At its annual meeting in Chicago in May, more than 120 members of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) gathered to explore trends in the field and innovative ways to enhance the role museums play in their communities, as well as to advance the Association’s long-standing commitment to fostering professional development for current and future art museum leaders.
Members received updates on three recent national AAMD initiatives. First, AAMD has been working with members of Congress to help frame new legislation that clarifies the intent of the U.S.’s longstanding law providing immunity from seizure to artworks loaned to American museums from foreign governments. AAMD believes that the exchange of works of art between countries supports cultural understanding and enables Americans to see great works that they might otherwise never experience for themselves. The bill—which has passed the House of Representatives—is being sponsored in the Senate by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). The ultimate goal of this legislation is to ensure that foreign institutions continue lending works to U.S. museums, which is a great benefit for the American public.
In May, an exhibition organized by AAMD, Museums: pARTners in Learning, opened at the U.S. Department of Education in Washington D.C. The exhibition examines the remarkable results of creative and innovative programs that museums offer in partnership with their local schools. On view through June 22, 2012, the exhibition is the result of a collaboration between 15 AAMD member museums that have engaged thousands of K-12 students enrolled in museum programs across the country. Since it opened, the exhibition has received wide national attention.
Also last month, more than 120 member art museums in North America participated in the third annual Art Museum Day, timed to coincide with the International Council on Museum’s (ICOM) annual International Museum Day. Expanding on last year’s experience, members encouraged visitors to share their experiences during Art Museum Day on a special printed form available at participating museums, as well as via social media with the hashtag #ArtMuseumDay. Selected feedback from visitors will be available later this summer on AAMD’s Facebook page; many member art museums have already posted some of this material to their own websites or Facebook pages.
Other outcomes from the meeting include a continuation of AAMD’s commitment to supporting leadership training for members, with a program in non-profit management at the Kellogg School Center for Nonprofit Management that included 23 members. In addition to regular committee meetings and small group discussions on a range of topics, members also continued discussions in a number of task forces launched in the last 12 months. These were established to address specific issues confronting the membership and the field, including the strengthening of AAMD’s support for members’ local outreach about the impact of art museums on their communities Members heard a presentation by Jeffrey Rayport, of the private equity firm Castanea Partners.
An authority on information-intensive industries such as media and entertainment, retail, and financial services, Rayport’s presentation explored the changing nature of consumer and audience relationships in an era of expanding digital tools and proliferating media platforms. The closing keynote, by renowned professor of law and ethics Martha C. Nussbaum (University of Chicago), focused on the continuing relevance of the arts to sustaining a civil society in a democracy. Other presenters included journalist, educator, and President Emeritus of WNET, Dr. William F. Baker, of Fordham University, and a workshop on “Harnessing the Power of Your Board,” facilitated by Susan Meier of BoardSource.
AAMD voted to admit nine new members, representing institutions across the United States and, in some cases, new directors at museums that had previously been represented in AAMD. The new members are: Stuart Ashman (Museum of Latin American Art); Jill Hartz (Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art); Katherine Luber (San Antonio Museum of Art); Allison Perkins (Reynolda House Museum of American Art); John W. Smith (Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design); Belinda Tate (Diggs Gallery, Winston-Salem State University); Matthias Waschek (Worcester Art Museum); Karol Wight (Corning Museum of Glass); and Jonathan Yorba (The Mexican Museum).
At the conclusion of the meeting, the membership voted to affirm the proposed slate of new Officers and members of the Board of Trustees. This was the final meeting under the term of AAMD president Dan Monroe (Peabody Essex Museum); he is succeeded as president by Kimerly Rorschach (Nasher Museum of Art). The newest Officers are Timothy Rub (Philadelphia Museum of Art) as Vice President and Dorothy Kosinski (The Phillips Collection) as Secretary. New Trustees, serving three-year terms, are: Johnnetta Cole (National Museum of African Art); Silvia Karman Cubiñá (Bass Museum of Art); Lori Fogarty (Oakland Museum of California); Thomas Lentz (Harvard Art Museums); Earl A. Powell III (National Gallery of Art); and Mirko Zardini (Canadian Centre for Architecture).
The Association of Art Museum Directors, representing 214 art museum directors in the US, Canada, and Mexico, promotes the vital role of art museums throughout North America and advances the profession by cultivating leadership and communicating standards of excellence in museum practice. Further information about AAMD’s professional practice guidelines and position papers is available at www.aamd.org.