2016 Conference Recap

Time seems to fly faster with each year.  The Fall Equinox has passed us and the turning leaves provide evidence that the Summer has transitioned into Fall.  We started our summer with the 2016 WaMA Annual Conference in Tacoma, the City of Destiny, and for us, the city of Museumland!  After all, where can you find so many museums in such a concentrated area within Washington State?  Our conference was appropriately based at the Washington State History Museum, which graciously offered its facilities to our use complementary.  In fact, all venues we held events at, the Museum of Glass, Foss Waterway Seaport, and Tacoma Art Museum provided their venues to our use as a benefit to the professional growth of our field.  I want to take this moment to offer our sincerest thanks to each of these organizations for making this conference possible!  Furthermore, I must again thank the WaMA Board who volunteers their time and passion, and our volunteers whom helped administrative and set-up tasks with enthusiasm.  I am so proud of you all who made this a success, and those who gave their time, resources, expertise, and in-kind support.  THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

Our “Adventures in Museumland” kicked off with a Alice in Wonderland flair, with festive spirit unique to Tacoma.  At the opening reception held at the Museum of Glass, visitors experienced demonstrations at the Museum’s Hot Shop, enjoy food and drink, and peruse the galleries.  The following night, guests enjoyed a unique water taxi ride north on the Thea Foss Waterway on their way to the “Mad Hatter’s Tea Party” held at the Foss Waterway Seaport.   Tours aboard the historic fishing vessel Commencement were given, America’s Car Museum loaned a beautiful green vintage car for elegant ambiance, and guest were enthralled by a Mad-Hatter comic who did jokes and tricks!

But conferences can’t be all about socializing, can they?  Our keynote speaker, local historian and University of Washington, Tacoma professor Michael Sullivan gave a thought-provoking presentation about the relationship of Story and Place, using the Prairie Line Trail (former railway line right of way) which cuts through downtown Tacoma to illustrate the connection we have to our past, and the stories that bring meaning to place.

Our attendance was up nearly 40% from last year!  This is a great success for WaMA, and everyone who attended.  During the General Business Meeting I outlined some areas of improvement and goals for the organization.  Some of these included:

  • Filing an organizational Annual Report. This has not been submitted since 2005!  I submitted a draft 2015 Annual Report for our Board to review.  Whew!  The 2016 report will be submitted no later than February 1, as will subsequent years.
  • We are in the process of looking for a part-time contract bookkeeper. When the job duties are finalized we will post this position.  This will smooth financial data transfer between Board Treasurers.
  • Updating the WaMA bylaws. Our bylaws are in many cases 20 or more years old since last revision.  This is a work in progress.  After this revision is complete, every ten years we will task our Board with reviewing and updating bylaws.
  • Modifying our annual deadlines. In previous years we put a Call for Proposals out every January for the June conference.  You will hear from us no later than October 15 this year for next year’s conference.  Expect a preliminary program out with the January Museum Messenger.  Keep your eyes peeled for the Call for Proposals soon!
  • A third event?? Yes, that’s right!  Every year WaMA is best known for two major events:  Arts and Heritage Day and the Annual Conference.  This year, come and join us for a modest and informal event in Moses Lake, home of the 2017 conference!  After the November 4 WaMA Board meeting please join us for informal no-host drinks, food, and comradery in Moses Lake. This event is about having informal fun and companionship.  A forthcoming email will have details.

That about sums it up for now.  WaMA is marching forward and accepting the challenges above.  Your WaMA Board of Directors is here to serve YOU, the Washington State Museum Professional!  We look forward to seeing your Session Proposals later this Fall, perhaps join us for an informal drink at Moses Lake, or just contact us if you have other ideas how WaMA can improve the connection and professionalism of our esteemed field.

Yours in Museums,

Joseph Govednik


WaMA Board of Trustees