Our Awesome AAM 2016 Adventure

Renegade Tours
Ideas November 05, 2019 Our Awesome AAM 2016 Adventure

We love attending museum industry conferences.  One of our favorites is the American Alliance of Museum Annual Meeting, held this past weekend in Washington, D.C.

Nick Gray, Ethan Angelica, Dustin Growick, and Diana Montano travelled to D.C. to hang with awesome museums, chat with new faces, and discover all the latest trends.  We also did some live note taking in Google Docs – sharing our notes with everyone following #AAM2016 on social media.  Check out our roundup of great ideas, fun networking, and awesome selfies below.

Ethan Angelica and Diana Montano as we arrived at AAM 2016.
Ethan Angelica and Diana Montano are ready to party it up with fellow attendees at #AAM2016!

Live Note Taking

We got the party started with tons of live note taking from our favorite sessions.  Nick attended “75 Ideas in 75 Minutes: Boosting Engagement at Small Museums” and discovered so much to talk about!  This session brought together staff from historical societies and county museums to answer the question, “Are county historical societies dinosaurs?”  The presenters demonstrated that not only are small museums not dinosaurs – they’re hubs for creative and resourceful ways to engage audiences!  Check out Nick’s notes in this Google Doc and leave a comment on your favorite idea!

Next, Ethan Angelica attended the “New Directions in Philanthropy: Arts and Culture” session.  Participants from the Barr Foundation, Art Place America, Kresge Foundation, and Ford Foundation discussed current trends in philanthropy – ranging from creativity to community development to social justice. They also shared examples of excellent work in engaging new donors, giving us new insights into the future of museum membership programs.  Read his notes in this Google Doc and let us know what you think.

On Friday morning, Nick attended “60 Ideas for Historic House Museums.”  The presenters were full of great ideas, from the practical to the radical, including this conversation-inducing statement:

"Fire Your Docents, Hire Paid Interpreters" from AAM 2016 session
“Fire your docents. Hire paid interpreters.” Bold statement at #AAM2016 in the 60 Ideas For Historic House Museums. What do you think?

We loved hearing each of the presenters’ great ideas, all compiled into a lightning-fast session.  Check out Nick’s notes from the session in this Google Doc.

Also on Friday, Diana Montano attended the “Totems, Yarn Bombs and Swing: Fostering Adult Creativity” panel presented by the New York Transit Museum.  The presenters discussed how their museum provides spaces for active creativity through crowd-sourcing, rogue artifact labels, swing dance, and cross-departmental teamwork.  Our favorite part? Learning new fun facts about the New York City transit system!  Discover these and all their awesome ideas in this Google Doc.

Day 3 dawned and our team was live-note taking again!  Ethan joined the “A Capitol Idea! Unique Alternative Sources of Funding” to learn new ideas for getting funded…and creating new programs at the same time.  Check out his notes in this Google Doc.

Diana attended an amazing session focused on women in museums! Her extensive notes from “What We Talk About When We (Don’t) Talk About Women in Museums” reveal new directions for feminism in museums and debunk some age-old myths.  Check out this Google Doc to learn why gender equality is a hot topic for museums, ideas for how your museum can make positive culture changes, and advice from participants.

Nick attended another lightning ideas session during “75 Ideas in 75 Minutes: Fresh Ideas for Audience Engagement.”  With participants including the Shedd Aquarium and Asian Art Museum, this session was full of great ideas from inside and outside the museum field on how we can engage members, drive attendance, and enhance visitor experiences.  This session proved to be one of the most popular at AAM – with standing & sitting room filled to capacity!  Check out Nick’s note in this Google Doc and let us know what you think.

The final day of the conference dawned and we were at it again!  First up is Nick’s notes from “75 Ideas in 75 Minutes: Failure is Not an Option,” focusing on how museum can use membership, annual fundraising, corporate giving, planned gifts, campaigns, and board members to ensure institutional success.  Check out his notes in this Google doc.

Next, Ethan attended the “Comic Con: How Museum Can Create Super Fans” session presented by the Minneapolis Institute of Art.  The session looked at how museums can tune-in to their most avid supporters and leverage that knowledge to increase attendance, participation, and membership.  Using the framework of the hugely successful Comic Con, their ideas absolutely inspired us.  Check out Ethan’s notes in this Google doc.

Finally, Diana attended the “Legitimizing Irreverence in the Museum” panel – a topic near and dear to our hearts!  The panelists were amazing, using humor to ensure that we won’t soon forget their incredible ideas on using fun to engage audiences.  Check out Diana’s notes in this Google doc.

The best part? Attendees and those following from home loved it! Check out the great responses we received on Twitter:


What’s a fun way to keep the between-session engagement going? Super-secret networking!  In true Hack fashion, we came up with a fun networking challenge just for AAM attendees.  Each day, we were carrying around bags full of awesome swag to give out.   The catch? You had to tune in to our Facebook and Twitter for the password!  Attendees were challenged to find us, say (or sing!) the password, and they’d get their choice of Museum Hack swag.

Museum Hack swag from AAM
Postcards, buttons, glasses, and dinosaurs…oh my!

AAM attendees loved it!  We got tons of tweets asking where we were, and even had the chance to post some fun “find us” challenges.  Check out some of the responses we received on social media:


By far, our favorite part of every conference is meeting fellow museum professionals and discussing audience engagement.  Whether during our free consultations or just meeting up on the Expo floor, we loved chatting with people who are as passionate about museums as we are.  Check out our favorite selfies from AAM below:

Diana with Ami Kamara at AAM 2016.
Diana Montano and Ami Kamara
Dustin with Sherman Bodner from the Roberson Museum and Science Center...and a button!
Dustin with Sherman Bodner from the Roberson Museum and Science Center
Ethan Angelica with Tatiana and Katie of the San Antonio Museum of Art
Ethan Angelica with Tatiana and Katie of the San Antonio Museum of Art
Nick Gray with Sharleen Eusebio of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens at AAM 2016
Nick Gray with Sharleen Eusebio of The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens.
Brittany Burgess and Dustin Growick
Dustin with staff from the University of Michigan Museum of Natural History.
San Jose Quilt Museum and Diana Montano at AAM 2016
Diana with staff from the San Jose Quilt Museum.
Zach Wnek and Ethan Angelica at AAM 2016
Zach Wnek and Ethan Angelica
Nick Gray and Susana Bautista at AAM 2016
Nick Gray and Susana Bautista
Museum Hack team with Florida Museum of Natural History at AAM 2016
Museum Hack team with Florida Museum of Natural History

We loved all the great people we met and ideas we discovered at AAM 2016.  Thanks to everyone who presented sessions, met with us for consultations or in-between sessions, and all those who helped make this conference one of our best ever!

written with 💖 by Museum Hack

Share this article... your friends will love it too!

  • 3
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The World's Best Museum Training

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 5400+ Reviews

Museum Hack leads keynotes and workshops that show you how to attract and engage visitors, members and donors.

Highlights include:

  • Proven Frameworks For All Museum Types
  • Hands-On Training & Direct Feedback
  • 100% "You'll Love It" Guarantee

We've trained museum staff in the US, Canada, Australia, Norway, Korea and other awesome countries.

Contact Us Learn More
Museum training workshop in action.?><noscript><img class=