by Jacqueline Masseo, Museum Director
This year, I attended the American Alliance of Museums Annual Meeting (AAM) for the second time. Although it was my second year of attendance, it was a whole new experience for me, as I represented Fraunces Tavern Museum in a new role as Museum Director. Last year, as the Director of Education & Public Programs, I focused on attending museum education sessions and worked to apply them to my department’s projects upon returning to NYC. This year, I attended completely different sessions, focusing mainly on fundraising and management.
The AAM Annual Meeting is one of my favorite events of the year and the atmosphere is buzzing with excitement. Located in New Orleans, known for its jazz, live music, and rich culture, attendees got to experience second line bands within the conference center, beignets, cooking demonstrations, and dispersed live musical performances in the Expo Center. Also, the opportunity to network with colleagues and past classmates in a different city, and exploring new museums, was delightful.
Even with all the extra flare of such a culturally rich city, the conference sessions themselves were informative and practical. Sessions I attended included details on launching capital campaigns, using digital project management platforms to communicate between departments on major events, and a Directors Roundtable. Much like last year, the excitement of sitting in on sessions bubbled over into me emailing my staff back in NYC, mid-conference, to discuss plans to implement everything I had learned. The opportunity to see what my peers in the museum field have accomplished, and the excitement of implementing new ideas were already overflowing.
The opener for the morning’s keynote speaker was a local gospel choir, followed by various Museum awards for achieved excellence in the field. The highlight of the conference was seeing the keynote speaker, Kimberly Drew. As a true millennial and a graduate of Museum Studies, I have followed Kimberly Drew’s Instagram account for some time (@museummammy), which chronicles art, the museum world, and fashion. Listening to her speak, it was empowering to see a young and relatable keynote speaker. More impressive was her ability for transparency. One of her presentation slides featured, in bold lettering and much to the audience’s surprise, her salary as an employee at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Following the conference and inspired by Drew, curator Michelle Millar Fisher and her colleagues at the Philadelphia Museum of Art furthered the conversation around transparency, creating a Google spreadsheet where museum workers can publicly disclose their salary rates. The document, entitled “Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019,” allows contributors to anonymously add their museum, position, salary, and benefits. Thus far, workers across departments at museums worldwide have added to this resource.
Drew’s talking points played well into the major themes of the conference: promoting diversity, equality, and inclusivity within museums, keeping them relevant in our ever changing society, and making them accessible to all. Like the Revolutionary War patriots we celebrate here at Fraunces Tavern Museum, Drew’s speech reinforced to attendees the goals of the conference: that Museums are shifting focus to be of the people, for the people, and led by a more diverse workforce.
The transcript for Kimberly Drew’s keynote speech can be found here.
The Google Document “Art/Museum Salary Transparency 2019” can be found here.