Arizona’s 250 museums attract national conference of museum leaders

Docent David Schweers of Scottsdale tells the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition to students from Biltmore Preparatory School who toured Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West. (file photo)

In early May, Phoenix will become a mecca for museum heads and cultural influencers as it plays host to the 2018 American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting and MuseumExpo.

The conference, which will take place May 6-9 at the Phoenix Convention Center, is the largest gathering of its kind. 2018 is the first year the conference will take place in Arizona, according to a press release.

Over 5,000 attendees are expected to flock to Phoenix where in addition to experiencing the many museums in the area, conference attendees will attend sessions and workshops focused on the conference theme, Educate, Engage, Elevate: Museums on the Rise.

Topics will focus on museum management, such as collections stewardship, curatorial practice, educational experiences, exhibit planning and design, management and administration, media and technology, and marketing and community engagement.

Although downtown Phoenix will play host to many of the activities, off-site evening events will be held at Musical Instrument Museum and Desert Botanical Garden. Scottsdale’s Museum of the West, Taliesen West and Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Arts will all be hosting “On-Site Insights” which allows attendees to visit the locations, get tours and learn more while on-site, the press release stated.

A view of the Celia Cruz exhibit at the Musical Instrument Museum, 4725 E. Mayo Blvd. (file photo)

To make this conference a huge success, a local host committee was formed and is comprised of the heads of over 20 Arizona museums including co-chairs Chevy Humphrey, Arizona Science Center Hazel A. Hare president and CEO, and Tina Marie Tentori, APS Foundation executive director.

“This is a huge deal within our museum community, and as an economic driver for Phoenix,” Ms. Humphrey said in a prepared statement.

“We have the opportunity to really show off our vibrant and thriving community and the wealth of educational resources we offer through our museums and cultural institutions.”

Laura Lott, president and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums, says Phoenix was selected due to the city’s growing and thriving cultural community citing “Valley museums welcome and celebrate the diverse audiences and traditions that make Phoenix special, and they show true leadership in their collaboration with area schools.”

From an economic outlook, Visit Phoenix has estimated that the conference could produce over $7.2 million in revenue, a majority of that coming from the 8,900 hotel room nights under contract, the press release stated.

Arizona is home to more than 250 museums and many will have the opportunity to attend the conference on scholarship thanks to financial support from participating museums and organizations including APS, Desert Botanical Garden, Flinn Foundation and Phoenix Zoo.

“Arizona’s rich history and heritage is something to be celebrated and we want museums from all corners of the state to have the opportunity to attend and share their knowledge with attendees from all over the country,” Janice Klein, executive director of Museum Association of Arizona, says in a prepared statement.

“We are thankful for the companies and museums who have stepped up to provide funding to make this a possibility.”

Volunteer opportunities are available and registration for the conference is open. For more information on the conference or to volunteer, visit

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