Brian Carter

By AAAM President Brian Carter

As a board at AAAM, we’ve tried to be purposeful about making people feel welcome at annual conferences. We stand in doorways before sessions in a receiving line smiling and shaking hands. We mingle and engage between sessions. We try to be helpful whenever someone has questions or comments or even criticism.

I’d encourage more of this on a broader scale. We ought to be intentional about booking time where we visit each other’s museums to renew acquaintances, steal good ideas, and plan to meet at the 2018 conference at Hampton to celebrate AAAM’s 40 years of not just preserving history, but building supportive relationships.

I had the privilege recently of attending two wonderful annual meetings hosted by partner museum associations, the Southeastern Museums Conference and the Museums Association of the Caribbean. As AAAM continues to grow and evolve, it is essential we stay connected with our museum peers, especially those with missions and values aligned with our own.

I believe constructive and efficient involvement in the larger museum community begins with an understanding of the rights one has a member of that collective, and the responsibilities one has toward that community.

The composition of our particular community is fluid, constantly evolving, and frequently realigning based on need and circumstance. In the case of AAAM, we strive to represent the community of African and African American cultural institutions nationally and internationally, and those who work/volunteer within them.  We do this best when we understand the larger museum community (staffs, boards, audiences, needs, challenges, spaces, programming) and then mindfully evaluate our own choice-making within that collective. We have the right to tap into this larger community for support, knowledge sharing, and collaboration, but we also have the responsibility to support and nurture it with our resources, our energy, and our presence.

The SEMC Conference and the MAC Conference (co-sponsored by AAAM and NMAAHC) were opportunities to do just this. I had ample opportunity to talk with our peers in the field, learn about some truly incredible projects, and identify ways AAAM can strengthen these strategic partnerships.  We are surely stronger together.

So with that, I’ll remind you again about AAAM’s next Annual Conference scheduled for August 8-11, in Hampton, VA., and encourage your attendance whether or not you’re submitting a session proposal (which you should do soon. The Call for Proposals is here).

It’s tempting to think of the conference and field trips to other museums as mere getaways.

They are so much more.  They are important relationship building blocks, they are opportunities to learn and be inspired, and broaden our perspective in ways that help us do the same for the millions of people visiting our institutions every year.

See you in Hampton!