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2018 Conference speakers

Thursday, September 13 General Session   10 a.m.

Keynote Address

Reimagining The Adult Museum Experience

Museum Hack leads tours at some of the top museums across the country. Their tours offer an alternative spin and feature some of the strangest, wildest, sexiest stories hidden throughout the museum. The Museum Hack team works with museums around the world to bring in new, and engage current, audiences through storytelling, marketing, training, and more. Find out why Museum Hack loves museums and how their approach and techniques may help your audience love your museum even more.


Conference Welcome

Ken Egan, Executive Director of Humanities Montana, welcomes conference attendees and shares how museums represent and challenge our histories and our communities and through this make profound connections to our lives.

Thursday, September 13  Lunch and Meet-up

Leadership Luncheon 11:45 AM

Ticketed Event.  Pre-Registration Required

Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney welcomes us to Montana and shares strategies on how to be a successful advocate for museums on a local level.


Rethinking The Role Of Collections In Your Museum

Trevor Jones, CEO of History Nebraska will base his address on the Active Collections project and book (www.activecollections.org). During this thought-provoking session Jones will ask us to think about whether our collections are working for us or against us. Active Collections critically examines existing approaches to museum collections and explores practical, yet radical, ways that museums can better manage their collections to actively advance their missions. The talk will explore new ways at looking at our collections, drawing on fields as diverse as forest management, library science, and the psychology of compulsive hoarding.

Meet-Up: Indigenous Peoples and Museums Network (IPMN) 4:30 p.m.

“MITAKUYE OYASIN” (We are all related) – Making Relatives At Mountain-Plains Museums

Museums are a valuable partner and resource for American Indians. They serve all people as an honest and meaningful conduit to Native cultures—present and past—in all their richness, depth, and diversity. Your museum can play an important role in fostering inclusive and engaged conversation about issues relevant to Indigenous peoples in your region. Mike Jetty (Spirit Lake Dakota/ Turtle Mt. Chippewa), Indian Education Specialist at the Montana Office of Public Instruction, will share some “Essential Understandings” about American Indians and demonstrate how they can provide a relevant framework for your ongoing Indian education efforts.

Friday, September 14

Networking Professional Breakfasts 7:30 am - 8:30 am

Ticketed Events.  Pre-Registration Required.  Anyone may attend.
CurCom Breakfast for Curators

The Pros and Cons of Visible Collections
Bob Durden, Senior Curator of the Yellowstone Art Museum will give a brief presentation about the museum’s Visible Vault. The facility opened in 2010 and houses the museum’s 7,500 plus permanent collection objects, and archival matter, along with space for a resident artist’s studio. Durden will talk about the concept of the building and the pros and cons of making the collections “visible.

Volunteer Managers Breakfast

Building and Managing a Large Volunteer Corps
Chris Waite has been the Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Billings Parks and Recreation Department since 2013. In this capacity, he works with over 2,000 volunteers on a variety of projects ranging from trail construction and tree planting to cemetery record keeping and park patrols. Chris will offer insight on how he successfully recruits, maintains, and manages a large volunteer corps.

Networking Professional Lunches

Ticketed Events.  Pre-Registration Required.  Anyone may attend.

EdCom Lunch for Educators

Small Museums: Open to All
Kristjana Eyjólfsson, Education Director at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, Montana, will share strategies and techniques for smaller museums to develop educational programs for people with special needs and for non-traditional educational groups (homeschoolers, Hutterite Colonies).

SMAC Lunch for Small Museum Affinity Committee

Mistakes Were Made!
“We couldn’t fit the exhibit through the door.” “When were we supposed to finish the strategic plan?” Museums begin with big dreams and lots of mistakes. In this lunch session, Kelli Toohill, Executive Director of the Wise Wonders Children’s Museum in Billings, will invite participants to learn from museum “Uh-Oh’s” across Montana, share their experiences, and brainstorm solutions. Wise Wonders had its share of mishaps as a new museum but found assistance and guidance from peer institutions. Now they are returning the favor and will encourage and enable attendees to find solutions to major and minor problems through collaboration. No museum is perfect, so let’s spread our knowledge and be stronger together for it!

RC-MPMA Lunch for Registrars and Collections Managers

Curating a Living Museum
Dine with us for a short RC-MPMA business meeting and then join Jeff Ewelt, Executive Director of Zoo Montana, as he gives an inside look at caring for a collection that lives and breathes while showcasing how surprisingly similar museums and zoos are (come prepared, there may be animals!).

Saturday, September 15

Closing Luncheon

Ticketed Event.  Pre-Registration Required

MPMA Business Meeting

Main Presentation

Contemporary Art in its Contexts: What Is the Role of the Museum Now?
A moderated discussion about contemporary art and its relationship to place-making and community building in the region. The work of each of these artists presents unique challenges to museum curators—how do public art installations, video and electronic works, multi-media dance performance, and graffiti art challenge and expand the role of the museum in today’s cultural landscape? The innovative and challenging works of these four artists intersects, recasts, and confronts many of the traditional roles of our regional cultural institutions. How might the museums of today accommodate the flow of relevant new ideas that fall outside of conventional norms mediated by the art market?

Moderator: Leanne Gilbertson, Assistant Professor of Art History and Director of the Northcutt Steele Gallery at Montana State University, Billings, MT



Panelists: Patrick Zentz, Sculptor Wendy Red Star, Multiple Format Artist Tyson Middle, Graffiti Artist Bently Spang, Multiple Format Artist


  Patrick Zentz            Wendy Red Star      Tyson Middle     Bently Spang

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