CWAM Guide to the Annual Conference

The Colorado Wyoming Association of Museum invites you to share your ideas, knowledge, and experience with your colleagues and students at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Boulder, Colorado. “The Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums is a service organization which educates and unites its membership and the larger museum community. CWAM advocates and promotes museum interests in Colorado and Wyoming and encourages excellence and professionalism in the museum field.” (CWAM Mission, adopted May 13, 1994) THE PURPOSE of the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums is to “unify for mutual benefit those individuals, institutions, and organizations in Colorado and Wyoming who are engaged in the collection, preservation, and/or interpretation of artistic, natural, pre-historical, or historical heritage and who are dedicated to the continued improvement in quality of programming and service.” (Articles of Incorporation, Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums, March, 1972.)
CWAM exists to unite and serve museums in our two states. Membership is open to anyone who is interested in the field of museum work. Member institutions include art museums, history museums, natural history museums, historical sites, and other museum-related organizations. At our member museums you can see everything from astronauts to arachnids, dinosaurs to dolls, and pioneers to Picassos. We have western forts, Victorian homes, living historical farms, and modern art centers. Our museums are located in the heart of modern cities like Denver and Cheyenne, nestled in spectacular mountain valleys, and on wide-open plains with more sky than any other place in America.

The Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums hopes to make it easier for all students and members to attend the 2017 Conference. We have compiled some useful information and suggestions here. Additional information is available on the CWAM web site at The official conference website is Please like us on Facebook for the most recent updates and information about CWAM and the Annual Meeting.

Professional conferences are important to learn more about your field, network, and visit with mentors. A conference has informative sessions that address a variety of issues in museums such as collections, fundraising, education, and security. Some conferences even have sessions specifically for student papers and presentations. Attending conferences is another strong point on your resume. This year, sessions of interest to students include professional development workshops such as the Networking Mocktail Hour (networking / conversation); and “You’re hired! Resume Writing and Interview Tips” on April 20th.

Quick list of topics covered in Survival Guide:
 How will I pay for it?
 How do I get there?
 Where will I stay?
 What should I expect at registration?
 What will I eat?
 How will I meet up with other students?
 How should I dress?
 How will I meet other CWAM conference attendees?
 What sessions are especially appropriate for students and emerging professionals?
 What is the Keynote session?
 What should I see in Boulder?
 How can I become a member of CWAM?
 How can I submit a proposal for next year?
 Links to other Museum Professional Organizations and Conferences

How will I pay for it?
If you are a currently enrolled student, try contacting your undergraduate or graduate student senate or your student government to find out if they offer travel grants for attending conferences. You may not get much but every bit counts! Do not be shy about asking your department for money. Later you can put on your resume that you received a travel grant. Some schools will pay for part of your expenses when you attend a conference like CWAM’s. If your school does not have an established program, try writing a letter explaining how it would be beneficial for the students and the school for you to represent your department. The cost of registration includes many meals and even snacks between sessions.

FULL REGISTRATION INCLUDES: All conference events, including: keynote speakers; business lunch; sessions/workshops/Thought Café; evening progressive reception on Thursday; Friday tours, Friday night banquet.

$210 (Early Bird, member discount rate; until March 3rd) $240 (Early Bird, non-member)
$240 (Early Bird non-member, member regular registration; until April 7th) $270 (Non-member)
$80 per day, Daily Registration

Scholarships are also offered by many professional museum groups including CWAM. Each scholarship recipient will receive a conference registration fee waiver plus a cash grant to help offset expenses. Scholarship recipients will be required to attend the Business Lunch, during which they will be recognized. Following the conference, scholarship recipients are also required to write a short article for the CWAM newsletter covering a session they attend at the annual meeting. Applicants are required to complete the application form, submit a letter of support from their institution’s director, board member, or other supervising authority (such as a faculty advisor) and compose a brief essay explaining how they will benefit from attending the meeting and how they will apply what they learn at the meeting at their institution. Please consult the website for application details.

