Aamc committee Reports 2011 Report of the Conference Committee

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AAMC Committee Reports 2011
Report of the Conference Committee
About the Conference Committee
The prime vehicle allowing the AAMC to communicate with its membership is its annual convention held every spring. The Conference Committee is charged with presenting to the Board of Trustees the recommendation of topics and speakers that will make the conference an inspiration for all who attend.
Committee Members

2010 – 2011 Conference Committee (* denotes new member)

Lynda Roscoe Hartigan, Chief Curator, Peabody Essex Museum, co-chair

Marina Pacini, Chief Curator, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, co-chair 

Elizabeth Easton, Director, Center for Curatorial Leadership  
Rita Freed, John F. Cogan, Jr. and Mary L. Cornille Chair of the Department of Art of the Ancient World,  Museum of Fine Arts, Boston*
Linda Komaroff, Curator and Department Head, Islamic Art Los Angeles County Museum of Art  
Jack Hinton, Assistant Curator of European Decorative Arts & Sculpture, Philadelphia Museum of Art*
David S. Rubin, The Brown Foundation Curator of Contemporary Art, San Antonio Museum of Art*
Jonathan Stuhlman, Curator of American Art, Mint Museum of Art  
Jennifer Tonkovich, Curator, Drawings and Prints, Morgan Library & Museum*
Matthew Welch, Curator of Japanese and Korean Art, Minneapolis Institute of Arts  
Margaret Young-Sanchez, Chief Curator; Frederick and Jan Mayer Curator of pre-Columbian Art Denver Art Museum
Sylvia Yount, Cochrane Curator of American Art and Department Head, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts*

Ex-officio Members -

Sally Block, Director, AAMC
Helen C. Evans, VP, Programs, AAMC and Mary and Michael Jaharis Curator for Byzantine Art, The Department of Medieval Art and The Cloisters, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
John Ravenal, President, AAMC and The Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

The 2010-2011 Conference Committee was charged with developing a special program to commemorate AAMC’s tenth anniversary. The session topics were developed through several different channels. At the Committee Meeting at the 2010 conference in Chicago, suggested topics were solicited from the membership. These were then presented to the Program Committee and served as the spring board for discussions. The committee worked to develop a schedule that would interest the widest range of members, taking into account the varying sizes of institutions and areas of specialization of the membership. The goal was also to consider topics that reflected areas of present day concern and potential future growth for the field, while building on previous sessions.

A list of topics was forwarded to the full board for their input, and the final session topics that were deemed most relevant were selected. These include collaborative curating which is being addressed through sessions with conservator/curator teams in the conservation labs at Metropolitan Museum of Art as well as in the panel discussion “Collaborative Curating.” The other sessions--“Innovative Conservation,” “Cultural Property: Where Are We Now,” “Developing Donor Cultivation Confidence,” and “Publishing in the Digital Age” – were designed to cover issues that relate to all the membership both today and in the future.
The committee meeting in Chicago during the 2010 conference provided immediate feedback from the membership. The process will be followed again in 2011 with the goal of continuing to respond to the needs of the members.
Report of the Membership Committee, 2010-2011

Submitted by Christa Clarke

The Membership Committee is concerned with assuring that the body of AAMC members is inclusive, fair and representative of the broad and diverse specialties of curators from museums of all sizes from across the nation. It is the goal of the Committee to attain the widest possible representation of fields and the largest possible number of members.


Christa Clarke, Senior Curator, Arts of Africa and the Americas, Newark Museum, Chair

Ian Berry, Susan Rabinowitz Malloy '45 Curator, Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery, Skidmore College

Douglas Bradley, Curator, Arts of the Americas, Africa, and Oceania, Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame

Sara Cochran, Curator of Modern and Contemporary, Phoenix Art Museum

Catherine Evans, Chief Curator, Columbus Museum of Art

Mike Hearn, Douglas Dillon Curator, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Rebecca Morse, Associate Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art

Mark Scala, Chief Curator, Frist Center for the Visual Arts

Karen Sherry, Curator of American Art, Brooklyn Museum

Ann Yonemura, Senior Associate Curator of Japanese Art, Freer & Sackler, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery  


Summary of Activities


Adjunct Membership

A new Adjunct Membership category was created in response to interest in the AAMC on the part of independent and out-of-work curators. The Membership Committee developed criteria for eligibility and an application process for adjunct members, submitted to and approved by the AAMC Board last year. Annual dues are $150 and applications are reviewed on a twice-yearly cycle by a subcommittee, composed of Ian Berry, Doug Bradley, Christa Clarke, Sara Cochran, and Mark Scala, in addition to Sally Block and Hannah Howe.


