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From the President and CEO: Resilient, Together

Category: Influence of Museums

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2021 issue of Museum magazinea benefit of AAM membership.


What does resiliency mean for a community, a museum, or the field at large?

It was just over a year ago when the in-person AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo was cancelled for the first time in our 115-year history outside of wartime. Shuttering the largest annual gathering of museum professionals in the world was a gut-wrenching decision, but it was the right decision as a global pandemic soon led to a widespread lockdown. The AAM team wasted no time in quickly redesigning this important annual meeting during this unprecedented moment. The 2020 gathering moved to a virtual format and featured an inspiring and timely program of panels and speakers, engaging and connecting a larger and more diverse audience than we expected to gather in person.

We may not have been able to predict the extent of the disruption and pain the pandemic would cause, but we can be sure that this will not be the last time our country, and our field, experiences this kind of volatility. Many of you share my proclivity for strategic and proactive planning and understand that we must do better to prepare for a different world and future disruptions. Together as an Alliance we must learn from the successes and missteps of 2020 and develop a comprehensive plan for the resiliency of our museums.

Resiliency, as the many inspiring stories in these pages demonstrate, is not a concept limited to bouncing back, but comes from long-term planning and strategy that incorporate financial ingenuity; a deep commitment to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; a distinct demonstration of community value; and a structure that allows for agility and nimbleness in times of change.

That is why the 2021 AAM Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo’s theme is “Resilient, Together.” During #AAM2021, May 24 and June 7–9, we are coming together as a field to embrace the change offered by the current crises and explore questions around building greater individual, community, organizational, and field-wide resilience.

How do we examine the challenges that create an uneven pattern of resiliency in the field? How do we fortify and adapt varying forms of resiliency to meet not only the present crises, but also determine and embrace what our future will hold? Becoming resilient requires examining the complexities of these topics, mapping paths to a more inclusive and equitable field, and adapting so that when a crisis occurs again, we will be stronger than ever before, together.

You might ask, what can we accomplish in four days? With thousands of museum professionals, daring thought leaders, and changemakers across the world, you will be informed and inspired to plan for a bold, hopeful, and resilient future for your museum—and connected to those working toward the same goals.

We have designed #AAM2021 to bring the energy of our in-person conference to a new and interactive virtual platform with an incredible program and ample opportunities to connect with colleagues. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we are offering deeply discounted $25 registrations to allow for the greatest access possible. Visit annualmeeting.aam-us.org to discover all that #AAM2021 has to offer and register today. I’ll see you there!

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