Hannah Cerne: My Trip to the American Alliance of Museums Conference 

Written by Hannah Cerne, UNMAM Graduate Research Assistant and Study Room Assistant.

Hannah Cerne at the 2024 American Alliance of Museums Conference at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD. Image courtesy of Hannah Cerne.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 2024 American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Attending the AAM Conference allowed me to network with museum professionals across the United States, learn about and discuss active topics in the museum field, and volunteer at the largest museum conference in America. Throughout the conference, I attended many sessions discussing the power of observation, intentional exhibition curation, confronting colonialism, and the practice of slow-looking. I particularly enjoyed the session Transformative Experiences in Art Museums: Support Flourishing in Medicine. This session discussed a case study of John Hopkins University School of Medicine working with the Baltimore Museum of Art to provide medical students with the opportunity to understand the importance of arts and humanities, and the ability to provide social advocacy, aid in physical and mental health, and support personal insight.  

Another session at the AAM conference was Hands-On Discussion: Leadership Making Way for Gen Z in a Changing World. This session discussed incorporating Generation Z (people born between 1997 to 2009) at the decision table and what museums can do to better serve young adults. This session stood out to me immediately when viewing all the presentations offered at the conference, being Gen Z myself. The discussion examined many public museums, their offerings, and who they cater to, explaining that Gen Z currently seeks social connection and knowledge of the history they did not receive in schools. For example, according to Made By Us, a history organization on the session panel, 44% of Gen Z say public schools teach history accurately and 27% trust education officials to be neutral on political issues. I enjoyed learning about the topics discussed and appreciated hearing what current museum professionals are doing to bring the topic up for discussion.  

While visiting Baltimore I had the chance to enjoy Washington D.C. for a day with the UNMAM Director of Operations, Devin Geraci, and fellow UNM graduate student Laura Olson. Laura and I took the time to visit the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) together. The impressive collection and works at the BMA may have inspired me to move to the East Coast. Devin, Laura, and I spent an evening visiting the National Aquarium seeing curious creatures and attending a Baltimore Orioles baseball game at Oriole Park where they won 9 – 2 against the Seattle Mariners. I was sure to try the park’s infamous “Maryland dog,” a ballpark hotdog topped with crab dip, shoestring french fries, and old bay seasoning.

Exploring Washington D.C. for a day was a joy! We visited the US Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. We also explored the National Gallery of Art and the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. While in Washington D.C., I was able to see works by incredible artists such as Yayoi Kusama, Louise Bourgeois, Claude Monet, Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, and more great artists.  

Hannah Cerne in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.  Image courtesy of Hannah Cerne.

My time in Baltimore was certainly unforgettable and transformative. My participation in the AAM Conference provided me with the opportunity to make professional connections with colleagues across the US. My visitation to historic sites and museums in Maryland reignited my already great passion for public service through museums as a future professional. Thank you to the University of New Mexico Art Museum and the University of New Mexico Museum Studies department for funding my trip to the American Alliance of Museums Conference.