About the Conference Committee AAMC’s annual conference, held every spring, represents the organization’s primary means of direct communication with its broad membership. The Conference Committee is charged with presenting to the Board of Trustees recommendations for session topics and speakers that promise a productive and inspiring experience for all attendees.
2011—12 Conference Committee (* denotes new member)
Marina Pacini, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, co-chair
Sylvia Yount, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, co-chair
Helen Molesworth, Institute for Contemporary Art, Boston*
David Rubin, San Antonio Museum of Art
Jennifer Tonkovich, Morgan Library and Museum
Ex-officio Members - Sally Block, Director, AAMC
Carol Eliel, LACMA, AAMC President
The 2011-2012 Conference Committee got an early start with a September telephone call exploring session themes and speaker ideas as well as plans for the opening reception. The conversation drew on past recommendations from new and old members while focusing on opportunities afforded by the Boston conference setting. Before discussing keynote ideas, the Committee concentrated on developing topical ideas for panels on Shifting Collection Boundaries and Expanded/Reconfigured Spaces; more practical sessions on Negotiating Loans/Exhibition Management and Emergency Responses; a Technology and Community Engagement call for papers; and AAMC’s first annual Curatorial Slam. The keynote proposal for a wide-ranging public conversation about current museum practice between James Snyder and an academy- or museum-based scholar was later reviewed by the Trustees who suggested Helen Molesworth. Follow-up dialogue between the Committee and Board led to the selection of a strong and diverse roster of session participants—junior and senior colleagues from large and small institutions across the country. In sum, the greater involvement of all committee members this year ensured a smooth process that resulted in an exciting program.
Report of the Governance and Nominating Committee 2011-12 was the second year of the Governance and Nominating Committee. Last year’s goals included 1) Recruitment of new members for the committee; 2) Evaluating the recent changes in governance; 3) Evaluation of the committee itself; and 4) 2012 nominations.
For committee recruitment, the by-laws called for the immediate past president, John Ravenal, to succeed Gary Tinterow as co-chair, and Kevin Tucker and Laurie Winters also agreed to join the committee.
Evaluating the changes in governancewas tabled, since we agreed that a full two-year cycle should pass before the recent changes could be reviewed in a meaningful way.
Evaluating the committee was recast as a broader call for a systematic evaluation of the Board and committees. The AAMC has never conducted a formal review of its Board or Committees, something that is standard practice for associations of our scale. After an initial research phase, we concluded that we needed to start with a baseline self-assessment of the Board and Committees before deciding on a more formal process or selecting a particular set of instruments. As a result, we created a survey, the results of which will be presented at the Board meeting, and we propose using those results to establish a more formal process in the coming year.
In May the committee presented nominations for open positions on the Board and Executive Committee. We nominated Helen Evans (Metropolitan Museum of Art) to succeed Andrea Bayer as Vice President, Finance, and Catherine Evans (Columbus Museum of Art) as Vice President, Governance and Nominating, to succeed Jon Seydl. In both cases, the current VPs’ 2-year terms had concluded. Given the resignation of Vivien Greene, Jordana Pomeroy, and Kristina Van Dyke from the Board of Trustees, we nominated Christa Clarke (Newark Museum), Marina Pacini (Memphis Brooks Museum of Art), and Jon Seydl (Cleveland Museum of Art) as at-large members of the Board (Catherine Evans was not nominated to the Board, but would attend meetings as a member of the Executive Committee). We also nominated Helen Evans, Gloria Groom, and John Ravenal to second terms as at-large members. This slate would expand the board to one additional candidate, raising the Board to 23 voting members.
Priorities for the Year
Recruitment of new members for the committee (Summer 2012)
Establishing a process for acting on results of the recent survey (Summer 2012)
Establishing a format for board and committee evaluation, which could be a round of evaluations for the committees and board, conducted by the Governance and Nominating committee, or self-evaluation tools developed by the committee, or a combination of instruments (Fall 2012)
Conducting evaluations (Spring 2013)
Proposing 2013 Officer and Board of Trustees nominations (Spring 2013)
Jon L. Seydl
Co-Chairs, Governance and Nominating Committee
Report of the Membership Committee, 2011-2012
Submitted by Jennifer Casler Price
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.
Sara Cochran, Co-Chair, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, Phoenix Museum of Art
Jennifer Casler Price, Co-Chair, Curator for Asian and Non-Western Art, Kimbell Art Museum
Rachel Arauz, Independent Curator
Jonathan Canning, Martin Darcy Curator of Art, Loyola University
Catherine Evans, William and Sara Ross Soter Curator of Photography, Columbus Museum of Art
Cheryl Hartup, Curator, Museo de Arte de Ponce
Michelle Jacques, Acting Curator, Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario
Mark Scala, Chief Curator, Frist Center for Visual Art
Ann Yonemura, Senior Associate Curator of Japanese Art, Freer gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Museum of Art
Summary of Activities A continued goal of the Membership Committee is to break down boundaries and encourage diversity and more broad representation in the AAMC (geographic, by field of discipline, etc.). Each member of the committee was assigned to a particular sub-area to gather information and suggestions for recruitment and member services.
