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Welcome to Michigan: A Message from the Michigan Museums Association

by Lisa Craig Brisson, Executive Director, Michigan Museums Association on

Michigan is filled with a wide array of people, communities, and landscapes. From the tiny towns of the Upper Peninsula to the vacation hotspots of the Lake Michigan coast, the Mitten State contains samples of American cities, farmlands, and forests. The state’s museum community, consequently, is just as robust. Our state boasts acclaimed art museums in cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo; children’s museums; cutting-edge science museums; small historical societies; and historic sites including houses, forts, and lighthouses (to name just a few). Although it might be difficult to see how those working at the Detroit Institute of Arts have much in common with the interpreters at Fort Mackinac, the Michigan Museums Association (MMA) works to bring the entire museum community together, despite obvious differences in field, audience, budget, and landscape!
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Every year MMA coordinates numerous networking and learning opportunities for these museum professionals. Workshops and our annual conference allow those in the field to share their expertise with one another, while Meet and Eats, designed to bring individuals together at member institutions, facilitate engagement with professionals spread across the state. Finally, MMA actively advocates for museums at both the state and national levels of government.  Our members are constantly learning new ways of addressing similar issues regarding budget, volunteers, visitor experiences, programs, governance and more, just by looking at it through the lens of an alternate type of museum;  we have more in common than we think.
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MMA is excited to be partnering with AASLH for this year’s annual conference. Not only can our members benefit from networking and learning from museum professionals across the country, but we are excited to bring some of the amazing work our members accomplish to the larger AASLH community. Attendees will be able to listen to sessions developed by MMA members ranging from the Grand Rapids Museum of Art to the Wright Museum of African American History on topics just as diverse; you can hear about incorporating theater into your museum and the use of IMLS funds in revitalizing museums. Furthermore, AASLH’s tours will bring you to museums and historic sites in southeast Michigan. You can experience the Henry Ford Museum or take a day trip to Flint, where you’ll find more than what the headlines lead you to believe. Finally, you’ll be able to unwind in true MMA style at our pub crawl, developed by our programming team.
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Whether you’ve been to Michigan before or this is your first time traveling to our fine state, we hope that you leave having learned a bit more about everything this state has to offer. Perhaps a session you hear or another attendee you meet will inspire you to come back and visit Mackinac Island (it’s pronounced Mackinaw) or spend a weekend in downtown Grand Rapids where you can visit the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Grand Rapids Public Museum, Gerald R. Ford Museum, and more! The Michigan museum community has a lot to offer and we can’t wait to share it with you.

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