2016 AAM Annual Meeting Theme

Power, Influence and Responsibility

Voltaire wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Join us in our nation’s capital at the American Alliance of Museums 2016 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo to explore how the themes of power, influence and responsibility shape the work of museums in the U.S. and around the world.

Museums are powerful community assets economically, culturally, educationally, and as places to convene and discuss issues of the day. They memorialize historic events and bear witness to political and social change. They strive to foster healthy dialogue and provide a venue for healing and renewal. Museums use their power to teach respect for cultural differences and foster community cohesion and sustainability.  How is your museum using its power?

Washington, DC, is one of the most powerful cities in the world and the proud home of more than 200 museums and embassies representing 176 countries. Memorials and monuments define the city’s landscape, honoring our nation’s greatest leaders and fallen heroes, and providing the perfect backdrop for reflecting on how museums preserve powerful memories.

Our nation’s capital is filled with examples of how society has become more just and compassionate, whether through laws or civic demonstrations. Yet the city also struggles with poverty, educational inequity and the quest for municipal independence.

In her keynote address at the AAM 2015 Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo in Atlanta, National Museum of African Art Director Johnnetta Betsch Cole said, “If we are to be relevant [and] stay artistically and financially viable, [we must rethink] what takes place in our museums, to whom our museums belong, and who the colleagues are who have the privilege of telling important stories through the power of science, history, culture and art.”

Continuing the Atlanta annual meeting theme “The Social Value of Museums," we’ll explore how museums in the United States and around the world are using their power to advance society and how they can better address the issue of social inequality. Are museums welcoming and accessible to all audiences? Are museums engaging communities to address controversial topics? Are museums actively developing an inclusive workplace?  

We invite the museum field to explore responsibilities that come with living in a democratic society. Is it the role of museums to address social justice issues? How do museums provide an appropriate community forum for civic debate? How do museums educate policy makers about the many ways they address community needs through their programs and services?  How do museums leverage their power through their key stakeholders—volunteers, trustees, visitors and donor—to demonstrate their social value?

Witness the incredible power of just one person—you. Registering for the annual meeting is an important step in advocating for yourself, your museum and the cause of museums. Our very presence in our nation’s capital will demonstrate the undeniable power of museums. In the words of cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Download a PDF of the Annual Meeting Theme. 

Register Now!