Mark Scala - to liaise with Website Committee over membership-related content
Ann Yonemura & Jennifer Casler Price - Asianists/non-western recruitment
Rachael Arauz - to liaise with Prof Development committee and Carol's mentoring Task Force about mentoring for independent curators who join AAMC
Michelle Jacques - Canadian members (emphasis on first nation members)
Catherine Evans - explore the issues of curatorial generalists vs. experts in membership. Work on cross-pollination with other departments and how best to engage educators in the work we do
Jonathan Canning - university curator members
Cheryl Hartup- Puerto Rican members
The committee also discussed reaching out to Mexican museums to solicit members. Augustin Artega, Director of the Museum in Ponce as well as Berta Cea are our key contacts. Jordana Pomeroy has also made a connection for the AAMC. The main issue here is to work on the language of the recruitment, so that we can clearly articulate the benefits of joining to Mexican curators. This is a topic for clarification and further discussion by the committee.
Adjunct Membership A new subcommittee was formed to vet the Fall and Spring cycles of adjunct membership applications: Mark Scala, Jennifer Casler Price, Rachael Arauz, Catherine Evans, and Sara Cochran.
For the Fall 2011 cycle (November) the committee reviewed 11 applications, with 8 acceptances and 3 rejections. For the Spring 2012 cycle (April) the committee reviewed 6 applications, with 5 acceptances and 1 pending a request for a letter of recommendation from an AAMC member and further review. Total adjunct members for the 2011-12 year is 13. This is down just slightly from last year’s number, which were 16.
The main take-away from this year’s vetting process is that there is a need for emphasis on the letter of recommendation for those who may be applying from an unfamiliar vantage point or without a completely clear track record of museum-related curatorial work and experience. The consensus is that a letter of recommendation is worth its weight in gold and can often be the deciding factor when there is a question about the applicant’s suitability.
There is also a need to continue to refine and communicate the standards by which the subcommittee will be asked to review applications (to be passed along to new subcommittees each year).
In January 2012 Georgiana Uhlyarik (Prize Committee) approached the Membership Committee with the proposal to merge the efforts of both committees by encouraging new memberships through the call for award nominations. Jennifer Casler Price drafted a paragraph to be included in the Prize Committee’s Calls for Nominations for the 2011 Awards for Excellence that could be customized by each member of the committee and used to personally reach out to colleagues to solicit both nominations and membership, particularly in those areas we are attempting to target: Asian, Canadian, Puerto Rican and University curators.
Recruitment continues to be steady. We have had 119 members register to the AAMC website since May 11, 2011. Some may have been previous members returning to the fold, however, most were new. We are currently maintaining a 10% increase in membership in each of the past 2 years.
New members in US: 108
New members in Canada: 11
New members in Puerto Rico: 3
New members by field:
25 Modern and Contemporary
17 American (Painting, Sculpture)
11 European (Painting, Sculpture, etc.)
8 Asian (various Asian fields)
8 Drawings and Prints
6 African/African American
4 Decorative Arts
2 Film & Media
2 Latin America
1 Greek & Roman
15 no field noted
Priorities for 2012-13:
The issue has been raised as to whether there is a need for a periodic re-vetting of Adjunct memberships and members who have been laid off from their curatorial positions but still maintain their AAMC status (grandfathered in) in order to determine if their membership should be maintained. One suggestion is to request an update on a member’s job status every 2 or 3 years and subsequent review by the Membership Committee to determine continued eligibility. This will be discussed at the next committee meeting.
The committee needs to further discuss ways to promote recruitment of Mexican curators.
The committee will continue to review adjunct membership applications on a twice-yearly basis, refining criteria for eligibility in the process and strongly encouraging a letter of recommendation.
The committee will continue recruitment efforts with an emphasis on encouraging diversity and more broad representation in the AAMC (geographic, by field of discipline, type of museum, etc.).
The committee will continue to explore ways to liaise with other committees in soliciting new memberships (such as with the Prize Committee).