How do I get there?
Air Travel: The Boulder Municipal airport is 3 miles northeast of the downtown. Denver International Airport is 33 miles away from Boulder.
By Bus: Review the bus schedules from your town; providers such as Greyhound may service your area.
By Car: Utilize available maps from your library or directions on-line such as Carpooling with other students or museum professionals in your area may also be economical.

Where will I stay?
There are multiple options for accommodations. Check web sites such as for competitive pricing.

Official Conference Hotel
Millenium Harvest House Hotel, 1345 28th St, Boulder, CO 80302, (303) 443-3850. Conference rate $129 per night for up to two people per room, includes discounted breakfast.
Mention CWAM for a discount or here is the link to register:

What should I expect at registration?
Begin by going to registration and signing in. You will receive a packet that will help you get oriented to the conference site. This is also an opportunity to ask questions that you may have at the desk. The packet will have suggestions for restaurants. The conference program will list all sessions with times and locations / room numbers.

What will I eat?
The conference includes many meals! But if you would like to explore, here are some other options found on-line; the top 10 economical favorites of Tripadvisor, rated by consumers. CWAM is not responsible for the quality of these establishments and is not endorsing a particular venue; simply listing some options:
Rincon Agentino
Parkway Restaurant
Zoe Ma Ma
Darkhorse Bar
Half Fast Subs
Snarf’s On Arapahoe
Falafel King Restaurant
Celestial Cafe

How will I meet other students?
When attending sessions, introduce yourself to those around you; you will find the other students very quickly! Meals are another opportunity to talk in an informal setting.

How about this workshop on Thursday, April 20th from 1:30-4:00 p.m.:
Networking Mocktail Hour
Come learn the art of chatting! Learn the skills needed to interact with donors, sponsors or future employers. We will have our own mock networking opportunity where all participants can learn the art of small talk and practice how to market themselves or their organization.

How should I dress?
While you will see museum professionals in a variety of dress from casual to business attire; consider your appearance as if you are on a potential job interview. Conferences are your opportunity to make a great first impression. Many professionals I know in CWAM met their future co-workers at museum conferences!

How will I meet other CWAM conference attendees?
As discussed above, CWAM has developed a Mentoring Program which will give you the opportunity to connect directly with individuals who can introduce you to others at the conference. Mentors will also provide support and guidance throughout the museum profession. If you are interested in having a Mentor, please contact Bethany Williams at and she will work on matching you up with an appropriate Mentor for the meeting.

What sessions are especially appropriate for students and emerging professionals?
Consider your future career path. Future curator? There are many sessions on working with collections to tell our stories. Do you have an interest working with collections? Consider the session on practical considerations for making collections accessible. Are you interested in education? How about a session on engaging the community in museums programming? Maybe you do not know yet so attending a variety of session will allow you to glean insight to the various aspects of these museum positions and that may inform an internship or future position. Consider the panels of various sessions as well; you may have the opportunity to meet a future colleague!

Sessions have also been offered by current Museum Studies students at past conferences on topics such as internships and museum projects. Other sessions, given by Museum professionals (including those who actively hire for their institutions!) and Museum Studies faculty have included resume reviews and tips for interviewing for museum positions.

The Mentor Program is also appropriate for students and emerging professionals. Professionals in the museum field who serve as Mentors will provide guidance, support, and a friendly face to turn to during the conference for their Mentees. The reception for the program is Wednesday evening.

What is the Keynote session?
The Keynote session allows attendees the opportunity to hear a well-known speaker in the field. Speakers have included museum professionals, researchers, and academics who probe the theme in their presentation and provide a foundation for discussion of issues in the museum field. This year, Gary Steuer will be the Keynote on Thursday, April 21st at 10:00 a.m. Steuer joined the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation as President and CEO in 2013. Since that time he has focused on leveraging the voice and legacy of the Foundation to sustain and strengthen the arts and nonprofit leadership in our community. He is empowering the signature programs and initiatives of the Foundation to ensure they are advancing innovation, excellence, community and quality of life.

