Remarks from the AAM 2010 Wednesday General Session

I bring you greetings from AAM 2011 General Chair Dr. Peter Marzio, the Executive Director of the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, who could not be here with us today. My name is Jon Iszard, and I am the president of The Health Museum in Houston, and a member of the Host Committee for next year’s Annual Conference and MuseumExpo.

On behalf of the more than 130 museums and cultural institutions in the greater Houston area, I am here to invite each and every one of you to come to our home for a visit next year. I would like to thank all of our hosts in the Los Angeles community for putting together such a great conference this year, and for sharing their ideas and experience with us as we work toward May of 2011.

For those of you who expected cowboy boots and a ten-gallon hat, let me share a few interesting things about what Houston has become since the last episode of “Rawhide”:

  • Okay, let’s get this out of the way first – we are home to the largest livestock show and highest grossing rodeo in the United States. It is as much a part of who we have been and continue to be as anything else. But…
  • According to the demographers, Houston today is the multicultural ‘learning laboratory’ that describes the future of the United States a few generations from now.
  • We are a vibrant city that is now without an ethnic or racial majority.
  • Over a hundred languages and dialects are spoken in our city – one in three households speaks a language other than English in the home.
  • Our diversity is an engine of growth for our city, which has grown by unimaginable leaps and bounds since the early years of the last century, when it was then the 85th largest town in Texas.
  • We are the world’s energy capital, now rapidly diversifying into a wide variety of alternative energy providers exploring new technologies.
  • We are also the home of the Texas Medical Center, the largest nucleus of health and medical science and technology research and practice in the world.
  • As the first word broadcast from the moon, Houston is also home to NASA.
  • We are one of the very few cities in the U.S. to have a resident company in each of the four major performing arts – symphony, opera, theater and ballet.

All of this growth and diversity has shaped Houston into a city of great enterprise and spirit, a climate which has allowed our more than 130 missions and organizations to flourish. From internationally recognized museums of classical, contemporary, modern and folk art, to world class experiences with science and technology for every age; encounters focused on history, humanity and cultures, to the whimsical qualities of the Art Car Parade or the Beer Can House, Houston offers an ever expanding horizon of changing perspectives on the human condition and the world around us.

Collectively, the economic impact of the not-for-profit arts industry in Houston exceeds $600 million dollars a year, generating 10.7 million visits each year, and has become an acknowledged key to the present and future success of Houston. Our city’s success has not shielded us from the same economic challenges each of you have been faced with these last few years. We too have been looking for creative ways to improve existing relationships, while building new ones that can advance the mission of our institutions. In many ways, these challenges and uncertainties have served to strengthen our organizations, and we look forward to sharing our stories with you, and hearing yours.

Before you wrap up this year’s meeting and head for home, remember to get connected with our plans to put on a great event – pick up your ‘follow us’ card at the GHCVB booth; or visit other Houston exhibitors and attendees for more information.

It is an old tradition in the south to give you a little more than you expected, so be sure to keep up with the Houston team at aamhouston.org to be eligible to win some fun and exciting embellishments to your Conference experience next year, courtesy of our many friends back home.

Thank you for your time today, thank you for the opportunity to serve this organization of leaders in the museum industry, and I look forward to seeing you all in Houston next year!

– Jon Iszard
President & CEO, The Health Museum
Houston, TX

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