To download the guide: 2019 CWAM Guide to the Annual Meeting

The Colorado Wyoming Association of Museum invites you to share your ideas, knowledge, and experience with your colleagues and students at the 2019 Annual Meeting in Gillette, Wyoming, May 22nd-25th. The theme this year is “Energy for Impact.” “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 2019 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

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 and opportunities to connect with your peers.

Quick list of topics covered in Survival Guide:

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 speaker; business lunch; sessions/workshops/Thought Café; evening progressive reception on Thursday; Friday night banquet; Saturday tours.


  • $210 (Early Bird member rate; until March 31)
  • $240 (Early Bird, non-member)
  • $240 (Member regular registration; until May 10)
  • $270 (Non-member)
  • $80 per day, Daily Registration
  • $20 Tours (Saturday)
  • $10 Keynote (a la carte)
  • $25 Business Lunch (a la carte)
  • $40 Progressive Dinner (a la carte)
  • $40 Silent Auction and Banquet (a la carte)

Interested attendees may also apply for conference scholarships. Each scholarship recipient will receive a conference registration fee waiver and may also receive a cash grant of up to $200 to help offset expenses (based on travel need). Scholarship recipients will be required to attend the Business Lunch, write a review of one session for publication in the CWAM E-Blast, and assist as a room monitor for one additional session.

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. You will be notified of your award status by Friday, March 29, 2019. The deadline for scholarship applications is March 8, 2019.

How do I get there?

Air Travel: Gillette-Campbell County Airport

By Car:  Utilize available maps from your library or directions on-line such as or 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: 

Arbuckle Lodge Gillette
1400 S. Garner Lake Rd.

Mention CWAM to receive the annual meeting rate.

Rates range from $85 for a double Queen to $169 for a 2-bed, 2-bath suite. 

What should I expect at registration?

Begin by going to registration and signing in, opening 8 a.m on Thursday, May 23 at the CAM-PLEX (open until 4 p.m.). 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. Sessions begin at 9 a.m.

What will I eat?

The conference includes many meals! There is a Welcome Reception, May 22 at the Gillette Brewing Company. And, events such as the Progressive Dinner on May 23, allow interaction with other museum students and professionals. But if you would like to explore, here are some other options found on-line on 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:

  • The Coop (Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten-Free Options)
  • Main Bagel Company
  • Pizza Carrello
  • Los Compadres Mexican Restaurant

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. There is also a Welcome Reception (networking / conversation) on Wednesday, May 22 beginning at 8 p.m. at the Gillette Brewing Company.

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 mentioned above, CWAM has developed a Networking Program which will give you the opportunity to connect directly with individuals who can introduce you to others at the conference. Mentors can also provide support and guidance throughout the museum profession. If you are interested in having a mentor, please contact CWAM and we will work on matching you up with an appropriate mentor for the meeting. Learn more about the mentorship program.

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, the Keynote session will be Friday, May 24th at 10:00 a.m. at the CAM-PLEX and feature Emily Graslie, the Field Museum’s Chief Curiosity Correspondent, speaking about how she uses a variety of new media to communicate the importance of museums with the world. Emily was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. After moving to Missoula, Montana to pursue an undergraduate degree in fine art painting, Emily fell in love with the campus vertebrate research collection as a place of artistic inspiration. What started off as a passionate volunteering position within a small museum eventually transformed into a career as an advocate for these under-appreciated repositories. Emily has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work including from AAM, Forbes magazine, and the Chicago Tribune newspaper.

What should I see in Gillette?

Remember to ask for student admission and bring your school ID.  Tours included in the CWAM conference: 

Monumental Tour: West Texas Trail Museum in Moorcroft, Devils Tower National Monument, Hulett Museum

Travel east into Crook County, Wyoming to visit two museums and explore Devils Tower, America’s first national monument. In 1866 the first herds of Longhorn cattle were trailed from Texas to Montana. Our first stop will be The West Texas Trail Museum which is devoted to telling the stories of these hardy times, the men and women who lived them, and the beginning of Moorcroft, Wyoming. We will then drive into the Black Hills to visit the Bear Lodge, or Devils Tower, which was established as a national monument in 1906. We will enjoy the interpretive exhibits and bookstore at the visitor center and have time for a hike around the tower. Our final stop on this tour will be at the Hulett Museum in nearby Hulett, Wyoming to explore their collections focused on the history of northeast Wyoming.

Energy Capital Tour: Eagle Butte Coal Mine and Dry Fork Power Plant

Gillette is known as the Energy Capital of the Nation. This guided tour will take us to Eagle Butte Mine north of Gillette to explore how coal is mined in the Powder River Basin (PRB) and how it is loaded on trains and shipped around the nation. Following the mine tour, we will visit Dry Fork Station power plant that utilizes PRB coal to generate around 385 megawatts of power for the residents of northeast Wyoming. We will learn about the technology utilized at Dry Fork to make this one of the cleanest and most technologically advanced power plants in the world. Dry Fork Station is also home to the Wyoming Integrated Test Center (ITC) which provides space for researchers to test carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration technologies. The ITC is currently hosting five finalists for a $20 million carbon XPRIZE.

Great Plains Tour: Durham Buffalo Ranch, Wright Museum, Drilling Rig Tour

Explore southern Campbell County, Wyoming beginning at the Durham Buffalo Ranch where we will adventure through time and experience one of the world’s largest and oldest working buffalo ranches. With around 3,000 bison currently on 55,000 acres, Durham Ranch has been actively engaged in the raising of bison since the mid-1960s. Our next stop will be to the Wright Centennial Museum in Wright, Wyoming to enjoy the tales of cowboys, colorful characters, coal miners, trailblazers, shepherds, and homesteaders. Our final stop will be to visit an active drilling rig owned and operated by Cyclone Drilling, a Gillette-based oil and gas drilling contractor. We will how Cyclone has been drilling difficult and sometimes record breaking wells in the Powder River Basin for over 40 years.

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 this 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