The Adjunct Membership category was launched in the fall, and we had two rounds of applications to vet this year. In November, the sub-committee reviewed 18 applications, with 14 acceptances and 4 rejections. In April, we reviewed 5 applications, with 2 acceptances, 2 rejections, and 1 applicant pending.  Total adjunct members for the first year: 16.


Based on the two cycles of applications, we have revised the description of adjunct membership to emphasize that a candidate may not be employed by or affiliated with a commercial entity. We also stress the importance of letters of reference, which are optional.


Emeritus Membership

 Karen Sherry and Doug Bradley took on the task of drafting language for a new emeritus category of membership for retired curators. After research into similar membership categories in other arts-related professional organizations, they developed a description of eligibility and criteria of membership, adopting AAMD as a model.



In our December conference call, the Membership Committee discussed a strategy for recruiting new members. A list of approximately 320 member institutions was divided and assigned to each committee member. “Talking points” for our outreach efforts were drafted and circulated. Our approach acknowledged the 10th anniversary of the AAMC, highlighted the benefits of membership, and referenced the program for the 2011 Annual Meeting. Our goal was to expand our membership base and work toward 100% curatorial participation for institutions that are currently part of the AAMC.


Recruitment has been successful, with a steady stream of new memberships and membership renewals since we began in January 2011. From the beginning of May 2010 till now, we have had 134 new members. Half of these have joined in the last four months, when recruitment began in earnest. As of May 2011, we have a total of 1,114 members of the AAMC, an increase of over 10% during the past year.


Membership Survey

The Membership Committee also collaborated with the Website Committee in compiling a survey, coordinated by Sally Block. The data compiled in this survey is not only important information about our profession but also useful for advocacy efforts. The survey has a two-pronged approach: the first will be to gather more demographic information about curators. Following this, members will be asked some larger, open-ended questions.


Priorities for 2011-12:


-       continue to review adjunct membership applications on a twice-yearly basis, refining criteria for eligibility in the process

-       continue recruitment efforts

-       analyze and assess recruitment efforts, and identify areas where AAMC can better serve its members

-       use results of membership survey to guide future recruitment efforts to achieve broadest representation in AAMC
Report of the Nominating & Governance Committee
2010-11 was the inaugural year of the Governance and Nominations Committee. This committee grew out of the former Governance Committee to take on the responsibility of nominating candidates for officers as well as the Board of Trustees. Since the Governance Committee had been responsible for the considerable overhaul of the AAMC by-laws in 2009-10, approved at last year’s annual meeting, the committee’s responsibilities were relatively light this year.
The committee largely focused on the first presidential election conducted under the new rules. We reviewed an unprecedented four nominations, winnowed the candidates down to two (the committee has the option of presenting up to two candidates, and given the extremely strong slate, we opted to hold a competitive election). Carol Eliel won this election to succeed John Ravanel, and took on the new post of President-Elect.
In May the committee moved to nominations for open positions on the Board and Executive Committee. We nominated Emily Neff to succeed Carol Eliel as Vice President, Communications (as incoming President, that post is vacating), and Cynthia Burlingham as Vice President, Programs, to succeed Helen Evans (whose 2-year term has concluded).
We also nominated Deborah Cullen, Judith Dolkart, and Jordana Pomeroy to second terms as at-large members of the Board of Trustees. We also proposed

expanding the board with five additional candidates, to 22 voting members, nominating Lynda Hartigan, Mary Morton, Emily Neff, Carolyn Putney, and Laurie Winters.

