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Annual Meeting blog post

Posted By Benjamin Hickey, Masur Museum, Monday, July 22, 2013
Last year’s Annual Meeting was the first I attended. It was an amazing spectacle that was nearly too much to take in. The 2013 Annual Meeting was different. This year I felt an undeniable sense that I re-dedicated myself to art history and a whole slew of professional standards that sometimes seem ancillary even though they are the forces that drive nearly all of my decision-making on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps I felt this because I spent a fair amount of time preparing for a Pecha Kucha presentation that made me analyze my relation to museums and the history of art in a broad sense. Delivering my presentation gave me an unexpectedly strong sense of ownership in the AAMC and curating as a profession. I believe this experience is at the heart of the AAMC’s mission and the reason we share our experiences and research.

The panels on Museums & Civic Responsibility, Innovative Conservation, and Participation, Engagement & the Curator all dealt, to some degree, with the profound challenges of collecting, exhibiting, and interpreting art in the name of the public trust while still fulfilling our profession’s high academic standards, standards that often seem to alienate the aforementioned public. There does not appear to be a singular approach that will bridge this gap. What became apparent to me as I tried to articulate an answer to this quandary for the sake of a blog entry was this; the answer starts with curators and then other museum professionals. It is the human element in our interpretations and how we articulate them that will make our institutions relevant both civically and academically. If both of these goals are taken into account when a project is in its gestational period, I think both will be more easily attained. This is more or less the tact Holland Cotter urged us to take in his Keynote Address, and I agree with him.

Thank you to all presenters for sharing your work with us and giving us all a great deal to discuss.

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