WaMA’s Annual Conference in Spokane!

June 19-21, 2019
“All Stories Are Told Here”


Thursday, June 20

9:00 – 11:30 am          Introductions, Awards, and Keynote by Adriel Luis

Join us as WaMA President Freya Liggett presents our Annual Awards for Excellence to outstanding museums and their staffs, volunteers, boards, and benefactors.

Keynote speaker Adriel Luis

How Inclusive is Inclusion?: Finding Community in our Differences – Communities are, by definition, based on commonality. But as our societies become increasingly diverse, complex, and polarized, our dilemma seems not to be in embracing our similarities, but by confronting our differences. In this keynote, curator Adriel Luis challenges how we demarcate our communities, and investigates how humanity can align itself, even when we don’t all see eye to eye.

About: Adriel Luis is a published poet, musician, graphic designer, and agent for social change. He currently serves as the Curator for Digital and Emerging Practice at the Smithsonian Institution Asian Pacific American Center, where he advocates for emerging artists of color to be exhibited and paid fairly by museums. He and his team have also been curating Culture Labs, an alternative to museums based in community organizing principles. These pop-up museum experiences are created rapidly and are conversation-starting opportunities. Luis and his team have made their Culture Lab manifesto playbook available online at https://smithsonianapa.org/culturelab/.

Noon – 1:30 pm                      Advocacy Lunch

Need a refresher on upcoming issues of significance to Washington museums and the cultural community? Our noon lunch will include top-notch cultural advocates who will help us understand the most effective ways to advocate for the Washington museum field. UW Museology Program graduate students Samuel Howes and Elaine Carter present new research in Washington museums.

Lunch is free for full conference registrants.

2:30 – 3:45 pm                        Breakout sessions.

All sessions held at Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. Room locations to be announced.

(1) Telling Textile Stories
Presenters: Valerie Wahl and Dana F. Bowne, Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Many surprising stories lie behind the quilts, coverlets, and other textiles that often sit quietly in museum collections. Such stories frequently interweave history, art, geography, and economics with personal experience. How can we learn these stories and share them with museum visitors? In this presentation, independent textile researcher Dana F. Bowne will offer strategies for investigating textiles. She will describe clues to look for and suggest helpful resources.

(2) Constructive Collaborations
Presenters: Stefanie Terasaki, Museum of Pop Culture; Sarah Samson, Renton History Museum; Lynn Bethke, Museum of Culture and Environment, Central Washington University.

Internships and practicums are standard in all types of museums. But how can they be constructive for both the museum and the student. How can the institution create a rewarding experience that advances their mission? How can the student collaborate to gain marketable job experience? A look at how the Renton History Museum and former interns created a successful collaboration with tips and insights for other museums and current graduate students to consider. 

(3) All Stories Are Told Here, Now: How a State Facility Became a Tribal Program
Presenters: Kristen Heidenthal, Fort Okanogan Interpretive Center, Colville Tribes.

Washington State Parks opened Fort Okanogan Interpretive Center in 1960, commemorating the US and British fur trade enterprises in what is now Washington State. With State Parks budget cuts, Fort Okanogan faced sporadic staffing, upkeep, and hours of operation for almost two decades. In 2010, State Parks gave the center to the Colville Tribes. This paper will describe the challenges of reestablishing an almost forgotten cultural resource. We will describe refocusing the interpretation, developing programing; anticipating deferred maintenance issues, and reestablishing a place in and with the various communities we serve.

(4) Good News from Small Museums: Reinvigorating Your Visitors and Cleaning Out the Attic
Presenters: Alys Means, Benton County Historical Society and Museum; and Diana Mancel, San Juan Historical Society and Museum.

Small museums are identifying problem areas and developing innovative solutions. In 2014 the Benton County Museum launched a book club devoted to western history; adding a travel club resulted in 100 enthusiastic donors and volunteers for this once sleepy museum. In 2016 the San Juan Historical Society faced declining resources and volunteers and eight buildings to maintain. An ambitious game plan enabled them to amass a team of 30 new volunteers and turn their future forecast from dismal to sunny. Learn from these museums’ successes and mistakes and have a few laughs along the way.

4 – 5:15 pm                             Breakout sessions

All sessions held at Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. Room locations to be announced.

(1) Implementing Race Equity in Museums: Building Relationships with Underrepresented Communities
Presenters: Jeanine Greco and Amber Buell, Kitsap History Museum.

As museums move toward policies of social justice and race equity, what are the next steps in engaging communities who aren’t represented in exhibits and programs? How do we share the history of underrepresented groups if our collections are primarily Euro-centric? Panelists will discuss their experience building relationships with marginalized communities in Kitsap County to implement race equity and proper representation in the museum’s permanent exhibits and collections.

(2) Good Night!: Put Your Lodging Tax Worries to Bed
Presenters: Monica Miller, Gallery One.

This discussion will prompt the pros and cons of lodging tax funds. How does lodging tax benefit your museum? How does your city distribute the funds? How can arts make a better case for our impact on tourism? Are you in your city or Chamber’s marketing plan? How do you quantify and capture our visitors’ impact? And how can we leverage funds to support each other and create a statewide network through sponsorships and partner promotions?

(3) Snapshot of a Reservation in Oils, Pastel, & Pencil
Presenters: Frank Andrews III, Colville Tribal Museum.

The images produced at Washington State College’s Art Colony on the Colville Reservation (1937-1941) provide additional and rare documentation of a generation, places, and events not often captured on film by residents.  Cameras were rare and developing film was expensive during the Great Depression.  The portraits and sketches in this collection preserved tribal member’s images, regalia, and events, providing later a generation insight into a time that was rapidly forcing changes in everyday life on the Reservation. This session will discuss how the Colville Tribal Museum has utilized these images to augment our knowledge.

(4) Collections Conundrums: A Discussion
Presenters: Sadie Thayer, Kittitas County Historical Museum; Lynn Bethke, Museum of Culture & The Environment, Central Washington University; Anna Stiles, Jundt Art Museum at Gonzaga University.

There’s rarely a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to challenges in collections care. Join experienced collections professionals who will share about difficulties that they’ve faced, from caring for unusual objects to keeping pests away. Come prepared to share your story of sticky (sometimes literally!) situations, or seek advice from your peers in this supportive session.

6:00 – 9:00pm          Annual Banquet
Chateau Rive at the Flour Mill, 621 W. Mallon Ave.

$60 for members/ $75 for nonmembers

Just steps away from the edge of the Spokane River, the Flour Mill is home to several shops, restaurants and the elegant Chateau Rive. Numerous historical details allude to the property’s 72 years as a working flour mill and are a reminder of Spokane’s industrial beginnings, including some of the city’s biggest battles between nature and industry.

Enjoy dinner and drinks on the former threshing floor of this historic landmark. Put your historical acumen to the test with a Spokane scandal conversation starter or take in the roar of the falls from the outdoor garden. You may even get a chance to peek inside the mill’s former grain silos.