Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference

2021 Virtual Conference: Resilience, Learning, Innovation

Since pivoting in 2020 to an entirely virtual conference and addressing dual pandemics of systemic racism and COVID-19, Smithsonian Affiliations continued to find ways to convene around responding to these challenges. For three, half-days in October 2021, we came together for the 2021 Affiliations Virtual Conference where we saw the highest-ever conference attendance, with more than 1,000 Smithsonian and Affiliate colleagues participating.

Smithsonian, Affiliate, and guest speakers led thought-provoking sessions on collaboration opportunities, inequity in exhibition development, creating inclusive HR practices, engaging communities in civic action, and best practices in exhibition writing. A dynamic opening session centered youth advocates and their views on the future of the museum field alongside Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science & Research, and Kevin Young, Director of the National Museum of African American History & Culture. Dr. Deborah Mack, Director of Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past, shared this important initiative with Affiliates in an interactive session.

Registered attendees can access session resources through the Virtual Attendee Hub until January 20, 2022. 

Mark your calendar for October 25 – 27, 2022, for our next Affiliations Conference!

Session Spotlight

Our dynamic opening session centered youth advocates and their views on the future of the museum field alongside Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science & Research, and Kevin Young, Director of the National Museum of African American History & Culture.

2021 Session Recordings

Selected sessions from the Virtual Conference are available for viewing on the Smithsonian Affiliations YouTube playlist in addition to those featured below.

More than the Sum of Our Parts: Designing Cross Institutional Programs

Collaborative digital programming allows museums to support local communities by plugging in their own content and expertise to shared templates, for tailored programs with a fraction of the staff time and effort. In addition to the capacity-building effect, these programs benefit from a greater audience reach into new geographies and demographics. Learn from three case studies: Smithsonian Affiliations Virtual Scholars Talks, the National Youth Summit led by the National Museum of American History, and Made By Us.

Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past

As we think about what sustainable racial justice should look like we recognize that working in partnership with other museums and community-based groups can lead to sparking positive social change and building a more equitable and shared future. The Our Shared Future: Reckoning With Our Racial Past leadership team will give an overview of why the Smithsonian is doing this work, present the six interdisciplinary content pillars that uphold this race initiative, and create space to listen and learn from the diverse network of Smithsonian Affiliates.

In Plain Words: Best Practices for Interpretive Writing in Exhibitions

The Smithsonian Institution’s Guide to Interpretive Writing for Exhibitions provides exhibition curators, developers, writers, and editors concrete guidelines for writing exhibition scripts that will be more engaging and accessible to your visitors. Members from the pan-Institutional team that created this resource will introduce the guidelines and share best practices about writing for interpretive exhibitions.

The Smithsonian Affiliations National Conference is for current Smithsonian Affiliates and Smithsonian staff members only. If you are interested in learning more about a Smithsonian Affiliation, please contact us.