Attending the unveiling of a new exhibition. Photo courtesy of Hillary Hanel.

 Do you ever wonder how your favorite museum got their hands on such cool artifacts, or how they came up with their great ideas? This is something I often thought about, and I think I found the answer recently at the annual Michigan Museums Association conference. Many museums belong to such associations, including the international ICOM and the national AAM, for the purpose of collaboration and networking. Conferences provide a way to enhance the relationships between members. Once these relationships are formed, museums often borrow artifacts from one another, or work together on an exhibition or special event.
The Michigan Museums conference was held in beautiful Muskegon, Michigan. We had the opportunity to tour the incredible Hackley and Hume Historic site and other area museums, as well as attend inspiring sessions about museum work. There was a great presentation on technology in museum education programs, and it seems that many institutions are looking at that as an option for expanding their reach. I thought this was really cool, because Girl Museum already does this! Other issues discussed included museum horror stories (let’s just say it’s lucky we do not have any taxidermy specimens), volunteer programs, and historical provenance research. All of these are important topics in the museum world, especially as the field changes with the needs of our visitors.
My favorite thing about the conference was that it gave Museum Studies students like me a chance to talk with other students and professionals from around the state. It really was a great way to collaborate and learn how we can work together to create an amazing network of museums throughout Michigan, and even reach out to other parts of the world! I left the conference with a notebook full of ideas, and felt inspired to advocate for the cause of our museums. As the logo of the MMA says, “Join the conversation,” get talking about museums, and you can make a big difference!
-Hillary Hanel
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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