AAMC Prize Committee Report 2011-2012
Submitted by Georgiana Uhlyarik May 14, 2012 Georgiana Uhlyarik, Art Gallery of Ontario, Chair
Randall Griffey, Mead Art Museum
Jodi Hauptman, The Museum of Modern Art
Rebecca McGrew, Pomona College Museum of Art
William Rudolph, Milwaukee Art Museum
Timothy Standring, Denver Art Museum
Sally Block, Executive Director, AAMC
Publication Juries and Chairs
Tracy Adler, Independent Curator and Art Consultant
Margi Conrads, Senior Curator of American Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum*
Jodi Hauptman, Curator, Department of Drawings, MoMA
Carolyn Putney, Chief Curator, Curator of Asian Art, Director of Collections, Toledo Museum of Art
Permanent Collection Catalogue
Virginia Brilliant, Associate Curator of European Art,Ringling Museum of Art
Sarah Roberts, Associate Curator of Collections and Research, SFMOMA
Article, Essay, Extended Catalogue Entry
Christina Chang, Assistant Curator, Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota
Francesca Consagra, Senior Curator of Prints, Drawings, and European Paintings, Blanton Museum of Art
Virginia Eichorn, Director/Curator, Tom Thomson Art Gallery
Marisa Pascucci, Independent Curator*
*Jury Chair Summary of Activities The Committee worked diligently to implement as well as build on the recommendations of the past Chair and jury members, benefiting from the experience and insight of returning members as well as the fresh perspectives of new ones. The core value of the Committee is to empower individual members to bring forward and celebrate their unique professional achievements. At our first meeting, we identified two key priorities: increase profile of the Prizes and formalize nomination process.
The number of submissions to both the Exhibition and Publication Prizes continues to increase each year. There was a record number of exhibition nominations received (60 in total for the five categories), a reassuring indication that the restructuring of the Prizes as developed in 2010 has resonated with the membership.
In addition to the established announcements regarding the prizes (website, emails, e-newsletter), the Call for Nominations was supplemented this year by a combined effort of the Membership and Prize committees to reach out to colleagues, current and past members as well as non-members. An email template was developed for all committee members to personalize and solicit nominations as well as new and renewed memberships. It was recognized that the Call for Nominations is a good membership and nominations outreach initiative. This individualized outreach has already been the practice of Prize Committee members, and it is invaluable to ensuring that a rich and diverse group of nominations is received.
Sally Block and Hannah Howe are to be commended for their tremendous work to organize the material submitted, keeping the members well informed and on track.
Exhibition Prizes The critical work of the Committee was to formalize the process for nominations. Members worked closely with staff to update, clarify and simplify the submission instructions, to much improvement. Changes include:
Request to submit only exhibitions installation photographs (rather than works of art).
If multiple venues, the curator(s) must select one installation to be submitted per project.
Members were encouraged to nominate colleagues and to self nominate, in more than one category, as applicable.
The submissions were no longer posted on the website as they were received. Only the final slate of five (and, in one category, six) nominations was announced and posted for the full membership to vote.
The members also began discussions regarding developing guidelines for the assessment of the “outstanding” qualities of an exhibition. This work is quite important to formulate, even in loose terms, especially as the Committee is playing a critical role in determining the final slate of the nominations.
The Call for Nominations was a success, the deliberations to create the final slate were invigorating and generous, however, the final voting by the general membership continues to be rather low, despite the fact that members can vote without having seen the exhibition in person. This might be attributed to several factors, all a matter of opinion. Further consideration and discussion is needed.
Publication Prizes These prizes are adjudicated separately by sets of appointed jurors. The individual Jury Chairs as well as Sally Block play a critical role in the coordination of these Prizes. Concerns noted by participating jurors have been raised in the past, although improvements have been made (for example in the essay category, electronic files are to be submitted rather than hard copies).
Some areas that need attention or improvement are:
The consideration of issues of parity (large vs small institutions) and type (scholarly vs popular) in evaluating publications.
How to determine if a publication with a single essay can be nominated for the “Outstanding Essay” rather than “Outstanding Catalogue” category.
Draft guidelines for selecting a winner, as well as set of questions to help prioritize top choices for deliberation.
With the increasing number of institutions developing online publications to coincide with, complement or even replace their print publications, how do jurors factor this into their assessments? Or might a new category be added for online publications?
The full breadth of nominations and members involved in the work of this Committee represents the tremendous diversity, commitment and collegiality of the AAMC membership. I would like to personally extend heartfelt thank yous to the Committee’s members for their generous dedication and contributions, as well as much needed humour [sic - Canadian spelling].
End of report
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE REPORT
Submitted by Simon Kelly and Alexandra Schwartz The Professional Development Committee has focused its efforts on two principal areas: the development of a webinar program, and student mentorship. Alexandra Schwartz has replaced Brooke Anderson as Committee co-chair.
Webinar program The Professional Development Committee has worked to develop a webinar program- a new initiative for the AAMC. The opening webinar will be held on May 22, 2012, and explore the theme of Mobile Technology and Curatorial Practice. This webinar will have three presenters (Rob Stein, incoming Deputy Director, Dallas Museum of Art; Jane Burton, head of Creative Media, Tate Modern; and Reza Ali, independent technology specialist) and be moderated by Simon Kelly. The webinar will explore the various ways in which mobile technology is being used to communicate collection and exhibition information. It will run for approximately 75 minutes and is free to all current AAMC members. We also plan to make the webinar available after May 22.
