Monday, April 28, 2008

First-Time Attendees Take Center Stage

On Sunday at 5 p.m., the annual meeting was just gearing up—airport shuttle buses were still hustling people to their hotels, the first gaggles of participants were exploring the convention center, the first sessions had concluded. As I made my way down the cavernous, near-empty halls to the lobby outside the Wells Fargo Theatre, site of the reception for first-time meeting attendees, I wondered how many people would have shown up for it.

I didn't need to worry. As I got nearer, I heard the indistinct but booming hubbub of several hundred people chatting, in a large open hall with soaring ceilings and walls of windows. No matter the language, you can somehow tell when there are cocktails being consumed, better-than-casual clothes being worn and introductory conversations being conducted at slightly heightened decibel levels in order to surmount the background music (in this case, a Western band).

As one might guess, many first-timers appeared to be in their twenties and thirties. But there was a significant representation of those beyond that demographic, including those well beyond it—whether museum vets who came out to greet the newcomers or people who had made a career change, graduating to the heights known as the museum profession.

"Don't I know you?" "Oh, you work in the D.C. area, too?" "I'm not sure which of these two sessions I'm going to. . ." The sound of connections being made, acquaintanceships being formed. Welcome, one and all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Leah!
Nice blog. Wish I was there with you. Look for some of my associates from the Museum of the Rockies--especially Nikki, Jennifer and Jamie from the Education Department. They'll show you some real western hospitality!

Michael Fox
Museum of the Rockies