2019 Request for Proposals

It is with great pleasure and excitement that the Western Museums Association (WMA) announces the Request for Proposals for the 2019 Annual Meeting to be held in Boise, Idaho, October 4-7. 

The deadline for 2019 Proposals is Friday, November 30, 2018

The WMA Annual Meeting provides museum professionals an opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices, network with colleagues, and learn from each other by attending valuable sessions. Diverse presentations are a key component to the success of the Annual Meeting, and are important in creating a meaningful and content-rich experience for all of the museum professionals who attended. Please strengthen the WMA Community with a session or workshop proposal for our 2019 Annual Meeting.

Museums inspiring action, change, and ENGAGEment. 

As societially integrated institutions, museums must address and adapt to the changes in their local, national, and global communities. These range from accessibility, equality, diversity, and to the current economic situation, climate change, and shifting community demographics. The 2019 Annual Meeting, ENGAGE, will focus on the ways museums engage with their communities, staff, and other museums. 

This includes:

  • Museums as inclusive places
  • Diversity in exhibits, programming, and on museum staff and boards
  • Museums as agents of social change / social justice
  • Storytelling to engage new audiences
  • Unconventional and innovative partnerships
  • Creating positive and caring work environments
  • Activism in museums

The 2019 Program promises to provide a multitude of perspective representative of today's museum landscape, and continue the WMA's rich tradition of provocative programming and educational opportunities.

Look over the 2018 Sessions or past programs to get inspired. Did you have an exciting conversation or experience at the 2018 Annual Meeting? Build off the momentum of these ideas for a 2019 session! 

Do you want feedback on a session proposal? Are you searching for more panelists for your proposal? Use WMA's 2019 Annual Meeting Discussion Thread! This thread is designed to connect potential presenters and facilitate discussion.

Please review the Proposal Guidelines before completing the Session Proposal Form.


Download Session Proposal Form

Download Workshop Proposal Form

Download Proposal Guidelines


Do you have questions about submitting a 2019 Proposal? You can also review this Proposal FAQ.

Session & Workshop Propsal FAQ

Do you have a question about submitting a proposal for a WMA Annual Meeting? Please check below in our FAQ section.

If your question is not answered here, please contact us.

What is the Program Committee review process?
Do I need to have all presenters listed in my proposal?
What is the difference between a workshop and a session?
What are the types of sessions?
What is included in a good session proposal?
Can graduate students present and propose a session?
Can for-profit service providers and consultants propose a session?
How should I determine the workshop fee?


What is the Program Committee review process?

The Program Committee (PC) takes the review process very seriously as they strive to assemble the most relevant and interesting topics in the museum profession. After proposals are submitted the PC reads over all of the submissions. Each proposal is then assigned a PC member, who will reach out to the proposer with questions, suggestions, and comments in order to get a better understanding of a proposal, as well as to make it stronger. All proposers will be contacted by a PC member.

In January, the PC will meet and decide on provisionally accepted session proposals. If a session is provisionally accepted, the PC member assigned to that session will reach out to the proposer with feedback about the proposal. Proposers will then resubmit their session for final consideration, and this deadline is February 15, 2019. All proposals must be resubmitted even if no changes are required. All presenters must be confirmed in this second round of resubmissions.

Proposers will be notified at the end of March if they have been accepted for the final Annual Meeting program.


Do I need to have all presenters listed in my proposal?

Initial proposals do not need to have all presenters included. However, the second round of resubmitted proposals MUST  have all presenters confirmed.

WMA limits the number of sessions that individuals can be included in; individuals may present in 2 sessions and moderate 1 session. This is done to ensure that a variety of perspectives are represented, as well as to alleviate scheduling difficulties. Please be aware of this as you agree to be on and/or ask people to join a session.

Please note, proposals that are more complete tend to get a higher rating by the Program Committee as they are seen as more complete ideas.

If you are having trouble determining additional presenters for your proposal, we suggest posting to the WMA LinkedIn Group, our dedicated Facebook discussion post, as well as reaching out on professional listservs such as RCAAM, Museum-Ed, or Museum-L.


What is the difference between a workshop and a session?

