The OMA 2023 Annual Conference will take place in Bend, OR, September 10-12, 2023. This will be our first in-person conference since 2019!
Are you in the Bend area and would like to help with planning the 2023 conference? Send us an email at email@example.com.
WMA 2022 in Portland was one of the first major in-person events I attended since the
pandemic began. So, when I set out with goals like “develop uncommon partnerships,” and
“bring the museum community together,” there was a lot to learn in a short window.
Of course, these goals cannot be achieved in one weekend, but the sessions I attended got my
wheels turning. The Archives Alive session brought up ideas about how to make collections and
archives relevant to our communities. The session about preserving history through restoration
was an awesome opportunity to learn about the restoration projects other STEM museums had
on their rosters, and great inspiration for how to manage our own aircraft restoration. Shared
leadership, the idea that an Executive Director doesn’t (or shouldn’t) be one person, totally
snapped into place for me when someone in the audience mentioned that performing arts
organizations have been doing this forever in the Artistic Director/Business Director model.
The most personally meaningful session I attended was the session about land
acknowledgements. The responsibility to engage our Native American neighbors on this issue
should be based on fundamental and meaningful partnership. Backed up by programs, exhibits,
and mutually beneficial outcomes, a land acknowledgment is sometimes only the beginning of
I look forward to being with my museum community at all the events to come. WMA 2022 in my
home-state of Oregon was a great start back to both in person interaction and those ever-
evolving goals of developing uncommon partnerships and bringing the museum community
Lydia Heins, Curation & Collections Director, Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
There is something about attending a conference in person for the first time in 3 years that makes you really pay more attention to what is happening around you. Who is in the room? Why are we here? What are we hoping to get out of these four days away from our desks? And it means dusting off your social skills and smiling a lot! No camera off button here. I want to share the good, the not great, and the hope for next time from my experience at this year's conference.
First the good. There were a ton of great sessions to choose from, and all of them were facilitated by great people. I appreciated the panel format of each session. So many times we go to these conferences and only hear from a few voices. I really liked hearing a wide variety of experiences. There was a noticeable absence of paper. Most presenters said they would be happy to email their presentations, but that seems like extra work for them. Maybe a conference Dropbox to go download what I want to see? I also liked the focus on DEI and the practical advice about it. This work is hard. There is so much to unpack and so few people really willing to do it.
I really liked that we weren't slammed with session after session. That there was time to breath, relax, and absorb what we were hearing. The not great, at least for me, was how almost all of the formal networking time was in loud, crowded spaces. As an introvert, the happy hours at bars, the networking sessions in the Atrium, or the 'speed dating' event that happened on the first evening, those don't help me feel relaxed enough to start conversations. I hate that I can't really hear who I am talking to, can't have a real conversation beyond holding up my name tag and nodding my head.
When the venue is packed and noisy, people cluster together in tight circles so they can be heard over the din, unaware that someone might want to wander over and join in quietly. And yes, there were folks who were sitting at the many spots to land in the venue which was wonderful, but are they sitting there to have a quiet moment to themselves, or do they want company? It's always hard to know, and it feels easier to keep walking than to interrupt.
This is where my hope for the future comes in. My hope is that there can be a space for "quiet" networking. There doesn't need to be alcohol and it doesn't need to be a quiet library space. Just a space where a group of people with common interests can wander into and find other people who are there to share knowledge, discussion, and honest angst. The space where it is known from the start that we want to be bothered, even if we are sitting looking at our phone or deep in conversation with a group when you approach. I think that was what OMA was trying to do with their "Lounge", but maybe it was too close to the action or not understood. It really is up to us to keep our eyes up and our smiles ready for those who might want to share a conversation when asked. I might make a "Talk to Me" button for the next conference.
Thank you to OMA for the scholarship to attend the WMA conference in Portland. I took home a lot of information to sit with while I guide my museum into the future. I look forward to the OMA conference in Bend in 2023.
Leah Murray, Executive Director, Shelton McMurphey Johnson House
It was such a privilege to be able to attend the Western Museums Association/Oregon Museums Association annual meeting in Portland. This meeting was the first in-person museum conference I had attended since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and seeing my colleagues face-to-face again was incredibly rewarding. Like many others, I lost my job due to pandemic-related closures. In the time since then, I have been fortunate to find fulfilling museum work again, and even advance on my career path. But as a new Executive Director, there is still much for me to learn about building a successful workplace team and a sustainable non-profit. The WMA/OMA annual meeting supported this learning.
I attended sessions that challenged me to think more intentionally about the ways my organization creates relationships with community members and tribal partners. Other sessions offered valuable perspectives on how to host difficult (but necessary) conversations with audiences of all ages. Most valuable of all though, were the opportunities to connect with fellow museum professionals. So often, it is the deep dives we take together during evening events and over coffee that spark the ideas which move our field forward. I am so grateful to be a part of this talented museum community and to grow in our friendships and professional development together.
None of this would have been available to me this year without OMA's scholarship funding. While the cost of the conference attendance was within my budget, transportation and lodging made my full participation in the conference out of reach. As an Oregon resident, I live close enough to Portland for this conference to have been convenient, but far enough away to make it a financial burden. But Oregon Museums Association's support allowed me to be present for these vital conversations. That support demonstrates that OMA values the work of my organization and of me individually. I am so thankful for OMA, and for its members, whose membership and support of Oregon Museums Association made my attendance to this year's meeting possible.
Zachary Stocks, Executive Director, Oregon Black Pioneers
Photos from the 2022 WMA Annual Meeting, in partnership with OMA
“I found the conference overall very interesting and appreciated the level of involvement between speakers and the audience.”
“I really enjoyed the conference. I appreciated it being remote. That allowed me to attend. I appreciated the captioning making sessions accessible.”
"It's great to have collaboration and I hope it continues in the future -- between OMA and WaMA, as well as with other museum associations!!”
September 10-12, 2017