Houston, We Have Liftoff!

The American Association of Museums 2011 Annual Conference and MuseumExpo™ kicked off in high style Saturday evening with two great events that turned out the leaders of Houston’s great museums to greet our friends from AAM and our conference sponsors.

The evening began at 6:30 with the Leadership Reception at The Menil Collection sponsored by HUB International. Guests were greeted by Menil Director Josef Helfenstein and treated to an open bar and passed hors d’oeurves from Houston favorite Jackson and Company. Midway through the evening, AAM President Ford Bell headed to the podium to welcome everyone, and share AAM’s gratitude for the efforts of the Local Host Committee in preparing for the big event.

Local Host Committee and Subcommittee leaders were acknowledged for their hard work, and sponsors were thanked for their support for the conference. Sponsors present to receive this acknowledgement include Chevron, Sotheby’s, Saudi Aramco, the City of Houston, the John P. McGovern Foundation, Yellow Cab, Motif Modern Living furniture and others. We are very grateful for the broad and considerable support our sponsors have demonstrated for the conference and Houston’s museums.

Guests strolled through the astounding variety and beauty of the exhibits and the perfect setting the beautiful Menil building provides. It was a wonderful way to open, and it set a marvelous and exciting tone for the conference.

Those lucky enough to score an invitation to the celebratory dinner afterward at the beautiful River Oaks home of Local Host Committee Chair Courtney Sarofim and her husband Christopher were in for a treat. The Sarofims opened their amazing home to AAM leaders, who enjoyed an absolute abundance of great food and great company. Guests mingled in the giant entrance hall over drinks (the margaritas were excellent and packed a typical Texas kick), then moved through the home to the enormous back yard and patio for an eclectic and very satisfying variety of Tex-Mex foods, including my new favorites, oyster tacos and pan de queso (oh my), topped off by a bread pudding that had no right to be so good.

Brief remarks of welcome were made by Ford and Courtney, who also thanked Sotheby’s for their support of the dinner event. Courtney and Christopher Sarofim personify the great qualities of gracious hosts and generous supporters, and we were all justifiably proud of our city by the end of the evening. What a great start – See you all soon!

–Jon Iszard, President & CEO, The Health Museum; Co-Chair,
AAM 2011 Public Relations & Marketing Subcommittee;
member AAM 2011 Local Host Committee

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