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Museum Leaders to Gather in St. Louis May 7-10 to Help Communities Boost Understanding, Transcend Our Differences

Category: Press Release


January 11, 2017

ARLINGTON, VA–Who comes to museums? How can they attract and retain diverse audiences? And how can they strengthen their role as a safe environment for cross-cultural dialogues and interactions?

More than 5,000 professionals from the museum field will tackle these questions and more when they convene at the American Alliance of Museums’ (AAM) 2017 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo, set for May 7-10 at the America’s Center Convention Complex in St. Louis.  This year’s meeting explores the theme, “Gateways to Understanding: Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion in Museums.”

Attendees will connect and share practical advice with fellow museum professionals at more than 100 interactive sessions, on topics ranging from collections management and curatorial practice, to education and audience research; from exhibit planning and design to marketing and community engagement. The session topics were crowdsourced from the museum field and then chosen by AAM’s National Program Committee of 35 experts from across museum disciplines.

The Alliance also is taking steps in 2017 to make the Annual Meeting more accessible and inclusive, both in terms of physical access and affordability, to welcome the broadest possible cross-section of museum professionals. Fees have been eliminated for offsite evening events, helping more attendees participate in the full range of professional sharing and networking opportunities.

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In addition to sessions at the Convention Center, attendees can gain experiential learning through “On-Site Insights” visits to museums in the St. Louis metropolitan region.

To learn about how to engage with communities, attendees will have the opportunity to join “Go Explore St. Louis,” self-guided visits to various neighborhoods, to see firsthand how St. Louis museums interact with local families, businesses, schools and nonprofits.

“We know museums contribute powerfully to creating a more informed and empathetic society,” said Alliance President and CEO Laura Lott. “As our communities confront racism, discrimination, and oppression, the commitment of museums to diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion has never been more important. St. Louis is an excellent place to explore these issues, with its rich history and its museums so connected to the community.”

“Museums have the unique power to draw people together. I think this is especially true in the St. Louis region, thanks to our robust museum community,” said Dr. Frances Levine, President and CEO of the Missouri Historical Society and Missouri History Museum, and chair of the local Host Committee. “Whether we are telling stories through art, science, history or another way, we are all reflecting this region and the many different people who live here.”

“St. Louis is experiencing a renewed sense of itself as a vibrant region,” said Dr. Donald M. Suggs, publisher and executive editor of the St. Louis American newspaper, Missouri’s largest black newspaper, and general chair of the Annual Meeting. “There is a $380 million project that is transforming the landscape around the region’s iconic symbol, the St. Louis Gateway Arch. This forward looking project exemplifies some of the region’s recent growth and expanded energy that portends a more bright and interesting future for the region.”

MuseumExpo showcases the latest in technology, exhibit design, lighting, security and countless other innovations critical to the museum field. More than 250 exhibitors will display and demonstrate cost- and time-saving solutions and cutting-edge technologies.

The largest gathering of museum professionals in the world, the Annual Meeting attracts leaders and decisionmakers from a wide range of cultural institutions that include art, history, and science museums; military and maritime museums; children’s museums; aquariums, zoos, arboretums, and botanical gardens; and historic homes and sites.

The Alliance also will share new results from a comprehensive survey of museum board chairs and chief executives, compiled from more than 1,600 respondents, and explore best practices for museum governance at the first-ever AAM Trustee Summit.

The 2017 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo is made possible with generous support from Blackbaud, the Getty Foundation, GEICO, Huntington T. Block, Northern Trust, and Travelers Insurance.

More details are available at, and you can follow the event on Twitter at #AAM2017.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 30,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit


Media Contact:

Joseph Klem
Director, Public Relations
American Alliance of Museums

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