Priorities for the Year

  • Recruitment of new members for the committee (Summer 2011)

  • Evaluating the changes in governance (Fall 2011)

  • Evaluation of the committee itself (Fall 2011)

  • Proposing next year’s Board of Trustees nominations (Spring 2012)

Jon L. Seydl

Gary Tinterow

Co-Chairs, Governance and Nominating Committee

AAMC Prize Committee Report

Submitted May 15, 2011
Emily Ballew Neff, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Chair

Susan Goodman, The Jewish Museum

Randall Griffey, Mead Art Museum

William Rudolph, Worcester Art Museum

Marisa Sanchez, Seattle Art Museum

Timothy Standring, Denver Art Museum

Cindi Strauss, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Georgiana Uhlyarik, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto

Sally Block, Executive Director, AAMC
Summary of Activities

The major activity of the Prize Committee in 2010-2011 was the implementation of the Prize Committee restructuring proposal approved by the AAMC Board of Trustees in May 2010. The restructuring of the Outstanding Exhibition/Installation award consisted of dividing the award into five areas: Outstanding Monographic or Retrospective Exhibition; Outstanding Thematic Exhibition; Outstanding Exhibition in a University Museum; Outstanding Permanent Collection New Installation (or Re-installation); and Outstanding Small Exhibition (based on square footage: no more than 2,000 square feet).

In fall 2010, a FAQ sheet explaining the reasons for the change and the description of the new process was added to the AAMC website for members to consult. Prize Committee members canvassed AAMC members in their field and/or in their geographic region in two email blasts prior and during the Call for Nominations sent to AAMC members. Prize Committee members, with the help of Sally Block and Hannah Howe, followed up with the elimination of unqualified nominations, and began to form an initial slate. In most categories, the number of nominations far exceeded the five stipulated for the final slate and thus necessitated a Prize Committee preliminary vote to reduce the number to five. In the category of university museum exhibition, however, much more research and reaching out was required to secure nominations. Qualified AAMC nominations from the membership were added to the preliminary slate, and Prize Committee members reviewed the full slate, researched the exhibitions based on materials sent (and in most instances needed to do additional research), and sent their vote to directly to the AAMC office. Hannah Howe and Sally Block tabulated the votes and a final slate was submitted to the AAMC membership for the popular vote.
The jury system for determining the awards for Outstanding Exhibition Catalogue; Outstanding Permanent Collection Catalogue; and Outstanding Article, Essay or Extended Catalogue Entry; remained in place. Jury members were recruited and the process of determining winners was conducted through reports/reviews and discussions monitored by Sally Block.
Areas of Improvement (for Awards that are determined by the Prize Committee and AAMC Membership)

In general, the Prize Committee slate was well-rounded and diverse in terms of field specialty and geography. For the first time, for example, nominations from Canadian institutions appeared on the initial and in the final slate. Several issues that need attention or improvement are:

  • Solicit nominations from Mexico and cultivate the momentum gained for securing nominations for Canadian exhibitions.

  • Colleague response to email blasts in some cases was low.

  • Nominators did not send adequate materials (especially visuals and in particular installation shots) and committee members and, presumably, AAMC members needed to conduct independent research in order to make an informed decision. The discrepancy between those exhibitions seen in person and those judged through on-line images and written descriptions should be narrowed.

  • Nominations from the membership should not appear on the AAMC website until a final slate is determined. The main reason for this is that if a nominated project is already listed on the AAMC website, someone else might not nominate it because he/she sees that the nomination has already been made. The Prize Committee depends in part on the number of nominations submitted by the membership to determine the slate (any nomination made by more than two individuals is automatically added to the slate).

  • There are currently 1100 AAMC members and roughly 130 of them voted. Why the low voter turnout?

  • Parity is the most frequently mentioned concern among members of the Prize Committee and jury members. Understandably, well-funded projects from larger institutions (and especially those in New York, where the majority of curators make frequent visits) have an edge. Some of this could be explained by such statistics as: 45% of AAMC members work in cities larger than 2,000,000 (thus larger cities have an advantage); the largest percentage (27%) of AAMC members work in the area of Modern and Contemporary Art (thus the higher number of nominations and winners in this area). The primary role of the Prize Committee is to attend to matters of diversity in geography and discipline, and level the playing field by identifying worthy projects from smaller institutions and from institutions of more limited budgets without ignoring great projects that do not fit that description. This mandate needs to be stressed to the future Chair and Prize Committee members in order for the slate to be well-rounded and well-presented.

