Notes from the Board
April 11, 2018
A Message from AAM Host City Coordinator Nate Meyers!
Greetings from Phoenix!
Well, technically not Phoenix. Chandler, one of Phoenix's largest suburbs. So let's start again.
Greetings from Chandler Museum!
Well, technically Chandler City Hall, where Chandler Museum staff are working while we go through a construction project that will quadruple the size of our museum. It's an exciting time for us, just as it's an exciting time for Arizona's museums! The Arizona museum community can't wait to show you all the great things our state, and our largest city, Phoenix, have to offer.
Within a few blocks of the conference center and hotels are several world class museums - Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Children's Museum of Phoenix, and Arizona Science Center.
Small museum fan? We've got you covered - Rosson House at Heritage Square, Arizona Latino Arts and Cultural Center, Wells Fargo Museum, and the George Washington Carver and Cultural Center are all nearby.
Hop on the light rail or hail a ride share and in just a few minutes you'll find yourself at Arizona Capitol Museum, Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix Zoo, Musical Instrument Museum, Downtown Mesa (with several great museums), Scottsdale's Museum of the West, or Arizona State University, which boasts over 30 museums and galleries on campus.
Love the outdoors? You can't beat Phoenix in the spring. Phoenix boasts hundreds of miles of hiking trails, including beautiful Camelback Mountain in the center of the city or South Mountain, the largest municipal park in the country. Make sure you dress for warm temperatures, wear sunscreen, and drink lots of water!
Sports fan? The Dbacks are off to a great start and their stadium is just two blocks from the convention center. Year in and year out they boast the most affordable tickets in baseball.
I would never encourage anyone to play hooky from the conference....but if you were so inclined, sitting poolside, heading out to a rooftop or patio bar, or visiting a world famous shopping destination in nearby Scottsdale are great ways to spend your leisure time.
And then there's the food. Phoenix is rapidly growing into a culinary destination. So many incredible cuisines are available in our diverse city, and many restaurants feature locally grown and produced foods. You won't want to miss Pizzeria Bianco, Haney's, Mother Bunch Brewing Company, or countless other restaurants within an easy walk of the conference.
So consider this your unofficial welcome to Phoenix, and all the amazing museums, restaurants, and activities you're going to experience in our great city while attending the AAM conference next month!
-Nate Meyers, Host City Coordinator
March 13, 2018
Summary: AAM's Deaccessioning Crises Workshop
In December 2017, AAM hosted a workshop called Don't Raid the Cookie Jar: Creating Early Interventions to Prevent Deaccessioning Crises. As with most folks in our field, I had become increasingly discouraged by what I was seeing in the news with other institutions and was very happy to see that AAM was opening the dialogue about Deaccessioning crises.
When I first signed up, I thought we might be touching on the ethical debate on the heels of the current events, but I was happy to see that the focus of the discussion was far from that. It was about warning signs and prevention. A week before the workshop we were sent these two questions which would be the basis of our discussion for the two days.
- How can we create mechanisms for early detection? Are there early warning signs that could help surface and address potential deaccessioning dilemmas before they become crises?
- What resources can we provide for support and intervention that would help give museums time to make measured and thoughtful decisions about deaccessioning and sale of collections?
Arriving at Harvard on December 14th, I was most surprised by one thing: How few Registrars were in the room. From what I could tell the majority of the 60 attendees were made up of Directors, Trustees, Curators, and representatives from national and regional organizations. I was also the youngest person in the room by many years. I admit this was a bit intimidating and I wondered if I completely misread what this seminar was about and it's target audience. But I was happy to be there. I could bring the emerging/midcareer perspective and represent collections staff.
Once the initial shock of being in the room with museum directors wore off, I found that I was pleased to be able to learn from our colleagues in positions of authority. We as collections professionals have a particular perspective when it comes to financial crises. Hearing from those who are continually looking at the broader picture helped me contextualize some of the reasons why one might see monetizing collections as a last-ditch effort to dig out of debt.
Over the two days, we worked through brainstorming what resources we could provide to museums that would help eliminate that "final hour" decision to monetize the collections. We have a lot of work to go, but I think we came up with some interesting ideas. I hope that this workshop is just the first of many on the topic as we work on the question that became my biggest takeaway: "How as a field do we hold each other accountable?"
AAM has put out a summary of the two-day workshop that does an excellent job of illustrating where our conversations led. I encourage you all to take a look at it. A link is at the end of this post.
-Mell Scalzi, Web Chair
February 19, 2018
AAM Annual Meeting Registration & Events
It is already February, and before we know it, it will soon be May. In May, we will gather together in Phoenix for the annual AAM conference. Registration for the AAM annual conference remains open, and the Board of Collections Stewardship strongly encourages you to attend. By coming together in Phoenix, you will have the opportunity to meet your colleagues, learn from them, connect to new ideas, thoughts, and technologies. You are also encouraged to share your own stories, ideas, and thoughts. The annual conference is always educational and thought-provoking, and it is also an extremely fun time.
