AAM members often tell me that an aspect of their being part of our association that they most value is the ongoing opportunities to network, grow and learn. The prime place for all three activities in 2011 will be our Houston meeting, where we expect to welcome some 5,500 museum professionals from across the country and 40+ countries. The AAM Annual Meeting is, simply, the premier professional development opportunity of the museum year.
For me, this fact in itself is invigorating about the Annual Meeting. But there’s much more that enriches me, each time our field gathers in the spring. In many of my speeches across the country, I like to cite as one of the distinguishing things about museums is that, in an increasingly virtual world, we are a bastion of authenticity. For example, if you want to revel in the only intact Byzantine Frescos in the Western Hemisphere, you must come to Houston.
I find the same is true about those who work in museums. They are the real deal, sincere, committed people who believe in what they do, devoting their lives to public service. Whether I’m roaming the MuseumExpo Hall, meeting colleagues in the AAM Showcase, or chatting with folks in the registration line, I am struck by the depth of commitment among our brethren.
Which only goes to prove that the authenticity found in America’s museums goes well beyond the objects or exhibits. It derives from those selfless souls who collect, preserve and interpret those objects for their fellow citizens.
Hope to see you in Houston. If you happen upon a tall, bearded Minnesotan with a bewildered look on his face, please stop and say hello.
–Ford W. Bell, American Association of Museums