Areas of Improvement (for Awards that are determined by the Jury System)
This aspect of the Prize Committee generally works well and runs smoothly in largest part because of the organization and leadership of Sally Block and Hannah Howe. Jury Chairs, too, take strong leadership positions and the response to the jury system has been positive. Some areas that need attention or improvement are:

  • Exhibition catalogues and permanent collection catalogues continue to be sent to the wrong jury member or are not sent at all.

  • Many of the submissions continue to be “apples and oranges.” Jurors have commented on the difficulty of weighing the strengths and weaknesses of projects with different mandates: for example popular publications, scholarly publications, and gallery guides that are judged in the same pool of nominations. One jury member suggested that the “rules for nominating could be tightened up, limiting nominations to scholarly articles and essays only and not accepting nominations for more ephemeral kinds of text [in the category of Outstanding Article, Essay or Extended Catalogue Entry].”

  • The future Chair of the Prize Committee may wish to consider designating a Co-Chair responsible for assisting the awards determined by juries so that the Chair may focus on the newer process of focusing on the slate for awards determined by popular vote.

  • Parity continues to be an issue (see above). Well-funded institutions with larger budgets and staff for publications will likely be better than those of a smaller institution with a smaller staff and limited budget. If, however, this category is divided by budget or endowment (i.e. placing a monetary figure on a museum’s overall budget or endowment), we run into the problem of rich museum/poor museum or first place and also-rans. This is an issue that has not gone away since the inception of the AAMC awards program.


The current Chair will rotate off the Prize Committee and a new Chair will need to be recruited. Four members will need to be recruited for the Prize Committee to replace those who are rotating off (Susan Goodman, Timothy Standring, Marisa Sanchez, and Cindi Strauss).

Professional Development Committee Report

Submitted by Brooke Anderson and Simon Kelly

Report on Mentoring Subcommittee:

Our committee is developing an online networking and mentoring resource for undergraduate and graduate students who are considering a career in museums.

We plan to reach out to professors and seek their assistance with marketing the online discussions. Each committee member will volunteer to monitor the resource for a month.

After one year, we will evaluate, and determine if we should continue.

Report on Programming subcommittee:
Over the course of the year, the subcommittee for Programming has explored the possibility of organizing a webinar. This will be the first time that AAMC has developed a webinar. The group has focused on the broad theme of technology as a webinar topic and more specifically the impact of handheld technology on curatorial practice. The committee is researching possible presenters and plans to hold this webinar in the first week of November.
AAMC Website Committee
Report of Activities, 2010–2011 Submitted by Annemarie Sawkins, Website co-chair
The website committee had as its principal goal this last year formulating a set of survey questions for AAMC members. Late summer, I asked committee members to submit a list of 10-12 questions that they would like answered by the larger membership. The resulting 24 questions were then grouped into three categories. Once organized thematically, the complete list of questions were submitted to Sally Block, AAMC Executive Director and Christa Clarke, Chair of the Membership Committee. The experiences and results of the recent survey designed by the Curators Committee of AAM provided a template in part for the website committee and AAMC.  Armed with this information, the decision was made to streamline the process and to create, in essence, two surveys: an initial set of questions that would provide demographic information on the AAMC membership, and then a more in-depth survey that would deal with more specific curatorial issues. The membership stats collected from the first survey proved not only interesting to individual curators but very practical for grants application and appeals generated by AAMC for foundation support.

The survey has netted some interesting data about our group. This is summarized in large part on pages 8 and 9 of this year’s annual report but it is worthy to mention a few of the more striking details. Our membership is over 93% Caucasian and 75% female. Over 60% of us work for a private, non-profit museum. 43% of members have been working in the field for 15 years or more than and 45% of the group is age 46 or older. And finally, a quarter of us teach outside of our institutions.

In the coming year, the website committee will be working on phase two of our survey project. We will also continue working to improve and increase member use of our website. Ideas include encouraging members to use on-line forums for posting exhibitions available for tour, to share recent acquisitions or post standard information used in the field, such as templates for loan forms and facility reports, rights and reproductions agreements or external curator contracts along with more about the collections in our care.

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