The focus of the conference, naturally, is the sessions where we get to learn from our colleagues and friends, where they share updates and news from their home institutions and new projects they have been working on. These tend to get us thinking about how we are working back home, what ideas we can bring back with us, and how we can continue to grow and expand the field. What we hear, what we see, what we engage with, spurs us to action, be it at home, or on the local level, nationally, or just within ourselves.
Besides the sessions, the conference allows us to engage with each other in other manners. There are the special evening events, hosted by local institutions. There are Meet-Ups, often organized by attendees. There is the Museum Expo, where we can learn about new services and tools offered to us by companies servicing museums.
As you register for the conference and these promising events, we remind you to keep certain Collections Stewardship events marked for attending. Each year, the Collections Stewardship Board gathers with its members at the business lunch in order to share with all of you the happenings of the last year. Here you will learn what the Board has been doing for you.
This is a ticketed event. No one without a ticket will be allowed entrance, as it is catered. When you do register for this, be sure to indicate any dietary preferences so you are served the proper meal. The lunch is scheduled for Tuesday, 8 May, from 1200-115pm.
Collections Stewardship will also be hosting the Reception for Emerging Museum Professionals. This is a free event, though we ask people to register. This is an opportunity for all of us to gather together, meet new faces in our field, and give them the chance to meet many of us who have been attending AAM for years. All members of Collections Stewardship are welcome to attend, as it is not for emerging professionals only. This will be held Monday, 7 May, from 500-600pm.
Finally, on the same Monday, the various AAM professional networks hold spaces at the Expo to discuss important topics arising in their field. Collections Stewardship will host the Marketplace of Ideas, where various roundtables will be set up to discuss topics relating to registry and collections.Topics will be announced beforehand. This, too, is a free event, no registration necessary. Be sure to visit to give your input on some important matters. The Marketplace runs from 300-500pm, Monday, 7 May.
It is only a few months until Phoenix, and already we are excited to see all of you there. We stand to learn so much, and have a fantastic time. If this is your first time attending, do not fret! It may seem overwhelming, but we are all here to assist you. And if you have been to many AAM conferences, there is still much to do and much to learn. A splendid time is guaranteed for all!
December 13, 2017
During this season of giving, one of the best gifts to yourself is time. Time to be inspired and engaged with new ideas, to interact with your fellow collections care colleagues, not to mention time to explore an exciting city. You can have all of this and more in Phoenix, Arizona during the AAM Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo. Join Collections Stewardship members May 6-9 as we explore this year’s theme of Educate, Engage, Elevate! Museums on the Rise. Early registration is now open, and you can lock in the lowest rates if you register by February 16.
Phoenix is a great location to visit with so many museums and cultural activities. Collections sessions on policies and preservation, working in new spaces, and even Collections Conundrums are on your plate if you attend. This is your opportunity to meet and share ideas, off-the-record horror stories, and generally have a good time.
To quote a former registrar: Be kind to your future self. Visit http://annualmeeting.aam-us.org to register. We look forward to seeing you in Phoenix in May.
September 13, 2017
Collections StewardShip Mission Statement Task Force
In May, the Registrars Committee of AAM (RC-AAM) officially changed to Collections Stewardship. This change was precipitated by a long discussion among many parties over many years, as the question of who RC-AAM represented kept springing up. Who was a registrar? For many, the name implied membership only for registrars. Those who identified with other titles felt as if they did not belong.
Along with the name change, Registrars Committee merged with the Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Professional Network. This merger, coupled with name change, signifies a desire to reach out to a wider group of museum professionals, people who regularly work with collections but do not call themselves “registrars.” It is also an acknowledgement that the profession has evolved significantly since 1977 and encompasses a range of collections care professions. The Committee needs to acknowledge the contributions of many professional positions in order to further the mission of the CS, of AAM, and of our respective museums.
That announcement was approved by the AAM board and presented to the membership in St Louis at the AAM conference. When presented to the RC membership at the business luncheon, there were no objections. However, the work of the merger is not complete. Just as the name change was necessary, so is a review and change in mission. The original RC 1977 mission is still the mission of Collections Stewardship. That mission set to define the profession, a task that has been accomplished. The newly merged network must revisit the 1977 mission and consider it from many perspectives. We must be inclusive, we must honestly assess where our profession currently finds itself, and we must set sights for the future of the field.
A task force has been assembled to tackle this endeavor. This will not occur in a vacuum, as we will seek assistance from our colleagues and AAM. Before formal adoption, it will be shared with the CS membership for approval. We hope to have the new mission ready and available for distribution long before the 2018 annual conference in Phoenix.
If you have thoughts on the project, and care to make suggestions, please reach out to me, your Chair-elect. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are excited to move forward with this, and to continue making Collections Stewardship work for all of us.
