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Museum Professionals From Across New Mexico Descend On Los Alamos ... And Love It

on November 23, 2017 - 10:13am
Joy Charles plays the cello for conference attendees during a reception at the Hans Bethe House on Bathtub Row, part of the Los Alamos History Museum. Courtesy photo

Los Alamos Historical Society

Los Alamos hosted more than 75 museum professionals last week for the New Mexico Association of Museums annual conference. The conference theme, “New Mexico Museums—Where Discoveries Happen,” was certainly what the participants, who came from as far away as Artesia, Silver City and Farmington, learned throughout the four-day conference.

“The theme resonated with everyone,” said Linda Deck, director of the Bradbury Science Museum and chair of the conference’s local arrangements committee. “Not only was it highlighting Los Alamos and what we bring to the table, but it was inclusive and everybody could find a way to contribute.”

Kris Kirby, superintendent for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, kicked off the conference with inspirational keynote address that shared how the National Park Service and museums enable visitors to discover the nation’s cultural and natural resources.

Conference workshops and sessions offered a wide range of professional development options, from learning to work with the state’s New Mexico True tourism brand to building a smart phone tour app to engaging pre-kindergarten students in museums through art.

“We got so many compliments from attendees about the conference,” said Katherine Bruell, executive director of the Pajarito Environmental Education Center and the program committee chair. She went on to compliment the hard work of more than 25 presenters.

Along with sessions, the conference offered tours of local and regional sites, including an architectural tour of Bathtub Row, a tour of the art on display at Mesa Public Library, Historic District Walking tours, and a tour of the Los Alamos Historical Society Archives & Collections that are housed in the Municipal Building.

Visitors were encouraged to see Bandelier National Monument, Puye Cliffs, and the Plaza de Espanola while they were in the area. To conclude the conference on Saturday, tours of other nearby sites such as the Poeh Culture Center and Jemez Historic Site were available.

Deck pointed out that the New Mexico Association of Museums had not held its annual conference in Los Alamos for 25 years. “Everyone was delighted with the sites, the food, the sessions, the accommodations,” she said. “Having it in Fuller Lodge added to the ambiance. It’s such a treasure for our community but showed the rest of the state what a treasure it is for all of us.”

Partners and sponsors for the conference included the Bradbury, the Pajarito Environmental Education Center, the Los Alamos History Museum, Los Alamos County, the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation, Los Alamos National Bank, and Los Alamos National Security, LLC.

“The conference was a great opportunity to show off our town,” said Katy Korkos, program manager at Mesa Public Library and the hospitality coordinator for the conference. “We tried to give our local restaurants a chance to shine, and shine they did. Secret City Kitchen, Rose Chocolatier, RubyK’s, Pig + Fig, the Co+Op—all went above and beyond to provide the conference attendees with a fabulous spread. We were lucky to get Marcos Cavalcante to play for the Welcome Reception, and Joy Charles to play for the evening social at the Hans Bethe House.”

Thursday’s lunch included a visit to the Los Alamos Nature Center, where attendees oooed and awed over the award-winning building.

Friday’s lunch, at the Bradbury Science Museum, included a Technology Showcase, which featured vendor displays, a poster session and project booths. Students from New Mexico Highlands University’s Cultural Technology program demonstrated projects they have developed over the last year, including some new interpretive signs and brochures for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

“It was a huge success. I heard more than one person say this was the best NMAM that they can remember,” Deck said.