Full descriptions of the sessions and workshops offered at the 2019 CWAM Annual Meeting are listed below. View the schedule and registration information.

Thursday, May 23

10-11:45 a.m.: Session 1

  • Be An Advocate: How to Talk with Legislators

Presented by Jessica Brunecky, Director of Visitor Experience, University of Colorado Art Museum; Stefani Pendergast, Assistant Collections Manager, Denver Art Museum

Advocacy plays a key role for museums, helping ensure that legislators know how crucial museums are for our communities, and also understand how to support them. This session brings you information from AAM’s Museums Advocacy Day, as well as techniques learned through hands-on experience advocating with legislators. Advocacy can seem intimidating at first, but using tried and true techniques – and getting a little practice – generates an incredible opportunity to serve one’s museum and community. In this session, participants will learn how to effectively talk to local, state, and federal legislators at advocacy events, remotely, and in-person at museums.

  • Micromuseums: From Sasquatch to gophers, how amateurs are contributing to the museum world

Presented by Carissa Kepner, Education Programs Coordinator, Wings Over the Rockies

Micromuseums, or amateur museums, are becoming increasingly popular. Run by amateurs with a passion, they are a new way to become involved in community engagement. They can cover a range of topics from the Sasquatch to witches to stuffed gophers. Typically reflecting a characteristic of their town, these museums often become a central feature in residents’ identities. Their creation and use impact their communities in practical and non-traditional ways that museums are not typically known for. This session will discuss what micromuseums are, how they directly impact their communities, and tips and techniques professionals can use in their own museums.

1:30-2:45 p.m.: Session 2 

  • Let’s Talk Labor: A conversation on the state of museum labor throughout Colorado and Wyoming

Presented by Jessica Brunecky, Director of Visitor Experience, University of Colorado Art Museum; Stefani Pendergast, Assistant Collections Manager, Denver Art Museum

In late 2018 CWAM’s board convened a committee on labor issues in the museum field, seeking to find ways CWAM can help guide dialog around labor issues raised at the national level among our Colorado and Wyoming members. This session will present the findings of that committee and create a space for roundtable discussion on labor issues.

  • Artifacts: Are they Poisonous?

Presented by Paulette Reading, Textile Conservator in Private Practice, Denver, CO; Linda Scott Cummings, Ph.D., PaleoResearch Institute

Are artifacts in your museum or institution poisonous? Cultural artifacts were routinely treated with pesticides to prevent infestations. This problem has been known for decades. However, many museum professionals still lack awareness about this potential hazard. Institutions have been slow to carry out testing of artifacts. Handling of contaminated collections puts museum staff, volunteers, and visitors at risk. In this session, Paulette Reading and Linda Scott will use real life examples to talk about how to identify potentially contaminated artifacts, will discuss and show how to test for pesticides, and provide guidelines on safe storage and handling.

3-4:45 p.m.: Session 3

  • The Good Energy of Lofty Goals; why your museum should reach for accreditation  

Presented by Sylvia A. Bruner – director of the Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum (Buffalo, WY)

It may seem daunting, but pursuing accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums is worth your effort and can supply a positive impact, even if you do not succeed on the first try.  The Jim Gatchell Memorial Museum has been accredited since 2002. Having recently guided the institution through the re-accreditation process (with a fair share of bumps and bruises along the path), Bruner will present information about why accreditation is important, and how it can be used as a goal for your institution to achieve its highest excellence possible.  Don’t reinvent the wheel – use the tools at your disposal and reach for those stars!

  • Academic/Museum Partnerships

Presented by Rachel English, Space Foundation

We all know the value of academic/museum partnerships. But how can we deepen those relationships to better align our missions and provide mutual benefits? In this session, the Space Foundation will share their experiences of working with a local technical school through creative uses of work study programs and capstone projects. Session highlights will include a deep dive into a current project in which students create an environmental monitoring system for the museum collection.

  • Feeling Puzzled? The Implementation of Puzzle Rooms in a Museum

Presented by Heather Christenbury, Broomfield Depot Museum, Museum Curator – Education and Public Programming; Veronica Rascona, Broomfield Depot Museum, Curator – Collections; Tara Templeton, Broomfield Depot Museum, Museum Supervisor; Myles Gallagher, National Mining Hall of Fame and Museum, Museum Curator

Escape Rooms are a growing trend around the world and have become one of the most popular ways to spend a night out. The buzz generated from this craze raises questions for museums. Is this an opportunity to attract new visitors through our doors and impart our messages in a new way? This presentation analyzes two different museum experiences with incorporating the popular adventure/strategy game known as the “Escape Room” into their public programming.



Friday, May 24

1-3 p.m.: Workshops

  • Make Way for Pre-K: Starting your own STEAM program for Early Learners

Presented by Carissa Kepner, Education Programs Coordinator, Wings Over the Rockies

Early Learners can be a daunting group to prepare for. This workshop will focus on working with Early Learners and creating the best program for them based on your museum’s mission and resources. Participants will have the chance to let out their inner child and take part in Wings Over the Rockies’ Little Wings: Let’s Be Scientists. Then they will get to create their own fun packed adventure. Its to get messy, make mistakes, and be prepared to take on the preschoolers.

  • There is No I in Museum

Presented by Karen Dropps, Founder, Front Range Museum Consulting

Museum work is a collaboration between many different people, and sometimes they do not always work  well together. Learn about how groups develop and, learn how you, your staff and volunteers can work together toward a common goal through team building. This workshop will be participatory. So come with an open mind and comfortable shoes.

  • Environmental Monitoring: Make an Impact with Minimal Effort

Presented by Stefani Pendergast, Assistant Collections Manager, Denver Art Museum; Sarah Saxe, Curator of Collections, City of Greeley Museums

Presenters will guide  workshop participants through the principles and practices of managing environments inside the museum. We will discuss the environmental challenges museums face in the Colorado/Wyoming geographic region, consider varying perspectives on “best practice” environmental controls, and explore ways to achieve appropriate museum environments using resources you already have.  A hands-on component of the workshop will allow participants a chance to use various environmental monitoring devices and analyze collected data. Damage to collections caused by unregulated storage and display environments is often irreversible; with minimal effort, you can monitor and manage your climates to make a huge impact.