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Nation's Largest Gathering Of African-American Museums Comes To Baltimore This Summer


Reginald F. Lewis Museum Hosts 2012 Association of African American Museums Conference, August 22-25

As home to some of the most historic, innovative and contemporary museums of African American history and culture in the nation, it is only fitting that Baltimore is the selected location for the 2012 Association of African American Museums (AAAM) Conference that will take place August 22-25 at Baltimore's Tremont Plaza Hotel. The Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture is the host institution for this year's conference, which is the premier gathering of African American museums across the country.

"With over 300 Black museums nationwide, AAAM seeks to strengthen and advocate for the interests of institutions and individuals committed to the preservation of African and African-American derived cultures. The goal of this year's conference is to broaden the scope of development and networking with a full slate of activities from workshops, concurrent sessions, presentations, tours, vendors, and exhibitors," says AAAM national president Samuel W. Black, of Pittsburgh.

Each year since 1978, AAAM has hosted a national conference designed to bring museum professionals of all levels together for networking, professional development and reflection upon the role that African-American museums have in today's increasingly diverse society.



This year's theme, "Commemorating Struggles: Claiming Freedom," is intended to highlight the pivotal role African-Americans have played in the nation's history, particularly in the decades between the American Civil War of the 1860s and the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and to initiate dialogue about how museums can best share this story. This theme has special significance given the continuous challenge to make black history important and relevant to people from all cultures and backgrounds.

"Black history is an integral part of America's story and African-American museums have the unique opportunity to incorporate the accomplishments of Black people into the broader American narrative," says Dr. A. Skipp Sanders, who was appointed this spring as the new executive director of the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

AAAM conference attendees will enjoy four days of interactive workshops, cultural celebrations and historic tours of Fell's Point and Baltimore's African-American landmarks. Special events include an opening keynote address by Claudine Brown, the first assistant secretary for education and access at the Smithsonian Institution; an awards luncheon; and evening receptions at the Walters Art Museum and Morgan State University's Murphy Fine Arts Center.

Baltimore looks forward to this year's AAAM conference, as it will bring several out of town visitors to the city. Baltimore recently affirmed its support of African-American history and cultural institutions with the creation of the Legends and Legacies Experience Pass, which provides discounted one-time admission to the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, National Great Blacks In Wax Museum and the Frederick Douglass-Isaac Myers Maritime Park. A highlight of the conference will be an evening reception co-hosted by these three museums, and co-sponsored by Visit Baltimore.

"As a city with great African-American history, we are honored to host AAAM's conference and welcome its attendees to Baltimore for education and exploration," said Tom Noonan, president and CEO, Visit Baltimore. "We are strong supporters of Baltimore's African-American heritage and, together with our museum partners, are working hard to raise awareness of great American stories."

Museum professionals will be prepared to thrive in the rapidly expanding digital world, with a pre-conference workshop on museums and social media, titled "There's an App for That." Other topics include building a 21st century museum; leveraging the power of partnerships and public relations; and exploring the power of stories to attract audiences. Presenters will also discuss IRS requirements for donation appraisals and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) grant program.

While registration is required for conference workshops, tours and special events, AAAM welcomes the Baltimore community to participate in a free Saturday morning plenary and community session "Legacy of Mining the Museum," on how the cultural landscape for African-American and dominant culture museums was impacted by the groundbreaking installations of conceptual artist Fred Wilson here in Maryland.For more information about the conference and a detailed schedule of events, visit www.blackmuseums.org. The Twitter hashtag for the conference is: #AAAMConference.
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