AAM 2014 Seattle Conference

Sessions:Adaptive Reuse

Settings ranged from pop-up art galleries to historical museums to outdoor sculpture parks. All set in Seattle, these reuse projects highlight the existing opportunities for cultural centers. Using existing structures also lends itself well to green initiatives. Less building waste ends up in landfills when we adapt historic buildings for new uses.

The Wing Luke and MOHAI were some of the examples of reusing historic buildings. Having been to both museums, I found the different challenges faced by the institutions to be fascinating. One, the Wing, required a great deal of interior restructuring. MOHAI, on the other hand, utilized a large open interior. They had more concerns regarding the climate control for the facility and load bearing structures, as the museum is built over water.

I was interested in learning more about the use of historic buildings for collections storage. Unfortunately all the presenters made use of off-site storage, so they didn't have many insights for me. I know that especially for smaller museums, off-site storage isn't an option. This may be a topic for further study on my part.

Beyond Walls, Beyond Borders

This session blew me away. Not only had I no idea these projects were occurring, but I couldn't believe more institutions weren't jumping on board. Featured in the discussion were two projects The first, Science for Monks, was presented by Bryce Johnson from the Exploratorium in San Francisco. Their professionals travel to India to teach the exiled Tibetan Buddhist Monks about Science. I love it. I cannot express how amazing this endeavor is and how inspirational I find the efforts of both the Exploratorium and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. They are working to expand global understanding and cooperation.

Second was a teen outreach program developed by the Minnesota Historical Society. They received a government grant to work with cultural centers in Palestine and Baghdad to develop teen programs for girls. Maren Levad discussed the challenges she and her team faced with bringing together teens from across the world and across cultures. Above all, the focus was on what they had to offer each other in terms of learning and understanding. It provided all the participants an opportunity to step outside their comfort zones and connected the institutions with their local and global communities.

Events:

Olympic Sculpture Park Reception

This reception was hosted by the Professional Networks of the AAM as an informal way for members to discover what each network has to offer. Set in the beautiful Olympic Sculpture Park, reception attendees were able view the new installation "Echo". Dinner was supplied by "trendy food trucks", which really amounted to one food truck. The food was very good, but most Seattlites will tell you Portland is the city that does food trucks in a big way. Still, a very fun time.

Opening Party

The AAM Opening Party was held at the EMP. The party was a blast. While I wasn't able to make it all the way through the new exhibit "Spectacle" this time around, I was able to revisit my favorites "Can't Look Away" and "Icons of Science Fiction". Drinks and dessert, music and exhibits; what more could you ask for?

WMA Happy Hour

I had only recently started following WMA on twitter when I made the decision to attend their reception at the conference. They were welcoming and helpful with answering my questions about membership and their upcoming conference in October. I met so many new people and had some really engaging conversation.

Incluseum Happy Hour

Having a chance to meet with the great folks over at Incluseum was a highlight of the week. They are doing some really interesting stuff with digital interaction and inclusive practices. If you haven't already, I highly encourage you to check out their articles and keep an eye open for their upcoming online exhibit "The Power of Labeling".

Conclusions:

The AAM 2014 Conference was massive. I had a full schedule everyday for four days and I can't begin to cover everything I learned and all the wonderful people I met. We all had to make some tough choices about sessions and events to attend. They all looked so good! It was an enriching experience for me and I hope everyone else had as much fun as I did. At this point, I am not sure I will be able to attend next year in Atlanta but I'll sure try!