Social Issues at AAM

April 27, 2009

This blog is an experimental backchannel discussion platform for attendees of the American Association of Museums’ 2009 Annual Meeting, and all others interested in ways that museums are / can engage social issues. The AAM conference includes several sessions that address social issues, and we want to provide a forum for museum professionals to discuss these sessions and share their insight, ideas, expectations, and concerns.

It is a coordinated effort related to the journal Museums and Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse (M&SI). M&SI is an academic journal edited by Dr. Kris Morrissey, Director of the Museology Graduate Program at the University of Washington. The journal is a forum for discussing the ways in which museums address critical contemporary social issues.

We have grouped several sessions in like categories in order to structure what we hope will be both a platform for discussion around these sessions, as well as a tool for conference attendees to find sessions of interest. A list of categories can be found in the sidebar on the right.

We encourage comments surrounding all aspects of museums & social issues at AAM. Here is a list of a few social issues-related sessions at the 2009. Click on the title to post your comment on an individual session.

Thursday, April 30th

On-site Insight Event: Science for Citizens: Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Museums

Diversity Branding: Sodexo’s Journey

Exhibiting Religions, Faith Communities and Religious Identity: A Curator Forum

Globalization: What Does it Really Mean for Museums

The Unexhibitable

Friday, May 1st

A Glimpse of the Future: Society and Museums in 2034

No Easy Answers: Debating Challenging Contemporary Issues In The Museum

Informed Engagement: Museums and Immigrant Communities

On-site Insight: Green Museum Makeover

Fifth Annual AAM Book Club: Jeff Howe’s “Crowdsourcing” and Maggie Jackson’s “Distracted”

Learning a New Language: The Delights and Dilemmas of Building Diverse Art Museum Audiences

Weaving Connections: Engaging Communities in Dialogues about Change

Saturday, May 2nd

Facing Race: Responsible Historical Interpretations of African American Communities

To Thine Own Self Be True: Authenticity in a Diverse World

Autism Access: Connecting with Museums

Women in Leadership: Changes in Museum and Arts Management

Climate Change Exhibits: Changing Behaviors for Visitors and Museums

Sunday, May 3rd

Globally, Locally, Personally: Museums as Crucibles for Social Transformation

Museums and Society: Engaging Visitors in Civic Issues

Representing the Nation, Representing Ourselves

Shaping the Future

The Multi-Lingual Museum: Practice and Policy

Talking Immigration: Strategies for Public Dialogue at Museums

Public Engagement: Giving the Public a Voice within our Field


Climate Change Exhibits: Changing Behaviors for Visitors and Museums

May 5, 2009

Climate Change Exhibits: Changing Behaviors for Visitors and Museums

Saturday: 3:45-5:00

Find out how climate change exhibits can force museums to address relevant societal issues and respond to ever-changing content and public perceptions. Presenters share their rationale, challenges and solutions to change visitor attitudes and behavior as well as ways to communicate important dynamic science concepts. Chair: Carol Tang, Director, Visitor Interpretive Programs, California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco, CA

(Description of session is from AAM)


On-site Insight: Green Museum Makeover

May 5, 2009

On-site Insight: Green Museum Makeover

Friday: 1:30-3:30, $10.00

This tour of the African American Museum will explore first-tier options for going green and will discuss how self-assessment and prioritization help plan longer-term changes to improve sustainability. The session will be led by Sarah S. Brody, an independent consultant helping museums and other cultural institutions become environmentally and financially sustainable through grants, mainstreaming activities and green performance.

(Description of session is from AAM)


On-site Insight Event: Science for Citizens: Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Museums

May 5, 2009

On-site Insight Event: Science for Citizens: Reducing the Carbon Footprint of Museums

Thursday: 9:30-11:30 , $10.00

Join the Academy of Natural Sciences for a lively Town Square event examining how museums can help fight global warming. Learn how to use the museum setting for discussions bringing together experts, stakeholders and the public, promoting thoughtful exchanges on important issues relating to science, sustainability and the environment.

(Description of session is from AAM)


Public Engagement: Giving the Public a Voice within our Field

May 5, 2009

Public Engagement: Giving the Public a Voice within our Field

Sunday, 3:45-5:00

In this session, panelists and the audience will explore how museums are adapting aspects of “public engagement” drawn from the public policy arena to create programs that provide visitors with the opportunity to participate in dialogue and deliberation about science, technology, ethics, personal values, societal norms, and public policy. Chair: Larry Bell, Sr. Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, Museum of Science, Boston, MA

(Description of session is from AAM)


Museums and Society: Engaging Visitors in Civic Issues

May 5, 2009

Museums and Society: Engaging Visitors in Civic Issues

Sunday: 9:00-10:15

Identify how, why, to what extent and to what end museums can connect visitors to issues of contemporary social concern. Draw on audience research to address ways that museums have stimulated thinking about social and ethical issues, are used by visitors as sites for exploring or reinforcing values, and the challenges and questions that emerge. Chair: Jill Stein, Senior Research Associate, Institute for Learning Innovation, Edgewater, MD

(Description of session is from AAM)


Weaving Connections: Engaging Communities in Dialogues about Change

May 5, 2009

Weaving Connections: Engaging Communities in Dialogues about Change

Friday: 2:15-3:30

As traditional American industries have moved, declined or disappeared, the communities they shaped are often faced with the loss of their identity and history. Discover how museums are exploring innovative exhibitions and programming to recover these stories, reconnect with disappearing communities, engage new ones and stimulate dialogue that makes the past relevant. Chair: Carla Bednar, Assistant Director, The Design Center at Philadelphia University, PA

(Description of session is from AAM)


Fifth Annual AAM Book Club: Jeff Howe’s “Crowdsourcing” and Maggie Jackson’s “Distracted”

May 5, 2009

Fifth Annual AAM Book Club: Jeff Howe’s “Crowdsourcing” and Maggie Jackson’s “Distracted”

Friday, 2:15-3:30

The AAM Book Club returns with must-read books from outside the museum world but relevant to our future: Crowdsourcing: Why the Power of the Crowd Is Driving the Future of Business by a contributing editor at Wired magazine, and Distracted: The Erosion of Attention and the Coming Dark Age by an award-winning journalist. Come welcome these celebrated authors to AAM and debate the promises and perils of technology for museums. Chair: Peter Linett, Partner, Slover Linett Strategies, Inc., Chicago, IL

(Description of session is from AAM)