Rethinking Museums: An Interdisciplinary Academic Conference

When Molly Dalessandro ('08) began planning Rethinking Museums in January 2007, she expected about 50 people to register and attend the conference. Much to everyone's surprize, over 200 people attended—coming from as far as Germany. The message was clear: museum professionals and students wanted a forum for innovative action.

The Museology Student Committee for Professional Development (now the Student Leadership Board) held its first conference last May 3-4, 2007 to address demands for academic and professional development, as articulated in the Museology Graduate Program's 2006-2007 self study. The free 2-day event, Rethinking Museums, was extremely successful:

  • Over 69% of survey respondents (of which roughly half were students) replied that the conference was excellent or good at being useful to their careers.
  • Over 43% of responding students were from other academic departments, including education, anthropology, and art history.
  • 6 museology graduate students and 3 UW students from other departments presented papers and panels alongside 32 experienced professionals in the field.
  • 27 students held volunteer leadership positions throughout the conference planning process; eight of these students chaired committees.
  • Among the participants, 8 other universities and 40 museums and related organizations were represented.

Beyond the statistics, we were honored by presentations from Carlos Tortolero, Mimi Gates, Ron Chew, Carver Gayton, and a host of exceptional students and professionals. We knew that this year, we couldn't help but reach for an expanded scope.

The Name Change

Rethinking Museums was an excellent name to frame our thoughts and discussions last year, but it was a name shared with a book and two other conferences. While Transforming Museums is unintentionally shared with a book as well, we couldn't resist the chance to rethink and then transform museums. Please join us!

Transforming Museums: Bridging Theory and Practice

On May 22-23, 2008, the Museology Student Leadership Board will present its second annual conference, Transforming Museums: Bridging Theory and Practice. We've increased opportunities in all areas—meaning more presentations, more student volunteers, and more interdisciplinary participation, as well as more support for you, our future guests. Transforming Museum's unique vision sets it apart in the field:

  • Seek out transformative, innovative projects in museums
    • Engage in a call to action
    • Connect on a visionary level
    • Explore the definition of transformation
  • Foster academic exploration and public scholarship in museums
    • Create opportunities for student leadership and development
    • Offer presentations from a variety of sources
    • Encourage interdisciplinary dialog
  • Reinvent the idea of a conference
    • Empower students and professionals
    • Provide free or low-cost registration
    • Take a proactive stance
    • Look for ways that other disciplines and fields transform museum work

Please join us this May as we reach, share, and dreamstorm toward the future of museums, our most beloved institutions. With Seattle's unique host of changing museums, both new and old, we cannot think of a better place!