American Association of Museums

The annual conference of the American Association of Museums was held in Denver, Colorado, this past week. As a long-time member of its subgroup, ACUMG (Association of College and University Museums and Galleries), I try to attend this conference about every three years. All conference handouts were available from specially designated computers and printers stationed around the convention center. This would have worked fine except that no one seemed to have accessed the handouts ahead of time as was recommended so the lines at the terminals were enormous.

Highlights of the conference sessions I attended are below:

-- IRS Update: 2007-2008 Changes for Gifts and Donations to Museums
Basically our policies and procedures were affirmed by the IRS representatives and appraisal experts who presented but we do need to tweak a few things. Fortunately, we have never accepted "fractional gifts" which pose special headaches and we don't use any of Luther's art for fundraising purposes. As an aside, the Denver Museum of Art has 200 fractional gifts in their collection. They no longer accept gifts of this nature.

-- Planning and Operating a Green Museum
The Boston Children's Museum and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry were profiled in depth with their directors and architects discussing green planning, buildings and programs. Recycling old buildings is the ultimate way to be green, according to these "experts."

-- Museum Education and Web 2.0
Museum directors from several high-end museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York discussed their Web 2.0 initiatives, using the Epsilen Global Learning System and Elluminate Live. We viewed a teen-curated blog exchange started at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston whose mission is focused on teens (anyone 17 and under gets free admission).

Special visits which were adjuncts of the conference:

-- Visited the conference exhibits where I ran into Charlie Langton and found out something special Vesterheim is planning next year. There are more vendors for compact shelving for art but prices still are steep.

-- Visited the Denver Museum of Art where I discovered information on several labels of special interest in their acclaimed Native American collection to update documentation we have on art in the Fine Arts Collection.

-- Visited the Museum of Contemporary Art where the new green building (on track to receive Gold Level LEED certificiation) was much more interesting than the art it contained! It is a museum without a front door which "models democratic accessibility."

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