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Networking and Realizing Yourself as a Resource

Posted By John P. Lukavic, Ph.D., Associate Curator of Native Arts, Denver Art Museum, Monday, July 22, 2013
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 future.

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.

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