Editor’s note: University of San Francisco is a proud sponsor of the 2017 California Museums Association annual conference which will convene in Sacramento next week. This post describes last year’s conference in Riverside.
The small city of Riverside is nestled in what is called California’s Inland Empire and has many claims to fame. Set in the high desert climate of Southern California, its fragrant orange orchards produce some of the world’s most delicious citrus fruit. Riverside is also home to many cultural and architectural treasures, notably the Riverside Art Museum and the Mission Inn, a national historic landmark. This year, Riverside hosted the California Association of Museums’ annual conference. University of San Francisco’s Museum Studies program was a participant and sponsor.
California Association of Museums leads many important initiatives that seek to unite and advance the museums in our state. Its advocacy program monitors legislation that impacts museums.Its unique Green Museum Initiative advances environmentally-sustainable practices for the field. Its unique Snoopy License Plate program is a source of funding for our state’s museums, administered by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment.
In early March 2016, Museum Studies alumna Kayla Bruemmer (MA, ’15) and faculty member Marjorie Schwarzer flew down to Riverside together to be part of the professional convocation where these kinds of initiatives as well as other best practices in the field are shared and discussed. After taking in some of the local sights, including a classic Southern California hamburger joint (see above photo) and the San Bernardino County Museum, Kayla presented her USF Master’s capstone project as part of the proceedings.
Moderated by Joy Tahan Ruddell, Senior Registrar at the Oakland Museum of California, the session was titled New Perspectives: Explore the Latest in Collections Management Research with Emerging Museum Professionals. Also featured were presentations by Danielle Knapp (JFKU) and Emma James (SFSU) on digital assets management systems and digital archiving. True to USF, Kayla’s forceful talk focused on the intersection between collections management and social justice.
“What is social justice?,” she began by asking. “There are many different definitions, but within a museum, it is all about access and honoring the untold stories of different cultures, as well as their different values and relationships with objects. A lot of people simply talk about the fact that we need to do this, but talking is only half the battle. We have to actually do it. We need to put our ideas into action. In regards to access to cultural objects and their history, registration and collection management projects must be developed and executed professionally and appropriately in order for those objects and their history to be preserved.”
“Good project management,” she continued, “and prudent synthesis of available time, money, and resources is key to continuing to preserve cultural objects and their histories.” Kayla then shared some solutions that she and her classmates had devised for projects at 500 Capp Street, the Smithsonian, the Wind River reservation and the Phoebe A. Hearst Museum to balance these factors and turn good intentions into reality. Kayla’s capstone developed a workflow system that allows the Hearst to catalog an important collection of Japanese baskets that otherwise could not occur.
Other CAM conference sessions also explored issues in collections management, social justice and tools for leading museums.
Next week, California Association of Museums will hold its annual conference in Sacramento and, because it is close by, we are looking forward to sending a larger group to participate. There are many wonderful cultural institutions in Sacramento that we look forward to visiting, but the orange blossom scent that wafts over Riverside and the Inland Empire will be hard to replicate.
To learn more about University of San Francisco’s graduate museum studies program, click here.