The Committee envisages that this will be the first in an ongoing series of webinars.
Student Mentorship As the first step in the Professional Development Committee's initiative to provide more mentorship to students, we are launching a Student Mentorship Message Board on the AAMC's website. It will be active by the end of this month (May 2012). The message board will provide the opportunity for high school through graduate students to ask questions about the curatorial profession, on topics including education and training, internships, job hunting, and networking, as well as more general issues in the field. It will be moderated by a rotating team of 2-3 AAMC members at a time, switching every 1 or 2 months (the exact time commitment will be determined once we have a better sense of the volume of traffic and submissions). We hope that each team of moderators will represent a variety of viewpoints—different specialities, sizes of home institution, stages of career, etc.—and thus be able to address a wide range of questions and concerns.
Letters to art history professors alerting them and their students to this new initiative went out in April 2012, as did an email to existing AAMC Student Forum members. The discussion will be kicked off by Alexandra Schwartz and William Breazeale.
AAMC Website Committee
Report of Activities, 2011–2012 The website committee was in transition this last year. Siri Engberg, former co-chair, cycled off and with the help of Sally Block, a new co-chair was found. In mid-September, Erica E. Hirshler, Croll Senior Curator of American Paintings Art of the Americas Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, joined Annemarie Sawkins, Associate Curator, Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University, as co-chair of the website committee. The committee then reestablished sub-committees. Three were recreated: The Mission Statement group, Sub-committee for Surveys, and Next Generation. A new sub-committee was formed to evaluate the current AAMC website. The survey committee began work on new questions for our membership. The Next Generation was to think of resources for future curators and the last group was charged with reviewing the website as it stands.
The Mission Statement group was charged with creating a clear mission statement for the committee, a goal they achieved as follows:
It is the Website Communications Committee's mission to solicit, share, and enhance information available to AAMC members and non-members by providing, via the website, open access to timely, accurate and useful information about AAMC and the curatorial profession.
The website provides AAMC members and non-members (interested students and the general public) with access to a wealth of information on the nation’s largest organization/community of art museum curators. The website aims to inform curators (and those interested in the curatorial field) and to support curator-to-curator networking. For members, there is organizational news (recent developments, upcoming events and meeting schedules), listings of educational opportunities, a forum for exchange about museum standards, exhibitions, and scholarship, and a complete directory of members (along with the ability to renew membership and to make donations on-line). For non-members, the site includes a definition of the museum curator, information about AAMC, news about the profession, lists of educational opportunities (including internships), and links to additional resources.
The committee’s responsibilities include:
Soliciting ideas and information concerning the function, operation, and content of the existing website from other AAMC committees and from the general membership through surveys and responding to user feedback.
Populating and effectively organizing the existing website to include information that is important and useful to AAMC members, non-members, and other interested parties. Contributing information regarding professional practices (such as copyright, conservation, etc.), as well as notices regarding collections, acquisitions, exhibitions, publications, and symposia, and links to journals, art news, and professional opportunities.
Periodically reviewing the website to ensure that it is up-to-date, accessible, and easy to use.
Suggesting and developing further content and technical improvements for the website in conjunction with the Executive Committee, which shall have final authority.
The Sub-committeefor Surveys began the process of formulating a survey for AAMC members to ascertain how the AAMC website is currently used and how different constituencies can use it. While preliminary work was completed, the survey questions need to be refined, so the survey is shorter, easier to complete, and more conducive to multiple-choice answers. This task will continue in the coming year.
TheWebsite Evaluation sub-committeehas had preliminary conversations, but no recommendations have been put forward.
For the next generation, we made considerable progress thanks to Alison de Lima Greene, MFA Houston, who created a list of internships and fellowship available to undergraduates, graduates and post graduates across the country. This list, which now appears on the AAMC website, includes the type of opportunity, the deadline and a link to the institution’s website. These opportunities to work in the arts help existing curator while educating the new generation in meaningful ways.
The co-chairs would like to note that our Committee has not been able to function very effectively without further direction from the Board and better communication between the other committees. There has been some discussion about re-purposing the Committee as a “Communications” committee, with the website as its focus, but what this shift might mean in terms of actual tasks remains unresolved, since “Communications” entails much more than oversight of the website. We also feel that our priorities need to be set in a way that matches the Board’s agenda—for example, whether we start with tasks that best serve current members or if we should focus our activities on outreach and future members remains unresolved. In order to keep the website current, we need a mechanism for other AAMC committees to help add information and a system in place that will take our suggestions past conversation and into implementation.
Erica E. Hirshler, Co-Chair, Website Committee