Sessions and workshops are somewhat similar. Workshops, however, tend to be more practical, instructional, and hand-on in nature and are presented on the day preceeding the Annual Meeting. Workshops can be either full-day (9am—5pm) or half-day (8am—12pm; 1pm—5pm). Often times, workshops are given by companies or consultants.

Attendees pay the costs of the workshop in a separate registration fee.

View Past Annual Meeting programs to get a sense of this distinction.


What are the types of sessions that can be submitted?

There are single (75 minutes) and double (150 minutes with a break in the middle) sessions. Single sessions are encouraged. Each Annual Meeting program tends to only have one double session.

Sessions can follow multiple formats, and this is encouraged. Examples include: Standard Sessions, Fishbowl, Pecha Kucha, Dialogue Sessions, Critiques, Roundtables, Meet-the-Press, etc. The WMA is open to other various, inventive formats for sessions, but please make sure to include a full explanation in the proposal. Examples and descriptions of session structures can be found here.

Sessions must also include built-in time for discussions and questions, as well as ensure that presenters will engage with the attendees.


What is included in a good session proposal?

The Program Committee (PC) is looking for well thought out and complete ideas when evaluating the proposals. Think about these questions before you submit: How does the topic influence the future of museums?; Who will benefit from this session?; Is the proposal applicable to all types (small/large) and levels of museum professionals?; What improved knowledge will attendees walk away from the session with?

The PC tends to prefer sessions that incorporate professionals and examples from multiple museums, rather than a singular instance of a program, etc.

As WMA provides cross-disciplinary content, proposers are asked to include a variety of individuals, institutions, and perspectives in their sessions. Ideally, sessions include speakers from a variety of museums (including size and location) and disciplines (history, art, science, etc.) to provide a broad discussion of and different perspectives on the topic. You may frame your session as a case study, a demonstration, or project report, but your session must be relevant and of interest to delegates who are not in your specific area. For instance, a case study could include a panelist to provide an objective, outside perspective on the project you are presenting. WMA is interested in broad and meaningful perspectives. Generally, sessions without broad representation are less likely to be accepted.

A strong proposal additionally has all, or almost all of their presenters confirmed. Each presenter should complement the overall topic. Please note that all presenters must be confirmed in the second round of submissions.

Discussion is a very important element within WMA Annual Meeting sessions. The PC is open to and encourages different formats of presentations and sessions including roundtables, fishbowls, spectrograms, learning “games,” or anything else you can think of. Be creative!

View Past Annual Meeting programs to get a sense of the type of sessions that are accepted.


Can graduate students present and propose a session?

Yes, absolutely! We encourage all levels of museum professionals to propose sessions.

Additionally, WMA has an Annual Poster Session that is designed for students, emerging museum, small museum professionals to showcase their work. The Poster Session RFP will open in Spring 2019. Please check back on the website for updates.


Can for-profit service providers and consultants propose a session?

WMA encourages session proposals from company representatives and private consultants. However, the following policies and counsel ensure that these sessions are effective:

  1. Your session must address an issue or topic in an objective manner. During your session, it is OK to present your work, but it must be done in a manner that addresses a broad context and avoids specifically endorsing your business. If you are unsure of how to accomplish this, please feel free to contact the WMA with questions and concerns to help develop your proposal.

  2. It is strongly preferred that a museum professional (not a client) serve as the session moderator, while you serve as a speaker.

  3. Your session panel should not consist of only yourself and your clients. This structure does not represent a truly objective session. If you have difficulty finding panelists outside of your client list, you are strongly encouraged to indicate this on your session form (Section 1.G), and the Program Committee can help suggest additional panelists that are knowledgeable about your topic.

  4. No payment of professional fees will be paid to any consultant or for-profit service provider for facilitating or presenting in a session or workshop. It is expected that all Annual Meeting participants donate their time and expertise to the program.


How should I determine the workshop fee?

Workshop fees can cover the expense of basic materials such as any AV needed, books, handouts, etc. Other major expenditures (such as lunch or coffee service) must have WMA approval in order to be addressed by the fee.

After a workshop is accepted, WMA staff will work with workshop proposers to determine the final fee amount.


To submit a proposal, please download the 2019 Proposal Form and send it to proposals@westmuse.org by November 30, 2018.




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