Hometown Tourist

This week, fellow Mobile Bay staffer Haley Potts and I were lucky enough to attend an event held at the Gulf Coast Exploreum. While there, we enjoyed delicious food (seriously, who catered and can you cater for me every night of my life?), interesting company and grand insights into why museums make up such an important part of our Alabama community and American society at large.  

Ford Bell, president of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), spoke to a crowd of 70 on that bright, brisk Tuesday afternoon. As president, Bell has worked to significantly improve the significance of museums around the country and the globe. He oversees museums (and variants thereof) all around the nation, as well as international outreach for museums in other countries (in other words: a LOT of institutions!). AAM works to promote “excellence, advocacy, sustainability and alignment.”

“We have an obligation to nurture excellence in our field [of museums]. And when I talk about museums, I mean everything from A to Z – arts to zoos, and anyone else who wants to be included in the field, ” Bell said in opening.

Bell went on to explain his and AAM’s high standards, especially their efforts to “partner, discuss and collaborate” among museums and with those who enjoy them (as in, us hometown tourists).

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Not only that, but museums also reflect problems in a community and, with enough support from that community, work to address those issues. Through fundraisers, awareness and active community involvement, museums can hugely impact their areas, which can only bring good to the world.

“Give me a societal problem and I’ll give you a museum that is working on that problem, ” Bell said.

He didn’t just drag on and lecture for 60 minutes, though: after his opening remarks, Bell opened the floor to questions and discussion. What followed was half an hour of Q&A among the top museum professionals in the state. Conversation then continued regarding funding (mostly from lovely supporters just like you) and healthy competition and cooperation between museums, all for the betterment of the field as a whole.

Museums present an interesting and engaging activity for any participant. Just look at the root of the word: “muse, ” or to inspire contemplation. So, what are you waiting for? Get out there, get thinking and support museums!

 For more information about AAM, visit AAM-US.org

Text by Chelsea Wallace

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