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FAM Annual Conference

Weathering the Storm Together

Weathering the Storm Together

The Florida Association of Museums (FAM) 2009 Annual Conference took place Sept. 22nd-Sept. 25th in Sarasota, FL.  With a theme that reflects the economic challenges faced by cultural institutions, a number of museum professionals, trustees, and volunteers participated in sessions covering a broad range of topics and visited local museums for behind-the-scenes tours.

FAM 2009 Conference attendees participated in sessions at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. The Ringling Museum Library is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museum libraries in the southeast United States.

Ringling Museum Library’s director Linda McKee showing the Rare Books collection to one of the FAM Conference attendees touring the Library

Ringling Museum Library’s director Linda McKee showing the Rare Books collection to one of the FAM Conference attendees touring the Library

Keynote Luncheon and Reflection with Elaine Heumann Gurian, Sept. 23rd
In her keynote address, Elaine Heumann Gurian discussed ways in which museums can better themselves to survive the current economic storm. One of the topics she touched on was the idea of the “third place,” a physical location in a community where people can safely gather, regardless of age, economic status, race, gender, etc. In other words, a community center. Gurian pointed out that in many other countries this is the role that museums take on, but in America, libraries and small museums are the institutions that have embraced the role of the community center. She suggested that larger museums should also embrace the role of the “third place” and become more involved with their surrounding communities instead of being a place that is only visited a few times a year and is set apart from the local population. In doing so, they will become a much-loved part of the community – something people will not readily give up, even in tough economic times.

If you’d like to read works by Elaine Heumann Gurian, this would be a good place to start: Civilizing the Museum: The Collected Writings of Elaine Heumann Gurian.

– JP & AKL

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