August 14, 2017
AAM 2018 Session Proposals
It is now August, and though AAM 2017 seems like it was only a few months ago, it is time to start planning for AAM 2018 (Phoenix). AAM has opened their portal for panel submission proposals, which can be found here:
AAM relies on the expertise of the field, and it is crucial to have collections-related panels every year. Even if you have just a basic idea, be sure to submit a proposal to solicit feedback, get others excited, and collaborate with colleagues who can assist. There are no bad proposals, so be sure to get something started.
Even if you do not feel like an expert on any topic, beginning conversations is the most important aspect at AAM. We are not always looking for answers, as examples and stories are just as important. How things went well, how they did not, where you succeeded, and where you failed. We all learn from your experiences, so be sure to share them.
The portal will remain open through 1 September, so please be sure to complete and submit your proposal by then. In the meantime, the Collections Stewardship Board will be happy to review proposals, so reach out to us to get feedback. If you need inspiration, next year’s theme is Educate, Engage, Elevate! America’s Museums on the Rise. Also, be sure to check the listserv, remember past discussions, or put to paper conversations you have had at your own institutions.
Phoenix 2018 may seem like a long ways away, but it will rush upon us sooner than expected. Let's generate some enthusiasm for seeing each other and working together. I am already excited to see all of you and hear the wisdom you can shine upon us.
July 20th, 2017
Greetings from the Board
Greetings on behalf of the newly re-named and re-organized Collections Stewardship Professional Network (formerly the Registrars Committee). As most of you know, at the 2017 AAM meeting, the Registrars Committee and the Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Professional Network merged to become the Collections Stewardship Professional Network. By combining forces, we will be able to better address critical issues in collections management and collections care and promote the work of collections stewardship. We are all very excited to be leading this newly revised group, and look forward to using this space for Collections Stewardship board members to provide regular updates on the group’s plans and activities.
During the coming year, Collections Stewardship will be developing a new mission statement and goals in order to better promote registration and collections management with the American Alliance of Museums. For this, we are seeking input from the membership. What do you think are the most important issues and concerns that the group should address? What activities and initiatives would you like to see the group involved in? How can we as a group get our message out and get it heard? How can the board best serve its members?
One goal for the network is to find ways that we can work with similar organizations, particularly with the Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists (ARCS), to better advance the cause of collections care both in the United States and internationally. Thanks to Sebastian’s efforts on behalf of RC-AAM/Collections Stewardship, we already jointly administer a successful mentorship program with ARCS, and we will be looking for more opportunities to cooperate with other organizations in the future.
This is just the beginning, as we look at new initiatives and projects in order to promote the needs of collections staff. We will need your assistance and your ideas and voices as we move forward together.
Your board is eager and excited to serve in our capacity representing and working for you. We will be in communication on a regular basis, but please do reach out if you ever have any questions, complaints, or suggestions.
John E. Simmons, Chairperson
Sebastian Encina, Chairperson-elect
Amy Heggemeyer, Secretary
Lindsay Palaima, Secretary-elect
April 23, 2017
Announcing the Collections Stewardship Professional Network
The Registrars Committee of the American Association of Museums (RC-AAM) was established in 1977. Since that time, both the committee and the roles of registrars in museums have evolved considerably. Many other job titles have been created in the profession, including collections manager, collections specialist, preparator, and art handler. In addition, there were changes in the management of the professional networks when the American Association of Museums became the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) in 2012, particularly opening membership in all of the professional networks to any individual AAM member without additional membership fees.
A series of discussions about the changes that have affected RC-AAM culminated in a roundtable discussion at the Marketplace of Ideas at the 2016 American Alliance of Museums meeting in Washington, D.C. The roundtable discussion included Mary Case, long recognized as a respected leader in the field. Ms. Case, who was present at the founding of the RC-AAM nearly forty years ago, pointed out that the original purpose of the organization was to help define the profession, a goal which was accomplished some time ago, and that RC-AAM was now addressing more comprehensive issues of collections care. As a result of these discussions, a task force was formed from both RC-AAM and Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Professional Network members to further consider the topic. Based on a consensus of task force and RC-AAM board members, a decision was made to change the name of the group to more accurately reflect its members and purpose and thus transition to serving a broader museum community who advocate for collections stewardship. The merger and name change was approved by the AAM Board of Directors in March 2017. The Board thanked the leadership of the two networks for their thoughtful and collaborative decision-making and for their focus on how to best serve the members.
At the business meeting during the 2017 AAM Annual Meeting, RC-AAM will officially become Collections Stewardship, and merge with another group long allied with registrars, the Art Handling, Collections Information, and Preparation Network (which started as an RC-AAM task force in the 1990s and became its own professional network in 1997). By combining forces and adopting a new name, Collections Stewardship will be able to address critical issues of collections management and collections care, and work with other peer organizations, such as ARCS (Association of Registrars and Collections Specialists) and PACCIN (Preparation, Art Handling, Collections Care Information Network).
We've put together a FAQ to help answer questions you may have.