Friday, March 11, 2011

A Message from Our President

The following message is from Joe Gutierrez, VAM's president. It will appear in the upcoming VAM Voice member newsmagazine (release date will be Monday, March 14th):

Dear friends and colleagues,

The National Advisory Council on Continuing Education reports more than twenty-three million adults participate in continuing education annually. According to some sources this represents as much as 13% of the United States workforce. Reasons for participation are diverse, but studies indicate that maintaining and enhancing job skills, career advancement, and personal satisfaction are prime motivators. The world of work has changed dramatically in the last century. One source notes that in 1900 only one out of every 10 workers was in a professional, technical, or managerial occupation. By 1970 that had doubled and today these types of jobs account for nearly 1/3 of our workforce.

How does this relate to museums and in particular to the Virginia Association of Museums (VAM)? The mission of the VAM is to serve as the resource network of the Virginia and District of Columbia museum community through education, technical assistance, and advocacy. VAM has a long history as a leader in providing opportunities for continuing the development of professional skills of all levels of museum practioners. When I began my career the workshop series and the annual conference were tools that helped me see and understand the successes some institutions had. It was very clear to a new professional that the knowledge, skills, and abilities of a museum’s staff were the reason for success. Today, as the world has changed, so has VAM and there are more tools than ever before to help you.

Among the most popular are:

• Virginia Certificate Programs for Museum Professionals

• Workshop Series

• Technical Assistance Program

• Annual Conference

Experienced staff and colleagues just starting on a career may chose to participate in the Certificate in Museum Management Program. Utilizing workshops sponsored by VAM, SEMC, AAM, AASLH, college and university partners, as well as independent study participants provide the opportunity to learn the “ins and outs” of museum operations through a structured and systematic process.

For those interested in the specifics of selected operational issues, VAM also offers an annual workshop series for professionals in the field. These workshops conducted by successful practioners, develop new and strengthen existing skills. From conservation to special events these workshops provide principles and successful models which can be replicated.

Perhaps the most important aspect of VAM’s commitment to those of us in the field is the technical assistance program. Just by filling out a form, VAM can match your institution with an available advisor with expertise in one of many key areas of museum operations. Essentially this provides a one-to-one training program focused on a specific project that small museums in particular can benefit from, and the support can last up to six months.

From my perspective, perhaps the greatest resource for staff development is the annual conference. Hundreds of professionals from all areas of the Commonwealth converge to share successes and challenges, to inspire and communicate, and help one another. We all experience similar challenges and more than one career has been helped by learning what did and didn’t work at another institution. If you didn’t make the conference this year, I urge you to make it a professional priority in 2012. Learning can be fun, and that is particularly true at the conference.

I hope as you read this newsletter, you will carefully consider all the professional resources available through VAM. Take time to carefully read the information online at Also consider where our field might be without VAM’s voice and what would be missing. I also hope you will continue to financially support VAM and that you might find an opportunity to give back more than the membership fee. VAM is a critical partnership not only in professional development but in educating decision-makers about the importance of museums. We need your support.


Joe Gutierrez, President
Virginia Association of Museums

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