As a first-time attendee at the 2013 Association of Art
Museum Curators conference, I did not know what to expect when I walked into
the welcoming reception hosted at Sotheby’s New York office. My specialty is American Indian art and I
knew from looking at the list of registrants that I was one of only three
attending the conference who shared my specialty. That is correct: three out of approximately 350 attendees. I did not expect to meet the pillars of my
discipline—other conferences provide those opportunities; however, what I found
was a group of colleagues who were fascinated to hear about my interests and
experiences, and in many cases, identified me as a resource to tap in the
Many museums have some collections of American Indian arts;
although, few have staff with the knowledge and experience to assess these
collections, identify cultural sensitivities, or how to handle repatriation
issues. I come from a department with
two curators, and both of us specialize in American Indian arts. We have a large collection and extensive
experience working with this collection and collaborating with Native
communities. Identifying and effectively
communicating your skills, knowledge, and experience to your colleagues of
other disciplines in other institutions through networking helps to integrate
yourself at AAMC, but also provides a service to other member institutions.
From this conference and the various networking
opportunities provided, I realized that one way I can serve the Association is
to make myself known to others as a resource.
Attending conference sessions is always a benefit you receive as an
individual as the speakers share their knowledge and expertise; however, just
because you are not a panelist does not mean you have nothing to provide to
others. Taking the time to meet your
colleagues, share ideas, and offering your assistance to those who could
benefit from your skill-set is a vital resource you can provide and one that
makes the AAMC conference such an important yearly event to attend.
I have heard many times before that the best
conferences are those where you give as much as receive. Each of us has value that we can share with
our colleagues and the AAMC conference is a venue unlike any other where this
value is identified and appreciated.