Prior to joining BSF, Gary served as the Chief Cultural Officer and Director of the Office of Arts, Culture & the Creative Economy for the City of Philadelphia. He also served as Vice President of Private-Sector Affairs and Executive Director, Arts & Business Council for Americans for the Arts in New York. Gary also spent 12 years as President and CEO and Director of New York Programs for Arts and Business Council Inc. in New York, prior to its merger with Americans for the Arts.
Before his stint at the Arts and Business Council, Gary spent significant time in the theatre and cultural industry holding Director positions at the National Actors Theatre, New York State Council on the Arts and Vineyard Theatre. He holds a Bachelors of Arts from New York University, where he also completed studies for a Masters of Arts in Performing Arts Management, as well as studying at the Stern School of Business.

Gary has been a regular writer and speaker on topics such as cultural policy, philanthropy, creative economy and arts management. He has served on many boards and is a current director for Clyfford Still Museum and Grantmakers in the Arts.

What should I see in Boulder?
Remember to ask for student admission and bring your school ID. Boulder has numerous museums and cultural heritage sites. For concerts, food festivals, and arts events, consider reviewing websites such as–boulder/

Field trips this year include:
Campus Collections Tour
Learn more about the collections departments of CU Art Museum and CU Museum of Natural History
Public Art Walking Tour
Boulder is full of wonderful public art – come learn more about the public art throughout the city!
Museum of Boulder
Learn more about the new Museum of Boulder, formerly Boulder History Museum, and their move into a new building! The whole staff will lead you through the steps that they have taken in their rebranding and move efforts.
Louisville Museums
Join a tour of the Louisville Historical Museum, which includes 3 buildings focusing on the history of Louisville, then we will be taking a walking tour of Historic Downtown Louisville, which many of its original buildings still stand,
Longmont Museums
Art in Public Places walking tour with Lauren Greenfield, AIPP coordinator
Museum tour – split into three groups and rotate between:
Lowriders: Cars and Culture exhibit with Curator of Exhibits Jared Thompson
Front Range Rising exhibit with Curator of History Erik Mason and Curator of Education Ann Macca
Archives and Textile Storage with Registrar Heather Thorwald

How can I become a member?
Since 1972, the Colorado-Wyoming Association of Museums (CWAM) has existed to benefit individuals, institutions, and organizations related to the museum profession throughout our region. CWAM programs bring small, mid, and large-sized museums together in an atmosphere of common growth and professional development. Museums of any size are welcomed and valued members. Individual membership further enhances networking opportunities for volunteers and paid staff alike.

Please refer to this website for Membership information. Student Membership is only $10! Benefits for a student membership include: early notification of professional development opportunities, scholarship opportunities and workshop discounts, networking with peers at the Annual Conference, the opportunity for professional growth through committee and board participation, a discount to the annual meeting, and access to CWAM email list, featuring regional job postings, museum news, professional development opportunities and CWAM news. Two year memberships for students are only $15!

How can I submit a proposal for next year?
Refer back to the CWAM website for future conference session submission deadlines; sessions by students and emerging professionals are encouraged! Mentors or museum professionals may be willing to review your idea. The deadline for proposals is usually in January.

Links to other Museum Professional Organizations and Conferences
Mountain Plains Museum Association

American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has a group for emerging professionals:
Committee on Museum Professional Training (COMPT), a Professional Network of the American Alliance of Museums. COMPT strives to assist museum professionals and pre-professionals in their career learning experiences, to address the continuous need to develop and enhance professional goals, and to proactively engage with pressing concerns that affect professionals across the field. As we continue to develop this site, we encourage you to contact us with your ideas and suggestions.
Sign up for our committee listserv at: and become an active COMPT member.
Phyllis Hecht, COMPT Chair
Director, M.A. in Museum Studies
Johns Hopkins University