AAM 2012 Recap

Rather than create a play by play recap of the annual conference, this post highlights broad strokes of the event.

On Museums:

  • Museums are holder of the public good.  Programs should showcase public value.
  • Museums should create memories for visitors. 
  • Museums are community based and community responsive. They are public utilities.
  • Museums serve 55 million kids nationally –annually!
  • Arts and culture are the heart, soul and conscience of society


  • Create community of visitors through experience that leverage their shared interests and the museum’s strengths.
  • Develop and employ partnerships with other institutions around desires to reach particular visitors. 
  • When using visitors as partners to develop community events create a culture of mutual respect between visitors and staff. 
  • There is not a simple 1+1 equation between community building events and fundraising. 
  • Target market—go where your visitors are to get the message out.  Or even better, invite someone from that community to help you develop the program and then market it.
  • Develop communities within your institution. Brainstorm in selected, though not siloed, groups.

Fostering Connections to Visitors:

  • Understand that each visitor community (casual visitors and teachers) have their own vocabulary and culture.  Own that and then come to a common language. 
  • Don’t assume that everyone wants the same thing. 
  • Understand what your audience wants before developing your program, while running your program, and after your program has completed.
  • Similarly, know the digital habits of your target audience and make sure your digital plan targets the right audience
  • Awareness of your museum can be an important and viable goal for your programs.

Stories, Games and Media:

  • The process of social media and crowd sourcing is what fulfills the mission not the product.
  • Create stories for your visitors.  Stories can make the collections relevant to the visitor.
  • Bring your community into the museum to tell their own stories, so that they can feel like they contribute to your museum culture.
  • Games can create meaning for visitors—often those with a great story. 
  • No all gamers are alike!  
  • Simple and clear can be essential to a good story or game. 

What were your biggest takeaways?

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