During the last week of May, a few of us at the Dr Pepper Museum headed to Los Angeles for the annual American Association of Museums (AAM) conference. During the 4 day convention, there are sessions on a multitude of different museum topics, vendors hawking their wares, and friends to catch up with! The 4 of us that went (Jack, Jennie, Mary Beth, and Joy) spread out so we could see and do as much as possible and report back to each other what we learned! Here are our reports on our favorite sessions at this year’s AAM!
Before our Executive Director, Jack, headed out for vacation I asked him about his favorite session at AAM. He thought Learning from Hollywood was the best one! It took a look at thematic design for exhibits. From the beginning you need to understand the theme of the exhibit and what exactly it is that you are trying to say. Interpreting those thoughts into a storyboard before you start planning can help organize the ideas in a usable format. One of the speakers was from Disney and related the talk to films and movies! How appropriate for LA!
As many of you know, Mary Beth may be our Collections Manager around here, but she is also our resident techie, so at AAM she was headed straight towards to the tech sessions. Her favorite incorporated quite a few AAMers known for their tech skills! Beyond the Shiny Object: Mission Driven Museum Technology Development brought together Nina Simon, Shelley Burnstein, Beck Tench, and Bruce Wyman. These four spoke candidly about their experiences with technology in museums. The room was packed! I know, I sat on the floor in the back.
Our Director of Visitor Services, Jennie, had an enjoyable experience in The Next Generation of Visitors: Creating Experiences for Millennials. This session touched on the differences in learning styles of different generations of Americans focusing especially on Millennials or Gen Yers. Millennials like more hands-on experiences which challenge them. They enjoy the undiscovered and unknown and think history is boring. They need to make a difference in their world. With 77 million Millennials in the United States, they equal the size of the Baby Boomers. Within 15-17 years, they will be the dominate generation.
Speakers focused on the techniques they are using at their sites to engage Millennials. At the Shedd Aquarium, the hands-on areas were not being used by young children, but by Millennials instead because they were intrigued by the opportunities of discovery available to them in these areas! They wanted to use their brains! Conner Prairie has changed their approach to first person interpretation by offering visitors the opportunity to dress in period clothes and participate in activities throughout their site.
At the beginning of the year, we shuffled a few duties around here at the museum and I picked up the volunteer program. Having never done this before (I’ve volunteered for museums over the years, but have never been responsible for the volunteers), I was eager to attend a few sessions about volunteer programs at museums! And I hit the jackpot! First day, second round of sessions, and there was the one for me – Talking Shop: Volunteer Roundtable Discussion with Volunteer Managers and Docents!! It was developed by the American Association for Museum Volunteers (AAMV). The session was setup as a roundtable so we were all able to ask questions and offer advice and members of the AAMV mediated. What a great experience to talk with Volunteer Coordinators from across the country! Plus they had a drawing for their handbook and guess who walked out of the session with a copy in her hand!