Tennessee Association of Museums Conference
March 16-19, Kingsport, TN
Theme: TAM 2021: REVISION
In 2020, the theme for the Tennessee Association of Museums conference was Vision 2020. As that conference was cancelled and the TAM board started planning for the 2021 conference, one word came to mind – REVISION. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, REVISION has many synonyms: alteration, change, difference, modification, redoing, refashioning, remaking, remodeling, revamping, reviewing, reworking, variation. As the world moves forward from 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic, political changes, and economic uncertainty, the museum community finds itself in uncharted waters. Social distancing and orders from our mayors and governors caused many of us to close our doors for months with serious impact on our budgets and staffing.
Looking forward to 2021, however, we ask ourselves what happens next? Our communities and institutions will not look the same as we begin to emerge from our quarantine cocoons. On the downside, we will be working with less funds, lower visitation, and higher cleaning costs for proper sanitation. On the other hand, this is a time for us to all take a collective breath and look inside our institution and the museum field in general to do some remodeling and revisioning.
How many of us have done remodeling projects in our home during 2020? Bank of America surveyed over 1,000 Americans about their attitudes and shopping habits during coronavirus and found that more than 70% have decided to tackle home improvement projects, with more planned for 2021. We spent so much more time inside our houses that we started to see the imperfections we previously ignored. We got rld things that were no longer relevant to how we live our lives. We spruced up our homes with paint, new curtains, or new furniture. Some of us even did complete remodels of rooms or fixed items that were long on our to do list.
How does this idea of REVISION apply to museums? Have we used this time for new research, developing new exhibits, or creating online educational programs for the first time? Have we been forced to make alterations to our strategic plans? How did we refashion our budget planning process to adapt to an uncertain future? Has this time inspired us to rethink the purpose of our museums? How did we take advantage of this time to stop and see the imperfections in our institutions we previously ignored? What steps did we take to rework our organizations as a result of our introspection?
We know TAM 2021 will be different. Hopefully, the virus will be under control and we can meet in Kingsport in March. But we may need to meet online. There may be social distancing rules and masks required. There will be old friends who will not be there because they lost their job and had to relocate to another state or leave the museum field. Others will have to remain home due to budget cuts. But, we will also meet new colleagues who are attending TAM for the first time and attend sessions that will revive us as we see what the new year brings.
No matter what TAM 2021 ultimately looks like, it will inspire us and challenge us as we move into uncharted waters. But, the best part of REVISION is seeing the new thing you have created. Join us as we discuss our brave new world, the lessons learned, and how we can support each other and our communities through our creativity and dedication.