff members we met had a fresh exuberance about them. There was a palpable pride in their institution and real sense of playfulness that was evident in their great costumes and the easy way they engaged with their visitors. How fun are these people?? Check out Megan and AJ’s great ensemble:

Besides seeing the exhibits and noshing, we were invited to choose from a variety of tourist costume pieces, then get our picture taken by a professional photographer. What a great idea! I loved participating in such a fun extra and had a ball watching other party-goers play, including SETMA president Susan Smyer and her husband. (The bright blue hat was you, Susan:)

I dunno what the rest of you were served at the other parties tonight, but we were treated to BB’s Cajun including crab cakes, bacon wrapped shrimp and chicken, ceviche, fajitas, and OhMyHeavens the BEST brownies EVER. (Thank heavens I ran this morning…) And I’ve not mentioned their generosity with the champagne and the wine tasting. Woohoo!

And so, here I am, the last festive evening, the last few words… The Party is over. Our museums are sweeping up and stashing the leftover appetizers for the docents, interns, and education staff to rummage through later. We are starting to relax.

I hope you’ll tell us it was all worth it. Lots of folks here pulled together (especially after losing Dr. Marzio) to watch over every detail and make sure we’d thought of EVERYTHING so you’d leave Houston with the best possible experience both professionally and personally. It’s been many many months spent preparing for *your* arrival.

Personally, I couldn’t be prouder.

Good luck, Minneapolis and St. Paul!!


“What’s with the Crazy Lady and the Big Black Pimple??”

 How dare you suggest that it looks like a “pimple”! No, my dear, it’s a portable planetarium theater and it’s chock-full of fabulous technology projecting a FULL DOME PLANETARIUM EXPERIENCE!  (and that female narrator of the show they’re running… she sounds so familiar…)
Dr. Carolyn Sumners really is a crazy lady, though. Certifiable. I can attest to this – I used to work for her. She is what we call in these parts, “A Real Hoot.” If you took the time to visit with her while she and her team were at AAM 2011 in the Discovery Cart Zone this week, I’m sure you heard fabulous stories about how her portable dome has literally served thousands of kids during her tenure as the Director of Astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Every year, Carolyn and her staff connect with school children from around the city, teaching them the fundamentals of astronomy through her deep technology toolbox. If  you’re ever looking for someone who knows the ins and outs of outreach, she’s “The Bomb.”
Carolyn and her staff were a part of this year’s Discovery Cart Zone in the 3rd Floor Lobby, which also included the following museums hosting other Discovery Carts:

I hope you had a chance to stop by! I will not say whether each was populated with their own “crazy” representative – I wanted everyone to make their own “discovery,” so to speak. Let us know all about your Discovery Cart Zone adventures by commenting below!

— Cecelia Ottenweller, HexaGroup Creative,
member AAM 2011 PR & Marketing Subcommittee


Come Fly Away, one of tonight’s evening events, is actually being held at the 1940 Air Terminal Museum. The location printed on the Event Tickets was Lone Star Flight Museum…oops!

Event details and times are the same as printed in the on-site program on Page 109.

Not to worry AAMers; we’ll get you to the right place!

Those of you driving yourselves or cabbing it, DO NOT trek all the way out to Galveston. The 1940 Air Terminal Museum is located at Hobby Airport in Houston – 8325 Travelair Street, Houston, TX 77061.

We apologize for any confusion!

– Albert Sanchez, AAM 2011 Houston Intern

Rocks and Stars at the Houston Museum of Natural Science

It was a trifle humbling to walk into the Houston Museum of Natural Science with Harley Cozewith, Director of Operations at the Dallas Museum of Nature and Science.

You’d think I’d arrived with Cher as my date. We’d just had drinks at Hotel Zaza before strolling over… “Harley!!” …didn’t make the front door quite… A 10 minute conversation on the steps, then inside and “Harley!!”

Well, at least we were in the air conditioning! We almost made the drink table, then “Harley!!”

My sweet friend Harley was VP of Ops at HMNS for many years before heading up to the excitement in Dallas 5 years ago. It was her responsibility to maintain sanity through HMNS’ remarkable changes in the ’90s and much of the 2000s (I guess I could call those years the “oughts?”) I was at the Museum during part of her tenure, in the Education and Astronomy/Physics departments for about 5 years before venturing off into my own adventures. So, I certainly experienced my own “homecoming” — old friends appeared everywhere and it felt good to be in familiar surroundings.

But not too familiar! WOW! The party swirled around big walls blocking off what used to be the paleontology hall, now a shadow of it’s former self. For those willing to seek it out, a detailed plan of the coming expansion was available on the second level. It’s going to be really something, folks… Definitely stay tuned.

I found Museum president Joel Bartsch and Lisa Rebori, VP of Collections, surveying the crowd from the upstairs balcony after leaving Harley to another crowd of admirers. They both looked satisfied with what they saw and were enjoying that moment of satisfied exhaustion when planning has finally born fruit. Their guests below and around them were obviously having a good time.

“What’s the one exhibit we have to see?” This was the most popular question. The Gem and Mineral Hall. Absolute MUST. The most spectacular collection, *period*. Yes, the hall is short on context – I remember that being a grousing point when it was installed, but Good Heavens, it is breathtaking. You just can’t beat it for capturing the sheer romance and passion of each and every piece in the collection. It’s a feast for the senses.

