Conference and Meeting Fever

I realize it has been a little while since I posted.  With the holidays and beginning of a new semester, I just haven’t had the time to sit down and put all my thoughts into words.  Part of my hectic schedule has been planning for travel and conferences this spring and summer!  Below is a list of the conferences I plan to attend, as well as some information about those meetings. 

Tennessee Association of Museums – The TAM Annual Conference is in Johnson City this year, near ETSU.  Registration for this conference is a bit pricey for a graduate student ($175 for the three days of meetings), but the price includes meals, so I can’t complain too much about the cost!   The conference also includes visits to sites in the area, such as

  • Rocky Mount, a Living History Museum that invites visitors to “become part of the happenings of the year 1791”.
  • Hands-On! Regional Museum offers over 20 permanent, interactive exhibits for all ages.
  • Tipton-Haynes State Historic Site is a Living History Museum.  The collection of buildings show the history of an early Tennessee settlement through the Civil War.
  • Gray Fossil Site is a sinkhole formed from a collapsed cave.  This is the largest and best preserved terrestrial Late Miocene to Early Pliocene site east of the Mississippi River.  Many species of animals have been discovered at the site including a saber-toothed cat, short-faced bear, ground sloth, rhino, alligator, camel, shovel-tusked elephant, Eurasian badger, red panda and the world’s largest cache of tapir fossils.

National Council on Public History – The NCPH Annual Meeting is in Pensacola, Florida this year.  The Council offers complimentary registration for student volunteers, so I have applied for that opportunity (fingers crossed!), and the Public History Department at MTSU is providing transportation for students.  The theme of the meeting is “Crossing Borders/Building Communities – Real and Imagined,” and the program offers many interesting sessions that I’m interested in attending.

American Association of MuseumsAAM Annual Meeting is in Houston, Texas in May.  I have applied for both the AAM Emerging Professional Fellowship and the NAME Student Fellowship. (fingers crossed for one of those, too!!) Cost for this one is definitely prohibitive without one of the fellowships, since registration is set at $375 for the discount, early bird rate.   However, this is THE conference for people in the museum world.  “Museum of Tomorrow” is the theme this year, which is relevant to the question I am often asked: “Are museums going to be around forever, or will they go digital?”  This may be an almost overwhelming experience, from what I have heard from others who have attended AAM, but I’m sure there is a lot of networking and learning to do while there!

So these are some of the conferences I’m hoping to attend.  I have not yet experienced a Public History or Museums conference, so here are some questions for YOU:

What are some meetings you have attended? What are some suggestions you have for a meaningful conference experience?  If you are going to any of these meetings or know of a particularly interesting session at one of these, please let me know!

4 replies to “Conference and Meeting Fever

  1. I’ve been to NCPH and it is definitely a worthwhile conference to go to. The first year I didn’t get as much out of it because I took a little bit too much advantage of the vacationish aspects of going, but I think I was a little smarter last year and did more networking and went to more sessions. I don’t think I carried any great permanent connections away from it, but that was only due to my own lack of follow-up. There is lots of opportunity for fun to be had, because you’re basically on vacation with your friends, but to really get the most out of it, try not to get TOO distracted (while still allowing time for at least a little debachery :). Only go to the paper sessions you are really interested in. Networking sessions, to me, are more productive.

  2. Debauchery…not debachery. And also, don’t stick your souvenirs in a pocket of your backpack that you forget is there so that you think you left them at the airport only to find them randomly three months later. 🙂

  3. i agree with what lydia said about ncph. the advice goes for all conferences really: have fun, but go to what you are interested in, rather than following friends around to sessions they want to go to. ncph has a speed networking session that you may want to take advantage of–it is the most grad student friendly conference that i’ve been to! tam is also great, but i haven’t been to aam.

    i also suggest making some business cards for yourself. you may not need too many, but they are great to exchange with any contacts that you make. as far as networking, other than formal events, look for friends, professors and coworkers to make introductions. if there is someone that one of your professors has talked about that you want to meet–ask for an introduction! always feel free to invite people to mtsu social events and to attend other institutions’ social events that you may get invited to–including lunches, dinners, and bar time*. if you have time, talking to speakers or people who made compelling comments after a session is also a great way to meet people.

    *speaking of bar time, it may go without saying, but don’t get trashed with professors or potential mentors (a couple of drinks is permitted, of course) or go to sessions hungover. everyone can see it.

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