NAAM Annual Conference - New Challenges, New Ideas
I hope that this note finds you well – or as well as can be expected under the extraordinary circumstances of 2020. Needless to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our professional and personal lives, and added unprecedented challenges to the work of operating a public museum – a rather difficult task even under ideal circumstances.
As you know, the pandemic has affected the NAAM organization just as it has affected our various member institutions. We had initially planned to gather at the Revs Institute in Naples, Florida, for a joint conference with the World Forum for Motor Museums (WFFMM). Mark Vargas, Director of Library and Archives at Revs, had put together a phenomenal program of sessions and activities that would’ve taken place in early November 2020. But COVID-19 twice forced us to postpone our conference – first to April 2021 and now to November 2021.
It was an exceedingly difficult decision to delay our conference – like so many of you, I consider the conference to be the single most important benefit of NAAM membership. But the NAAM board of directors made the decision for three key reasons:
- The opportunity to partner with our colleagues at WFFMM is both rare and valuable. Our last co-conference, hosted by the Petersen Automotive Museum in 2014, offered a variety of sessions and perspectives beyond those at our typical meetings.
- By all appearances, the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. Our joint conference is subject to so many variables – local health and safety regulations, travel restrictions for our international WFFMM friends, hurricane season (we’re meeting in Florida, after all) – that November 2021 was the closest practical date on the calendar.
- Due to lockdowns and the continuing drop in tourism, we are all facing severe budget shortfalls that will make conference registrations and travel costs particularly onerous for the foreseeable future.
As I write this message, our in-person conference is now scheduled for November 10-13, 2021. Full details are available at the conference website here: https://revs-wffmm-naam-2021.org/. Mark has managed to retain most of the original program, and to keep WFFMM in the fold. As disappointed as I am by the delay, it is the only prudent course of action.
With all of that said, NAAM is eager to provide an alternative conference experience for 2020. I am pleased to announce that NAAM will deliver what we’re calling our “Compact Conference” in a virtual fashion this year in a bite-sized and entertaining way. We have partnered with Vid Monster to create a virtual event opportunity that will feature several key speakers and our annual business meeting. The conference will take place December 8th-11th starting at 2:00 PM ET each day. Our goal is to make this a unique and exciting experience for us all as we get revved up for a bright future as automotive museums. If you are receiving this communication, you have nothing to worry about as far as accessing the conference. Each day, you will receive an email in advance of the conference presentation with a unique link to join the Zoom webinar. We will have tech support available to assist you before and during the event itself to ensure you don't miss ANY of the action. We’ll also be hosting live Q&A discussions with our presenters after each session. You’ll be able to ask questions just as if we were all in the same room. We hope you'll join us!
Our theme for the Compact Conference is “New Challenges, New Ideas.” I probably don’t have to tell you that, by “new challenges,” we mean COVID-19 and its associated disruptions to our visitors, our staffs, and our bottom lines. More details are to follow, but general session topics will include:
- Virtual museum programming and events.
- Health and safety protocols for visitors and staff.
- Managing the business challenges brought on by the pandemic.
Pandemic or not, we do have NAAM business that must be conducted each year. To that end, we will cap our virtual conference week with a virtual business meeting on Friday, December 11th. We will provide an update on NAAM’s operations, discuss the current state of auto museums, and announce the results of our board of directors and officer elections at that time. Our voting will move online this year. Look for candidate lists and a ballot link to arrive in your email soon.
Thank you for your patience, your support, and your membership as we all wrestle with these difficult days. I look forward to seeing you all soon – even if only through the magic of Zoom.
Curator of Transportation, The Henry Ford
President, National Association of Automobile Museums