I also got to visit with my old boss Carolyn Sumners, Star Diva and director of Astronomy and the Burke Baker Planetarium. She ushered me into the Done to catch her latest creation, “2012: Mayan Prophecies” which looked at the origin of the latest apocalyptic predictions based on the end of the Mayan calendar. Is the world going to end in 2012? According to Carolyn’s careful research (vetted by Museum anthropologist Dirk Van Tuerenhout) NO. Good! That was a relief! I allowed myself another glass of wine in celebration.

Carolyn has not changed a whit – endlessly cheerful, funny as hell and totally willing to tell funny stories on herself, which this time included her and I installing the planetarium seating together during the big Dome remodel in 1998. (and NO, I’m not liable if you fell out of your seat last night!)

I take particular pride in the Museum … Before launching my museum career, I put myself through my anthropology degree as a broadcaster and have been a voice over artist for about 25 years (Obviously, I started VERY young;) My voice appears in many of the halls including the video wall of the Welch Chemistry Hall and many of the kiosks in the anthropology hall and Texas Wildlife.

It was a great party, it was great to be home!

–Cecelia Ottenweller, AAM 2011 Public Relations & Marketing Subcommittee member

Take Note of This Man

Daniel Nierman has crossed paths with all 5,000+ attendees at the Annual Meeting. Nierman is an artist, a journalist and an educator. But he had touched everyone at the AAM meeting through his generous gift of the matchbook-sized notebooks included in all registrant tote bags. For the second year in a row, Nierman provided these invaluable items to the meeting gratis.

Nierman’s talents and entrepreneurship go well beyond notepads. He has designed artwork and posters for distribution in schools in his native Mexico for such clients as the Cooper-Hewitt Museum of Design, Mexican national television, numerous Mexican museums and universities and the government Health ministry, as well as such corporate clients as Apple, IBM and Microsoft. He also created a collection of articulated wooden puppets in the likenesses of figures from famous paintings. This one-of-a-kind collection includes references to works by Bruegal and Chagall, among dozens of others.

Hailing from an artistic Mexican family, Nierman comes by his talent honestly. His father, Leonardo Nierman, is world-renowned. Commissioned works by his father hang in such esteemed venues as the Kennedy Center in Washington and Denver’s Symphony Hall.

Nierman visits the Annual Meeting every year, and plans to be on hand in Minneapolis/St. Paul a year from now, a fact worth noting.

–Dewey Blanton, AAM Director of Strategic Communications

What’s the Best Swag in MuseumExpo?

What’s the Best Swag in MuseumExpo?
This is a serious competition (there are talks of duels and hand-to-hand combat, but we try to discourage that behavior) and actually impossible to judge. So, rather than making a proclamation of who wins, let me just give you some highlights:

Evergreen Exhibitions: Do you heart math? If so, be sure to stop by Booth 422 and pick up a shirt. Just look at how happy it made @museums365.

MRA Experiential Tours & Equipment: Have you seen the giant semi in the left back corner of MuseumExpo? If you haven’t, you need to move in that direction. Inside the semi is a traveling exhibition about the Library of Congress. (They also have stress relief mini truck.)

Head to Booth 1605 and check out exhibit development firm Cinnabar. They have a wonderful wee notebook with a pen and sticky notes.  Definitely a perfect thing for jotting down quick notes during the rest of annual meeting.

Lamcraft is another must-see at Booth 304. They create custom laminated souvenirs for impulse purchases in your gift shop. To demonstrate their products they’ll turn your business card into a luggage tag.

The National Palace Museum, located right in front of the AAM showcase, has a wonderful interactive exhibit, not to mention a beautiful file folder, fan (perfect for the Houston heat), and a fun hat!

What’s been your favorite swag? Share your thoughts here or over on Twitter at #aam2011 or post a comment to this blog.

–Guzel du Chateau, AAM New Media Specialist

Houston Loves Museums!

If you couldn’t tell by now, Houston Loves Museums! A new campaign has been launched as part of Houston’s AAM preparations, to promote Houston’s spectacular and diverse museum community.

There are beautiful banners on signs surrounding the George R. Brown Convention Center with vibrant images from Houston’s museums. Be sure to check them out, when you are out and about and heading over to Discovery Green to partake in the free entertainment and explore the P.O.D.A Project.


Our partnership with Yellow Cab Houston means there are Houston Loves Museums placards with more stunning images from museums from all over the city on the backs of cabs as they rove around Houston.  Flag those cabs down and thank them for their support; use them to explore our great city. And, if you ask for a taxi cab receipt, look at the back of that and you’ll likely see a Houston Loves Museums message. Hang on to it as a souvenir!


There’s a new website we are working on – – which will be home to a linked list and interactive Google map of the more than 150 museums in the greater Houston area.  Since the site isn’t fully up and running yet (the list is there, but the links aren’t active yet), we wanted to give our AAM friends a sneak peak of the interactive map, so that you can use it while you are museum hopping.

Check out the Houston Loves Museums ad in the Museum Guide that was in your AAM tote bag, and ran in the Houston Chronicle on Sunday. And of course, be sure to check out the Houston Loves Museums Art Car in the Expo Hall before 2 pm on Wednesday.

AAMers: we hope you are able to make it to our museums. We’ve love having you in our city! And let us know what you think about Houston Loves Museums!

Houstonians: Visit your museums! Enjoy the air conditioned cultural hotspots during what is sure to be a hot Houston summer.

–Albert Sanchez, AAM 2011 Annual Meeting Houston Intern